The Evidence Against Iraq

Originally published on 1/27/2003. Links were valid at that time.

Somewhere along the line people have lost their minds. For some inexplicable reason George Bush is being demonized for what is happening with Iraq, and people claim he has not “made a case” regarding Iraq. I can’t help but wonder what kind of case would be sufficient for some people.

First, one of the things that I hate about this debate is that it forces me to be put in a position where I must defend Bush’s policies. I personally think that Bush can and will do more damage to the American citizenry through less politically-sexy subjects such as political appointments and passing of laws that will degrade and erode civil liberties like the USA PATRIOT Act and its bastard step-children. There is enough to dislike about George Bush that is established fact than conspiracy theory and insults can generate.

Second, I am fully aware that for those who are against going to war with Iraq, there is nothing that I or anyone else can say that will change your mind. Fair enough. For some people, it’s easier for them to accept the possibility of being killed than killing just so they don’t have to live with any guilt whatsoever. However, the so-called argument that Bush “has not made a case” is complete bunk.

For those who feel they can claim some sort of intellectual superiority over Bush, especially for those of you who happen to live outside of this country, reduces your argument to “Sticks and Stones.” First, Bush is *not* “Dumb as a Box of Rocks;” Harvard does not give out MBAs to boxes of rocks, and chances are those people who make this claim have never actually heard Bush speak other than 8 second sound bites or Will Ferrell’s (admittedly hysterically funny) satirical impression of Bush on Saturday Night Live.

Have you ever actually seen Bush speak for any duration? Aside from some notoriously verbal goofs that are little more than malapropisms, he’s actually quite eloquent, funny (intentionally so), and if anything it’s clear that he knows exactly what he’s doing. So let’s try to rise above the name-calling.

I ask that you bear with me; part of the problem is that people want “proof” or “evidence” backed up by sources.

* Burden of Proof

It’s important to understand first and foremost that the burden of proof lies with Iraq, not the United States. What amazes me continuously is how many people seem to think that Saddam’s name was picked out of a hat at random, that there’s no real threat there.

The problem is that Saddam Hussein has, since the end of the Gulf War, refused to cooperate with the mandates and restrictions placed upon him and his government. The whole “oil-for-food” policy never worked because the money never left Hussein’s bank account to pay for food. For the past 12 years the people of Iraq have, for the most part, been getting by with handouts and the little amount that they can produce on their own. Of course, Hussein has been telling them the entire time that the reason why he hasn’t provided them with any food (or means of getting any) is because of the sanctions against Iraq.

Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons are only one type. We know he has used chemical and biological weapons against the Kurds and the Iranians, and the onus has been upon him to prove that he’s gotten rid of them.

* The Evidence

Even Hans Blix, who has been probably one of the biggest anti-US, pro-Iraq individuals in this mess, has said that Iraq isn’t owing up to all of the obligations that it must fulfill. “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance of the disarmament that was demanded of it,” Blix said today. When Iraq makes it’s “promises” that it has gotten rid of the WMD that already exists, it would be foolish to the nth degree to simply take it at its word.

Let’s not forget, by the way, that when Iraq attacked Kuwait without provocation, it was not only the U.S. that objected. The coalition of forces that went to war with Iraq was not only Western, but also Arabic in composition. The U.N. was the one who came up with the provisions that Iraq had to follow, not the United States. To date, he has not followed these provisions, nor has he needed to as time has progressed. All he has had to do is simply wait as various governments change leaders; he’s played a waiting game.

This wasn’t only about aggression against his neighbors, it was also about his own people. The 1991 UN resolution 688 demanded that he stop attacking his own people, an order that he has ignored. The 1991 UN Resolutions 686 and {{link 687 http://www.caabu.org/press/documents/unscr-resolution-687.html}} demanded Iraq return prisoners from Kuwait and other lands, but as of last year http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1995/a-50-734.htm the U.N. reported that more than 600 people from 9 countries – 8 of them Arabic – were still unaccounted for. In 2001 the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq “continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights.”

