Journalist explains conflict with Iraq

By Kelly Finlan
March 20, 2003

Lauren Joseph

Trudy Rubin, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, spoke not about the potential war in Iraq or the conflict that exists between the United States and the Middle East, but the imminent war, the war that will, without a doubt in her mind, be a very real part of all of our lives in a matter of weeks if not days.

“It’s not a question of war and peace,” she said. She believes Saddam Hussein is a risk to the Middle East, but she questions the immediate danger to the United States. “He probably wouldn’t risk attacking the US,” she said.

Hussein’s rule is worse than that under the Soviet state, she said. Under Saddam’s jurisdiction, those not complying with the desires of the dictator are tortured, often for decades at a time, are families are punished as well. A doctor with whom Rubin was acquainted with was imprisoned and tortured for 12 years for refusing to build weapons of mass destruction before he was smuggled out.

His megalomania abounds in the Middle East. Shared oil fields caused the Iraqi military to invade neighboring Kuwait. After their submission of the fields in question, Hussein refused to leave Kuwaiti territory, leading to the Gulf War. He destroys his own people. Five thousand were killed by mustard gas. Thousands died as they fled the pursuit of the Iraqi army.

The only concrete evidence presented that would support the Bush Administration’s theory regarding the direct risk to the Unites States was the fact that he has allowed the harboring of radical fundamentalist Muslim groups, not unlike al Qaeda, in the small villages in the mountains of Iraq. So far, she said, “Saddam is not helping al Qaeda.”

Rubin also questioned the support the United States will find once in Iraq. When the Shiite Muslims rose up against the Iraqi military during the Gulf War (as a result of U.S. pressure), they were slaughtered. The American military did nothing to defend them.

In the mean time, the sanctions initiated by the Clinton administration are failing. The Iraqi budget, the living stipend the United Nations doles out to Iraq from the proceeds of their oil production, is not going toward the food and medicine the people so desperately need. The United Nations inspections the plan of containment required were not, and had not, been carried for quite some time, and as a result, Hussein’s activities became increasingly questionable. Moreover, if the inspectors find that there are not weapons of mass destruction within the Iraqi borders, all sanctions would be removed as well as the patrol of the no-fly zone, leaving Hussein to do whatever he wants within his own borders.

“War is a mistake,” Rubin said. If the United States, as a part of the United Nations, had followed the plan for containment, “branning Saddam an outlaw,” then war may have been avoided, but this would be a permanent solution. It would take the efforts of all U.N. affiliates, and they are not willing to comply. The rift between the U.S. and other U.N. nations is growing and will continue to grow due to its behavior toward its allies and the alienation thereof, she said.

In closing, Rubin posed the question, “What will happen after the war?” Those most vehemently in favor of war are those who believe that a long-tem occupation of Iraq is unnecessary, that post-war Iraq can be modeled after post-WWII France. But there is no one to rule, she said. And what’s worse is the fact that the Muslims in Turkey may want to unite with those in northern Turkey.

“It is over our heads,” she said. “What happens after war is alienation.”

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Kelly Finlan

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