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Making the case for regime change in Iraq
By Carol Devine-Molin
As our troops head out to the Persian Gulf region and the US and its allies get ready to rumble with Saddam Hussein, the antiwar movement, also known as the "Peace at Any Price" crowd, is orchestrating demonstrations with alacrity, both on American soil and abroad. Certainly, with war on the horizon and vociferous criticism abounding, it's time that President Bush confronts the sophistry of the antiwar naysayers and invidious smear-mongers, and builds an unequivocal case for regime change in Iraq. The current administration must underscore that it has fully cooperated with the UN process, and is not going off pell-mell in a frenzy to oust this rogue regime. Despite the recent media focus on war dissenters, polling still indicates that about two-thirds of the public supports the disarming of the Iraqi regime, even if it requires a military action to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
In reality, much has already been disseminated regarding the growing threat posed by Saddam Hussein through a process of "rolling disclosure", which amounts to intermittent revelations during the past year by various sources. For instance, over the course of time, many Americans became aware that the "oil for food program" was terribly abused by Iraq and resulted in its ability to import prohibited military technologies from nations such as China, France and Germany. And, Iraq's presidential palaces are reputed to have underground bunkers that cloak weaponry, as do mobile units (described as Winnebagos with refrigeration) that conceal elements of biological warfare. On the Fox News Channel, one terrorism expert estimated that Iraq only requires about six or seven Winnebagos to house its entire biological warfare stock, which even came as a surprise to me as a diligent consumer of news. Heck, it's also come to light that Saddam stashed outlawed weaponry and ancillary components in private residences in Baghdad. Undeniably, Americans have learned a considerable amount regarding Iraq, but whether this information goes to the heart of the war issue is another matter entirely.
The Bush administration must now get down to brass tacks and substantiate the need for military action in Iraq by citing particulars - including pertinent intelligence on the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry) obtained through satellite photos and other high-tech surveillance, in addition to reliable information provided by defectors. Of course, the challenge faced by the Bush administration is to adequately shield its sources and methods in the spy-craft realm, so that future intelligence operations are not compromised.
Thankfully, Secretary of State Colin Powell recently announced that America is set to make a "persuasive case" for war with Iraq by the end of this month, as the cut-off date for Iraqi cooperation draws near. According to the New York Post, Powell indicated, "If you are looking for proof of Weapons of Mass Destruction, I can show you pictures", when he spoke with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. As to his other media statements, Powell confirmed that Iraq failed to "meet the mandate of Security Council Resolution 1441" requiring Iraq to cooperate with disarmament, and that the lengthy Iraqi weapons declaration was misleading with significant information gaps now designated a "material breach". Moreover, the Bush administration asserts that the recovery of a dozen undeclared chemical warheads, albeit empty shells, located in an Iraqi munitions bunker, represents a "serious and troubling" event. The salient point is that efforts at Iraqi containment since 1991 have proven ineffective, despite years of UN inspections, economic sanctions, and restrictions set by the "No Fly Zone" in attempts to keep Saddam "in the box".
True, Chief UN inspector Hans Blix concurs that Iraq has failed to sufficiently comply with inspections and is in violation of UN resolutions. However, given recent statements by Blix, there is real concern that he's attempting to hijack the overall process and short-circuit any war by promoting the notion of long-term UN inspections as a means of deterring Saddam from participating in prohibited weapons programs. It's not surprising that the UN, as a bastion of Third World anti-Americanism, would like to stymie a US-led military invasion of Iraq. However, Blix's fundamental premise is flawed, since successful inspections depend upon active Iraqi cooperation, which is clearly lacking under current circumstances. Importantly, Iraq is the size of California and Iraqis are masters at concealment and deception - so it would be virtually impossible for UN inspectors to locate Weapons of Mass Destruction without the assistance of the Iraqi regime. The question before us is this: Just how long do we intend to play "cat and mouse" with this psychopath Saddam Hussein, who has a history of systemic obstructionism and does whatever he wants irrespective of agreements?
Many people are understandably flummoxed by America's reluctance to provide in-depth damning information on Iraq until the end of January. Here is the explanation in a nutshell: Up until now, the Bush administration has been prevented from revealing its comprehensive intelligence dossier since it would interfere with the ongoing UN resolutions requiring Iraq to "come clean" with a full accounting of its weaponry as part and parcel of the disarming process. The US was not in a position to convey all relevant facts in its possession until Iraq had ample opportunity to declare all weaponry, which it has been repeatedly urged to do so.
Unfortunately, the Iraqi regime has a demonstrable record of deceit and subterfuge, which may very well lead to a military action if Saddam Hussein is not first subjected to a coup d'etat within, or voluntarily agrees to seek exile and safe haven in an amenable nation. Interestingly, the ruling class of Saudi Arabia is now encouraging Saddam's corrupt underlings to assassinate him, using enticements of money and amnesty. The one thing that the Saudis don't want is an emerging democracy next door to them. The self-centered Saudi royal family prefers a coup d'etat in Iraq, which will inevitably give rise to another Islamo-fascist dictatorship to their liking. This would almost be laughable if it weren't so tragic. Obviously, the Saudi leadership feels very unnerved by the prospect of a neighboring country implementing democratic reforms, which may, in turn, prompt their own Saudi people to revolt against Saudi tyranny.
Personally, I don't think there's any doubt that regime change in Iraq is vital to the national security interests of America and its close allies, Israel and Great Britain. Saddam Hussein has always been a homicidal maniac well capable of providing his terrorist pals, his "proxies" so to speak, with Weapons of Mass Destruction to use against Western nations. And this, in fact, has been the overarching justification espoused by the US for seeking to oust Saddam Hussein, particularly before his regime develops a nuclear capability that would subject us all to nuclear blackmail.
Just this past week, profoundly damning evidence has materialized in a London apartment, with radical Islamists of Algerian origin found in possession of deadly Ricin, a type of chemical warfare that's a derivative of the castor bean plant and is directly linked to a facility in Northern Iraq. The terrorists are reportedly members of the Ansar al-Islam group, which is believed to have ties with al-Qaeda and possibly Saddam Hussein. If this pans out to be correct, it only further substantiates Iraq's enmeshed relationship with terrorist organizations that are plotting catastrophic strikes utilizing Weapons of Mass Destruction. And, with abundant lives at stake in Western societies, it's all the more urgent to depose Saddam Hussein as quickly as possible and to replace him with more responsible Iraqi leadership.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.
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