L. Neil Smith's
Number 216, March 24, 2003

Shucks and Aw!

Why This War?

by William Westmiller

Special to TLE

President Bush put the arguments in the best and most forceful way in his ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. But, was it true?

1. Saddam's regime supports terrorism and disabling him is just one more challenge in the 'War on Terrorism'.

This was the original stance six months ago, after the apparent success of the Afghan mission. Saddam aided and abetted El-Quida and threatened to empower more extreme terrorist threats against the United States [either domestically or in our various foreign enclaves].

The CNN poll showing that 55% of Americans believe that Saddam was responsible for the 9-11 attacks surprised me. ISTM [It seems to me] that the claim is nonsensical and without evidence. Saddam is a secular dictator and has never loosened his total control of weapons or armaments. All of the claimed evidence of some connection with Bin Laden has withered away to nothing. At best, there may be some associates of El-Quida who are hiding out in remote Iraqi territory.

2. Saddam has the potential, resources and program to develop nuclear weapons. He may have acquired 'suitcase bombs' that could be used to attack the US [or his neighbors = Israel]. He must be stopped from developing these weapons, which could happen in a matter of months.

This was the argument after the El-Quida claim proved feeble. There were aluminum tubes, Russian scientists, and a host of other improbable claims that were accompanied by the most extreme horror stories of nuclear blackmail and destruction. When the UN Inspectors found documents proposing nuclear enrichment that were "hidden" in the closet of an Iraqi scientist, it was proof. Well, it turned out to be a purely speculative academic paper on using lasers to do the enrichment required for nuclear power reactors. The IAEA looked at the papers and laughed. The proposal wouldn't work and there was no other evidence of any nuclear program in Iraq. They have actually certified to the UN that there is not now - nor has there ever been - any nuclear weapon development in Iraq.

There is, of course, no such thing as a "suitcase atomic bomb". It was a mis-translation of the Russian that was quietly corrected. The smallest atomic bomb that isn't dropped from an aircraft or lobbed by a rocket is quite a bit larger than a refrigerator. That size can only be accomplished by minimal shielding, which means that the handlers are dead long before they get it to a target.

3. Saddam has and has used chemical and biological weapons; he will surely use them in the future, either against his domestic or regional enemies, or against the United States. We can't wait until after he uses them - he must be disarmed of Weapons of Mass D.

Half true. Fifteen years ago, when the U.S. was supporting Iraq's war against Iran, Saddam's troops used mustard gas against an Iran-occupied village - killing many civilians. Although it is assumed to be true, there is no evidence that Iraqi Scuds were used to deliver some form of C/B against Israel or U.S. troops during the Gulf War 12 years ago. After the war, Iraq was required to destroy all its C/B weapons, but there was no UN regime for documenting the claimed effort. After Blix certified that Iraq has NO C/B weapons in response to the UN resolution asking him that question, the question was changed. Now, Iraq is required to prove beyond any doubt that it destroyed all of the C/B materials that the U.S. thought he might have had 12 years ago. Blix says Iraq has cooperated in every way possible to show that this was accomplished.

Note that there isn't any "secret evidence". The UN Resolution signed by the U.S. required that all nations to disclose all information they may have about WMDs to the UN Inspectors. The Administration "dance" is around the plea: "We know he has them, but the Inspectors can't find them. We have disclosed all our evidence to the U.N., but we can't give that information to the American public, because it will jeopardize our Intelligence."

Observe that the U.S. demand has changed from eliminating WMDs to a complete "disarmament" of Iraq. That would mean that we would be perpetually obligated to defend Iraq against neighbors like Iran.

4. Saddam is a threat to his neighbors, having invaded Kuwait, and maintains an extremely large and well equipped military.

Obviously true 12 years ago. We had a war to fix that. It didn't get rid of Saddam, but he hasn't crossed any borders since. And, yes, like any ruthless dictator, his police and military forces come first ... at the expense of innocent and civil Iraqis.

Another "dance" by the Administration: Under no circumstances do they want to characterize the war as being in defense of Israel. That's why we get new "TimeLines" for resolution of the little disagreement between Israeli bodies and terrorist bombs.

5. Saddam has evaded and ignored U.N. resolutions requiring him to comply with the terms of his surrender 12 years ago.

The war can hardly be in defense of the 'world wisdom' expressed at the U.N., since the U.N. resolutions do not endorse unilateral acts based solely on the judgment of any one - or six - nations. Most of the resolutions were adopted 12 years ago. Iraq claims - and no one has proved otherwise - to have complied with all the resolutions.

