History: A Guide to Dealing with Saddam?





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Both opponents and supporters of a war in Iraq are using history to buttress their arguments. So whose got history on their side? You decide.

What Are the Odds Saddam Would Use Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Us?

Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2003:

Should we think past is prologue? It would seem realistic to think that, especially when we see his increased hunger for more and bigger weapons. The anti-invasion people don't address what they think a man like Saddam will do in the future if no one stops him. Recently I asked a friend, an intellectual who is passionately antiwar and anti-Bush, what he thinks Saddam will do if we do not remove him. At first my friend dodged the question with anti-neocon invective, but when I pressed he admitted he had no idea what Saddam would do if he were not stopped--and he didn't care.

But you have to care. It's irresponsible not to.

How is Saddam a threat to world safety? Well, you don't develop chemical and biological weapons to establish world peace. You get them, you spend your treasure to get them, to use them, one way or another at one time or another. He's used the weapons he has in the past--both conventional weapons in his invasions, and unconventional weapons in his gassing of the Kurds and Iranians. He seems never to shy from violence. Do we want him to go nuclear, and then deal with him then? That would seem an unwise gamble.

John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, writing in the New York Times, February 2, 2003:

[W]hat about the Iraqi regime's weapons of mass destruction? Those who reject containment point to Iraq's past use of chemical weapons against the Kurds and Iran. They also warn that he will eventually get nuclear weapons. According to President Bush, a nuclear arsenal would enable Mr. Hussein to ''blackmail the world.'' And the real nightmare is that he will give chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda.

These possibilities sound alarming, but the dangers they pose do not justify war.

Mr. Hussein's use of poison gas was despicable, but it tells us nothing about what he might do against the United States or its allies. He could use chemical weapons against the Kurds and Iranians because they could not retaliate in kind. The United States, by contrast, can retaliate with overwhelming force, including weapons of mass destruction. This is why Mr. Hussein did not use chemical or biological weapons against American forces or Israel during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Nor has he used such weapons since, even though the United States has bombed Iraq repeatedly over the past decade.

 



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Cynthia - 5/8/2003

Way to go, Gavin! I agree with you completely. I think it is complete insanity to think that Sadaam will ever comply with the requests of the U.N. and anyone who think he will are just as insaine as those who support him.

Furthermore, I find in incredible that those who are bashing Bush for going to war are usually the same ones who said NOTHING when Clinton attacked Afghanistan and never even stated why. I find that hypocritical and crap (for lack of a better term.)


Gavin Roberts - 3/5/2003

Mr. Moner – I appreciate your discourse and very well thought out arguments against going to war with Iraq. I am not pro-war, nor do I agree completely with Bush administration foreign and economic policy.

That is why you will not see me in the streets with a “Bomb Iraq” sign slung over my shoulders. However, I am an American that has seen Saddam Hussein ignore mandates for world wide reduction of wmds , defy international law and continue to pursue a policy of oppression and bloody intimidation among his own people.

I believe that war is a last resort that sadly Saddam has brought upon himself. I also believe that France, Russia and other opposing nations are only allowing Saddam more time to distribute wmds and other weapons throughout large civilian population centers in Iraq, in order to portray an imminent US lead invasion in the absolutely most terrible light, at the expense of ill-equipped Iraqi solders and innocent civilians. That he is erecting defenses in densely populated areas of Baghdad is further evidence that he has no intention of full and unconditional compliance. In my opinion, time has long been up and the clock has run out on Mr. Hussein and his regime. He has been living on borrowed time since 1998, and breathing perfectly good air and taking up space that could be put to much better use by those suffering in his own country.

I have identified some of your previous statements and have provided my reasons for disagreement below. I would like nothing more than for someone to convince me that we have not reached the last resort of war. Your arguments, while well crafted and persuasive, still do not provide the convincing argument that I am looking for. Baseless oil motive statements aside, the below quotes from your previous postings interested me the most.

“Success in the Iraqi disarmament path is evident, clear and increasing. The report at the UN today clearly showed it, and the consensus was that more time was required to determine whether the level of Iraqi cooperation was improving or not.”

No one on the “Peace at all costs” side has convinced me of how a policy of continuing to “allow” Saddam Hussein to cooperate, in order to escape more severe punishment, will ever be effective, as long as Iraq’s only burden of proof is to show incremental improvement in order to escape consequences of non-compliance. With this supposition, it is likely that Saddam Hussein could string along inspectors indefinitely, producing a small cache of illegal weapons for them over here, making conspicuous a small biological warhead stash over there – This “perceived” progress, in and of itself soon becomes synonymous with Iraqi compliance no matter how small or insignificant – drawing attention away from what Iraq has NOT done and is NOT doing – providing “Full final and complete disclosure of weapons of mass destruction” as demanded in UN resolution 707 over 12 YEARS AGO.

In addition, even if inspectors were to uncover all biological and chemical weapons and pre-cursors that had been discovered in 1996 and were not previously destroyed, would this ever mean that the UN could give Iraq a “clean bill of health”? How would they know whether additional chemical and biological weapons had been produced since they left in 1998?

And even if ideal conditions existed to maximize the effectiveness of inspections, where spy satellites and U2 spy planes could see every underground chemical weapons factory and wmd storage bunker, and all were to be destroyed by the Iraqis supervised by UN inspectors – what do we do then? Do you really think Saddam Hussein will just quit pursuing the development of wmd’s because he was disarmed for a second time (correction, third – originally, Israel bombed Iraq’s last viable nuclear production facility in the 80s – remember the one built by French engineers?)

