March 2, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Whither Iraq?

In these pages, I have often expressed my support for extending the War on Terror to Iraq and Saddam Hussein. If I had to choose which camp to join—the antiwar protestors or the Bush supporters—I would probably pitch my tent in the latter. But, as with so many other issues, I find myself most comfortable standing right in the middle, between both extremes. It's no different with this issue, though most of my recent commentaries related to Iraq may have appeared to wholeheartedly endorse a U.S.-led attack on Saddam Hussein.

I vacillate on an almost daily basis. On the one hand, I believe a regime change (if I can use a phrase which has become a tired cliché in near-record time) in Iraq would create much more stability in the region over the long term. I also agree with many pundits who argue that removing Hussein from power and helping the Iraqi people to form a democratic government would go far toward influencing the formation of democracies in neighboring countries (especially in Iran, where millions of young people hungry for freedom need only a match to light the blaze of progressive reforms).

On the other hand, the Bush administration grows more isolated every day in its bid to secure world support for an invasion of Iraq. If events continue as they have gone over the past few weeks, the U.S. will truly go it alone in an attack against Iraq. Such a prospect scares the hell out of me. Not only would such unilateral action throw heaps of fuel on the fire of anti-Americanism around the world (which already burns brightly), it would also—in my opinion—increase the likelihood of terrorism against our country and its people, rather than decrease it.

Furthermore, as inspections within Iraq continue, allegations of weapons of mass destruction grow increasingly circumstantial. Though rumors persist of Iraqi ships, laden with chemical and biological weapons, sailing covertly through the Indian Ocean, no hard evidence has yet been found. The pro-war side claims that it is up to Saddam Hussein to prove he has destroyed his WMDs, not up to us to prove he still has them. This is a strong argument, but I believe war requires more than the proof of a negative. An attack against Iraq would be a "preemptive" action. As such, it absolutely requires some measure of bilateral support from the United Nations, even if the latter grows more irrelevant every day.

Had Iraq directly attacked us or another country, an invasion would be a given, whether or not the U.N. supported it. Look at how quickly and effectively we moved against Afghanistan, once we determined that the Taliban supported al Qaeda, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, and how little global opposition we faced. We had been wounded, and we were fighting back. With Iraq, however, we have not yet been touched. What we contemplate is a premeditated invasion of a sovereign state. Without clear-cut, undeniable justification, we will rightly wear the badge of imperialists. Think about it: if a burglar enters your home in the middle of the night, gun drawn, and you react by shooting him to death, no one would question your actions. If you track down the person who gave that criminal—or who plans to give to another criminal—a gun and a key to your front door, you'd better make a damn good case for your actions before killing him too, or you'll be the bad guy yourself.

 

Development note: I've noticed that this site doesn't look like it should in Netscape Navigator. Rather than waste time jury-rigging it to look right in a soon-to-be-obsolete browser, I'll just add the cliché "This site best viewed with Internet Explorer."
©2003
Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography. (Paul Rodriguez)

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