YES! Magazine: 10 Questions Americans Are Asking
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10 QUESTIONS AMERICANS ARE ASKING
As President Bush presses his case for a US attack on Iraq, Americans want
answers to some basic questions. Here are some key facts relevant to 10
basic questions, compiled by the staff of YES! magazine.
You can find more details at <http://www.yesmagazine.org> along with a
resource guide on actions you can take; statements by leading faith groups,
veterans, and others; prayers and poems; and a visionary essay "From Empire
to Earth Community" by David Korten, YES! magazine's board chair.
Are these the sorts of questions you've been asking? If you find this
message useful, please pass it on.
10 QUESTIONS AMERICANS ARE ASKING AS THE US PREPARES FOR WAR.
1. Why go to war with Iraq now?
2. Is Saddam Hussein a threat to the US or other countries?
3. Will war with Iraq make us safer?
4. What is the new Bush Doctrine?
5. Does Saddam Hussein have links to Al Qaeda?
6. What would war look like?
7. Why aren't our allies standing with us on this war?
8. What would it cost to go to war?
9. What would we be fighting for?
10. What alternatives are there to war?
1. WHY GO TO WAR WITH IRAQ NOW?
When asked at a Congressional Armed Services Committee hearing about what is
now compelling the US to "take precipitous actions" against Iraq, Secretary
of Defense Rumsfeld said, "What's different? What's different is 3,000
people were killed." Is there a link to Al Qaeda and the events of 9/11? So
far, the administration has produced no evidence (see question #5 on links
to Al Qaeda).
The administration also says Iraq every day is getting closer to having
nuclear weapons. At a September 7 news conference, President Bush cited an
International Atomic Energy Agency report as evidence that Hussein is only
six months away from acquiring nuclear weapons. Later that month the IAEA
stated that no such report exists. On October 4, the CIA released a report
stating that Iraq does not possess nuclear weapons or the materials for
making them, but could acquire nuclear weapons by 2010. The report also says
that Iraq's ability to produce and store chemical weapons is probably less
than it was before the Gulf War, but that its ability to produce biological
weapons agents has grown in the last decade.
Emerging from a meeting of members of the Senate Intelligence Committee with
CIA Director George Tenet, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill) said that the
report does not tell the whole story and that some information that could
weaken the Bush administration's case against Iraq remains classified.
According to the Associated Press, Durbin commented, "It is troubling to
have classified information which contradicts statements made by the
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/morewhynow.htm
2. IS SADDAM HUSSEIN A THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES OR OTHER COUNTRIES?
Hussein has never attacked the United States, but has used weapons of mass
destruction against Kurds within Iraq and against Iran during the Iran-Iraq
war in the 1980s. He launched Scud missiles against Israel during the 1991
Gulf War. He has not launched attacks against any nation since.
Most observers believe that the threat is less than it was in 1991, when
Iraq invaded Kuwait. The former head of the UN inspection team, Scott
Ritter, states that 90 to 95 percent of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
were confirmed destroyed and that there is no evidence that Iraq retained
any of its weapons or capacity for producing them. Because there have been
no inspections since 1998, no one knows for sure just what Iraq has. Since
1991, Iraq has not used weapons of mass destruction nor engaged in war with
any other country. Due to 12 years of UN sanctions, Iraq is now an
impoverished country, making a large-scale weapons program far less
feasible, Ritter said.
According to Brookings Institute analyst Michael O'Hanlon, Hussein has not
funded Al Qaeda or other Islamic fundamentalist terrorists that target the
US, but has given money to anti-Israeli terrorists. O'Hanlon said that
Hussein has not passed weapons of mass destruction to those terrorists. The
CIA report released October 4, 2002, says that Hussein has weapons that can
target his neighbors, but none that can reach the US or Western Europe.
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/moresaddamthreat.htm
3. WILL WAR WITH IRAQ MAKE US SAFER?
Will we be safer going to war and removing Saddam Hussein from power?
General Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser to
President Bush's father, warned that a war on Iraq could overwhelm US
efforts to defeat global terror groups and risks a "conflagration in the
West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd warned that an Iraq war could result both
in a civil war among Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite factions in Iraq and in
neighboring states. Faced with his removal from power and potential death,
many observers believe Saddam Hussein might be pushed into using whatever
weapons he may have at his disposal. Judging by his actions during the Gulf
War, if attacked, Hussein is likely to attack Israel. Israeli leaders have
said they would be less reluctant to retaliate, if attacked, and Israel is
known to possess nuclear weapons.
