Play It Again Sam! (A Look Back on The Bad Idea of Invading Iraq: August 19th, 2002)
Note: This is Part 2 of a special three-part series on the US plan to invade Iraq.
President Bush is spending an increasing amount of time addressing his goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein reportedly by way of a US invasion of Iraq even though there is no convincing argument that an invasion of Iraq would be justified or even that it would further the national security interests of the US. The question that presents itself is why the Bush Administration appears so determined to invade Iraq when the other members of the ‘axis of evil’ appear to be so much more deserving of being on the receiving end of US military action.
The Bush Administration has thus far failed to state its case as to why the lives of American soldiers should once again be put at risk and why the US should attack a distant country that has never attacked us and whose people have suffered under devastating UN sanctions during the past decade. They have demonstrated no evidence to link Iraq to Al Queda or indeed to any organizations suspected of committing actual or attempted terrorist acts committed on US soil. Iran, on the other hand, has been listed by the US State Department for two consecutive years as the greatest state sponsor of terror and has proven links to Al Queda, yet the Bush Administration has informed Iran’s leaders that the US will not launch an attack against them despite the existence of ample justification for doing so.
The only arguable rationale the Administration has come up with for invading Iraq is that Iraq is trying to develop nuclear weapons along with several other rogue states like Iran and North Korea, which are far more advanced in the process. While the Bush Administration sent a high-level official to attend the recent groundbreaking for one of two large nuclear reactors it is sponsoring which according to House Republican Policy Committee experts who testified to Congress in 1999 will allow North Korea to increase its nuclear weapons production from a few warheads a year to sixty a year, it continues its illogical focus on Iraq which poses a far lesser threat to the US.
A recent CIA report entitled “Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat Though 2015” stated that “the Intelligence Community estimates that Iraq, unconstrained, would take several years to produce enough fissile material to make a(n atomic) weapon.” However, Iraq will not be left unconstrained because UN sanctions on WMD technology shipments to Iraq are likely to remain in place indefinitely. The same report states that Iraq is “unlikely to test before 2015 any ICBMs that would threaten the United States, even if UN prohibitions were eliminated or significantly reduced in the next few years.” Meanwhile, North Korea has developed an ICBM, which has a range that makes it capable of vaporizing US cities today. Accordingly, the Administration’s inexplicable fixation of Iraq cannot be explained or justified either on the basis of its alleged terrorist links or its emerging WMD capability.
The Bush Administration would need specific Congressional authorization for an invasion of Iraq since it has been unable to come up with any evidence to demonstrate a link to Al Queda. However, Administration spokesman have indicated that they do not believe that congressional approval would be necessary for such an attack and that an invasion of Iraq could be included as part of the “war on terror” even without such evidence. Perhaps, they argue that way because holding a vote to approve war with Iraq might result in a congressional debate that would serve to further educate the American public and consequently decrease their support for a pre-emptive US invasion of Iraq.
In recent weeks, there has been a growing bipartisan chorus of voices against engaging in an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq. Several high-ranking current and former US officials have raised serious doubts as to the wisdom and justifiability of another US invasion of Iraq. Joseph P. Hoar, a retired Marine Corps general who served as commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf after the 1991 war, has been particularly skeptical of another invasion of Iraq, calling it “risky” and perhaps unnecessary. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a longtime Bush partisan, has also taken issue with the President’s planned invasion of Iraq. Mr. Armey stated that an invasion of Iraq would be entirely unprovoked and accordingly “would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation”, nor would it be supported by our traditional allies. He declared that such an unprovoked attack against Iraq would be in violation of international law. Other lawmakers who have expressed skepticism about another US invasion of Iraq include the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). Jack Kemp, a former GOP Vice Presidential nominee declared that only “incontrovertible evidence of Iraqi participation or complicity in 9/11” would justify another US invasion of Iraq while the war on terror continues to rage and remains unwon.
An invasion of Iraq would constitute the first major pre-emptive war in US history against a country that has neither attacked the US, nor its own neighbors since the end of the first US-Iraqi War. The Administration is not getting any international support for its planned invasion of Iraq because it would constitute an unprovoked, aggressive war against Iraq waged in blatant violation of international law and time-honored principles of just war. The principles of just war demand that certain questions are asked. Have all alternatives to war been exhausted? Is war the sole and necessary means to achieve a just goal? The answer to these questions seems to be “No!”
The Founding fathers sought to guard the country against illegitimate and unnecessary wars and in our Constitution, wisely gave the sole power to declare war to Congress. Axis leaders were punished after World War II as war criminals for initiating aggressive war without provocation. If the US initiates such a war against Iraq, how will we be able to take a moral stand against rogue states that opt to follow our example? US policymakers should return to a reliance on deterrence and containment in warding off future dangers rather than waging illegal preemptive wars of aggression against our would-be enemies. ***
Next up: Part 3-War with Iraq Would Pose Major Risks for Bush Administration and America.
David T Pyne currently serves as DUV-PAC Chairman, President of the Utah Republican Assembly, and as Vice President for the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter. A former national security expert, he has served as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, worked as a defense contractor and International Programs Manager, as an International Analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Department of the Navy, and as a Research Assistant for the Center for Security Policy.