On Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell will present evidence to the United Nations Security Council that Iraq has indeed hidden weapons of mass destruction from U. N. inspectors and has prevented inspectors from learning about Iraq’s weapons program… On Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell will present evidence to the United Nations Security Council that Iraq has indeed hidden weapons of mass destruction from U. N. inspectors and has prevented inspectors from learning about Iraq’s weapons program from the scientists who develop them. His job will be to identify a threat that is so grave, so immediate, and so certain that a military response cannot be delayed.
Whatever Powell says, it may not be enough to push world opinion to agree with President Bush on the urgency to invade Iraq. Colin Powell has to show a very real discrepancy between what Iraq claims to have i.e. nothing and what is really there. Even if he is able to make a strong case, there is no assurance that the countries of the United Nations will be convinced to start a war. It has been proven, time and time again, that facts are not the same as opinion or perception.
This constitutes the real danger for us as Americans. President Bush is backing himself into a corner by proclaiming that he has enough evidence to invade Iraq and will begin a war alone if other countries do not believe him. There is no doubt that the United States of America could move in, take over Iraq, and remove Saddam Hussein.
That would be the beginning, not the end, of military engagement. How will America maintain Iraq, rebuild the country, and prevent another Saddam Hussein from rising up? If America is the sole aggressor in such a war, it may be impossible to ever bring a world coalition together to keep peace in the Arab world.
As Hugh Price, President of the National Urban League, has pointed out, “ . . . attacking terrorism alone and engineering temporary ceasefires doesn’t ensure peace. Not only must the cycle of violence be broken; the dynamic that rationalizes resorting to violence must be destroyed so that violence as a tool of politics becomes unequivocally unacceptable.”
The acquisition of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons by would-be aggressor nations is a global problem. The use of terrorism by these nations and by non-affiliated operations like Al-Qaida is a global problem. America cannot solve it alone. The whole process of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must be dealt with at the level of the United Nations Security Council. The fight against terrorism can only succeed if there is a large anti-terrorist coalition that covers the globe.
In the 1991 Gulf War, 28 countries – European, Arab, North American – joined together, under a U. N. resolution, to eject Iraq from Kuwait and defend other countries in the region. Although the U.S., under the first President Bush, supplied the bulk of the personnel, technology, and resources, there was never any doubt that this was a global effort.
The current President Bush has not made his case here or abroad. We have not heard the kind of debate that should precede an undertaking with such grave consequences. The President doesn’t need a debate. Congress gave him the authority last fall to use force to disarm Iraq. He doesn’t need a second vote. But, as the leader of this country, he has a responsibility to make us understand why war is inevitable. Why now? Why not next year if all other alternatives fail?
If Bush is right, and Saddam Hussein has the destructive power that Bush claims, he may use it on his neighbors and his own people when an invasion begins. It is already an accepted fact, that there will be a retaliatory terrorist attack on the U.S. when Iraq is invaded. Those are the risks that the world faces. No one can justify accepting such risks without global understanding and active global support.