Osama bin Laden cited US military presence in Saudi Arabia and support for
various Arab regimes in his call for jihad against the US. A war against
Iraq is likely to inflame anti-American sentiment among Arabs and other
Muslims, according to a number of experts, including Scowcroft.
A full-scale war against Iraq, ouster of Saddam Hussein, and occupation
would allow the US to eliminate any weapons of mass destruction. Would the
world be more secure? A number of the Iraqi opposition leaders mentioned as
members of a post-Saddam government are accused of playing roles in Iraq's
atrocities. Among them is Nizar al-Khazraji, the top commander of the Iraqi
army from 1980 to 1991, who is currently under investigation by the Danish
government for war crimes. He's accused of carrying out the 1988 poison-gas
attacks that killed thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq. Gen. Mahdi
al-Duleimi, who claimed to Newsweek that his proposal for toppling Saddam
has won high marks from the Bush administration, is accused of carrying out
chemical weapons attacks as a general during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/moresafety.htm
4. WHAT IS THE NEW BUSH DOCTRINE?
On September 20, President Bush unveiled a new National Security Strategy
that for the first time asserts the US right of "preemption" and "defensive
intervention," even where no "imminent threat" exists. "We will not hesitate
to act alone, if necessary" the strategy declares, and states that "the best
defense is a good offense." General John Shalikashvili, in his introduction
to the new plan, says that it is a necessary adjustment to the newly
unpredictable world context.
The new policy has met with criticism from US allies. "The only superpower
wants to make all the rules," said an editorial in the Japanese daily Asahi
Shimbun. Newspapers from Paris to Dublin compared the US stance to Roman
While the strategy document affirms that "America must stand firmly for the
nonnegotiable demands of human dignity and the rule of law," the doctrine
actually breaks with five centuries of international law, violates the UN
Charter, and threatens to escalate the level of global conflict, according
to a wide range of legal, military, and public policy experts, including
Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman and General Brent Scowcroft. A preemptive
strike against Iraq would mark the first exercise of the new strategic
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/morebushdoctrine.htm
5. DOES SADDAM HUSSEIN HAVE LINKS TO AL QAEDA?
So far no evidence of such a link has been produced, although members of the
Bush administration have stated that there are links. According to a State
Department report earlier this year, Hussein has not been involved in any
terrorist plots against the West since his alleged attempt to assassinate
President Bush's father during his 1993 visit to Kuwait. Hussein's regime
is secular, and Muslim fundamentalists represent a threat to his power.
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/morelinkalqaeda.htm
6. WHAT WOULD WAR LOOK LIKE?
Many analysts say that a second invasion of Iraq will be much more difficult
than the first one. During the 1991 Gulf War, the US military sought only to
expel the Iraqi force from territory it had invaded. Achieving the goal of
"regime change" would likely require intense fighting in Hussien's home
territory of Baghdad.
Fighting in Baghdad, Iraqi soldiers would blend in with civilians and use
them as human shields, according to Sharif Ali bin Al Hussein, a
spokesperson for the opposition Iraqi National Congress, and British Member
of Parliament George Galloway, who recently met with Hussein. Such guerilla
fighting would make thousands of American deaths likely, as well as high
casualties among Iraqi civilians. On notice that their survival was at
stake, Hussein's military would likely fight bitterly.
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, General Brent Scowcroft, national
security advisor to President Bush senior during the Gulf War, predicted
that an attack on Iraq would likely prompt Hussein to use whatever weapons
of mass destruction he has against Israel, a nuclear power, which in turn
could unleash nuclear weapons on Iraq. Scowcroft warned that an American
invasion of Iraq could create an "Armageddon in the Middle East."
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/morelookofwar.htm
7. WHY AREN'T OUR ALLIES STANDING WITH US ON THIS WAR?
Britain's prime minister Tony Blair is the only national leader supporting
US plans for an invasion of Iraq. Blair said "The threat is real," and urged
action against Hussein. The lonely posture of the US and Britain stands in
sharp contrast to the Gulf War, in which the US was part of a coalition of
allies that provided military and diplomatic support and 80 percent of the
funding for the war.
In September 2002, Iraq acquiesced to calls from many world leaders,
including the Bush administration, for renewed and unfettered UN
inspections. Our allies welcomed this development and urged the US to wait
for the outcome of the inspections. The Bush administration has dismissed
the offer and renewed its calls for invasion.