According to resolution 687, Iraq was supposed to renounce all involvement with terrorism and prevent terrorist organizations from operating in Iraq. However, in 1993 Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and Bush 41. Additionally, Iraq openly praised the attacks of 9/11. Even more so, it is generally acknowledged – even by the U.N. – that al Qaeda terrorists escaped Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq. Moreover, two defected Iraqi intelligence agents told the CIA that Saddam Hussein has sponsored terrorist training camps to produce “scores of highly trained terrorists for attacks in the Middle East and the West.”

This is above and beyond the fact that the Iraqis lied about the fact it had no biological weapons. In 1995 a senior official in the weapons program defected and exposed the lie, to which it became evident that Iraq had generated thousands of liters of anthrax for use in Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. The U.N. inspectors believe that Iraq has actually produced two to four TIMES the amount they’ve admitted to producing. Moreover, it’s failed to account for the material it’s already said that it has produced!

Again in 1995, Iraq admitted that it had a nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. Had Hussein not been greedy and gone after Kuwait and been bitch-slapped back home, the world would most likely have had to contend with several nuclear bombs either planted or actually exploded – probably within the U.S. and Israel as primary locations.

This is also not including the other evidence surrounding Iraq’s sponsorship of terrorism. For instance, there are reports of Iraqi plots to blow up US warships, where suicide bombers were to sail ships flying under an Iranian flag to disguise Iraq’s involvement.

There is also the fact that Saddam’s own rhetoric has lead himself toward what he perceives to be the Mother of All Battles. On a number of occasions his war rhetoric from both the Gulf War and more recently has indicated a distinct quest for a “when I go, I’m going to take the whole world with me” finale.

So now not only has he had a dozen years of non-compliance with the UN, now he’s even threatened to kill the very scientists who can help him avoid such a conflict. If any scientist helps the UN he can expect his head on a platter beside his body.

* Saddam and Al Qaeda

First of all, there has been a known link between Iraq and OBL for a long time. In fact, those ties date back at the very least to the mid-1990s, “when they came together in Sudan to support Islamic insurgencies” (Source: USA Today, a reprint of the article can be found here). Several of OBL’s militant agents have found haven in Iraq as well (Source: Nando Times, – registration required, or here is another source.)

As if providing safe haven wasn’t enough, Hussein actually sent troops to help OBL in Kurdistan.

One of the participants in the first attack on the WTC in 1993 is known to be hiding in Iraq as of mid-2002.

Either way, the CIA has reported that it “firmly believes” a strong connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda (source: AFP, reprinted here. Additional reports are available at the Washington Times and The Sunday Times.

* All about Oil

The conspiracy theory and pure conjecture about whether or not this is all about oil, when closely examined with more scrutiny, simply doesn’t hold up.

Let me point out that the bulk of this section is heavily devoted to Jonah Goldberg’s and Peter Beinart’s (registration required) excellent articles. I make no bones about the fact that I’m simply re-iterating much of what they have already stated far more eloquently. However, it seems that many people have either not read it or ignored it, so I’ll try to provide some highlights for those who aren’t clear.

First, going to war to get oil is not the most financially sound plan. War is expensive as well as politically risky.

Second, a war on Iraq runs the risk of ruining the goal – the oil fields themselves.

Third, if the war went badly, it would certainly cost the Republicans the White House.

Fourth, as the criticism of it being about oil has more to do with getting rich than anything else, any good businessman would simply say “remove the sanctions.”

Fifth, the simple fact remains that there is not enough money to be made for the sheer expense. From a business point of view, the cost/benefit is simply too high. Any rich person who understands risk (and the need to eliminate it) would see that War for oil is simply a bad business plan.

* Scorched Earth Policy

In 1991, when Iraq left Kuwait, they left dozens of oil fields burning, destroying not only the actual oil itself, but also the surrounding environment and habitats. These fires burned for *months*. There are problems that exist to this day as a result that include health problems for humans as well as animal life.

Now, it’s clear that the same tactics are useful at home as well as abroad. The U.S. has made a pretty good case to indicate that this is a distinct possibility.

