It is not our purpose to take a stand either for or against a war with Iraq.
However, we do take a stand that the anti-war movement as it is currently organized has been irresponsible and ill-informed in pressing its case.
One hears certain themes repeated throughout the demonstrations against war taking place across the world. These themes leave some important questions unanswered. Until these questions receive answers that are credible, the sincerity and moral integrity of the anti-war movement must remain in doubt.
Here are some of the themes and the questions they raise:
1. The U.S. wants to attack Iraq in order to control its oil
Whatever one may think of the present leadership of the U.S., they are not insane. "War for oil" would be a disastrous deal for America. Estimated costs of the war have ranged up to 100 billion dollars, with occupation and reconstruction driving the cost even higher. And at the end of the war it is highly unlikely that the U.S. will be in any position to claim sole ownership of Iraqi oil fields. What possible sense would it make for the U.S. to squander so much money plus untold lives on both sides in order to gain uncertain access to oil that the Iraqis are already willing to sell?
2. Give the inspectors more time
Saddam's whole strategy has been to keep playing for time until the will of his opposition is exhausted. The inspectors have already had twelve years, during which Saddam used every evasive maneuver to keep them off-track and eventually expelled them. Are we to believe he suddenly has had a change of heart? In the face of evidence to the contrary, including intercepted conversations showing Iraqi efforts to conceal information from the inspectors, can we really trust him? Saddam makes a few token gestures only because of continued American military pressure. This pressure cannot be maintained forever. The inspectors cannot remain in Iraq forever. What do the anti-war protesters believe will happen once all this is over?
3. Denunciations of Israel
Incredibly, anti-war demonstrations not just in America but all over the world have repeatedly brought Israel into the arena and condemned it for its own efforts to combat terrorism. Why make Israel an issue when the dispute is between Iraq and the U.S.? The only role Israel played in this dispute was to suffer an unprovoked attack by Saddam during the first Gulf War. Does dragging Israel into the fray perhaps reveal a hidden agenda of the anti-war movement?
The day I am writing this 16 Israelis were killed and dozens more wounded, some very seriously, in a bus bombing in Haifa, with the death toll likely to rise. Many of these casualties were students, one only 13 years old. The anti-war movement has nothing to say about this terrorism. Its only message for Israel is hatred and condemnation.
This hypocrisy leads to the whole question of double standard. If you are going to be anti-war, at least be anti-war. The anti-war protests would have more credibility if they made demands not only on the U.S. but also on Saddam Hussein. But where are they on the question of Saddam's obligation to disarm? They are silent. Where were the protesters when Saddam invaded Kuwait? They were silent. They only raised their voices against war when the U.S. took action to liberate Kuwait. Where are the anti-war protesters when aggression is committed by any country other than the U.S.? They are silent. Is the anti-war movement's agenda then not truly ant-war but anti-America?
The anti-war movement is doing everything in its power to preserve one of the most brutal and sadistic regimes in human history, Saddam's Iraq, where rape and torture are used routinely as weapons of the state to subdue its own people. Saddam has shown his eagerness not to limit his brutality to his own countrymen but to spread it abroad. He invaded Kuwait. He invaded Iran. He launched missiles at Israel with no provocation. He actively supports Palestinian terrorists, helping to make sure that the Israel/Arab conflict will never be resolved. And he has done all this without even possessing nuclear weapons. What do the anti-war protesters imagine Saddam will do once he acquires them, with their help?
Perhaps a legitimate case against the war can be made. But it has not been made, and the implications of that must be faced. The anti-war movement cloaks itself in a false mantle of morality, when it is those who support it who will have much to answer for.
March 5, 2003
Lately much has been made of a controversial statement from President Bush's last State of the Union Address: "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." It turned out that this statement was based on a discredited source.
Bush's critics are pouncing on it in an effort to discredit the entire case for intervention in Iraq, as if this one little sentence alone were the reason America went to war. But the British Government still stands by its report, claiming that it has other legitimate sources for it. At the very least, this means that President Bush was not intentionally trying to deceive: he accurately stated the findings of a British intelligence report. And in any event, the case for war was based on evidence far more extensive than this one little fragment.