Until the UN in conjunction with countries supporting more time for inspections, can outline a coherent long term plan for disarming Iraq, with stated time limits and confirmation procedures for COMPLETE compliance now AND in the future (compliance means divulging of ALL current wmd factories, weapons stashes as well as future plans and construction projects), and defined consequences for non-compliance, I am dumbfounded how inspections will ever truly accomplish anything meaningful, especially since Saddam’s regime has continually ramped up development activities after every previous disarmament attempt. Please convince me otherwise.



“If we disarm Iraq militarily it will create more terrorism and terrorists”.

Isn’t this like saying that if we need to forcefully expel a student who brought forbidden weapons to school, his friends might strike back at the school and campus security guards? This argument doesn’t hold water for me. If there is sufficient evidence that the student has continuously defied rules, and defiance of such rules threaten not only his class but the entire school (I think that 14 individual demands by the UN for Iraq to disarm constitutes a proof of resolute defiance), I believe that the argument for forceful intervention has been made many times over.

The “increased terrorism” argument was also prevalent during the Afghan buildup by US forces. While this may be true to some extent regarding the existing extremists and uninformed youth of Pakistan (e.g. those in Madrasas who’s life education consists of the teachings of concentrated anti-Semitism and rote memorization of the Koran) I do not feel that the same sentiment is felt by those liberated from the Taliban by US led forces – specifically the young, oppressed and weak. The media televised this wholesale change from oppression to freedom – children going back to school (however primitive), women able to walk outside without Burkas or persecution/beating, halting of public mutilations and executions - effectively defusing much tension felt by those with a true concern for the Afghan people. For those who have been taught that the extinction of dinosaurs is due to the Jews (this was actually quoted by a young student in a Madrasas in Pakistan), there is likely little that would dissuade them from their current views, nor harden them further against the west.


“I do not believe the Iraq-al Quaeda link, not when bin Laden calls him (Hussein) and infidel, and on the Iraqis to overthrow him”.

Possibly. Not sure if there is an obvious connection that can be exposed – at least yet. However, we have seen that al Quaeda is a very fluid, un-structured “organization” that has sects and cells that may or may not share the exact views of bin Laden, and most likely are laser aimed at injuring and destroying western interests, regardless of the means or business partner(s) involved. This “disorganization” is just the characteristic that makes al Quaeda so dangerous and unpredictable. We must not underestimate the power that Saddam Hussein’s monetary support can have to establish short-term allegiances of convenience against a perceived western enemy.

In the February 14 Wall Street Journal’s Review and Outlook section, an excerpt is quoted from the July 21, 2001 commentary in the Iraqi government produced publication Al-Nasiriya. It is both prescient and chilling. The article praises bin Laden directly: “In the man’s heart, you’ll find an insistence, a strange determination that he will reach one day the tunnels of the White House and will bomb it with everything that is in it.” The article continues recounting previous al Quaeda attacks against the US as well as US efforts against terrorism “..to pressure the Taliban movement so that it would hand them bin Laden, while he continues to smile and still thinks seriously, with the seriousness of the Bedouin of the desert about the way he will try to bomb the Pentagon after he destroys the White House…bin Laden is a healthy phenomenon in the Arab spirit” – this, coming from an Iraqi sanctioned secular publication. Although this information could have been derived from any third hand message, editorial or underground publication, it shows a definitive warming of relations between the two leaders, at least from the Iraqi side.

“Clearly this is an invented crisis. If this were a real serious threat, it would have been so before 9-11”.

I do consider this a crisis that has been long overdue in being addressed, not one that has suddenly been “invented”. Whenever you have a dictator of a country that has both the means and the will to manufacture and use wmds, defying world mandates for elimination of chemical and biological weapons by refusing to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, and blatantly ignoring numerous UN resolutions for well over 12 years, it is both dangerous and irresponsible to continue down a path of ineffective policy.


“Let them turn them in or let us find them, destroy them and let it be.”

Here you are saying that one option is for inspectors to “find” Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction without Iraqi declaration of such weapons. If inspectors must “find” the wmds that Iraq has, it is reasonable to expect that no amount of inspectors and no length of time will be sufficient for them to scour every square mile of Iraq and find every means of production or cache of deadly weapons. Furthermore, because there is absolutely no way to determine if ALL weapons have been “found” by inspectors, this process WILL continue so long as it seems that inspectors continue to “find” wmds.

To me this is the weakest argument for letting inspections continue – where the burden is on inspectors to find wmds, not for Saddam to turn them over. Needless to say we have “let” Iraq turn in their weapons of mass destruction over for over 12 years. How long will inspectors continue to find wmds before this menace is dealt with appropriately? In 1991 UN Resolution 707 declared that Iraq MUST provide “Full final and complete disclosure of weapons of mass destruction.” Since then hundreds of thousands of tons of chemical and biological weapons were uncovered by inspectors in 1996 through the discovery of documents in a scientist’s home and nuclear development facilities were discovered by inspectors and destroyed, before the inspectors were effectively barred from “finding” anything else in 1998. In my mind, the minute inspectors discovered these chemical and biological weapons in 1996, war should have been declared upon Iraq for non-compliance. The futility of this continued inspection exercise is obvious and concerning, especially since tons of these “found” Anthrax biological and VX nerve agents discovered in 1996 have yet to be accounted for by inspectors now in Iraq.