Rather than 'showing our cards' at the U.N., the administration has discovered that they have not been able to convince a majority of the Security Council that Iraq poses a serious and urgent threat to others. The argument dwindles down to a mere suspicion that there might be a threat and the war intends to eliminate all risk. A serious reading of the response of real terrorists suggests that it might increase the risk.

In any case, do we really want a coalition of a hundred petty dictators to have the military power to enforce their dictates?

6. Saddam is a bad guy.

Yes. Among dozens - if not hundreds - of military dictators around the world. If the U.S. must use its superpower status to impose new governments around the world ... we won't be a superpower for long.

7. Oil.

Presumed by cynics to be the real reason for taking over Iraq. Although their oil reserves are far smaller than Saudi Arabia - or even Kuwait - they are huge and valuable. Having a Vice-President with a career in oil distribution may be totally irrelevant, but certainly feeds the conspiracy theorists on the left.

The U.S. will presumably have the final word on the distribution of Iraqi oil after the war [a few years after the war if Saddam's army torches the wells as they did in Kuwait]. Both France and Germany have large financial investments in Iraqi oil wells, so that's considered a flip side of the oil case.

The unspoken intent is that the war will "pay for itself". Rather than the proceeds from oil fields going to "the people of Iraq", they will subsidize the military investment of the U.S. - rather than that of Saddam. The formula for oil proceeds from Iraq is already being settled - quietly and behind closed doors.

What is saddest about Bush's claim that the oil 'belongs to the Iraqi people' is that it endorses Saddam's expropriation of oil resources that were developed by private enterprise. This stance effectively gives an endorsement to the nationalization of any natural resource.

8. War will stimulate the economy.

Any honest evaluation will demonstrate the whole purpose of war -- while it may be the health of the state -- is to destroy value. The only exception is when it is in literal defense of the survival and protection against direct threats to existing wealth.

In the absence of clear self-defense, every bomb is "spent" with no return to the wealth of anyone, much less a nation. It is the clear destruction of value that can only be justified in defense against the clear and present danger of others destroying the wealth created by every free individual.

9. Revenge.

Although a peculiar motive for a major war, there are many people who believe that George II is avenging Saddam's effort [make that an alleged effort] to assassinate George I after the Gulf War. It's clear that visceral hatred for Saddam is relished in the Bush family.

10. We can.

We have the power, we have the resources, we have the money, we have the weapons. We can get rid of evil in the world. We need to start someplace and this seems to be a quick and easy job.

This had credibility until North Korea announced that they really were developing nuclear bombs. It also leaves the question of where we stop and which of the remaining evils in the world will be next. If I were ranking the 'Axis of Evil', communist China would be at the top. THAT, of course, will NOT be a 'quick and easy job'.

Low-tech terrorism has been shown to be an effective counter to high-tech sabers. To some degree, this war could be a test of which prevails. It's not an exciting prospect.

11. Manifest Destiny

The radical barbarians of Islam need to be taught a lesson in Judeo-Christian ethics.

Although it hasn't been perfect, Bush seems to have evaded the "My God is better than Your God" scenario. He's been exceedingly kind to Islam and Saddam isn't a friend of the Bin-Laden radicals in any case. There is, of course, a tone of "Manifest Destiny" which is barely under the surface. Religious conflicts are more likely after the war - no matter the outcome.

12. The New World Order

The "One World" theme is merely an extension of the "One-Nation" theme, which is almost totally driven by communication resources and collectivist ideals. "E Pluribus Unum" may be superficially attractive, but the outcome at the U.N. required that Bush assume, by sheer will power, the unquestioned dictatorial powers over this "New World Order".

The recalcitrance of France may have set back this objective until after the war, but every national leader wants a World Order where they can play an influential role. Power corrupts, but there's never been such a glorious opportunity for absolute corruption. The U.N. will be back.

13. Support our Troops

The ex-post-facto argument for a fait-accompli. How could anyone possibly want our soldiers to die in this conflict? The catch is that they have been put in a kill-or-be-killed situation. The only ethical factor is that they voluntarily chose that predicament, for good or bad. The case is not simply whether we feed and clothe the troops, nor even that we provide them reasonable armaments to protect themselvs. The phrase is intended to require the endorsement of the methods, the purpose, the motives and the objectives of the war - no matter their merits.

Failing to support the troops, the military, the President and the Congress - whether right or wrong - is not merely unpatriotic, it is clearly a barbaric renunciation of every collectivist ethic imaginable. Primary among these is self-sacrifice to the greater good.

William Westmiller [Westmiller@aol.com] offers occasional commentaries for The Libertarian Enterprise, World Net Daily and other internet services.


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