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The Case Against Attacking Iraq

By Scott Gillette
[email protected]


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The Bush Administration had dedicated itself to deposing Saddam Hussein by invading Iraq for several months now. It appears that some sort of military action is likely, probably at the beginning of next year. This column asserts unequivocally that any action will have devastating consequences for the administration itself, the United States and the world.

Bush�s last nationally televised addressed address raised the specter of a "mushroom cloud" if Hussein wasn�t stopped, and soon. British Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined this fear in greater detail in front of Parliament by explaining how Hussein sought several items for the eventual creation of a few nukes. These items, listed previously in a column by Gordon Prather of, include gases for the enrichment or uranium, and materials to manufacture third-generation composite gas centrifuge rotors for the eventual production of nuclear weapons.

Now, it is true that Hussein had obtained these items�in 1988. By the end of the Persian Gulf War, Hussein�s nuclear capabilities were destroyed as part of the cease-fire agreement. Hussein�s ability to receive the materials needed to produce uranium was eliminated, because the Nuclear Supplies Group, which includes all countries with nuclear weapons, began to tighten up their procedures, which was proper. Hussein originally got these supplies from Germany, and Germany prosecuted those individuals who supplied Hussein with the weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Action Team was in Iraq throughout the 1990s, and never had a problem verifying that Hussein�s ability to create a nuclear weapon was destroyed. (Inspectors for chemical and biological weapons complained about non-compliance. The nuclear inspectors never did, ever.) Those inspections stopped after 1998, but resumed in 2022. For Hussein to create a nuclear bomb, he would need tons of uranium. It�s extremely unlikely that Iraq now or ever could produce more than a few grams. If he did try to create any type of nuclear device, our satellites would pick that up within seconds.

Did Blair intentionally mix up the dates 1998 and 1988 so in order to justify an eventual attack on Iraq? It sure looks that way, but that is ultimately speculation. What truly matters is that if an invasion of Iraq is going to occur, it should be based on what Hussein�s nuclear capability was in 1988, not since 1998.

The aforementioned Gordon Prather, who is a nuclear physicist, wrote the following on September 14th: "President Bush may make his case to the UN that Saddam has nukes and intends to use them against us. That isn't going to be easy to do, since almost no one who knows anything about nukes thinks Saddam does have indigenous nukes." Anyone interested in learning in greater detail about Hussein�s inability to produce and ultimately detonate a nuke should go to Gordon Prather�s archives.

But what about chemical and biological weapons? It is likely that Hussein possesses these weapons, sure. But Hussein did not use them during the Gulf War, as he feared massive retaliation by the United States. Indeed, Hussein would never use these weapons unless he had nothing to lose, which is precisely what would happen if the United States invaded Iraq.

Many commentaries bring up the slaughter of Kurds at Halabja during the Iran-Iraq war as proof of Hussein�s willingness to use these weapons at the slightest provocation. However, the facts of that incident Iran, and not Iraq, with the use of chemical weapons in that case.

Jude Wanniski of Polyconomics has been following this story for quite some time, and he points out that documents of the United States government prove that Iraq was not culpable for that particular attack. The CIA has stood by the U.S. Army War College Report on the incident, which states the following:

"Blood agents were allegedly responsible for the most infamous use of chemicals in the war � the killing of Kurds at Halabjah. Since the Iraqis have no history of using these two agents- and the Iranians do- we conclude that the Iranians perpetrated the attack."

Moreover, the weapons inspectors in Iraq, who go by the name of UNSCOM, were able to destroy more than 90% of Iraq�s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. This work was done by the Iraqi of fear of military retaliation, and by the diligence of Scott Ritter and the UNSCOM team.

This means that Iraq probably still possesses 10% of its former capability. This is a legitimate threat. This warrants the use of inspectors in Iraq. This does not justify a full-scale invasion.

Scott Ritter, formerly of UNSCOM, echoed this sentiment himself with an interview with CNN. "No one has substantiated the allegations that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction or is attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And of course that is the reason we have been given for going to war against Iraq -- because of the threat posed by these weapons. It has been nothing but rhetorically laced speculation, not hard facts, that have been presented by either the United States or Great Britain to back this up, and until they provide hard facts, there is no case for war."

This raises the ire of individuals who want to insure that terrorists and tyrants do not hold our country hostage. But this knee-jerk reaction ignores this fundamental point: Another terrorist activity akin to 9/11 will become more likely, not less likely, if the United States invades Iraq.

The worst threats to the United States do not arise from the military capability of adversarial nation-states. The U.S. has more military firepower than the 2nd to 10th most powerful countries in the world combined. There is no nation on the planet, especially Iraq, which could successfully pose any conventional military threat.

September 11th occurred because a mere 19 people converted civilian aircraft as missiles. That act demonstrated to the world that the U.S. is vulnerable to an unconventional, surprise attack from unsuspected sources on our own soil. Invading Iraq would not solve this problem; instead, invading Iraq would exacerbate domestic threats by producing a whole new set of would-be terrorists hell-bent on counteracting U.S. encroachment into Islamic territory with martyr attacks around the world. 

Moreover, It is not in Saddam Hussein�s makeup to wage a preemptive strike against the United States. Hussein is a Stalinist, not because he is a Communist, but because he is an admirer and emulator of Josef Stalin. As brutal and distasteful as he was, Stalin did not attack and prey upon enemies stronger than him. He acquired power by liquidating individuals and countries that were weaker than him. His primary goal has and continues to be survival, and then the accumulation and consolidation of power in his own nation.

Some may interpret my column as a defense of Saddam Hussein. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hussein would kill you or me if it made him more powerful, or if he thought it would make him more powerful. Engaging in a Manichean attack against the United States would only end his life.

Leaving the Hussein issue aside, the Iraqi people have suffered enough. Since the end of the Persian Gulf War, Iraq has been deprived of water systems, medical supplies, and other necessities as a result of the continued bombing of Iraq and the sanctions imposed on the country. 1.5 million people have died, 600,000 of them children. This is one of the most unreported stories in the last ten years, and it certainly serves as one of America�s most shameful actions since the carpet-bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. 

Does Hussein share complicity in the suffering of his people as a result of the sanctions? You bet. But the United States does as well, and the least we could do for the Iraqi people is to airlift the country with supplies, instead of invading a country whose infrastructure, civil society and future generation have been all demolished.

The United States now possesses more power than any other group of people in the history of the world by a mile. The question is how the U.S. will wield that power over the world over the next couple of generations. If the United States invades Iraq, then the message to the world will be that other countries can be invaded on the assumption that they pose a threat. This is the policy of preemption, and the idea of might makes right. Any notion that war should be conducted on the basis of aggression will be pushed off the table.

Such policies towards Iraq may reap some very bitter fruit. If the U.S. invades Iraq, how can we tell China not to invade Taiwan? For India not to invade Pakistan? For Iraq not to invade Kuwait again? The United States will be left without any moral authority, because there will be no standard that can be applied to any country, except for the whims and suppositions of its leaders.

There are numerous other reasons not to invade Iraq, but hopefully this column has served its purpose for now. That purpose is to stand up against the folly and devastation being planned in the name of national security. Hopefully, enough voices will dissent from this potential war so as to make its implementation impossible.

I thought the 21st century would be far more peaceful than the 20th century that has been left behind. I guess I was na�ve. Maybe the invasion and occupation of Iraq will go as well as the Persian Gulf War did, although it will mean thousands of more innocent Iraqis being killed. I just see no justification for finding the answer.


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