I believe that war is a legitimate means to an end, when all other means have been exhausted, a contrary opinion to that of French foreign Minister de Villepin who declared “War is always the sanction of failure.” Ironically, without the real consequence of War, the complete disarmament of Iraq is almost guaranteed to end in failure (by never ending). Yet, even with this threat, unless it is carried out as a consequence of non-compliance, future UN enforcement of key resolutions imposed upon other violators of world law will be even more difficult. Amassed soldiers on Iraq’s border, in conjunction with extreme US pressure on the UN is the only reason inspections are even taking place today.

We cannot afford to passively address defiance of UN mandates in the name of “a peaceful resolution” when peace has been an option that Saddam Hussein could easily have chosen during over 12 years of non-cooperation. We have seen what devastating effects cunning brutality and box-cutters can have. I would hope that an acting US president would have the leadership ability to unilaterally act against any significant threat to democracyl, even at the cost of being unpopular or going against the principles of convenience. Other rogue nations are watching how the US and the world handles Saddam Hussein. Further political stalling sends a message that the free world does not have the stomach for swift and decisive prosecution of those who seek to defy international law.


Finally, you mention that if Saddam refuses to disarm “the UN will act.”

Excuse me – is this some, twisted, international version of a Time-Out disciplinary tactic? This is not a misbehaving child that must learn to behave because it does not know any better. This is a terrorist sponsoring state and regime that will NEVER cooperate with the world (much less a US lead coalition) to completely disarm unless sufficient consequences and timelines are not only established, but also followed through with. The UN, as stewards of international law, have let a rogue nation and tyrannical dictator render enforcement of such laws as laughable. If Saddam Hussein has not “refused to disarm” by now, please explain to me the proper definition of what he has done. A terrorist that harbors weapons of mass destruction cannot escape conviction by rationing cooperation to authorities at his discretion. Full compliance must be demanded, and those enforcing it must be ready, willing and ABLE to hand down the consequences if strict criteria are not met. Without this enforcement, resolutions ring empty and carry no weight to those who dare to defy them.

I welcome your input on my comments and any specific solutions you may have to disarm Iraq, in addition to further inspections.


subterrissole - 2/27/2003

If "you don't develop chemical and biological weapons to establish world peace" then does america do exactly that dear peggy.


Steve Brody - 2/18/2003


Gus, Iraq refuted nothing. Unless you call "It's all an American trick" refutation. I don't.

What we all know (even you admit this) is that Saddam has WMD and the means to deliver them. We also know that he denies having them. Why is he lying? Because he intends to keep them. He doesn't want to give them up. He likes having them.

Your argument is "he hasn't used them since 1988, therefore we can be confident that he won't." But what Saddam HAS done since 1988 is make spectacularly bad judgments and undertaken galactically reckless actions. Gus, I could list them, but you already know the list. Based upon this alone, we can have no confidence at all that Saddam won't do something reckless and stupid. Possibly even suicidal.

In addition to this we have Saddam's track record regarding his use of WMD. He’s used them before. By this alone we cannot have confidence that he won’t use them again.

“If we fail to act today, then Saddam and all who follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow. The stakes could not be higher. Some day, some way, I guarantee you he will use the arsenal.”…. William J Clinton, 2/18/98, speaking about Iraq's WMD.

Now, Gus, you know that I’m no fan of Clinton, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. And Clinton was right in 1998 when he said that. What’s changed since then? I’ll tell you: things have gotten worse.

You ask why UN troops can't control areas where there are WMD. Is that your solution? Invasion with a small i? Just put troops in where we think they are needed? That is absurdly naive. First, we don't know where the weapons are, so we would have to occupy the whole of Iraq. Second, there is no reason to believe that Saddam would willingly allow troops in. Third, they would have to be US troops, because no other country has the military wherewithal to guarantee the safety of the troops. Do you really think Saddam would allow US troops into Iraq? Fourth, there is no way to guarantee the safety of the troops that you put into Iraq, unless the Iraqi army has been neutralized. Saddam would never allow that.

You say that we should work to increase the efficacy of the UN. We are. Bush rescued the UN from irrelevance by goading it to finally, at long last, start enforcing its edicts.

You know, Gus, lo these many months, you have kept up a steady drumbeat that Bush is acting unilaterally. Bush went to Congress. Bush went to the UN. Bush went to NATO. 18 out of 19 NATO countries agreed to defend Turkey. France really doesn't count; they pulled out of NATO decades ago. Now they want to be involved as a spoiler. The fact of the matter is that Bush has lined up many nations to assist in disarming Iraq. But you define unilateralism as anything short of unanimity.

Iraq is not under UN tutelage now. Iraq thumbs its nose at the UN. And I see you've brought up the UN sponsored "No-Fly zones, again. Why is it that you pick and choose your support for multi-lateral action? If Saddam doesn't like being shot at, he merely needs to stop shooting at our planes.


Gus Moner - 2/17/2003

I’ll say it again! Saddam hasn’t used his WMD since 1988, how’s that?
Let’s find them, and rid the area of them, all around, starting with Iraq and moving on to the rest of the region’s states with WMD. No, Iraq is not fully cooperating. So, keep up the international pressure though the UN until it does. If the UN do not like Mr Blix’s work, they can replace him, no? We really know little of the allegations and it’s hard to make a judgement. So, we can wait a bit.

Your example of one individual to discredit an entire team into the hundreds now is simply astonishing, Mr Brody.

