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The Iraqi Question
by Brian S. Wise
28 August 2002

A brief analysis of the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and its critics.



Last week in Crawford, President Bush said no decision had been made in relation to whether or not the United States will invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, which is a lie. As presidential lies go, this one was pretty transparent, but necessary, as to not lend consult to our enemies, be they foreign or domestic. But a decision has been made, in the affirmative; the only remaining questions are, “Who will join us in our crusade?” and “What plan of attack should be employed?”

The Chicago Sun-Times, playing the contrarion, echoed the sentiment advanced by many papers: “GOP WOBBLES ON IRAQ WAR,” claimed Monday’s edition, “Bush weighs options while members of his party stay divided.” Really? In what ways? “Republicans sounded a mixed message Sunday for President Bush about whether, when and how to use military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power.” Slow down a minute: Republicans, by and large, aren’t at all divided on whether or not an Iraqi invasion is the proper course of action; the rank and file understand Hussein’s removal is necessary, not only for our own imminent safety, but for the continued safety of the Middle East, as well (for whatever that should mean).

So exactly who is bothered? Most notably, Messrs. Scowcroft, Eagleburger and Baker, senior officials of the first Bush administration. Each have their figurative panties in a bunch concerning the coming overthrow. What should first be said about all three of these men is, they all know better than this. Not in offering opposition, of course, but in being so foolish about it; an invasion of Kuwait (and very reasonable fears about American oil shortages) justified the first war a decade ago, but a manufacturing and proliferation of “weapons of mass destruction” (WOMD) somehow isn’t worth a second visit, this time to downtown Baghdad?

Scowcroft has an explanation for this. “[Hussein] is unlikely to risk his investment in weapons of mass destruction, much less his country, by handing such weapons to terrorists who would use them for their own purposes and leave Baghdad as the return address. Threatening to use these weapons for blackmail – much less their actual use – would open him and his entire regime to a devastating response by the U.S. While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor.” Which goes a long way in explaining why … he invaded Kuwait in the first place, in an effort to reclaim it for Iraq, which necessitated the first Gulf War. Madmen do not, as a commonality, possess WOMD toward the end of their own continued sovereignty (as Hussein has proven by gassing and slaughtering Kurds), they have them to inflict damage onto their enemies, if not today than someday.

The “war on terrorism” has produced several very popular misconceptions; the most notable being you can wage a war, seemingly forever, against enemies who have yet to commit any overt act of aggression against the United States or its relevant allies. In Saddam Hussein’s case, we are fully aware of his actions before and since the Gulf War, and yet there continues to be not only debate, but wonder as to what is the right thing to do. Granted, rolling into Baghdad and taking the capital city by force today wouldn’t be as wise as, say, forcing United Nations weapons inspectors back down Hussein’s throat in 1998, but given the cards the Bush administration was dealt, this will be fine.
Scowcroft, Baker and Eagleburger are missing one grand point: wars end because one nation beats another into submission, until the lesser nation surrenders in its own best interest, at which point a document of surrender is mandated. It bares mentioning that a document of surrender isn’t a list of suggestions, rather an instrument of dominance: Iraq will do A, B and C; Iraq will not do X, Y and Z. Whether or not Iraq entered into that surrender with good intentions seems well beyond the point by now, doesn’t it? Of course not; one struggles to find a condition not openly broken, if indeed one exists.

And the question is raised, “Does President Bush have to seek Congressional approval for this war?” It’s a question that seems obvious; yes, as a common sense move if not a legal one. This is clear: should the President choose to go ahead without the Congressional thumbs up, the White House legal team will find a way out, and there will be no real consequence. George Bush will not, for example, be impeached for beginning, fighting and winning the Iraqi War without Congressional approval.

But that’s not the point. One should have all of his political (and some would argue, Constitutional) ducks in a row, because war shouldn’t be entered into hastily. And because no war, especially one which we’re beginning, should have no distinguishing features other than our imminent victory, all proper steps should be taken, if even only in the name of appearance. History, and the Iraqi people, will end up thanking President Bush for this foresight.

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