Disarming Iraq

6. Saddam Hussein must leave power voluntarily or be removed from power because he is a brutal dictator.

It is unlikely that anyone would disagree with the characterization that Saddam Hussein is a dictator. He has committed some unpardonable acts against his opponents, both inside and outside Iraq. Yet, this is not a sufficient ground to declare a war on the country and remove him from power. Quite a large number of people inside and outside the U.S. know that he was an American ally even though the U.S. knew that he was not a democrat by any means. The U.S. and Britain are responsible for cultivating him by giving him political, military and financial support in the 1970s and 1980s. Norton-Taylor noted “Every time Blair and his ministers repeat a truth – that Saddam used gas against the Kurds and Iranian troops in the 1980s – they remind us that Britain responded by secretly encouraging exports of even more nuclear and other arms-related equipment to Iraq while Washington supplied the regime with more crucial intelligence” (Norton Taylor, 2003, February 24).

Moreover, there are still many dictators in the world. Authoritarian regimes dominate the landscape in the Middle East. Some of these regimes are still U.S. friends despite their non-democratic standing. Some of the leaders of these countries have carried out despicable acts against their own citizens. Yet, their right to govern their countries are not being questioned by the international community. People are aware of this discrepancy in American foreign policy, hence, the doubtfulness about the need to democratize Iraq, especially when the Iraqi National Congress is being proposed as a potential replacement regime to Saddam Hussein. The skepticism over the argument that it is necessary to replace Saddam Hussein with a democratic regime is the fact that many of the U.S. allies who support overthrowing Saddam Hussein are also authoritarian regimes. It is a contradiction to install a democratic regime with an undemocratic means and allies?

7. That Saddam Hussein must be removed from power because Iraq and Al Aqaeda are working together to spread terrorism.

There seems to be a universal rejection of the US assertion that a connection exists between Iraq and the Al Qaeda, despite numerous efforts to tie the two together. It can be said that some kind of relationship might exist clandestinely between the two, even though Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are not ideological bedfellows.

However, even if the two were to be connected as working together, it still does not necessitate going to war against Iraq. The reason being that there is abundant evidence to say that at one time the Al Qaeda and the Taliban were also connected to the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. It should be recalled that during the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Northern Alliance worked together and received training, arms, and financial support from the three countries mentioned above. If not for September 11, 2001, the relationship would still continue. Consequently, it appears that the US view of a relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is not taken seriously by other members of the international community due to the fact that the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia were major contributors to the growth of Al Qaeda. In addition, it appears that many high ranking members of the Al Qaeda, including Bin Laden, are still in Pakistan (McGeary & Wailler, 2002). Obviously, punishing Iraq for a relationship which can also be attributed to other countries seems overreaching.

Moreover, attacking Iraq for having ties with Al Qaeda would appear to be an overkill since it is a known fact that 15 of the 19 suicide bombers who participated in the September 11, 2001 attacks against the U.S. were from Saudi Arabia (Ratnesar, 2002). This means that the Saudis were more involved with the Al Qaeda than the Iraqis. This being the case, if Iraq were attacked on this ground, the world would also expect the U.S. to attack Saudi Arabia since its citizens were actively involved in the September 11 operation. However, since Saudi Arabia is a friend of the U.S., the U.S. would most likely not attempt to wage a war against its ally.

8. It is necessary to establish a democratic regime in Iraq.

While democratization of Iraq is quite necessary, the rationale for wanting to wage a war against Iraq is not satisfactory. After many failed experiments, the world is keenly aware that democracy cannot be established by force of arms. It must germinate within the people and cultivated to materialize. People are aware of the discrepancy in American foreign policy, hence, the doubtfulness about the need to democratize Iraq. In fact, some members of the Iraq National Congress are beginning to have some doubts about U.S. plans to institute a democratic system in Iraq after Saddam Hussein might have been removed from power. According to a recent press report, it is alleged that the U.S. intends to install a U.S. military administrator over Iraq for a period of about 12 months. In addition, the ruling Baath party would be allowed to remain. Likewise, Turkey would be allowed to send thousands of troops into Northern Iraq to probably protect the city of Kirkuk. An adviser to the Iraq National Congress, Mr. Kanan Makiya reacted “This would be an unmitigated disaster for the long-term relationship between the U.S. and the Iraqi people. The Iraqi opposition is going to become anti-American the day after liberation. It is a great irony” (Harding, 2003, February 16).

The skepticism over the rationale that it is necessary to replace Saddam Hussein with a democratic regime is increased threefold when the options proposed for the change of regime are seriously analyzed. For instance, if the Iraqi generals were encouraged to successfully dethrone Saddam Hussein, they would end up dominating the new regime, thereby minimizing the democratic effort. On the other hand, if Saddam Hussein were to be overthrown after a war, there would be an infighting among the members of the Iraqi National Congress, concerning who becomes the president. Moreover, the remnants of the Iraqi military could resist replacement by waging a guerrilla war against an American installed government. There is no guarantee that the Kurds would not join forces with the Kurds in Turkey to launch a struggle for the establishment of a Kurdish state. Likewise, the Shiites could decide to go their separate ways and form a strong alliance with Iran. The situation in Afghanistan provides an excellent laboratory for what could happen in Iraq. In Afghanistan, many Taliban warlords were bought over with money during the war to deTalibanize the country. Some of those warlords are now clandestinely waging a war against the new regime. President Ahmid Karzai survives due to the protection of the United States and the ISAF forces. If American and ISAF forces were to be withdrawn, the warlords would overwhelm the Karzai regime and drive him out of power. An imposed democracy could lead to the same scenario in Iraq as various elements struggled to dominate the country.