OK, I’ll grant that perhaps Mr Powell’s information will lead eventually somewhere. Let’s get there! Iraq refuted the entire Hollywood presentation by Mr Powell. However, that means little to me. That a rocket goes 30 Km beyond its range has technical explanations and solutions, even their destruction can be contemplated. However, it’s hardly a cause for war. They have so far destroyed what has been found, no? What’s the pessimism all about? Why the rush? Is the weather window closing in on the military attack plans? Isn’t anyone embarrassed or angered that we are going to attack a nation?

No need to ‘get honest’, I have always lauded the US decision to pressure Iraq, although I find the build-up excessive and indicative of the real intentions of the Bush administration, mainly to invade, conquer and occupy Iraq. As time passes we’ll see the drama unfold. There’ll be attacks and these will be used as excuses to get deeper into a quagmire, attack others, etc. I believe bin Laden must be licking his chops.

In light of the myriad of questions you posed, I have a couple myself. What evidence is there of danger to justify war? How can they make war on secret information? It has to be made public. It is, after all, our war, no?

Can you name a reason why UN troops cannot control Iraqi areas where there are suspected weapons? In fact, it’s a good way to get in the country. Without shooting at civilians. It isn’t an international conflict. Yet. Let’s try to not make it one. Whatever we do the UN must be the vehicle, lest we demolish the entire existing world order, which, limited as it is, provides a semblance of tidiness.

Imagine no UN Atomic Energy Commission! A nuclear free for all would ensue. No, the USA ought to try and improve the efficacy of the UN, support it and work WITH the other nations to achieve goals. That’s as opposed to the current deal, setting the agenda and demanding adhesion.

Iraq is practically under UN tutelage now, embargo, limited UN controlled exchanges of oil for supplies, air space dissected, UK/USA attacks on a near daily basis and inspectors. All we are doing is getting potential terrorists fired up to have a go at the US and allies. Meanwhile, people are panicking in the US, duct tape, pepper spray causing panic in Chicago…
Brilliant foreign and domestic policy.


Steve Brody - 2/17/2003


Gus, I ask you again what evidence you can cite that the current inspection regime has done anything to deprive Hussein of the use of his WMD. The fact that you referred me to Blix's report is interesting. Both Blix and El Baradei declared that Iraq is not fully cooperating.

You say that we will find his weapons and disarm him. I'm not optimistic. Blix had a mixed reputation when he headed the IAEA.
I'm also surprised and suspicious that not one of the previous inspectors who applied for this team was hired. No background checks were performed on any of the current inspectors. Our own contribution to the team is a man whose chief qualification seems to be that he was fired from the US Secret Service for mis-conduct and was the president of a sad-masochistic wife-swapping club. The team doesn't inspire confidence.

Gus, you state, "So far the information provided by the US has led no where". That is not exactly true. The evidence that Powell provided is still being evaluated for information of lead value. The audio tapes were compelling and have not been refuted by Iraq. Ditto the satellite information regarding Iraqi drone aircraft. Powell's information regarding the rocket engine test stand was equally damning and buttressed the UN findings regarding the AL Samoud II rocket range issue. The upshot is this: any fair interpretation of the data confirms Iraqi possession of WMD and documents their attempts to develop delivery systems. BUT the inspections have done nothing to deprive Saddam of these weapons. I don't believe they are likely to and you have provided no reason for confidence.

I don't agree that there is a "rush to war". Resolution 1441 was passed over 3 months ago and Saddam is still minimally cooperative. Let's be honest, he wouldn't be even minimally cooperative save for the thousands of troops that Bush has massed near Iraq.

As for UN troops "keeping a lid on things", can you name an example of this kind of a strategy working in an international conflict prior to a military victory?


Gus Moner - 2/16/2003

Right, if you say so, I’ll accept you were¡ not being sanguine. I disagree that the situation is festering. Or in an appeasement stage.

”You continue to insist that "success in the Iraqi disarmament is evident, clear, and increasing", but can't or won't specify what your evidence is for such a statement.

I’ll refer you to the Blix report. He hasn’t been found to have any and so far the information provided by the USA has led nowhere. I believe he has them. We’ll find them and disarm him. He’s already begun cooperating. In the end, if he does not, he’ll get invaded. So he will.

My personal position is that we take the country under UN supervision. The UN is the right and only way to go, unilateral acts will destabilise the planet. In my opinion this has no comparison to pre WWII appeasement.


You say Powell "convinced no one", least of all you. I suspect that you are "inconvincible".

I am not inconvincible, for I SDO think Iraq has these weapons. It’s just that we differ on how to go about disarming the nation. If he does not cooperate, his fate is sealed. I do not see the rush to war here and the calm diplomacy with N Korea as being coherent.

We’ll see if they are hiding weapons. The control prevents their starting mischief, I did not mean it made them ‘transparent’.

As for the UN troops, it depends on what you mean y the job. If you mean invade, conquer and control, no, the UN won’t do. If you mean, as I did, keep a lid on things, help the inspectors, the UN can.


Steve Brody - 2/15/2003


Gus, I’m not totally sanguine with the innocent deaths that may occur if we go into Iraq. Don't mis-characterize my posting. Saddam can prevent any deaths by cooperating with the inspectors and giving up his WMD. Under the circumstances, I believe it's better to go into Iraq, than to allow this situation to fester by appeasing Saddam.

