War opens doors to debate

The Bush administration tells Americans that Iraq is a danger to world peace due to its possession of weapons of mass destruction.

However, the question remains: Is America ready to sacrifice the lives of its sons and daughters for reasons that are still unclear?

The current situation is a result of the complicated history between Iraq and the United Nations.

On Nov. 8, 2002, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously passed Resolution 1441. The resolution gives Iraq a “final opportunity” to comply with UN sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. It states, “Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations [to disarm].”

Resolution 1441 demands Iraq account for and destroy all of the chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons which it has acquired over the past 12 years.

A team of U.N. weapons inspectors began an in-depth inspection of Iraq’s weapons program on Nov. 18, 2002.

In a report to the UNSC two months later on Jan. 27, 2003 the inspectors concluded that “Iraq appears not to have come to genuine acceptance of the disarmament which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and live in peace.”

“Saddam has made a career out of thumbing his nose at all aspects of international law and many aspects and promulgations of international organizations,” said Dr. Dean Minix, Chair of the Department of Political Science at Northern Kentucky University.

President Bush believes Iraq’s refusal to cooperate with the resolution confirms that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is a threat to world peace.

According to Bush, the “only possible use he could have for those weapons is to dominate, intimidate or attack.”

With this in mind, Bush called for American support of military action against Iraq during his Jan. 28 State of the Union address.

Minix said the reason for Bush’s aggressive pursuit of a military solution is “because [Hussein] may obtain nuclear weapons and make the job more difficult.”

This proactive stance against Hussein stems from the War on Terrorism that was undertaken following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

One of Bush’s major goals after 9/11 was to eradicate state-sponsored terrorism.

He said United States intelligence discovered evidence that Hussein’s regime supports al Qaeda, the fundamentalist Muslim group who is blamed for the attacks on 9/11.

For the Bush administration, the link between Saddam Hussein and state-sponsored terrorism provides hard evidence that Hussein is a threat to world peace.

The administration believes that Hussein must be contained before he becomes even more dangerous.

In Minix’s words, “drastic situations may require drastic means.”

Bush’s commitment to military action against Iraq is not shared by some other world powers such as France, Germany, Russia, Canada, and China.

The leaders of these nations feel that all diplomatic avenues should be exhausted before considering military action.

“There are alternative ways of trying to deal with the problems that exist in Iraq and the Middle East of a diplomatic nature,” said Dr. Jerry Richards, Chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Philosophy. “These avenues have not been tried, not to their full extent, at any rate.”

Richards went on to say that as a democracy we must, “engage in the democratic process of discussion, dialogue, compromise, and let’s keep before our minds eye what we really want, value and believe in. If we do that, war does not have to happen.”

These avenues include giving more time to the inspection process and enforcing harsher economic boycotts, said Richards.

“If you are really concerned about the people of Iraq, war isn’t going to help those people,” he said. “We’ve got to do other things if we are really concerned, if we have humanitarian efforts, then there are other ways that we have to act to help them.”

Bush addressed this viewpoint in his State of the Union address.

“Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent,” he said. “Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.”

Bush and his supporters have made it clear that the U.S., along with Great Britain and other allies, is prepared to use full military force in an attack on Iraq, with or without U.N. support.

“I can assure you if [Hussein] doesn’t comply this time, we are going to ask the U.N to give authorization for all necessary means,” Secretary of State Colin Powell told CNN in a November interview.

“If the U.N. isn’t willing to do that, the United States, with like-minded nations, will go and disarm him forcefully.”

The United States has 180,000 troops in the Middle East with 26,000 troops from Great Britain and 2,000 from Australia joining them. The U.S. mobilizes additional troops daily. Should the U.S. decide to attack, Minix believes “it will begin initially with ground pummeling for probably 2.5 to 3 weeks.”

“Ground troops will be involved, there’s no question about it,” he said. “The real question on my mind and everyone else’s is: Will it be in Baghdad? Will they be engaged in military operations in urban terrain? We don’t want to get involved in Baghdad, doing it street by street. It’s bloody, it’s awful, it’s dangerous.”

Critics of the Bush administration believe the U.S. is rushing into a potential war.

Minix argues that recent events are not a rush because Saddam has refused for 12 years to comply with U.N. sanctions. The only reason the Bush administration seems to be rushing, according to Minix, is due to the fact that “this has been off the American public’s radar screen. But just because it’s off their radar screen doesn’t mean it’s not on somebody else’s, mainly the U.S. government.”

Hussein is no stranger to war. Since he became the President of Iraq in 1979, he has led his people into several military conflicts.

The first was the Iran/Iraq war, which began in 1980 and ended in a U.N.-sanctioned cease-fire in 1988. During this conflict the U.S. and other nations provided Iraq with intelligence and chemical and biological weapons.

Some people believe that the weapons the UN seeks today are the same weapons provided to Iraq during this time.

Minix believes, however, that “those weapons that we provided are obsolete by now; by and large they’re useless. Either that, or they’ve been destroyed by the Iranians.”

Also in 1988, Hussein used chemical warfare to attack the Kurds.

Iraq invaded Kuwait two years later in 1990, starting the Gulf War.

A coalition of U.N. forces, including British and U.S. troops, defeated Iraq and later imposed sanctions to limit Iraq’s economy and weapons program. It is Saddam Hussein’s defiance of these sanctions that is the primary justification for the impending war.

However, Richards feels that while Hussein is a very unstable person, he is not a threat to the United States.

“There is no imminent threat that exists. Iraq isn’t threatening other nations or peoples to use what has come to be called now weapons of mass destruction.”

He cites the idea of just war morality, a code of conduct used to assess whether a war is morally applicable.

“According to just war morality, the only just cause to engage in war is to protect self and others from imminent harm and danger,” he said. “And in terms of that morality I would consider a war against Iraq to be immoral. It wouldn’t satisfy just cause because there is no imminent threat.”

In his State of the Union address, Bush said, “We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all. If war is forced upon us, we will fi
ght in a just cause and by just means — sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military — and we will prevail.”