The best part about it, from his point of view, is that all he has to say is a) either the US destroyed the fields (and people will believe him), or b) if the US hadn’t invaded then he wouldn’t have had to destroy the oil fields, food storage facilities, etc. Either way, it’s all too easy to turn his own actions into an indictment of the US, again.

* Saddam as a Creation of the US

First of all, and this is admittedly not the most intellectual response, but my response to this insipid statement is that even if it were the case, what’s your point?

As Jonah Goldberg points out, “so what?” Supposing for the moment that we chose the lesser of two evils between Iran and Iraq – not exactly an enviable position in any case – does that REALLY mean that we should do nothing right now?

The main problem is that such an argument holds no value. The events of the 1970s and 1980s need to be taken in light of the context at the time. There was, after all, a serious cold war going on. The Russians had invaded Afghanistan which, on the heels of three decades of predatory policies in the Eastern Bloc and Asia left many, many people nervous.

Even if this is true, that Saddam Hussein is a construction of the U.S., wouldn’t this then mean that it would be the responsibility of the U.S. to remove him?

In essence, this is a non-issue since while the accusation of hypocrisy is illusory and pointless, the threat posed by Iraq is very real and very current.

* Bush as “Evil”

To be honest, this is the part that I find both most disturbing and most illogical.

For over a year Bush has given everyone a head’s up about what he’s doing, where he’s going and has essentially bent over backwards to get the U.N. off its ass and show some backbone. At no point in time has Bush ever indiscriminately attacked anyone, nor has he purposely starved anyone (something that neither Iraq nor North Korea can claim), nor has he ever deliberately ordered the systematic torture and execution of anyone who dares dissent. For crying out loud, Saddam set up rape camps where Iraqi personnel could take Kuwaiti women at will.

For the sake of readability, and the fact that I have no desire to simply recount all the news stories of the atrocities that Iraq has committed, let me point you to just ONE of the dozens of places you can go to find out what’s been going on. Suffice to say that it is a compilation of international news accounts of collective punishment, destruction of villages, use of chemical and biological weapons, mass disappearances, rape, torture and inhuman punishment, environmental destruction, as well as the general conditions of being in Iraq.

And yet, for some bizarre reason that truly escapes me, Bush gets labeled “evil” and comparable to Hitler. This latter comes from a German, of all people.

What?!?

Why is it that people can so easily excuse Saddam’s behavior? Not only that, why is it that Bush is labeled “evil” when he is trying to stop these things from happening? Sure, it’s absolutely true that during war, people get killed. It is a truly unenviable position to be in (from an American perspective) to need to be the one to stand up and make a decision that will result in lives lost. I know that I would have considerable problems making that determination if it weren’t for the fact that such inaction would result in the torture, rape, and ultimate death of many more innocents at the hands of Iraq. This includes the same people, by the way, that anti-war protestors are claiming they want to “protect.”

So tell me, why don’t people want to stop the rape, torture, mutilation and murder that Saddam inflicts?

* Difference between North Korea and Iraq

It’s important to realize that the threat from North Korea and the threat from Iraq are completely different in nature, even if not all that different in severity.

Part of the situation has to do with the surrounding neighbors of both countries. N. Korea, for its part, is surrounded by countries that are unlikely to allow it to proceed with any nuclear detonation without quick and decisive action. Japan, China, and Russia all have a vested interest in preventing N. Korea from acting foolishly, and are unlikely to waffle on their own version of unilateral support against N. Korea.

Second, the surrounding countries do not have the political instability that the surrounding countries of Iraq have. The Muslim dictatorships in the Middle East are, for all intents and purposes, maintained not from any ideological, economic, or political strength, but from (essentially) the deception and compliance of their citizenry.

This is not the case in any of N. Korea’s neighbors. Japan has economic and political stability, China has the political and military stability, and Russia (or whomever controls that region now, I forget) has the military strength to ensure that N. Korea doesn’t get out of hand.

Perhaps what is even more of an indicator, however, is that North Korea’s impetus for non-compliance is as a result of very different motivations than that of Iraq. Hussein believes he has a historical right to much of the Middle East (for those of you who are unaware of history, after WWI the Ottoman Empire, which included what is now Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and some other territories, was broken up into the independent states that exist today). Combine this with religious fundamentalism and you have a very deadly combination.