You continue to insist that "success in the Iraqi disarmament is evident, clear, and increasing", but can't or won't specify what your evidence is for such a statement. I ask you again: How have inspections deprived Saddam of his access to his WMD? Blix's report to the UN certainly didn't establish the efficacy of this round of inspections. On the contrary, Saddam continues to stonewall on the serious questions of where his WMD are and seeks to place the burden on the inspectors to find them. My reading of Resolution 1441 is that it places the burden on Saddam to cooperate with the inspectors and provide a complete and accurate declaration of his WMD. He chose not to comply. He was required to provide proof of the destruction of his WMD. He chose not to comply. He has sought to turn this into a game of hide and seek. He knows that doubling or tripling the number of inspectors is meaningless in a country the size of California.

You say this is an invented crisis. I beg to differ. Everyone recognizes the seriousness of the situation. That is why 1441 threatens serious consequences if Saddam fails to comply. Even you must acknowledge that Saddam has failed to comply. Your silly hyperbole that the actions of the coalition of nations to disarm Iraq is "as naked and as beastly as that waged by Japan, Italy and Germany before WWII" shows either an appalling ignorance of twentieth century history or a flagrant disregard for truth

You say Powell "convinced no one", least of all you. I suspect that you are "inconvincible".

You declare that there is yet no confirmation of the existence of WMD in Iraq but concede their existence. You make my point. We all know that the weapons are there and that the inspectors can't and probably won't find them. You suggest that the UN will put the noose around Saddam's neck if he doesn't cooperate. Do you really expect Saddam to turn 180 degrees in a few weeks and start cooperating after years of obfuscation? What evidence for such a conclusion could you possibly have? And by your use of the term “put the noose around his neck", I assume that you mean the UN will use force. That's fine with me; I think we can wait a few weeks.

You doubt the link between Iraq and Al-Queda and I concede that the evidence is not as strong as the evidence of Iraq's WMD. I take issue with your statement that Iraq is so controlled from the sky that they aren't a threat. If they can continue to hide their WMD from the inspectors, how controlled are they, really?

If UN troops do go into Iraq, they will have to be US troops. The reality is that no other nation, or combination of nations, likely to help have anywhere near enough troops or weapons to do the job.


Gus Moner - 2/14/2003

Here is an exerpt dealing with this topic from an article I wrote:

There is also controversy over NATO’s role. Most European nations’ constitutions require the consent of their parliaments before committing troops to a conflict or acts of war unless it is as part of an approved defence treaty such as NATO. The USA and the EU leaders inclined to follow Bush’s theories, even against their nation’s public opinion, were hoping to use NATO as their tool to bypass their respective parliaments.

Invoking the self-defence clause, they hoped they could inject their military in the conflict using a defensive alliance to launch an attack, mocking their public opinion. One had to be wondering the why of the USA’s insistence on invading from Turkey, when there was such an overwhelming mismatch of forces favourable to the USA just in the south. Now we know.

Not one European government has requested parliamentary approval to commit troops or support the US in whatever way. However, it seems as if the key to doing so was in using a manufactured and self-inflicted threat to Turkey to by-pass parliamentary democracy.

Thus, the USA could invade Iraq from Turkey, claim a threat to Turkey to involve NATO nations with willing governemnts’ participation, side-stepping democratic processes built-in to the respective nations’ constitutions and thereby get the ‘alliance of the willing’ Mr. Bush so craves and needs. Germany and France are fortunately planting the question this begs.

If NATO is an alliance to defend against attack, how can attacking a nation (Iraq) invoke the alliance’s resources to defend the aggressor (Turkey-USA)? If Iraq attacks Turkish areas where it is being attacked from by another NATO nation without provocation, how can NATO, a defensive alliance, be called to act?

NATO is designed and organised to rush to the defence of a threatened nation, not one threatened because it is attacking another! NATO is doomed to irrelevance not because of Germany, Belgium and France. It is doomed to the scrap heap of history because it is a defensive alliance, and the USA’s current policies need partners in aggression.

However, this circumventing of parliaments is not an issue being raised in the USA. Not once since the NATO crisis began have the networks provided an in-depth analysis as to why this is happening; they are merely parroting the administration’s displeasure and bringing up images of US soldiers in WWII. Seldom are others with differing opinions interviewed, and certainly few Europeans are ever asked to opine. All the opinion is by US correspondents. “Reporters” fail to ask the obvious questions. News coverage parrots government theories and theses without presenting all the sides of the issues. It is seen as us against them, 16 against 3, etc. all the comments in the language of conflict and confrontation.

This tergiversation of the NATO alliance is another symptom of the dysfunctional Bush administration’s inability to learn to cooperate and reach agreements. It can only command. It has so far torpedoed, amongst others, global warming reduction initiatives, an international court of justice, and now it is destroying NATO and the UN, whilst attempting to redraw the map of the Middle East and change two governments, one freely elected (Palestine, where the US certified the election as free and fair), the other in Iraq, while both the EU and USA’s citizens are to believe it is not about power, domination and oil.


Gus Moner - 2/14/2003

Gus, I'm not taking lightly the prospect of war with Iraq. There is likely to be collateral damage. I don't believe that there will be the "hundreds of thousands" of deaths that Bush's detractors claim. We don't wage that kind of indiscriminate warfare, but there will be some.

Hello Mr Brody,
I was pleased to learn you aren’t taking this war lightly, although its disconcerting to hear you say that “there will be some”, as if some were alright by you. Success in the Iraqi disarmament path is evident, clear and increasing. The report at the UN today clearly showed it, and the consensus was that more time was required to determine whether the level of Iraqi cooperation was improving or not.