Moreover, Iraq is not the only dictatorship in the region or in the world. Would the U.S. and Britain also wage war to democratize Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria, as well as Equitorial Guinea, Uzbekistan? This is very unlikely since the aforementioned countries are U.S. allies.

9. Failure to enforce compliance resulting in the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions

On the surface, a failure to compel Iraq to comply with UN resolutions can result in much doubt about the effectiveness of U.N. resolutions. However, this is not very likely because Iraq is not the first country to have violated U.N. resolutions. The list of countries which have violated various resolutions is very long, including Turkey, Cyprus, Indonesia, North Korea, Russia, Israel, Yugoslovia etc. Yet, the U.N. continues to thrive. It continues to thrive due to the fact that it does not necessarily have to use force in order to ensure compliance. Its declarations and resolutions seem to have moral authority to make any nation state become particularly cautious about its behavior. A number of cases can be cited to show that nation-states do respond to U.N. demands. Since after the Gulf War, even though Iraq has hesitated to destroy its mass destruction weapons programs, it has been very careful not to offend the world in an arrogant display of power. Israel too has been very careful in using its military power against the Palestinians. The Tutsi led Rwandan government has been very cautious in reacting to Hutu and Congolese situations, even if outright compliance has not been the case. Even the only remaining superpower in the world, the U.S., too, has been very careful not to rush to attack Iraq. It has been working behind the scenes to influence world opinion and gain universal support for its efforts to compel Saddam Hussein to comply with the U.N. resolutions.

The Implications

The United States escalated the demand for total Iraqi capitulation by saying that it does not only want total disarmament but also a regime change. This means that the Iraqi leader and government must also be changed to make way for a new regime. The U.S. believes that Saddam Hussein is too dangerous and cannot be allowed to possess biochemical and nuclear weapons. It is afraid that if Saddam Hussein continues to remain in power, he would eventually possess nuclear weapons and use them to blackmail the economy of the world by threatening to totally control or stop the flow of oil from the Middle East. Some Iraqi neighbors tend to agree with the U.S. view of Saddam Hussein, hence, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain are willing to work with the U.S. to ensure a regime change in the country.

Thus, the United States energetic posture toward disarming Iraq of mass destruction weapons could lead to unforeseen political and military consequences. In particular, it could lead to the destruction of the principle of state sovereignty, the universalization of the principle of preemption, and the proliferation of biochemical and nuclear weapons throughout the world. Consequently, the United States and the United Nations should be very careful in attempting to force total compliance on Iraq.

1. One of the major tenets of the state system is that independent states have sovereignty over their territories. When an entity has a supreme authority, its actions cannot be challenged within a definable territorial area. Of course, in the case of an aggressive behavior, the state, even if it has sovereignty, can be punished for violating international law. Obviously, both the United Nations and the United States have a right to try to punish Iraq for invading Kuwait. However, if Iraq is being punished for invading Kuwait then why are other invaders not similarly being punished for committing the same crime? Why does the United Nations remain quiet over similar crimes committed by other nation-states while it is working so profusely to punish Iraq through stringent monitoring effort and sanctions?

There is no doubt that the conditions imposed on Iraq tend to violate the sovereignty of the country. The stipulation that Iraq cannot fly its military planes over its Northern and Southern regions is very contradictory to the principle of state sovereignty.

2. The U.S. and the United Nations do not seem to realize that the severity of the conditions imposed on Iraq twelve years after it had invaded Kuwait and had not engaged in any other disruptive behavior since then, is a great concern to other states in the world who are fearful that the United States could use its vast military and economic power to thwart their national aspirations through the United Nations. As a result, the relentless effort to disarm Iraq could actually spur other nation-states, to beef up their military forces so that they do not have to experience the kind of humiliation that is being imposed on Iraq. Many developing countries are frightened that a country like the United States can arbitrarily and unilaterally impose its will against them because of its superior military power. For instance, the fear of having its sovereignty trampled upon, appears to be a motivating factor in North Korea’s decision to jumpstart its nuclear program in order to deter U.S.

3. By insisting that Iraq complies completely with the resolutions imposed by the United Nations, the United States and Britain are actually fueling the kind of resentment that led the Germans to ignore the League of Nations. It should be recalled that the Germans felt humiliated and insulted by the severity of the conditions imposed on her at the Treaty of Versailles after the 1st World War. The conditions imposed, including reparation amounting to billions of dollars at a time when Germany was totally broke and the limitations placed on German military forces actually forced the Germans to reject the League of Nations. Angered by the humiliation, the hawks in Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, embarked on a massive clandestine rearmament program. Eventually, Germany became the strongest military power in Europe and decided to pay back in kind for the humiliation. This led to the 2nd. World War.

Similarly, by attempting to bring Iraq unto its knees, the U.S., Britain, and perhaps the United Nations, are actually encouraging many countries, including China, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Syria, Libya, etc. to rapidly accelerate their military capabilities. Likewise, Japan and Germany too might secretly think about starting a rearmament program in an effort to avoid depending singularly on the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) or the United States for defense. Germany and Japan might also think about rearming themselves as a way to avoid being compelled to support the U.S. whenever the U.S. pursues strategic interests that might not be beneficial to them. The Russians too could be forced to start a massive military modernization program, in an effort to match the U.S. militarily. This could revive the Cold War again. This time, the Cold War would be much more complicated since it would become multipolar rather than bipolar as it was in the last fifty years.

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Written by
Priye Torulagha
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