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U.S. needs to prove case before Iraq attack

January 20, 2003|by LINDA DUFFIELD

Tens of thousands of U.S. troops were being deployed to the Persian Gulf region last week as the United States continued to gear up for war against Iraq.

It should be no surprise to anyone that we are moving closer to taking on Saddam. President Bush has made clear both his belief that Iraq is hiding nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and his willingness to wage war to get rid of Saddam.

On Tuesday, Bush was quoted as saying that Saddam "must disarm. I'm sick and tired of games and deceptions."

Maybe so.

But what's the rush?

U.N. weapons inspectors last week said searches of more than 300 sites have turned up no substantial evidence to support allegations Saddam has hidden weapons of mass destruction and a missile program. Chief inspector Hans Blix said the inspectors need months to finish their searches.

At the same time, Arab diplomats are asking the United States to give them a chance to resolve the matter peacefully. One idea calls for Saddam to leave Iraq and go into exile, his safety guaranteed.


In the wake of 9/11, it's hard to suggest that waging war against a country with a leader who is a threat to us and others would be wrong.

But what's the hurry?

Can we not wait until the U.N. inspectors finish their work? Can we not give the leaders of other Arab nations a chance to remove Saddam without a lot of bloodshed?

If we rush to war without letting the U.N. team finish its work, we run the risk of alienating nations around the globe.

If we rush to war without letting Arab diplomats try to find a way to get rid of Saddam peacefully, we run the risk of further alienating at least the Arab nations.

We prefer to think of ourselves as a peace-loving people, but others do not necessarily agree.

For too long, by too many people, the United States has been perceived as a bully who believes that might does indeed make right.

Maybe we should ask ourselves if it is arrogance to have no qualms about flying in the face of world opinion, to pay no heed to others' concerns.

All of this is not an argument against doing what appears to be inevitable, if we really have the proof, or if the inspectors get it. Nor is it a suggestion that we shouldn't do what is necessary to protect this country and others.

But we should be certain we're right, and can prove it, before we seek a military solution.

And we should be very careful about taking action before the process has played out.

We wanted weapons inspectors, we got 'em. If we begin firing missiles before they've completed their work, can we avoid losing credibility and the moral high ground?

Linda Duffield is managing editor of The Morning Herald. She can be reached at 301-733-5131, extension 7591, or by e-mail at

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