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  xFriday, September 06, 2002

two more unconvinced


Counterspin Central links to this Steve Chapman column expressing skepticism over the Administration's eagerness to attack Iraq:
Mr. Cheney went before the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars to announce that Mr. Hussein is a bad man who has chemical and biological agents and hopes to develop nuclear weapons as well. Nobody really denies that, but most of the world views the prospect without undue hysteria.

...several countries have nuclear weapons, and none has found them very useful in making others do their bidding. Israel hasn't been able to force its neighbors to accept its treatment of the Palestinians. India hasn't coerced Pakistan to give up its claims to Kashmir. China hasn't succeeded in reclaiming Taiwan.

...what stops a nuclear power from carrying out a nuclear attack, or attempting nuclear blackmail, is not inborn self-restraint. It's the prospect of nuclear retaliation.

What evidence do we have that the Iraqi tyrant is influenced by such piddly considerations? Only his own behavior. We don't have to wonder if he can be deterred from using weapons of mass destruction. He already has been. During the Persian Gulf war, he had chemical and biological weapons that he could have used against Saudi Arabia, against Israel or against U.S. forces. But he knew the United States and Israel had nuclear missiles that could reach Baghdad, and himself.

So why does Mr. Hussein want weapons of mass destruction? For their only real function - deterring other countries from attacking him. If he had nuclear weapons, the United States would have to drop the idea of invading Iraq to overthrow its government. But if the only value of an Iraqi bomb is Mr. Hussein's self-preservation, it's hardly worth going to war over.

(Unless you happen to be both President and personally obsessed with getting rid of the man...)
For months, we've been wondering why the administration has been so reluctant to make the case for invading Iraq. Now we have the answer: Because there isn't one.

I have one other question: Why are the administration's promises to present its case against Iraq expressed in the future tense? If there's a case to be made, proof to be presented, why doesn't the Administration just go ahead and do it?