North Korea, on the other hand, appears (in my not-so-humble opinion) to be looking to extort money and “aid” from the world at large. Unfortunately it sees the only way to do this through the development of nuclear weapons. Whereas Iraq is developing these weapons because it intends to *use* them, N. Korea is more than not likely to use them as an impending threat.

Neither situation is simple, nor is it ideal. More importantly, though, this illustrates the importance of preventing a standardized policy of reaction when such events occur.

* The U.N., France, Germany, and other Countries

Time and space limitations prevent me from delving too deep into this subject, but it certainly deserves a great deal more attention than I can provide here. The basic question that needs to be asked with regards to those countries who dissent from the U.S. position is “What is their own agenda?”

The U.N. has never been (and likely will never be) an ally to the U.S. They have, among other things, attempted to cripple U.S. manufacturing, fine the U.S. for its participation in slavery (with proceeds to go to, of all places, the Sudan which continues to practice slavery), and impose an added tax on U.S. taxpayers to be distributed around the world. The U.N. has long been a paper tiger in world peacekeeping affairs, and now it needs to see itself as the governing body over the Iraq situation, even though they have proven over the past dozen years that they are incapable of “handling” anything.

France and Russia both have billions of dollars of oil contracts with Iraq that they are afraid of losing.

Germany and France have a vested interest in manipulating the EU, and together they form enough clout to threaten the smaller, weaker countries in the EU with a defiant stance.

In all, nearly everyone – especially Saddam himself – has something to gain by standing up to Bush and the U.S. Either by putting the U.S. “in its place,” or by getting the world to leave Hussein to his own devices, there are distinct political advantages to putting a defiant face forward.

* Alternatives?

Part of the problem that I have with the entire debate is that while it’s very, very easy for people to bitch and moan about the stance the US is taking, they have nothing constructive to say whatsoever about how to solve the problem of Iraq.

This leads me to three possible conclusions.

First, people prefer to bury their head in the sand and hope that the Iraq “situation” will simply go away. This is, perhaps, the most charitable of my conclusions. I can understand that there is a prevailing sense of abhorrence when it comes to the prospect of being responsible for the deaths of anyone, let alone innocent civilians whose only crime would be to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

However, the simple fact remains that there is nothing to indicate that that is the case. In fact, the last fifteen years has shown us the exact opposite – a disturbing (and in some cases, horrifying) propensity of Iraq to be hostile to not only its neighbors but also its own people. The problem is that it simply will not “go away” on its own, and if something isn’t done – and done soon – we’re going to have much, much more catastrophe to cope with.

Second, it seems that people are stupid. They are pure lemmings who follow George Clooney, Barbara Streisand, Robert Altman and Alec Baldwin – people who, by the way, make their money by reciting lines that OTHER PEOPLE WRITE – without actually internalizing what is being said and attempting to make a well-informed conclusion.

I assume that this is probably the true bulk of people who feel they have a strong opinion about this but who are incapable of seeing the consequences of what they support, let alone the “big picture” of broader implications. As sad as this is, it’s difficult for me to find any true contempt for them as they probably simply don’t have the intellectual capacity for careful consideration.

Third, and these people I actively despise, are the ones who simply detest the United States on principle. These are the people who accuse the US of “bringing 9/11 on themselves”, who ignore the fact that the US showed tremendous restraint in the aftermath, and whose major goal in dissenting is merely to “bring the US down to size.”

Talk about the scum of the earth. These people blame the rape victims for being raped, the murder victims for being murdered. I have yet to find someone who can point out one person – just ONE – who died during 9/11 who “deserved” what they got for insults to Al Qaeda, Iraq, etc. These people would rather see massive death, destruction, torture, rape, and mutilation of civilian people AS LONG AS they were AMERICAN civilians. Yeah, that’ll teach ’em.

So, until someone comes up with a more viable alternative to eliminating Iraq’s threat — for which I am all ears and look forward to hearing about — perhaps it may be best to determine which of the above camp you are in.

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1 Comment

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