I wrote this on March 23, 2003, mostly as a way to work out what I thought about the coming invasion of Iraq by U.S. and allied forces. I wrote it out and saved it so I could look back, later, at what I thought at the time, and see how my thinking had changed. With the election less than a week away, and Iraq a leading issue in the election, it seems timely.
The United States feels threatened in a way that it has never been threatened before. This president takes his responsibility to protect American citizens very seriously. He and his administration would like to not merely respond to the threat, but eliminate it altogether, or at least minimize to such a level that it is a low concern.
For various reasons, not all of which have been shared with the American public or the world, the president has decided that Iraq is part of the core problem of terrorism. In addition, he is convinced that Iraq has WMD's and that the possibility that those weapons will be or could be used against the United States is very high. As these conditions have occurred and continued despite U.N. sanctions and inspections, he and his team have concluded that non-violent methods will not remove the threat to the United States: therefore, the only way to really protect the United States in the long term is to forcibly remove the WMD's from Iraq. Which requries removing Saddam Hussein and rebuilding Iraq into a country that will not support terrorism, perhaps will even (in time) work against terrorism.
America and the world:
The current crisis with the United Nations (and NATO, though this is not so evident), in my opinion, is not as sudden as it appears. It has been building for years. Ever since the Cold War ended, observers in the United States and Europe have worried over the growing gap in military power and capability between the United States and Europe. Partly as a result of this gap---and because of the Cold War---Europe is in the habit of letting, even expecting, the United States to lead in any crisis, whether it specifically involves American interests or not. Even so, certain members of Europe, notably France, resent American leadership, even while acknowledging that it is necessary.
In addition, because there is such a tremendous difference between the military and economic power of the United States compared to the rest of the world, only the United States has serious world-wide interests. Other countries have far-flung interests, to be sure, but no others have economic and military interests in every region of the world. Therefore, there are many issues and situations that concern the United States to a much greater degree than the rest of the world.
That Bush and his team have been rather high-handed in their diplomatic efforts is probably true. On the other hand, the U.N. is constructed in such a way as to give many countries too much importance. Realistically, does it really matter what Guinea thinks about anything? Yet, in the week before the resolution was pulled by the United States, it held a crucial vote on the Security Council and was being cajoled by the President of the United States. The international policies of the current administration, whatever good or bad they may have done, have revealed the true nature of world politics, which is not and never was, I would argue, the United Nations.
Nevertheless, it is true that the United States should not alienate the world against itself. In the long run (perhaps the very long run), the United States does need cooperation from the world.. Regarding Iraq, however, I would argue that it is a case of the world doing the alienating. I have said for years that Iraq was out of compliance and that the United Nations could, if it had the willpower, resume the war without notice. Yet France has effectively blocked the U.N. from acting.
Still, much, even most, of the world followed French leadership rather than American. This could mean that they do not see Iraq as out of compliance, or that they do not see Iraq as a threat in need of action. It appears to me to be the latter, whereas the United States and the United Kingdom do see Iraq as a threat in need of action. To their credit, Bush and Blair have decided to do what they believe is right, whether anyone else agrees or not. Whether they are right or wrong, I applaud their courage to do what leaders do, and lead.
I support war with Iraq, reluctantly. In my opinion, Bush has not shown that the principal causus belli, the possession by Iraq of WMD, is true. The presentation by Colin Powell to the Security Council came close and is part of why I believe the President, but not close enough. Nevertheless, I do not think that this president would be so strongly focused on going to war if he had not himself seen adequate evidence of WMD and a threat to the United States. Therefore, I am willing to trust him on this, and that is why I support the war. If, after the war, no WMD appear, and/or evidence of strong connections with Al Queda or other terrorist organizations capable of launching terror attacks on Americans, I will be deeply disappointed in President Bush and probably lose my trust and faith in his abilities as a leader and president.