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Iraq: Not Just About Saddam

Third in a Series of Four

JD Lock, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired)

16 March 2003


Despite its best efforts…which included a detailed briefing from Secretary of State Colin Powell, the United States was unable to secure a second U.N. resolution from the 15-member United Nations Security Council to declare Iraq in material breach of its obligation to disarm. 


The US’s defeat in the UN Security Council goes well beyond the veto-wielding permanent members France, Russia and China who would not support such a resolution with its implications of war.  The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the Council, big and small, opted to upset, if not outright destroy, their relationship with the world’s only superpower. 


Has anyone bothered to ask why would they do so?  Does Saddam Hussein mean that much to them?  I think not.


No, the story of the UN Security Council debacle goes well beyond the issue of Iraq and its brutal dictator.  It first starts with an incredibly inept, last minute attempt by President Bush to cajole, browbeat and basically buy off enough of the international community to pass his resolution.  When a charismatic, eloquent, and highly respected leader such as Colin Powell cannot sell the US position to the likes of Chile, Mexico, Angola, Guinea, or Cameroon…Cameroon?…and allies who have supported us in the past, such as Turkey, will not allow US combat forces to be staged in-country, well, ‘if it waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck’ know where I’m going.


The real issue for France, Germany, Russia, China…and Cameroon…most likely lies in a term called ‘hegemony,’ defined as the “preponderant influence of one state over others.”  It is an ominous sounding word one usually finds only in science fiction works that speak of vast, dictatorial empires.  However, based on a growing trend that started with Kosovo, it may, sadly, be a term deemed by others to be synonymous with the United States. 


If the evidence against Iraq were more clear-cut regarding their terrorist role or potential, I’d be 100% behind the President.  After all, any and all nations have an inalienable right to self-defense, even through preemptive strikes.  But, that evidence is not clear-cut, nor would it stand up in an American court of law, much less in the international court of public opinion.


If the current events are not just about Hussein, what then should be our focus?  Overall, we have a number of priorities of greater importance than Iraq.


  1. Continued focus on the true War on Terror, a part of which Iraq is not.  Keep Al Qaeda and their supporters on the move.  Run them to ground and kill them when necessary.

  2. The greatest threat to international peace at the moment is North Korea, not Iraq.  Develop and implement a regional strategy to contain and to entice them to eliminate their nuclear weapons program.

  3. Convince Iran to cease its quest for nuclear capability.  If that fails, eliminate it.

  4. Keep UN inspectors in Iraq and maintain the pressure, destroying potential WMD facilities by air strike, when necessary.

  5. Focus on the economy, which will be further weakened should there be an Iraq war.  Deficit predictions for the next 10 years are already projected to be $4.5 Trillion without the cost of war or post war reconstruction and occupation.  I once was led to believe that a strong economy was critical for a strong national defense?  Maybe I was wrong.

  6. With the money saved by not engaging in a pointless war, invest it in a true Homeland Defense.  What exists now is nothing more than a self deceiving illusion.


During his weekly radio address on 15 March, President Bush quoted the Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel.  “We have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control.  Today that place is Iraq.”  Mr. President, I have a question.  I thought this was a war on terrorism, not evil?


Ultimately, that seems to be the same question being asked by the members of the Security Council.  Contrary to the President’s beliefs, a war with Iraq will make the world a significantly less secure place for America as the Euro land mass led by France and Germany and the Asia region under a China and Russia partnership form stronger political, economic, and military ties to combat US ‘hegemony.’


The day the US launches its first unprovoked and unwarranted war on Iraq is the day that 9 September 2001 will no longer be a benchmark in American history.  Nearly seventeen months ago, a relatively united world supported our justification for a war against those who had planned and supported the 9/11 attacks on American soil.  Does the fact that we’ve lost nearly all of that support since then not mean something about us, as a nation?


In the end, it will not be the UN that failed, but the US.  There simply is no case, no justification predicated upon a war on terror to support a preemptive strike against Iraq.  If we carefully look as we begin to point fingers at the other members of the Security Council, we’re liable to find three of our own pointing back at us.


It is said that nations don’t have friends, they have interests.  This is a fact that the Bush Administration seems not to understand.  Where are our ‘friends,’ one may ask?  They’re watching out for their own interests, that’s where they are.

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