The case for invading Iraq

Frankly, I am not a huge fan of George W. However, I think that W is right in calling for an Iraqi invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, although he’s not doing a particularly good job on the public relations side of things. His staff is publicly discussing strategic options instead of positing rationales for invasion or plans for a post-Saddam Iraq. But with recent questioning from prominent Republicans, including Senator Chuck Hagel, Bush Sr. and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, the situation appears to be changing for the better.

A few weeks ago, Vice President Dick Cheney gave a speech that served as a good starting point to outline the Bush camp’s motive for attacking Iraq. It’s about time Dick got down to business. An Iraqi invasion could be taking place as soon as early as this fall. This would be convenient for George W., since wartime incumbents are virtually assured of re-election. Still, four more years of W would be worth deposing Saddam in Iraq, and here’s why:

The Case for Invading Iraq

Saddam poses an imminent threat. As the world knows, Saddam possesses biological and chemical weapons, and is not afraid to use them. Saddam has used biochemical weapons at least twice: once during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran War and once against his own Kurdish minority.

Furthermore, Saddam is on a mission to attain nuclear weapons, and he is not far away from his goal. Before the Gulf War, intelligence analysts predicted that Saddam was about five to ten years away from gaining access to nuclear weapons. Afterwards, during arms inspections, U.S. officials learned that Saddam was closer to one year away from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Inspections did much to dismantle Saddam’s nuclear operation, but we have not had an inspection since 1998; you do the math.

Not only is Saddam a powerful bully, but he lives in a very important backyard. It is no secret that the Middle East is one of the most important strategic regions in the world. The Middle East contains approximately 64 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and is home to one of the world’s longest running regional conflicts, the Arab-Israeli feud.

What will Saddam do when he gets hold of some nuclear weapons? Take over Saudi Arabian oil fields? Send sarin nerve gas to Israel in a Scud missile? With nuclear capacity, Saddam can do such things while holding the rest of the world hostage.

We have the chance to plant the seeds of democracy in a region where it is sorely lacking. No concrete agenda for a post-Saddam Iraq has been set forth, but most predict the creation of a U.S.-backed democracy. Other than Israel and maybe Turkey, there are no bona fide democracies in the Middle East. Planting a democracy smack-dab in the middle of authoritarian regimes could spark a chain-reaction.

The potential spread of democracy in the Middle East holds great promise for bettering the lives of people in the Western World, as well as in the Middle East. A sea of democracies should increase access to and production of oil (if foreign oil investment is permitted). It could possibly even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict, as wars between democracies are exceedingly rare.

Specious Rationales for Inaction

An Iraqi invasion would disrupt the War on Terror. This is by far the worst possible consequence of a war with Iraq; thankfully, it is also highly unlikely. Generally speaking, countries in our strategic alliance love fighting in the War on Terror. We must not forget that this American-led campaign benefits them as well. Otherwise, they would not bother to participate in it.

For example, Russia is happy for any excuse to continue bombarding Chechnya. Moving further, let’s examine two Arab “allies” in the War on Terror: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan will never discontinue its valuable aid in the War on Terror; it derives too many perks for its efforts. The U.S. has delivered sizable economic aid in return for the Pakistani cooperation. Moreover, the U.S.has lifted severely restrictive sanctions imposed on Pakistan when it flexed its nuclear muscles on India by testing its new weaponry. Also, the U.S. now backs Pakistan and India equally in the Pakistan-India conflict, where before U.S. support had largely supported India.

As for Saudi Arabia, despite being threatened by Saddam during the Gulf War, it is fervently set against a U.S. invasion. So what? The Saudi rulers have done little to help us in the War on Terror and will never do so. Why? The royal family has no inherent way to legitimize its rule to the Saudi Arabian public. It has virtually only a short historical precedent and offers little to its citizens in the way of democratic liberties or opportunities to obtain wealth.

Thus, the royal family has cut a deal with fundamentalist Islamic clerics. It goes something like this: grant us legitimacy as divinely chosen rulers, and we will hand you the keys to our schools. This is why the royal family refuses to put a stop to militant Islamic indoctrination in its schools, even after the revelation that fifteen of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis. This is unlikely to change while the royal family retains power, all the more reason to topple Saddam and hope for a domino democracy effect in the Middle East.

We do not have international backing. Unfortunately, this assertion appears to be true, with the possible exception of Great Britain. More European countries may back us (although military support is unlikely) if we go ahead with the invasion. The U.S. would score quite a few points in the court of international opinion if it pushed for extremely intrusive weapons inspections before invading. It is unlikely that the Iraqis would agree to these inspections. On the off chance that they do, the U.S. should undertake obnoxious inspections of every possible weapons depot in Iraq.

The Iraqis will either become fed up and terminate inspections, or we will hunt down every single weapon of mass destruction, no matter how many years it takes. Saddam will most likely reject arms inspections, giving us the ideal justification for an invasion, one that the international community would be hard-pressed to dispute.

Real Problems Posed by an Invasion

The weak American stomach. Americans have low tolerance for substantial military casualties and extended U.S. military occupations – both of which would be necessary in order to implement a successful regime change in Iraq. Much of the war would take place in the streets of Baghdad, and urban fighting promises much higher casualties than the open-desert combat of the Gulf War.

Moreover, political analysts believe that, for an effective regime chance in Iraq, an extensive U.S. military presence of up to 20 years may be necessary. Will public opinion wane as the casualties rise? Worse yet, will we complete the invasion but shirk on the regime change as the public demands its troops leave Iraq a couple years after the war?

The non-conventional threat. Saddam has biological and chemical weapons and is likely to use them on American forces if he feels that his regime’s survival is threatened.

In addition, Saddam still has somewhere between three and 40 Scud missiles that could deliver biological and chemical weapons to Israel, possibly exacerbating Arab-Israeli relations. The best option for the U.S. is to promise devastating retaliation to Iraq itself and to any Iraqi unit that uses non-conventional weapons.

Also, the U.S. military must attack swiftly and attempt to gain control of all such biological and chemical weapons. It is not a perfect solution, but I would rather have U.S. forces equipped with gas masks face it, rather than unsuspecting U.S. civilians.

It’s true; with enough time Saddam could attain missiles whose range extends to the U.S. mainland. We have to do what it takes to stop that from happening. We must depose the regime of Saddam Hussein, even
if it means four more years of the Bush regime in America.