April 29th, 2003, 12:08 AM
food for thought
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy,” was said by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt about the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. This attack led to U.S. involvement in World War II. Similarly, the dastardly attack on September 11, 2001 has forced the United States to remove two regimes and components of terrorism. On March 20, 2003, President Bush and his administration began the war on Iraq and commenced bombing in Baghdad. The pro-war activists, the anti-war protesters, and pacifists have all expressed conflicting opinions concerning the actions of our government.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is the oldest pacifist group organization in the nation. FOR and other pacifists seek to replace violence, war, racism, and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace, and justice. FOR believes that the ending sanctions is one of the keys to a peaceful resolution. Ending sanctions will not bring the end of violence in Iraq. It will only encourage Saddam Hussein’s ruthless policies and harsh rule. The lifting of sanctions will also send the message that he can invade other countries and violate sixteen different United Nation Security Council Resolutions with only minimal punishment. Sanctions should not be lifted until order is restored and a government is created that will not slaughter their own people for having a different opinion or belief.
The FOR also believes that the use of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the best way to bring dictators to justice. This belief is seriously flawed. What FOR fails to realize is according to the Rome Statue, which is the treaty that is the basis for the ICC, the ICC only has jurisdiction over nations that join the ICC. Saddam Hussein would never join such an organization that would allow him to be prosecuted. This is the same reason that Israel has not joined the ICC.
Scott Simon, a Quaker and a pacifist since the late 1960’s states that American pacifist have no sane alternative but to support the war. He also does not consider the war as revenge “but as self-defense by protecting the world from further attacks by destroying those who would launch them [terrorist attacks]”. This view contradicts the beliefs of pacifism and shows that the pacifist movement is not unified in their beliefs of peace at all costs. The pacifist policies in pre-World War I allowed Hitler to decimate most of Europe. Saddam tried to take the first step of domination of the Middle East with the invasion of Kuwait, but was thwarted by an international coalition in 1991. The ideas of that FOR mentioned are reasonable in a utopian world. Until that day arrives, the forces of evil, tyranny, and terrorism have to be removed by any means necessary.
Another group of individuals that do not support the current war in Iraq are the anti-war supporters. One of the major reasons that the anti-war supporters have brought up is the severe loss of life caused by collateral damage. The U.N. estimates that 260,000 Iraqis could perish in a three-month conflict with another 200,000 deaths in the aftermath. This estimate is grossly over estimated and does not take into account the use of satellite-guided bombs and ‘smart’ munitions. The U.N. estimate seems to be for an unimaginable worst-case scenario. In reality, since the beginning of the war, at least 2029 civilians and at most 2488 civilians have died. At this pace, with most of the fighting over, the civilian casualties will not come close to the U.N. estimates.
James Fallows of The Atlantic raises the concern that war with Iraq is to create he thinks to be the “fifty-first state.” Fallows believes that the United States liberation of Iraq will turn into an occupation when he says that the U.S. would have to shoulder all the responsibilities of an occupying power the moment victory is achieved. The Iraqi people have been liberated from this harsh dictator and their civil rights restored. The Iraqi people have been given back some of their own power. Over 2000 Iraqi policemen have been issued handguns and are working with U.S. troops trying to restore order in Baghdad. The Shiites of Iraq were also able to conduct their pilgrimage to Kabala for the first time in twenty years. The U.S. is extremely capable in building a post-war government for Iraq as seen in previous examples of Germany and Japan.
The liberation of Iraq is one of the reasons that pro-war activists have supported this war. Another reason that seventy-eight percent of the nation support the war is because Hussein’s regime supported terrorism. Saddam has publicly supported the Palestinian suicide bombers and recently increased the money offered to the bomber’s families from $10,000 to $25,000. The existence of a terrorist training facility, Salman Pak, further solidifies the link between Saddam Hussein and terrorism. Furthermore, testimonies of numerous defected Iraqi officials and officers prove that members of al-Qaeda among other terrorist groups trained at Salman Pak.
The terrorists that trained at Salman Pak received instructions on how to use and deploy chemical and biological weapons. The removal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is another critical reason for the war in Iraq. Saddam has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the destruction of his stockpiles of WMD. Despite of these setbacks, U.S. troops still discovered suspicious chemicals and containers and are waiting for the results. Even with the U.N. inspectors’ efforts in 1991, it was not until the defection of Saddam’s son-in-law in 1995, the inspectors were able to located WMD.
The arguments of the anti-war protestors against the war are weaker that that of the proponents of the war. The truth is that this war was justified with the discovery of the terrorist training camp at Salman Pak. Even though the weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found, the Iraqi people have been liberated and a harsh government that supported terrorism has been eliminated.