Let us apply simple logic to the situation. We know that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq. Saddam used them against the Iranians and against the Kurds, so no one can deny that Iraq had them. We also have records of Iraqi programs for further developing its WMD capability. After the 1991 Gulf War UNSCOM inspectors found evidence of a secret nuclear weapons program, and they destroyed some equipment that was to be used for it. These matters are not in dispute.
We also know that Saddam did everything in his power not to cooperate with the weapons inspectors. Iraqi agents had them followed, obstructed their movements, and even disrupted their sleep. Eventually Saddam kicked them out of the country. If Iraq ever did destroy its WMD's, it never demonstrated that to the world.
Therefore those who are picking apart Bush's words in an effort to discredit him, and who believe the inability to find WMD's in Iraq is proof that the President was lying, are asking us to make an incredible leap of logic. They are asking us to believe that Saddam, while actually innocent, nevertheless did everything in his power to make himself look guilty. They want us to think that Saddam destroyed his weapons in secret, instead of letting everyone else know it so that the sanctions on his country could be lifted and the pressure taken off. They want us to believe that Saddam invited the destruction of his own regime when all he had to do was let the inspectors know that he really did get rid of his forbidden weapons.
We know that Saddam had WMD's, and we know he did everything he could to keep the weapons inspectors from finding out. The fact that one piece of intelligence turned out to be flawed does not negate this in the least.
It is certainly embarrassing when the U.S. Government appears to be relying on false intelligence, and an investigation is in order. But it does not follow that the policy itself was wrong. We need a sense of proportion.
July 14, 2003
Since its release last month the Kay Report has received much attention and has been portrayed in the media as undermining the case for war by shedding doubt on whether Saddam actually had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) at the time of the attack. These presentations of the Kay Report have been one-sided and misleading. The report states that Saddam had plans to violate U.N. weapons sanctions and would have put those plans into effect were it not for American intervention. This is what David Kay actually said:
Iraq's WMD programs spanned more than two decades, involved thousands of people, billions of dollars, and were elaborately shielded by security and deception operations that continued even beyond the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom....
We need to recall that in the 1991-2003 period the intelligence community and the UN/IAEA inspectors had to draw conclusions as to the status of Iraq's WMD program in the face of incomplete, and often false, data supplied by Iraq....
We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002....
With regard to biological warfare activities, which has been one of our two initial areas of focus, ISG [Iraq Survey Group] teams are uncovering significant information - including research and development of BW[biological warfare]-applicable organisms, the involvement of Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) in possible BW activities, and deliberate concealment activities. All of this suggests Iraq after 1996 further compartmentalized its program and focused on maintaining smaller, covert capabilities that could be activated quickly to surge the production of BW agents....
While searching for retained weapons, ISG teams have developed multiple sources that indicate that Iraq explored the possibility of CW [chemical weapons] production in recent years, possibly as late as 2003....
With regard to Iraq's nuclear program, the testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons. They have told ISG that Saddam Husayn remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. These officials assert that Saddam would have resumed nuclear weapons development at some future point. Some indicated a resumption after Iraq was free of sanctions....
With regard to delivery systems, the ISG team has discovered sufficient evidence to date to conclude that the Iraqi regime was committed to delivery system improvements that would have, if OIF had not occurred, dramatically breached UN restrictions placed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War.
(Statement by David Kay on the Interim Progress Report, October 2, 2003)
This statement is worth reading in its entirety. It gives credence to the position that by intervening in Iraq the U.S. may well have averted a disaster.
If Saddam indeed had WMD and plans for producing and deploying more, why were they not found after the war? That, of course, is the big mysterious question. The U.S. intelligence community has just released an intelligence assessment that Iraq actually did transfer its weapons of mass destruction to Syria shortly before and during the war. This assessment is based on satellite images of huge numbers of Iraqi trucks pouring into Syria during the two months preceding the war. This may well be the answer to the mystery. (Source: "In First, U.S. Voices Assessment of WMD to Syria," Middle East Newsline, October 29, 2003.)
November 4, 2003
Peace with Realism