Should We Invade Iraq? ; British and US Commentators Are Divided over Plans to Launch Military Strikes against Saddam Hussein

By Rupert Cornwell, Kim Sengupta and Jane Picken | The Independent (London, England), August 4, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Should We Invade Iraq? ; British and US Commentators Are Divided over Plans to Launch Military Strikes against Saddam Hussein


Rupert Cornwell, Kim Sengupta and Jane Picken, The Independent (London, England)


Yes

Bill Kristol, former Vice-President Dan Quayle's chief of staff, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard

We may just wake up one day in September, and there might have been rumours that we were going to do something, but nothing that would necessarily convince Saddam that we're coming, and suddenly, we could be there. He's a dangerous tyrant who's attacked his neighbours and has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people. We can't wake up two years from now and discover that, guess what, he's got them, he smuggled them to a couple of terrorist groups, and they're going off in New York and God knows where else.

No

Jessica Matthews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The last thing we want over the long term is to live in a world where countries are invited to decide that they don't like another government or they have a right to depose it because they consider it evil. What is in our interest is to live in a rule of law governed by the rule of law. It matters to the US, the legitimacy of how it acts, what it chooses to do. That also pre-supposes a recognition that what other countries think matters. The administration has shown a very thinly veiled contempt for the opinions of others and more of an inclination to say "We'll decide". This is the key issue about moving against Iraq. We think they're evil. We'll act [in] preventive self-defence. But suppose India decides that Pakistan is evil? We'll have a nuclear war on our hands.

Yes

Julian Thompson, retired major-general, Falklands veteran, military academic

There are definite fears that Saddam Hussein may have acquired chemical and biological weapons and could well have acquired means of delivery. In that respect there could be justification for taking action against him, but we have got to be very careful that we do not go blundering into something. The thing that strikes me as a military man is how such a campaign will be carried out. From past experience we shall need a six- month run-up for a land campaign, with bases in the area. Where is that real estate going to come from? Unless the plan is to carry out an operation without any bases in the region, I am extremely puzzled by the logistics.

No

Paul Beaver, British defence analyst, commentator

A war against Iraq will destroy all the goodwill the US and Britain have built up in the Arab and Muslim world. It will be disastrous. There is no guarantee that such a war will lead to a regime change in Iraq, and there appears to be no clear idea about who should replace Saddam. If any military action is carried out, it must be based on a clear legal mandate. I do not believe such a mandate exists.

Yes

Bruce George, Labour chair of the Commons defence select committee

I'm not opposed to military action, provided that a number of conditions are met. Evidence has to be presented that Saddam Hussein has acquired weapons of mass destruction. In turn the public and Parliament have to be persuaded as to why military action is necessary. Another criterion is sorting out the current conflict in the Middle East. There is a lot to do before we're in the position politically and militarily to attack Saddam Hussein, and America and Britain have a lot of selling to do.

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