George V. Reilly

Casus Belli II

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(Originally posted to Politics at EraBlog on Sun, 09 Feb 2003 01:08:16 GMT)

Colin Powell went to the UN and made a case that Saddam has not disarmed and that he continues to act in defiance of the UN. Not too surprising, since that’s what Blix has said. If Saddam had nothing to hide, he would have cooperated with the UNMOVIC inspectors.

What Powell did not show is why Saddam’s defiance warrants going to war.

Some doubt the veracity of Powell’s case, citing the ease of forging evidence. This is the same ad­min­is­tra­tion that gave us the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic In­for­ma­tion aka the dis­in­for­ma­tion unit. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. They have to know that if a war is launched and sig­nif­i­cant quantities of weapons of mass de­struc­tion are not found in Iraq, that Bush will be out on his ear.

Joe Conasaon reviewed Colin Powell’s UN speech in Wednesday’s Salon and concludes that the case for war has not been made.

What was most noticeably absent from Powell’s pre­sen­ta­tion, however, was any evidence that Iraq is a present threat to its neighbors or any other nation – and thus must be invaded and subdued im­me­di­ate­ly. He showed that Saddam has sought an arsenal of mass de­struc­tion, and that his regime is still resisting dis­ar­ma­ment. But he in­ad­ver­tent­ly made some arguments for continued in­spec­tions backed by force, rather than war.

Nicholas Kristof comes to a similar conclusion in yesterday’s NYT.

Hawks often compare Saddam to Hitler, suggesting that if we don’t stand up to him today in Baghdad we’ll face him tomorrow in the Mediter­ranean. …

A better analogy is Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, who used to be denounced as the Hitler of the 1980’s. …

But President Ronald Reagan wisely chose to contain Libya, not invade it – and this worked. Does anybody think we would be better off today if we had invaded Libya and occupied it, spending the last two decades with our troops being shot at by Bedouins in the desert?

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