I'd like to hit some of the major counterpoints made against fhayashi
's well written writeup in the name of rational diplomacy
Iraq poses no real imminent threat
Saddam Hussein does have a reason to attack the United States. Foremost, we are the only geopolitical entity currently vocal about being interested in attacking Iraq with intent to unseat him. If nothing else, a successful large-scale attack upon the United States would ensure his continued power.
That being said, Hussein has little capability to attack the United States in a classic, toe-to-toe war. Ergo, Hussein's only option is asymmetrical warfare if he were to decide to attack the United States. The flaw in fhayashi's thinking lies in that asymmetrical warfare assets are largely invisible to the target. For example, before the strikes in 2001, most Americans did not know who Osama bin Laden was. He did not appear to be a threat to the general public, and despite his operations in Sudan (the Embassy Bombings for example) he managed to evade media attention. We must not make the mistake of assuming that because Hussein does not have a vaunted weapon or unit like he had in the Republican Guard that lands on the front page of the Times or Post that he does not have potent strike capability. Does the burden of proof lie upon us? Certainly, and that is why the Secretary of Defense should not be so evasive during his press conferences. However, if Secretary Rumsfeld decided to show our proof, he could quote that captured documents and POWs from the Gulf War indicated that Iraq had trained teams of chemical and biological warfare specialists. (1) Although UN inspectors claim that this capability might have been removed, can they prove that it has? Simply not observing something does not mean it does not exist. The prudent assumption is that the weapons and crews still exist.
Iraq played less of a role in the September 11th terrorist attack than other countries
Perhaps Saudi Arabia is the logical next target because of both their financial and philosophical support towards terrorists. Yet it should be noted that the Middle East's populace was recently surveyed by Gallup to believe that Arab terrorists were not responsible for the attack on 11 September, 2001 (61%). 72% of Kuwaitis hate the United States. (2)
The fact of the matter is that the entire region should be considered the next target. With the exception of Israel, we really don't have that many friends in the nations' leadership over there. It appears that many Middle Easterners would either gladly participate in our destruction, or at least turn their heads and condone the attacks. As Victor Davis Hanson remarked,
America learned that "moderate" Arab countries are as dangerous as hostile Islamic nations. After September 11, being a Saudi, Egyptian, or Kuwaiti means nothing special to an American — at least not proof of being any more friendly or hostile than having Libyan, Syrian, or Lebanese citizenship. Indeed, our entire postwar policy of propping up autocracies on the triad of their anticommunism, oil, and arms purchases — like NATO — belongs to a pre-9/11 age of Soviet aggrandizement and petroleum monopolies. Now we learn that broadcasting state-sponsored hatred of Israel and the United States is just as deadly to our interests as scud missiles — and as likely to come from friends as enemies. Worst-case scenarios like Iran and Afghanistan offer more long-term hope than "stable regimes" like the Saudis; governments that hate us have populations that like us — and vice versa; the Saudi royal family, whom 5,000 American troops protect, and the Mubarak autocracy, which has snagged billions of American dollars, are as afraid of democratic reformers as they are Islamic fundamentalists. And with good reason: Islamic governments in Iran and under the Taliban were as hated by the masses as Arab secular reformers in exile in the West are praised and championed.
Perhaps we should strike Saudi Arabia next. I don't discredit that thought. However, I refuse to believe that Iraq is completely innocent and unwarranting of a strike. Whether he has attacked our interests directly or not, Hussein has conspired in genocide, violated terms of international agreements (3) , and supported international terrorism, at least in word, if not action then certainly through his inaction. Either you are with us, or you are against us. The Middle East is against us. Why are we pretending like liberal democracies still exist there, and why are we protecting them?
Possession of weapons of mass destruction is no casus belli
No, it's not. But as mentioned in fhayashi's writeup, if a nation were to threaten its neighbors with those weapons with the sole intent of dragging the two nations into a drawn out war, that is casus belli. Iraq has done precisely that. (4) Furthermore, the Director: Central Intelligence has testified before Congress that
"We believe that Iraq has probably continued at least low-level theoretical R&D associated with its nuclear program... Although we were already concerned about a reconstituted nuclear weapons program, our concerns increased in September 2000 when Saddam publicly exhorted his "Nuclear Mujahidin" to "defeat the enemy."...
Iraq continues to pursue development of SRBM systems that are not prohibited by the United Nations and may be expanding to longer-range systems...The solid-propellant missile development program may now be receiving a higher priority, and development of the Ababil-100 SRBM – two such airframes and TELs were paraded on 31 December—and possibly longer range systems may be moving ahead rapidly." (5)
Who do you replace Saddam with?
What do you mean 'with whom do we replace Saddam'? We don't do any replacing. That's not our duty, decision or even privilege. The idea is that we allow them to create a liberal republic with their own constitution or equivalent document and distributed power. The Iraqis are ready for just such a government. Did you see the massive number of defections during the Gulf War? People who are afraid surrender. People who are impressed and envious defect. Hanson writes
"Our own elites whine that we have dumbed everything down to the lowest common denominator. Maybe, but the world's billions have responded by voting with their feet, pocketbook, and remote control for almost everything American. It is precisely this media and consumer tidal wave, when coupled with the omnipotence of the American military, that has an ambivalent effect on most in the world — one that plays out on the personal level absurdly as a mixture of desire for all things American and yet shame for that very craving."
Enough people have died already
Iraq has no hope of prevailing in a straight fight, and after Desert Storm the Iraqis probably realize that. Their best and most likely strategy will be to try to create the political conditions that would lead the Bush administration to think twice about an attack. And one way to do that is to make us believe that we are going to face a Mesopotamian Stalingrad." said Kenneth M. Pollack, the director of national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former C.I.A. analyst of the Iraqi military. (6) If anyone is guilty of making this a conflict that endangers civilians and large numbers of soldiers on both sides, it is the military leadership of Iraq. Considering the United States forces possess superior armor, infantry and amphibious capabilities as well as unit size strength, plus near complete air domination, it is highly in the United States' favor to have this be a wide-open, high-intensity, high-tempo war. Unfortunately, history indicates that wars where the United States had tried to make "clean" or less socially offensive tended to be uglier, more costly missions (i.e. the Vietnam War). In contrast, missions where the military was given free rein tended to be lower in casulties (i.e. William Tecumseh Sherman and his Civil War campaign, Afghanistan or the Gulf War). This is a lesson reflected in the Greek history during the Siege of Lesbos or the Peloponnesian War contrasted to the Battle of Marathon or the Battle of Salamis. We see the same lesson in the British history with the American Revolution and World War I (both of which were costly and unglorious) versus their finest hour when the tempo of war was high under the German Blitzkreig. Ergo, it would be in favor for Hussein to attempt to write the script for Blackhawk Down 2. Hanson finally concludes that
"Contrary to what the European and Arab nations profess, the United States has no innate desire to fight Iraqis — and especially no wish to lose a single one of its precious youth in Saddam's godforsaken regime 8,000 miles away, fighting a madman that in 2002 does not immediately threaten the security of the United States. Instead we are now weighing the risk of American lives and the expense of billions of dollars in a time of recession for the evil that he has done and the greater evil that he will most certainly do." (7)
(6)26 August, 2002 New York Times
. "Iraq Said to Plan Tangling the U.S. in Street Fighting" Michael R. Gordon