Subway Guitars: Articles
Is Iraq a true threat to the US?
By Scott Ritter
20 July 2002
RECENT PRESS reports
indicate that planning for war against Iraq has advanced significantly.
When combined with revelations about the granting of presidential
authority to the CIA for covert operations aimed at eliminating Saddam
Hussein, it appears that the United States is firmly committed to a path
that will lead toward war with Iraq.
Prior to this occurring,
we would do well to reflect on the words of President Abraham Lincoln
who, in his Gettysburg Address, defined the essence of why democracies
like ours go to war: so "... that government of the people, by the
people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.''
Iraq truly threaten the existence of our nation? If one takes at face
value the rhetoric emanating from the Bush administration, it would seem
so. According to President Bush and his advisers, Iraq is known to
possess weapons of mass destruction and is actively seeking to
reconstitute the weapons production capabilities that had been
eliminated by UN weapons inspectors from 1991 to 1998, while at the same
time barring the resumption of such inspections.
personal witness through seven years as a chief weapons inspector in
Iraq for the United Nations to both the scope of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction programs and the effectiveness of the UN weapons inspectors
in ultimately eliminating them.
While we were never able to
provide 100 percent certainty regarding the disposition of Iraq's
proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90-95 percent level of verified
disarmament. This figure takes into account the destruction or
dismantling of every major factory associated with prohibited weapons
manufacture, all significant items of production equipment, and the
majority of the weapons and agent produced by Iraq.
exception of mustard agent, all chemical agent produced by Iraq prior to
1990 would have degraded within five years (the jury is still out
regarding Iraq's VX nerve agent program - while inspectors have
accounted for the laboratories, production equipment and most of the
agent produced from 1990-91, major discrepancies in the Iraqi accounting
preclude any final disposition at this time.)
The same holds
true for biological agent, which would have been neutralized through
natural processes within three years of manufacture. Effective
monitoring inspections, fully implemented from 1994-1998 without any
significant obstruction from Iraq, never once detected any evidence of
retained proscribed activity or effort by Iraq to reconstitute that
capability which had been eliminated through inspections.
direct contrast to these findings, the Bush administration provides only
speculation, failing to detail any factually based information to
bolster its claims concerning Iraq's continued possession of or ongoing
efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. To date no one has held
the Bush administration accountable for its unwillingness - or inability
- to provide such evidence.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld notes
that "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." This only
reinforces the fact that the case for war against Iraq fails to meet the
litmus test for the defense of our national existence so eloquently
phrased by President Lincoln.
War should never be undertaken
lightly. Our nation's founders recognized this when they penned our
Constitution, giving the authority to declare war to Congress and not to
the president. Yet on the issue of war with Iraq, Congress remains
Critical hearings should be convened by
Congress that will ask the Bush administration tough questions about the
true nature of the threat posed to the United States by Iraq. Congress
should reject speculation and demand substantive answers. The logical
forum for such a hearing would be the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
Unfortunately, the senators entrusted with such critical
oversight responsibilities shy away from this task. This includes
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran who should
understand the realities and consequences of war and the absolute
requirement for certainty before committing to a course of conflict.
The apparent unwillingness of Congress to exercise its
constitutional mandate of oversight, especially with regard to matters
of war, represents a serious blow to American democracy. By allowing the
Bush administration, in its rush toward conflict with Iraq, to
circumvent the concepts of democratic accountability, Congress is
failing those to whom they are ultimately responsible - the American
Scott Ritter is author of "Endgame: Solving the
Iraqi Problem Once and For All"
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