Clearly this is an invented crisis. If this were a real serious threat, it would have so been before 9-11. Moreover, great strides have been made in that everyone on the UNSC agrees Iraq MUST disarm of wmd. The divergence lies in the path of diplomacy or war. The Bush administration is keen to wage a war that would allow it a base in Iraq for control and mischief in the region, Iran, Syria and others would indeed be future targets. This is aggression, as naked and as beastly as that waged by Japan, Italy and Germany before WWII finally exploded. This is not in the best interests of the USA, the UN or the world.

Your inspection negativism is ‘old thinking’ about the UN ignores the new consensus for disarmament forged on the heels of US and UK insistence. Hats of to both governments for that aspect. It’s the belligerence that worries so many. I regret to disagree on Powell, he has convinced no one, least of all me, nor have the terror threats been convincing, nor the propaganda, piece by ABC on the FBI tracking 10 terrorists and determining whether to nab them, I mean, really, how cartoon-like can this get. The propaganda department set up last year, it’s becoming ludicrous.

There is as of yet no confirmation of the weapons existence, although I have little doubt they do exist. Let them turn them in or let us find them, destroy them and let it be. Not everything has to be sorted out by shooting. If in a few weeks he hasn’t been shown to cooperate, I believe the UN will put the noose round his neck. The US risks shattering a functional world order because of the short-sightedness, avarice and vengefulness of a few.

Blair and Straw are much more convincing, and they have failed utterly to convince in the people of the UK, who remember Hitler well.

“Disarming Iraq will obviously not do away with terrorism.” Right on that score. If we disarm him militarily it will create more terrorism and terrorists. I do not believe the Iraq-al Quaeda link, not when bin Laden calls him an infidel and on the Iraqis to overthrow him , as he did in his most recent message. Assuming it was not made up, of course. This aspect of the message was not given much publicity in the USA, I learned of it through the BBC and German Radio. So, I am unconvinced of the link. Anyhow, Iraq is so controlled now, from the sky and on land, it’s hardly a threat. Its armed forces are decrepit, and we’ll get the weapons if they exist, peacefully. If he refuses, the UN, in my opinion WILL act.

Finally, I disagree that the troops to go into Iraq need be US troops, and would argue they ought not to be. There are plenty of nations willing to help.

On Saturday the 15th of February, neither the old Europe nor the new one will speak. We’ll hear not from the governments but from the people of the world who will have their say in the streets.

Levels of opposition to US aggression are close to their highest the past year. The last few days, 59 percent of Americans said they believed the president should give the United Nations more time. Sixty-three percent said Washington should not act without the support of its allies, and 56 percent said Mr. Bush should wait for United Nations approval. In Europe, the numbers are astonishing, close to 90% in most nations, and even in the UK they are near 70%.

Clearly, and thankfully, not many are buying the snake oil just yet.


Alan Bock - 2/14/2003

Just noticed that our first reference was to the North American Treaty Organization. Don't know if it was a typo or a Freudian slip, but obviously it's North Atlantic ...


Alan Bock - 2/14/2003

Thought you might be interested in the editorial the Orange County Register ran today on the NATO imbroglio. We also ran the piece I did on the Bellisles controversy a few months ago.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

NATO quandary is U.S. problem
Feb. 13, 2003 Orange County Register Editorial



Steven Everts, a defense expert at the Center for European Reform in London, may have come closest to the heart of the issue now ostensibly putting the North American Treaty Organization into a tizzy: whether European NATO members will provide certain kinds of military equipment to Turkey, a NATO member. Mr. Everts told the International Herald Tribune on Tuesday that "what Europe is quarreling about is not so much how you deal with Iraq, but how you deal with the United States."

In case you missed the news, France, Germany and Belgium raised objections to a request from Turkey (a NATO member) for defensive military equipment to be used in case Iraq retaliates against Turkey in the course of an American-led invasion against Iraq. Numerous American commentators have tut-tutted that the action by the three European countries is a callow abandonment of the basic NATO principle that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all, and will break up, or at least harm, the alliance that has so successfully kept the peace on the Continent and deterred aggression since World War II.

As of yesterday the impasse had not been solved, although U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Congress there was "intensive diplomacy" behind the scenes and he expected NATO to do the right thing fairly soon.

However, it's not quite so simple as that.

There's a good argument that NATO has become obsolete, given that it was formed as a defensive alliance against the threat posed by a powerful Soviet empire. In essence, it assured the Europeans that the United States would come to their side if the Soviets invaded Europe. With the collapse of the Soviet Union that rationale has disappeared.

NATO was kept in existence essentially by inertia. Nobody wanted to take the initiative to disassemble it, and the emerging post-communist East European countries viewed membership as an affirmation of their acceptance as Europeans.

NATO's charter has not been fundamentally changed. It is still a defensive alliance designed to respond to unprovoked attacks on member nations.

The request from Turkey is, as Cato Institute defense policy analyst Charles Pena told us, "a perversion of Article 5." It is not a request for help in the face of an unprovoked attack by another country, but a request for help in anticipation of retaliation by Iraq in the wake of a possible offensive military action against Iraq led by the United States.

Turkey's request is not really a request for defense but a request to facilitate an offensive military action by the United States about which many European countries have serious reservations. If it is granted, it will bring NATO as an institution into an attack rather than an act of defense, and change the character of the alliance. France, Germany and Belgium have valid reasons to be dubious.

We would shed few tears if NATO came apart over this issue, though that seems unlikely. But we should be clear that this crisis has been provoked not by European intransigence but by American insistence on going to war with Iraq.


