Questioning U.S., Iraqi conflict

By Staff Writer
September 19, 2002

I am a man torn between his country and his conscience. While I recognize that Saddam Hussein is a valid threat to our world, and I agree with President Bush that he should be dealt with. I am unsure that the method we should approach is an offensive one.

Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld seem to feel that a reactive approach is necessary, while a more diplomatic Secretary of State Powell seems to think that a passive approach is more appropriate.

All the while, the government seems to be using the guise of a vague definition of a “war on terror” to shield legitimate questions and concerns over a strike against Iraq. And while Bush’s rock’em, sock’em politics seemed appropriate as an immediate response to a surprise 9/11 offensive attacks, a more thorough and thought out plan against Iraq would certainly be prudent.

Meanwhile, the issues of intelligence continue to present themselves in a national spotlight. Revelations of Hussein’s present weapons arsenal, including the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction, continue to seep into the news. Hussein has also been known to use chemical weapons against his own people.

All of the aforementioned reasons are valid in an attack against Iraq. However, with a shaky economy, and the ever-present breaches of national security, I wonder where our leadership is at home. With our collective attention turned towards the Middle East, Bush and his cabinet seem hell-bent to hoodwink the public, trying to convince them that a war is necessary.

Is Hussein a threat? Absolutely. Should he be taken out? Absolutely. Does this need to be done now? That is the million-dollar question.

While pre-9/11 “chatter” seemed to show communications between al-Qaeda and Iraq, can the president really use 9/11 as a valid argument, or excuse, to remove Hussein in what, no doubt, will be a bloody and prolonged war?

It appears that Bush has decided to use the victims of 9/11 as a marketing ploy to the nation, selling us a war that may not be necessary. Bush went so far as to use his speech on the anniversary of 9/11 to jab at the possibility of a strike against Iraq.

Hussein has been an ever-present threat to the security of the nation, drawing attention from the previous two presidents, Bush and Clinton.

In the late ’90s, Clinton sent tomahawk missiles into Iraq as “punishment” for Hussein’s alleged plans to assassinate his predecessor Bush. Prior to that, the United States. was involved in an altercation with Iraq over its occupation of Kuwait.

Here’s where my conflict lies. I agree that Hussein needs to be removed. A dictator is only as good as the people who listen to him. Hussein went so far as to gas his own people when they dissented with his opinions.

The United States. should worry about the officers under Hussein, mainly his son Oday, whom Hussein tried to have assassinated. Take out the foundation of their government, and Hussein will be powerless.

Tactics like that are appropriate for concrete governments, although not so appropriate for terror cells like al-Qaeda. Our nation has not been able to physically capture Osama bin Laden, although they have captured several of his operatives. The job is not finished there, and our government should not half-ass the job.

I believe in our government and have faith in our leadership. However, my mind tells me that President Bush is corralling up an area of the world that is simply unable (and unwilling) to conform to our ideals of a western and civilized society. Our government must finish the job in Afghanistan, firm up the interim government and prevent future assassination attempts against leaders of that new government. We need to rid our homeland of al-Qaeda’s sleeper cells.

Our first priority should be to protect our homeland. Many in the Bush administration would like us to think that an attack on Iraq is doing just that.

However, history shows us that Americans are most successful when being provoked into action, rather than instigating action. See Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto, whose fear of “awaking a sleeping giant” proved to be legitimate.

Loss of American lives is decidedly more palatable when our causes are justifiable. Point to a blank southern Manhattan skyline, and you will point to the reason we are in Afghanistan. Stand above the wreckage of the USS Arizona, and you will see reason enough for World War II.

Look at the 1998 altercation in Serbia, in which the United States. and NATO bombed Slobodan Milosevic out of power. It went nearly unnoticed by the American public, devoid of public support and begging the question, “why?”

If the Bush administration wants to rule the world as if it were the Wild West, or some un-chartered territory, then show me reason for that “why?” Failed U.N. inspections are not reason enough to overtake the Iraqi government. Failed policy implemented by Western governments are not reason enough to overtake the Iraqi government. Our nation runs the risk of enveloping ourselves in a never-ending war that will only cause the cultures in the Middle East to dislike our country further.

America should be a sleeping giant. There is a fine line between taking preemptive measures to protect our homeland, and interfering with other country’s sovereignty.

It is not unreasonable to insist that our government provide substantial reason for any act of war or violence, just as terrifying to the citizens of these countries as 9/11 was to ours. It is not unreasonable to insist that our government provide ample instances or occurrences in which Hussein peaked American security interests.

Moreover, it is not unreasonable to insist that our government provide adequate intent, purpose and justification for each and every single American life that will inevitably be lost in a conflict with Iraq.

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