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Eve of Destruction, but Whose? Thoughts on Iraq

I watched the president speak about Iraq on TV tonight with a mixture of dread, disgust, and still yet hope. I thought he would outright declare war; I was surprised to hear the 48-hour ultimatum. It is of course an empty ultimatum–everyone is assuming we will be at war in two days. But it is an interesting tactic, as is the message to the Iraqi troops. Interestingly, our past presidents have not quite concentrated so much on separating the idea of "Saddam Hussein" from the idea of "Iraq" and "the Iraqis." Ultimately, I am certain the gesture is there to make us feel better far more than it is going to make the Iraqis feel better (because the Iraqis have been the ones who have been starved and deprived of medicine by US and UN sanctions for the past 12 years, and they have been the ones who have had their homes destroyed by our bombs; I don't think they are reassured by such words). However, I'm almost surprised Bush Jr's so bent on mollifying us when he's also so damned determined to go to war.

I still think war with Iraq at this time is a mistake. Yes, Saddam Hussein is a bad man, but the first Gulf War and its after-effects have left Iraq pretty damn devastated, and there are much larger threats looming on our horizon. North Korea and their nukes. Al Quaeda. And let's not forget the rapidly degenerating economic state our own country is in right now, which is a different kind of "security crisis" that only worsens as the administration continues to ignore it. What really angers me about all this Iraq business is that the Bush Jr. Administration has pursued the Iraq issue beyond all else–and all else has gone to hell as a result.

What is frustrating to me is that Iraq had begun to comply, something which the administration said was a cover-up without ever providing concrete information to back that up. I understand some information must remain classified, but at the same time, they pretty much coming out saying, "It's our word against theirs." I still would trust our government's word over Hussein's, but I would prefer much more than a word to begin with.

What really bothers me is the fact that we have pretty much given the United Nations the finger. Bush said the Security Council "failed;" I say they did exactly what they were supposed to do. I truly believe the members of the Security Council, including France and Russia, were providing their opinions and even threatening vetoes in the best interests of the security of the world. Some idiots have proclaimed France to be "kissing Saddam Hussein's ass"–what kind of bull$#%! is that? A powerful European nation such as France has nothing to gain from supporting Saddam Hussein, absolutely nothing at all. To me, the US has essentially proclaimed that it is the chief peacekeeping force in the world, more than any coalition of nations (I don't count Tony Blair, who is moving against the majority of the British's desires, as an acceptable coalition). NO single nation in the world has the right to put itself ahead of everyone else. Not even us. Look, back in the early 90s, the UN fully supported the US in the Gulf. We had full backing, everyone officially agreed on the diplomatic level that Desert Storm had to happen. At that time, they saw Hussein as a threat. Smaller actions since then–Clinton bombed Iraq on several occasions–were also done with the support of other nations. Clearly, things have changed. Other nations would not withdraw their support so quickly, over such a horrid man, if they did not see other solutions. And I think the US are fools not to consider it.

*sigh* But what's done is done, isn't it?

If we do go to war, is is most likely, I do hope we achieve what Bush Jr. says we want to achieve. I hope his words can stand the test of war. I hope we can disable whatever is left of Iraq's military technology. I hope we can disable Hussein. I hope we can do it while also gaining the trust of the Iraqi people and giving them sovreignty over their nation.

Unfortunately, war is far from predictable. And even if we do achieve our goals, I do not doubt there will be terrible, scathing loss of many American troops, Iraqi troops, and Iraqi civilians, before it is all over. Restoration will take a very, very long time.

And that won't be the worst of it. Our always tenuous relations with other Middle Eastern nations could be on the verge of snapping, and decades of efforts to support peace in the reason could fall to naught. Terrorists have been given more fuel for their US-hating fire. And our own allies, other powerful nations in the world, are starting to look askance at us, questioning our motives, wondering if we are less a peacekeeping force and more a war-mongering one. Moreover these allies have also strained their relationships with each other over this issue. The European Union is a mess due to the Iraq situation.

In an eerie article in Time, I read that the diplomatic strain caused by the Iraq issue could have painful repercussions that will resound for years to come. This could result in trade barriers and further diplomatic difficulty, if not worse things. Given the damage already done to the world community simply by discussing this issue, the article suggested, that be there a war or not, Saddam Hussein has already won.


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All original materials © 2003 R. Pickard