Anyone who is entirely against war with Iraq must not have known anyone in the air or on the ground in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. Those who knew someone who perished that fateful day have felt the true horror and consequence of paying no attention to a growing threat that seemed to be on the other side of the planet.
On August 7, 1998, a truck rigged with explosives blew up the American embassy in Kenya and just minutes after the first, another truck exploded outside the American Embassy in Tanzania. Two years later at the trial of Mokhtar Haouari, an Algerian who planned to blow up a suitcase in Los Angeles International Airport, Ahmed Ressam, also an Algerian citizen, revealed in testimony that he and Haouari had spent time at a training camp in Afghanistan. It was later revealed that the camp, named Khaldan camp, was in fact run by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist organization and that Mohamed al-’Owhali, later convicted in the embassy bombing case, had also attended the camp.
It was evident then what Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were capable of doing, it was evident then that they could train others to do the same, and it was evident then that their hostilities were directed directly at America. Despite all this, the United States did not initiate any preemptive strikes, strikes that could have saved 3,000 American lives a year later. Al Qaeda attacked the American embassies in Africa three years before they struck New York and Washington. Iraq has been shooting at American and British planes since the Gulf War and has given aid to terrorist groups including hard-line Palestinian groups, the same groups whose members danced in the streets on September 11. Iraq has sufficiently demonstrated its staunch anti-American positions. This should be taken as a warning and acted upon, something that was not done when al Qaeda first reared its ugly head three years before the World Trade Center crumbled. Al Qaeda succeeded in carrying out an attack of that magnitude because it had support and sanctuary provided by nations like Iraq. If Iraq doesn’t strike us, they will surely provide some other group with the means to do so.
Iraq is certainly not the only threat in the world right now; countries like Iran, North Korea and even some of our so-called allies, namely Saudi Arabia, are just as dangerous. However, the point is that Iraq is a threat and needs to be dealt with immediately. With the absence of the threat of attack, what incentive does Saddam Hussein have to comply with U.N. resolutions or economic sanctions? He has subverted them with illegal oil sales for more than a decade. Political sanctions? It seems he could care less. Without the threat of war, Iraq will never comply with United Nations resolutions to a level that guarantees the safety of America against an attack. War is never something to be wished for, and I regret demanding it, even now as I urge the U.N. to endorse a military response if there is not immediate compliance by Iraq. All political, non-violent methods should be exhausted first, but if they are exhausted, and it seems they will be, an attack must be allowed for.
This issue also goes well beyond Iraq. It hits right at the heart of what the U.N. stands for. Koffi Annan, secretary general of the United Nations, wants to make the U.N. into a powerful body to enforce peace around the world, a noble goal. However, if the best the U.N. can do when a nation violates its resolutions is ask them again and again to stop the violations, the U.N. will never be what Annan and everyone else wants it to be. For the past decade, the U.N. has done nothing more than ask Iraq to comply with the Gulf War resolutions it signed, and along the way has not allowed but rather condemned any military response against Iraq. What does it think can be accomplished by simply asking Saddam Hussein to not be a corrupt and dangerous dictator?
It is also important to remember that action against Iraq is not about imposing American or Western ideals on the rest of the world. It is about spreading the universal ideals of human rights and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If there is no other way to stop Iraq, a nation that has proven its unprovoked hostility, from creating an arsenal of mass destruction, than the threat of war is the only option. Just as it did in Afghanistan only twelve months ago, the U.S. armed forces will take every precaution to ensure the safety of Iraqi civilians, and, just as in Afghanistan, the U.S. will supply simultaneous humanitarian aid to civilians, something Saddam Hussein has obviously forgotten to do for the past two decades. I commend Congress’ recent decision to support military action against Iraq and I support President Bush’s persistence against the U.N. and all of the Americans who somehow didn’t see the true message and warning that was September 11.