Political leaders and press throughout the world have described the US
stance as imperialist and a threat to world stability. US plans for
unilateral action against Iraq "are introducing chaos in international
affairs," said Nelson Mandela. (See question #4 on Bush doctrine). German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has repeatedly said Germany would take no part
in an invasion of Iraq. Many analysts have attributed Schoeder's recent
election victory to his stance on Iraq. German Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer warned that a strike against Iraq would lead to a collapse of the
anti-terror coalition and would be a violation of international law. Fischer
is presently the most popular German politician.
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/moreaboutallies.htm
8. WHAT WOULD IT COST TO GO TO WAR?
Officials at the Pentagon estimated the initial US military costs of a war
with Iraq at $50 billion. The Democratic staff of the House Budget Committee
estimates the war would cost between $48 and $93 billion. Lawrence Lindsey,
Bush's chief economic advisor, told the Wall Street Journal in mid-September
that the US might spend more than $100 billion to wage a war against Iraq.
The proposed objectives for the war are the disarmament of Iraqi weapons of
mass destruction and regime change, operations that military experts say
would require hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops on the ground. Assuming
US forces prevail, in the aftermath there would be peace-keeping and
nation-building costs, estimated by Taxpayers for Common Sense as ranging
from $10 to $20 billion per year.
Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 war against Iraq led by US and Allied
forces, cost $80 billion (in current US dollars) with 80 per cent of those
costs paid by the Allies. So far there is no evidence that other nations are
willing to share the financial burden of the current proposed assault on
Iraq. In addition to financial costs, there are of course potentially
significant costs in human life-military and civilian-and severe damage to
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/morecostofwar.htm
9. WHAT WOULD WE BE FIGHTING FOR?
The Bush Administration says the Iraq regime is "actively developing weapons
of mass destruction" and needs to be disarmed. Additionally, President Bush
seeks "regime change" in Iraq.
There is an enormous amount of speculation about other possible causes. Many
American congressional leaders, former US military and civilian officials,
veterans, civic groups, religious organizations and international
policy-makers have suggested alternative motivations for war. These include
access to oil in the region, the expansion of American power in the Middle
East, the perceived financial benefits of war to US corporate interests, and
ties between arms manufacturers and defense contractors to the Bush
Administration, as well as the well-known links to energy companies.
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/morefightingfor.htm
10. WHAT ALTERNATIVES ARE THERE TO WAR?
Inspections have in the past successfully thwarted Iraq's use and
development of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein has not used
biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons since these inspections were
introduced following the 1991 Gulf War. Reintroduction of UN inspectors, led
by neutral parties, offers the best hope for security, according to Scott
Ritter, former head of the UN weapons inspection team. With a new and robust
inspections system, the US could declare a victory without war, saving
thousands of US and Iraqi lives, and promoting world perception of the US as
tough but fair.
The Rule of Law:
In helping found the United Nations, the United States helped create a
framework of international law to prevent aggression and promote peaceful
cooperation among nations. "Great nations compete in peace instead of
prepare for war," President Bush said in a speech in June of this year. The
Bush administration's new military strategy emphasizes the danger of rogue
states and terrorists. A number of international treaties for preventing
terrorism, limiting weapons of mass destruction, and bringing international
criminals to justice have been developed in recent years. These include the
International Criminal Court, the International Convention on the
Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the International Convention for
the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and measures to strengthen the Biological
Weapons Convention. So far the Bush administration has withdrawn from,
refused to sign, or worked actively to undermine international support for
all of these measures. What is needed is for the United States to build
international support for the rule of law. The US, which is the world's
largest exporter of weapons, could also take the lead in promoting controls
on international trade in weapons. These steps could help eliminate weapons
of mass destruction not just from Iraq but from the entire world.
"I think the United States must be humble," Bush said during a televised
presidential debate prior to the 2000 elections. "We must be proud and
confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are
figuring out how to chart their own course." Many leaders are now
challenging the President to live up to those words. "Our great nation now
has the opportunity to express leadership in the world by forging a foreign
policy that seeks to reconcile and heal the world's divisions," said Frank
Griswold, presiding bishop of the US Episcopal Church, as he expressed his
church's opposition to unilateral war against Iraq. Rabbi Michael Lerner
proposes a strategy for preventing terrorism that includes making "America
the leading voice championing an ethos of generosity and caring for
others-leading the world in ecological responsibility, social justice,
open-hearted treatment of minorities, and rewarding people and corporations
for social responsibility."
READ MORE: http://www.YESMAGAZINE.ORG/iraq/morealternatives.htm
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