Soap Box:  Saddam Hussein: The Looming War with Iraq

March 17, 2003

The whole world is poised to see what the United States will do next. We have a massive troop and equipment build up in the Iraqi region and our president, George Bush, has been threatening to attack Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. And this stance seems to have polarized America into two camps; those that believe we should attack and those that believe we should use diplomacy. I'm somewhere in between.

Here's a quick summary of the situation. In the early 90s, Hussein invaded Kuwait. Hussein's evil army killed and destroyed with a vengeance. The United States led a United Nations coalition force to drive Hussein out of Kuwait. After this, we made our first blunder. Although the United Nations resolution was only to get Hussein out of Kuwait, we should have used the opportunity to rid the world of this evil man right there. Since we were attacking Iraq anyway, I think we should have pushed forward and removed Hussein as part of the war effort.

The United Nations then setup up some resolutions that involved inspections of Iraq. Iraq was known for creating and using chemical and possible biological weapons. But from the start, the U.N. inspectors encountered resistance at every turn. In fact, the U.N. inspectors were eventually removed from the Iraq because they just couldn't do their job. There were two no-fly zones over Iraq that have been maintained to keep Hussein from attacking opposition groups within those regions.

Now fast forward to today. We had terrorist attacks on the United States in September of 2001. When we found out that a lot of the terrorists were living and trained in Afghanistan, we decided to attack and remove the Taliban, the anti-American government in place. That was a good thing as they were a direct threat to the United States. After that successful campaign, we have set out sights on Hussein and Iraq. The United States has become the world policeman against terrorism and our government, or more exactly our president, considers Iraq as the next terrorist nation that must be brought down before they can do anything to us. Indeed, after some political saber rattling and military buildup, Hussein has allowed U.N. inspectors back into the country and so far the inspectors have said that Iraq is complying with their wishes, although they do wish Iraq would be more pro-active.

Okay, do I think that Iraq has disclosed all of its weapons? No, I do think that Iraq is still hiding stuff, although I've not seen any proof. But the U.N. inspectors seem to be getting their way so I'm more comfortable with the situation as compared to a completely closed Iraq, in which we don't have any inspections.

The problem with President Bush's stance is that he, and specifically through the secretary of state Colin Powell, is saying that we should go to war with Iraq because he's not complying with all the U.N. resolutions. Is that a good enough reason? I say no and here's why. First of all, it's illogical and un-democratic. If we are going to cite U.N. resolutions, then we should listen to the U.N. when it comes to what we should do when those resolutions are not followed. It's only logical for the U.N. to prescribe the punishment for the resolution it created. If we supported the democratic method in which the resolutions were created, then we should support the democratic method of what punishment should be administered for not following those resolutions. To do otherwise is hypocritical.

Secondly, I don't see Iraq as a direct threat to the United States in today's climate. Now, they might very well be a threat, but I haven't seen the evidence yet that proves they are. Two years ago, I think we might have been more justified in attacking them. We didn't have access to the country so we had no control over them besides enforcing the no-fly zones. Today we have U.N. inspectors on the ground. And that's what we've been pushing for all these years. We should listen to what those inspectors are saying in regards to Iraq's cooperation and in what they are finding. The inspectors should be the ones that specify if resolutions are not being followed and they might should be the ones that could recommend necessary actions. It doesn't make sense for the United States to whine and complain about the U.N. not being in Iraq, only to keep complaining after they are actually in Iraq, just because we don't like what they are saying.

I'm not naïve. I, and the rest of the world knows Hussein would not be cooperating with the United Nations if not because of the threat of war from the United States. When he saw what we did in Afghanistan he knew we were serious. And when we started turning our sights on him, he started cooperating with the U.N. But despite his cooperation, we have continued our military buildup as we prepare for war. I do realize that some of Hussein's cooperation is a direct attempt to gain world sympathy and support. The fact of the matter is that no matter what the cause, Iraq is now cooperating with the United Nations and its inspectors.

Although Iraq might have been a potential direct threat to the United States, I don't think that threat level is as high today because we do have inspectors on the ground. I think we have enough inspectors there and enough surveillance that Iraq can be kept in check indefinitely. And that is the goal, right? We want to keep him from threatening the world. Since we are prepared to attack Iraq independent of the United Nations, we will always have that option if it is needed. In fact, we can use it as a tool to get Iraq to do anything we want.

If the United States is determined to go to war with Iraq we should do it for our own reasons, not because of U.N. resolutions. We should state and given evidence of the threat that Iraq imposes on our country, and then have Congress declare war. Does Congress even declare war anymore? They haven't since 1941 so we might out to strip that part out of the Constitution if we aren't going to abide by it. I still realize the need for the president to be able to sometimes attack the enemies of the United States without having to go to Congress. But his is different. We aren't taking about a cruise missile strike to destroy a few buildings. We are talking about invading a sovereign nation, destroying its military and government, and removing its leader from power. This is total war and only Congress should have the power to declare it. Now, I don't like Saddam Hussein. Personally I think he should be executed for what he and his men did to Kuwait. If fact, I'd probably prescribe a bullet to the head just for what they did to the animals in the Kuwait zoo. But if we are going to pretend to be a democratic part of the United Nations, then we need to abide by the democratic vote of the United Nations. We might not like the outcome, but that's part of being a democracy.

And I think there are more direct dangers to the United States other than Iraq. North Korea is actively working on the development of a nuclear weapon. We only suspect the same from Iraq. And Iraq doesn't have any long range missiles. North Korea is actively working on and testing a missile that is capable of delivering its payload onto the United States. Indeed, if equipped with an extra stage, this missile will have the capability of delivering a nuclear bomb to any point in the United States. A Korean defector has said that the leader of North Korea even stated something to the effect that if they develop this weapon system, the "bastard Americans" will be unable to touch them.

When it comes to direct threats, I am fearful of North Korea the most. I'm afraid that President Bush is focusing too much attention on Iraq, which is already contained by the United Nations, when he should be focusing his diplomacy on North Korea, a nation that can actually threaten the United States with a nuclear attack. And although we can assuredly destroy North Korea if they attacked us, do we want to loss a city such as Seattle or Los Angeles just to prove that point? And can we count on the fact that the North Korea knowing they will be destroyed, will keep them from attacking us? It has worked with larger nations such as the Soviet Union, but that was a much different situation. The Soviet Union was also a superpower that developed its massive weapons at the same time we did. As we've seen from smaller nations, sometimes those nations don't seem to have a grasp on what it means to insure your own survival by leaving the big guys alone. Even Japan kept fighting in 1945 after they should have known they would ultimately lose. And what about the Taliban? They openly challenged us. Instead of remaining powerful leaders of their own country, they chose to go against us, and they lost everything. Even Saddam Hussein held onto Kuwait until we used force to remove him. We should be actively working on diplomacy with North Korea. Although President Bush may remove one potential threat to the United States by attacking Iraq, I'm afraid that we are ignoring a much greater threat on the Korean peninsula. One that may cost many, many American lives.

In conclusion, if we are going to attack Iraq we should do so only with support of the United Nations. The U.N. comes up with the resolutions so they should come up with the punishment. If we feel that Iraq is a threat to the United States and that the U.N. is not properly addressing that threat, solid proof should be presented to Congress and they should be the ones to declare war. And lastly, we need to have an open dialog right now with North Korea. I think their threat is much, much greater.

Jeff Polston

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