Why there are reservations about Iraq
If I were convinced that Iraq had significant weapons of mass destruction ready to use, and intended to attack us, Iíd be in favor of sending in the bombers tonight.
In 1998 when Iraq refused access to certain sites I was disappointed we didnít bomb those sites directly. I realize Clinton was trying to operate within international agreements, and thatís important, but he dropped the ball. Of course he was preoccupied with people at home trying to make mountains out of molehills.
But letís put the first reservation up front: human lives. We have to be convinced that the danger of not removing Hussein is suddenly so large and imminent that a war will cost fewer lives. Weíre only guessing that leaving him in power will lead to loss of life. We know with certainty that war will.
Without doubt, many U. S. soldiers will be fighting a dirty urban war. Further, the Iraqi people, who are not our enemy, who have suffered terrible shortages of medicines and other basics from the embargo, will serve as human shields. There is nothing unwise about moving carefully before committing so many peoplesí lives to such a price.
This whole scenario that Hussein is on the verge of unleashing weapons of mass destruction makes no sense. Hussein is conscienceless and power hungry, but heís not stupid. He invaded Kuwait only when he thought he got a diplomatic signal from Bush Sr. that we didnít care. He gassed some of his own people (the Kurds) when he thought no one would do anything about it, and he was right. At that time we supported both Iran and Iraq in their war against each other in hopes the status quo in the area would prevail. When he gassed his people we didnít even immediately stop support.
It takes a large stock of these weapons for a country to use them effectively against another. A terrorist may desire to set off one chemical weapon, but a country would need extensive weapons of mass destruction to, say, successfully wage war on Israel.
No one has suggested Iraq is close to this that Iíve read. Discussion seems to be more of him eventually having some small amount of weapons and missiles to deliver them if left unhindered. Hussein is not going to lob just one chemical weapon at Israel or sneak one into the U. S. That would be like poking a bear in the eye. It accomplishes nothing and ensures your demise. Of course he may let loose anything he has if we corner him and heís about to die.
Reports are that when Bush sent his request for support to Congress that it included some last minute link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Itís reasonable to ask for stronger evidence given that just the week before a report on an exhaustive search by the CIA of their intelligence material could find no link, even though Iím sure they were hoping to find one (note 1). Apparently there is much more of a link to terrorism in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
One really nasty scenario that could come out of this is long term involvement in holding Iraq together after the war. With the long term instabilities that may result, with the possibility that a country such as Iran may rule the region if we leave, we could find ourselves still there years from now.
Regardless of our best intentions many would see it as our playing dictator over the region. How would you feel if China overthrew Canada and a decade later was still there trying to mold it into something acceptable to them? Thatís how every Arab youth will feel, and many will be ready to sign up with the next terrorist group. How does that factor into our equation of whether war is the best approach?
We should take Iraq up on inspectors, back them up by bombing sites Iraq wonít let us inspect, continue to block materials for making weapons of mass destruction, watch with our satellites and spy planes for missile installations and such, and wait him out. Heís old and his internal opposition has new blood coming into it all the time.
I think the result would be that Hussein will never again be able to do any other country any significant harm, and we could avoid a whole lot of trouble that would go with a war.