Why Not Attack Iraq? (the Next War)

Article excerpt

Bush administration officials are making plans for a major air war and ground invasion of Iraq that could come as early as this fall but more likely will occur in early 2003. The advocates of attacking Iraq say that the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein is part of the campaign against terrorism and is needed to prevent Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction.

There are viable alternatives to war. The most effective means of addressing the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is to resume U.N. weapons inspections. Previous U.N. disarmament efforts were successful in eliminating Iraq's nuclear weapons program and destroying most of its long-range ballistic missiles and chemical weapons. Because of these efforts, according to a 1999 U.N. report, "the bulk, of Iraq's proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated."

To assure the return of inspectors and the completion of the U.N. disarmament mandate, the United States must drop the goal of armed regime change. Washington must also abide by the terms of Security Council resolutions, which promise the lifting of sanctions in exchange for Iraqi compliance with weapons dismantlement. The disarmament of Iraq must then lead to a Middle East "zone free from weapons of mass destruction," as specified in the original Gulf war cease-fire resolution.

War against Iraq would be monumental folly, for at least 10 reasons:

1. There is no justification for war. Iraq has not attacked or threatened the United States. It has not been implicated in the attacks of Sept. 11. There is no casus belli.

2. A military campaign against Iraq could kill thousands of innocent victims, inflicting further torment on a civilian population that has already suffered severely from more than 11 years of sanctions.

3. War and its aftermath would cost the United States tens of billions of dollars. The campaign against Afghanistan reportedly cost almost $2 billion a month. An attack against Iraq would be much larger, with proportionately greater costs.

4. The military overthrow of Saddam Hussein would require U.S. forces to occupy Iraq in hostile circumstances for a prolonged period of time. …