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  xSunday, September 08, 2002

now this is what i'm talking about


The Indianapolis Star is hardly a liberal paper...but today's editorial on the Iraqi situation is closely aligned indeed with my own opinions. Here it is in its entirety:

The four-point test before going to war

September 08, 2002

Our position is: The president must begin to prove his case that another war against Iraq is necessary.

President Bush must flesh out four key points in order to prove that another war against Iraq is warranted.

The first point centers on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's flagrant violations of international agreements reached at the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

On this matter, there's little room for serious debate. In fact, the president will press the point hard Thursday when he addresses the United Nations.

Hussein long ago forced weapons inspectors out of Iraq. There's substantial evidence he has at least pursued development of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. And his military routinely violates U.N.-established "no fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq.

But establishing that Hussein is an international outlaw isn't sufficient by itself to prompt a U.S.-led attack.

A small dissent here: I'd say it isn't enough to establish a unilateral US attack, but I think it's high time the UN asserted itself, with the US playing a leadership role. Iraq unquestionably is in violation of its agreements at the conclusion of the Gulf War, but that's a matter that the Security Council should and must deal with. The problems are that Hussein being an international outlaw is hardly new, which is why sanctions remain in place. It doesn't support this sudden claim that the weakened and contained Saddam is suddenly a threat, especially when such a claim can reasonably be viewed as the product of the personal agendas of a bunch of neocon hawks. The power of the Executive as commander in Chief should not--I say again should not--be abused to settle a personal score. The other problem is, of course, that the Administrations' unilateralist attitude is engenderin all kinds of ill will even among our allies, let alone crucial Security Council rivals like Russia and China.
The second point involves demonstrating that Iraq has obtained or is close to obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hinted last week that the United States has evidence that Iraq is close to developing nuclear weapons. Such evidence needs to be spelled out to the House and Senate Intelligence committees and to other key congressional leaders.

Reports from international sources that Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons also should be confirmed.

If equipped with weapons of mass destruction, Hussein is more than just an outlaw, he's a menace to the world, but especially the United States.

Yet it might be possible to keep the menace in a box, negating the necessity of war. The current policy of containment is undeniably flawed, but it is by no means a complete failure. Hussein is weaker and more isolated than he was before the Gulf War. Continuing to isolate the Iraqi dictator while blocking his ability to deploy weapons of mass destruction might allow internal forces more time to foster a revolution.

I can't stress enough that any WMD capability Iraq posesses is little threat to the US if Iraq can't deliver the weapon to the target. Thus the Amdinistration paints an ominous picture that Saddam might provide such weapons to terrorists, a point the Star editorial board goes on to address:
That strategy, however, would be dangerous if Hussein is conspiring with international terrorists to strike against the United States or other countries. A link to terrorism is the third point Bush must establish.

If it can be shown that Iraq is helping to train or fund terrorists or assisting in the planning of attacks, then the removal of Hussein from power would be justified. So far, however, the Bush administration hasn't established a definitive link between him and terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida.

The fourth point involves the standard of clear and present danger.

Hussein is obviously a rogue. He also may be armed with weapons that could kill millions. In addition, he may be assisting terrorists who already have murdered thousands in this country and elsewhere. If the first three points can be proven, then the justification for war is clear.

But the final questions involve strategy: Is it better to wait for international support to develop and a postwar Iraqi government to be identified? Or is a quick attack necessary to save lives in the United States, Iraq and elsewhere?

If it can be demonstrated that Hussein is an immediate threat to the United States, then waiting is an option that's too dangerous to accept. So far, however, the question of an immediate danger remains unanswered.

The standards for engaging in war must be high. The president must thoroughly prove his case to Congress and the American people or call off plans for an invasion.

Make no mistake about it...insisting that the Administration make its case to the American public in specifics, beyond mere assertions that a threat exists, is not a "liberal," "pacifist," or "dovish" position...it's the reasonable, small-d democratic, patriotic, and, I might add, Constitutional one.