Iraq: The Wrong War-on-Terror 'Poster Child'
Second in a Series of Four
JD Lock, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired)
15 March 2003
Up front, let there be no doubt. Saddam Hussein is a thug and worthy of a bullet between the eyes. And, should the Armed Forces of the United States be committed to combat in Iraq, they must be supported without reservation. That said, there is also no doubt that Iraq is the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On 29 January 2002, President George W. Bush stated during his State of the Union Address “States like these [Iraq, North Korea, Iran], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.”
Iraq and WMDs. They have no nuclear weapons. While Iraq has undoubtedly pursued and attempted to develop its own nuclear arsenal, no one doubts that they do not possess such weapons at this time, nor will be able to do so anytime in the near future. Unaccounted for chemical and biological weapons. Chemical weapons, while potentially horrifying, are, in reality, restricted by delivery and environmental limitations and are primarily battlefield weapons. Of the three WMDs, biological weapons are of the greatest concern. Easiest to create, easiest to deliver, and literally more ‘bang’ for the buck. The poor man’s nuclear weapon. While there would always be the potential to deliver such a weapon to American shores, our justifiable response of creating a radioactive hole in the earth where Iraq once existed is a rather effective deterrent that should preclude any such preemptive strike by Iraq.
Is Iraq a grave and growing danger? To a degree, yes. But, the real question is just how much of a threat is Iraq really to US national security? Has Iraq ever directly threatened the US? The begrudging but honest answer to that question is no. While Iraq is a regional threat, and a regional pain in the derrière, Iraq has never, directly, attacked the US or its forces, other than limited engagements in the “No Fly Zone” over Iraq. It has no current nor probable near term capability to project much farther than its borders.
Interestingly enough, it must be noted that the US has had a prevalent and contributory role in Iraq’s aggressions during the past two decades. The US goaded Iraq into a destructive war against Iran in the 1980s for it served our purpose, at that time, to counteract an increasingly more powerful Iran. We not only provided Iraq with intelligence, we also provided it with tactical information and plans on how to fight. As for Kuwait, that was an incredible blunder instigated by our own stupidity when a US State Department official told Hussein “…we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” Days later, Iraq attacked.
As for terrorist ties, where? There’s been no proof, other than limited circumstantial evidence and innuendo, of any direct ties to terrorism, especially those terrorist groups that have directly attacked Americans or significant American interests.
Amazingly, the President’s seemingly personal obsession with Hussein has led to a significantly reduced active interest in the other two Axis of Evil members. North Korea and WMDs? How about two all but confirmed nuclear devices, a massive chemical weapons inventory, and a vast bio warfare capability. Is North Korea a grave and growing danger? What do you think? Playing nuclear brinkmanship on the peninsula, routinely closing down the Sea of Japan for missile tests, and stalking American reconnaissance aircraft. They possess a long-range missile with the believed capability to strike the continental US. They have the overwhelming ability to strike 30,000 American troops in the vicinity of the DMZ with tens of thousands of artillery rounds filled with high explosive, chemical, or bio within minutes of the cannon lanyards being pulled. And, if there are any nations with unbalanced leaders, North Korea’s psycho, Kim Jung Il is at the very top of the list.
As for Iran, the State Department has reported as recently as this year that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism”—supporting, in particular, the Shiite militants of Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist groups of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. According to the CIA, Iran possesses chemical weapons, an active biological weapons program, and the short-range ballistic missiles to deliver them throughout the region. Furthermore, a missile under development to launch satellites will most certainly also have the potential to be used as an intercontinental ballistic missile—with the range to strike the US. And, a nuclear power plant currently under construction most likely will be used to support a nuclear weapons program.
To summarize and contrast the Evil Members:
Am I missing something? Objectively speaking, who is the REAL threat to US national security? Of the three Evil Members, Iraq would actually seem to be the least of our concerns.
What is it then with George W. Bush’s preoccupation with Saddam Hussein? Does the truth actually lie with a comment he made on 26 September 2002, when discussing the threat posed by Hussein? “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad,” the President of the United States was quoted as saying. Given such a comment, one may be led to suspect that the perceived Iraqi threat is more personal than national in nature. Is that really a good and justifiable reason for launching this nation’s first and only unprovoked war? I think not.