Steve Brody - 2/13/2003


Gus, I'm not taking lightly the prospect of war with Iraq. There is likely to be collateral damage. I don't believe that there will be the "hundreds of thousands" of deaths that Bush's detractors claim. We don't wage that kind of indiscriminate warfare, but there will be some.

You suggest that we "continue the UN path of disarmament". What evidence of success has this path produced? I believe that the inspections have shown that they are not working and will not work. So far we have confirmed that which we already knew: Saddam has WMD and he is not going to give them up. The inspectors have found a few chemical warheads. But how have the inspections deprived Saddam of the WMD that Powell has persuasively shown that he has?

The reality is that 100 or 200 or 1000 inspectors are not going to find these weapons if Saddam is determined to hide them. And he is determined to hide them.

Disarming Iraq will obviously not do away with terrorism. It is, however, a worthy goal in and of itself. If Powell is correct and Al Queda has joined forces with Iraq (and I believe Powell is correct), then depriving Al Queda of Iraq's support is an important objective.

You say "continue the winning strategy of pressure inspection and control". Saddam has proven himself to be impervious to pressure or inspection. Without them, what control can we exert?
If we do "inject UN troops" into Iraq, as you suggest, they will really be US troops. Where have UN troops kept order before the opposing military had not first been defeated?


Gus Moner - 2/12/2003

Mr Brody’s assertion that the issue is what Mr Hussein will do is not the complete picture. The facts are there. What he has done is a road map to what he could do. So, it is part of the picture.

However, the issue before us is whether we should continue the UN path of disarmament, increased inspections and more control of the country and thus root out the evil weapons we think he may have. The question in debate ought to be, then, about how to proceed.

Clearly the US has victory within its grasp, with scarcely firing a shot (scarcely because we are shooting at Iraq on almost a daily basis). Other, peaceful options need to be practiced prior to the ultimate weapon of war. Only if these fail should war be considered, for if this person indeed has wmd, we are in for some nastiness, and to go about seeking such dire consequences is foolishness bordering on madness. And let me be clear; the USA must adhere to a UN process in order to retain legitimacy.Unity is strength here.

None of the contributors to the point / counterpoint seem to touch strongly on this issue, depicting a lack of understanding of the consequences that we are talking about when unleashing a war. In general the US public and our commentators seem to take war as something that we do unto others, not have done unto us. We fail to understand the incredible suffering it unleashes.

Al Qaeda has shown us what disasters war can bring with just two attacks. We seem to take quite lightly the concept of bombing Iraq, invading it, attacking it, conquering it and all the collateral damage and injuries, not to mention increased hatred that would unleash. This latter is in direct juxtaposition to our aim of ending terrorism. Just what are we doing, then?

Do we really think that attacking Iraq will do away with terror? Isn’t the war on terrorists our primary goal? So far all we have managed to do is bring Ossama and the people of Iraq, naturally adverse philosophically, onto the same page- against the USA. Simultaneously we have been putting Ossama shoulder to shoulder with the US in calling for Saddam’s overthrow.Strange bedfellows indeed.

I say we continue with the winning strategy of pressure, inspections and control. If necessary, vote to inject UN troops in the country to control the Iraqi forces there. War, my friends, must be a very last recourse.


Gus Moner - 2/12/2003

Greetings Mr. Thornton:
It's a pleasure running into you again!
You are right sir, about the reasonableness and complexity of the historical perspectives and analyses available, with most being feasible at a minimum. I nevertheless disagree that there is the slightest parallel to the pre- WWII scenarios everyone is so fond of using. Likewise, WWI fails to hit the mark, as I’ll explain in a bit.

We are today facing a dangerous regime intimidating smaller, less powerful nations with war, threatening to use awful weapons of terror and mass destruction and to re-draw the boundaries of a region to set up pliant governments and an economic sphere of influence to suit its raw material requirements for world domination. That may indeed be similar to pre-WWII scenarios with Japan, Italy and Germany. The government threatening that today is not Iraq, however, it is the USA.

You told us “another interesting historical parallel besides appeasement is the WW 1 connections between Germany and Iraq.” The aforementioned is an example of these nebulous or errant views. In WWI for example, Iraq did not even exist; rather it was part of a province of the Ottoman Empire. Germany had growing influence in the region through economic links to the Ottoman Empire, and indeed, considering this a menacing reality, the UK wrongly pushed the Ottoman Empire into the war on Germany’s side with its bellicosity towards the Turks. The result is the drama we are witnessing in the Middle East since WWI, intensified after 1945.

Regarding your observation that “the present, however, is undeniable. Iraq is accomplishing something that the Soviet Union could never do: shaking the NATO alliance to its core.” With all due respect, this was a poorly thought-through comment, in my opinion.

Iraq is NOT accomplishing what the USSR failed to do, that is giving them far too much credit! The US is doing that itself. Finding the defensive alliance redundant and useless for its offensive pretensions, the US is torpedoing the basic tenets of the concordat. There is indeed controversy over NATO’s role. Given that most European nations’ constitutions require the consent of their parliaments before committing troops to a conflict or other acts of war unless as part of a parliamentary approved defence treaty such as NATO, the USA, and the me-too leaders inclined to follow the Bush theories, were hoping to use NATO as their tool to bypass their respective parliaments.

