Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Making Up Our Minds about Iraq

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Making Up Our Minds about Iraq

Article excerpt

The Bush administration seems to be moving toward a major decision on Iraq.

Here are some of the questions we should be asking as the process moves along. The answers are based on public testimony at Senate hearings last week, statements by government officials, and a number of private conversations with Washington insiders.

Would we be better off without Saddam Hussein? Yes.

Why? He's a danger to world peace. Despite commitments to stop, he is continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction. These include chemical and probably biological arms, and he may be close to nuclear. He's got perhaps 20 Scud missiles left over from the Gulf War and is developing a two-stage rocket. Any of them could carry a chemical, biological, or nuclear warhead.

Should the US lead the charge to get rid of him? That decision is already taken. President Bush has committed to a "regime change" in Iraq. If that means by military action, only the US has the necessary will and the wherewithal.

How will the US do it? Ah, the question of the day. We live in a remarkable society in which war plans are in the public domain. Pentagon staffers are leaking. Administration officials are floating trial balloons. The Air Force wants to take the lead with precision bombing. The Army thinks ground troops will be needed for street fighting in Baghdad. Within the Army, some favor lean special operations units and others say it will take 250,000 soldiers with heavy armor.

When would the operation begin? Another critical question. Some reports have advance US military planning units in Kuwait and Qatar. But it does not seem that a final plan has been approved, a date set for its launch, or even a "Go" signal given by Bush.

What would trigger a "Go"? Some clear provocation by President Hussein that would rally world opinion. This could be firm evidence that Iraq had developed a nuclear bomb. It could be a clear link of Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Are there not opposition forces in Iraq that could get rid of Hussein? Not really. They are fragmented and riven by jealousies and conflicting agendas.

Does the US need allies for such a venture? Ideally, yes. …

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