Invoking the self-defence clause, they would inject their military in the conflict using a defensive alliance to launch an attack, mocking their public opinion. One had to be wondering why the insistence of invading from Turkey, when there was such an overwhelming mismatch of forces favourable to the USA just in the south. Now we know. Not one European government has requested parliamentary approval to commit troops or support the US in whatever way they deem. The reason is their fear of the clamour against this. However, it seems as if the key in using a manufactured and self-inflicted threat to Turkey to by-pass parliamentary democracy. In recognition of Mr Blair’s openness, as opposed to most other leaders, US President Bush included, he at least debates in parliament weekly. The US has no such debates, and all we get are speeches, a few queries none of which are piercing or inquisitive.

Thus, under the aforementioned plan, the USA could invade Iraq from Turkey and claim a threat to Turkey to involve NATO nations’ participation thereby side-stepping democratic processes set out in the respective nations’ constitutions and thereby get the ‘alliance of the willing’ Mr. Bush so craves and needs. Germany and France are fortunately planting the question this begs.

If NATO is an alliance to defend against attack, how can attacking a nation (Iraq) invoke the alliance’s resources to defend the aggressor (Turkey-USA)? If Iraq attacks Turkish areas where it is being attacked from by another NATO nation, without provocation, how can NATO, a defensive alliance, be called to act? NATO is to rush to the defence of a threatened nation, not one threatened because it is attacking another! NATO is doomed to irrelevance not because of Germany, Belgium and France. It is doomed to the scrap heap of history because it is a defensive alliance, and the USA’s current policies need partners in aggression.

You then pose this question: “What about the comparisons between the League of Nations and the United Nations?” This is a very pertinent question. In that inter-world war period, the League was weakened by the US’s refusal to join at the start and the steady departure thereafter of the major players when things did not go their way. We have a similar situation looming with the USA and the UK threatening to go their own way if things do not go as they deem they should.

War is simply not an acceptable option until all diplomatic efforts are exhausted, despite Mr Bush’s pretensions to the opposite. Moreover, the UN is the only body with the moral and representative authority to authorise an invasion of a nation and its people, regardless of their government. War is the utmost level of diplomacy; indeed many claim, as I do, that it’s the last refuge of the incompetent.

Following the USA’s deployment of troops and simultaneous pressure to get Iraq to allow inspectors back and to disarm, most people were pleased with the UN resolution 1441, albeit highly sceptical of the rough tactics being employed by the US administration. When UN resolution 1441 was finally agreed and voted, it was understood by most to mean that the UN had a prevalent and principal role to play in enforcing its prior and current resolutions. It was understood that this would apply to all UN resolutions, not just the ones affecting Iraq. In addition it was believed that the USA was involved in this process and willing to work within this framework. The UN was seen to work. There was some hope that other issues pending in the Middle East would be sorted out with this same resolve. It turned out to be a US sponsored farce.

It soon became clear that the US was merely seeking diplomatic cover for a bellicose attack it is anyway determined to undertake, with or without the UN. The US President’s shrug of the shoulder and droopy mouth upon saying the ‘US would be willing to seek another UN resolution” said much more than his actual statement.

By setting quick deadlines unilaterally and demanding resolutions to attack after a mere two months of 1441, the USA was not following the UN process; rather it was trying to bamboozle the UN into following its theories for attack, dismemberment of Iraqi institutions and control of the nation. The US is deemed as the one menacing to make the UN irrelevant by bypassing it. The USA is in fact throwing tantrums in demanding permission to attack, threatening that it will in fact make the UN irrelevant by ignoring it. The mere threat of circumventing the UN indicates the disdain and disrespect for world opinion. This is perceived, at best, as duplicitous activity by the US and the UK. Of course, with the limited analyses available to the US public, and the steady dosage of speeches and pronouncements rather than actual debate as in the UK, we see the effects of the propaganda.

Most people eventually saw the US pressure as the key element in bringing the inspection process back and paving the way for eventual Iraqi disarmament. They were thankful for the initiative. However, once the process had begun, the world and the US seem to have parted ways. In the rest of the world it is seen as requiring more time. In the US, Bush says the game is over, as if resorting to war was the goal of the game, or indeed THE game. Dicey indeed. The question is not whether the US can defeat Iraq, it is a foregone conclusion they can conquer Iraq in a short period. The question no one has answers to is what will happen next, and later.

I see the US and Israel as wishing to dismantle the UN, in order to claim the resolutions passed on behalf of Palestinians as irrelevant. Then, the final conquest and settlement of Palestine by Israel is likely with no forum to defend Palestine in existence. I also envision that the US will use Iraq as a base to destabilise and control Iran as next, whilst keeping an eye on the Caucasian and Caspian regions for their oil and gas. It’s an ugly portent that indeed will deliver the ‘generation of war’ Bush promised. Get your children into fatigues.




Steve Brody - 2/12/2003


The problem with Mearsheimer and Walt's thesis that it depends on Hussein to be both consistent and rational. I find no reason for optimism that Hussein will do either. Quite the contrary, Saddam has proven himself to be a man of spectacular bad judgment and recklessness.


James Thornton - 2/11/2003

Many like to draw parallels between today's confrontation between the United States and Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Great Britain and Hitler before the outbreak of World War 2. Today's Churchill is the United States, while France and Germany play "Peace in our time" Chamberlain.

Another interesting historical parallel besides appeasement is the WW 1 connections between Germany and Iraq.

The debate about the relavancy of history to Iraq is probably complex with many reasonable opposing viewpoints.

What about the comparisons between the League of Nations and the United Nations?

The present, however, is undeniable. Iraq is accomplishing something that the Soviet Union could never do: shaking the NATO alliance to its core.

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