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Pro and Con: Should the U.S. Attack Iraq? - 2003-01-22


NewsLine host David Borgida moderates a debate on whether or not the United States should attack Iraq. Joshua Muravchick, a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argues in favor of a military strike. Ivan Eland, the Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, takes the opposing view.

DR. MURAVCHICK
Well, the time for military action is overdue with Iraq. That is, Saddam Hussein has had 12 years to give up his weapons of mass destruction, as he promised in writing to do when we had the ceasefire that ended the Gulf War that began with his aggression in 1991.

He has failed to live up to that. He has starved his own people with sanctions in order to hang on to these weapons of mass destruction.

The U.N. unnecessarily gave him one last chance in a resolution this past fall. The disarmament is not supposed to be a matter of hide and seek; it's supposed to be a matter of Iraq coming forth and giving up these weapons. That is what it was supposed to be for the last 12 years. He was given one last chance. He came in, in the beginning of December, with 30,000 pages of pure garbage and obfuscation, giving back documents that inspectors had rejected five years ago as not being complete and not being truthful.

He made perfectly clear that he is not coming clean. He hasn't changed his spots. Which should hardly be a surprise given the nature of his rule for as long as he has been in power.

He is a cruel, vicious dictator who has abused his own people, who supports terrorism around the world, who has invaded his neighbors and who wants his weapons. It's time for him to go.

MR. BORGIDA
Dr. Muravchick, I'm going to cut you off for just a second. You have plenty of time. Dr. Eland, your turn. You get about a minute to rebut.

DR. ELAND
Well, sure Saddam should disarm. But the real question is: Should the United States unilaterally invade another country to get it done? There are other methods of getting it done, and I think the world, our allies, are very uneasy about this. Some of them are now saying that.

The American people, in the latest poll, 70 percent said they would like to give the U.N. more time, the inspections more time. And so I think the Bush administration is really rushing this.

The Bush administration never really wanted to see a thorough inspection. What they wanted to do was have an international stamp of approval for their invasion, and they haven't gotten it yet, because France, China, Germany, are now raising questions about whether the United States should unilaterally invade another country to get this done. And sure, Saddam is an evil dictator. Sure, he should resign. But we need to work through the inspection process. The President went down this road, and now the President is suffering the effects of it. But he made the choice to go down the multilateral road and he is kind of stuck there.

MR. BORGIDA
I know you're dying to jump in, Dr. Muravchick.

DR. MURAVCHICK
Well, this is just silly in many ways. It's silly because Dr. Eland says there are other ways to do it. Well, what other ways? Come on, tell us.

There are no other ways to do it. We've tried for 12 years. We've tried sanctions. We've tried inspections. We've tried diplomatic pressure.

It's perfectly clear to everybody, and even to you, although you're pretending otherwise, that there is no other way to do this.

And we are not doing it unilaterally. Even if we do it without a U.N. resolution, we're going to do it with Great Britain, we're going to do it with Turkey, we're going to do it with a whole handful of states in the region. That's not unilateral. That's a coalition of the willing.

DR. ELAND
Well, I don't think there is going to be Turkish participation with troops. They may give us limited bases. Even the Turks are saying they will limit the number of troops.

A lot of people in Turkey are not enthralled with this. The government certainly isn't, but the Turkish public opinion isn’t, and our other allies aren't on board either. And nobody wants to tell the big superpower that they don't want to do it, but there are a lot of countries that are very nervous about this.

And frankly, as long as the inspectors are in Iraq, he is going to have a hard time getting nuclear weapons. He may still have biological and chemical weapons, but the question is really larger than that: Can we deter them, even in the worst case, even if Saddam gets nuclear weapons?

We have thousands of nuclear warheads. He has a home address, unlike terrorists. And so, why can't we deter him? Why did this change after September 11th? For any number of years after the Gulf War, we deterred and contained him. And now, all of a sudden, after September 11th, the Bush administration figures, boy, this is a good chance to get Saddam.

MR. BORGIDA
Dr. Muravchick, jump in.

DR. MURAVCHICK
Well, I'm glad you're admitting your real position, which you were denying a moment ago when you said there are other ways of doing this. Now you're saying we don't have to do this. We can let him have all his weapons of mass destruction.

DR. ELAND
No, I didn't say that.

DR. MURAVCHICK
Yes, you did. You said we can let him have it and we'll deter him.

DR. ELAND
I said as long as the inspectors are in there, he's going to have difficulty getting them.

DR. MURAVCHICK
No. You said that for the long term we can deter him; we don't need to disarm him.

What changed on September 11th is that we've been attacked by terrorists for 30 years. They've killed Americans by the ones and by the tens, a couple of times by the hundreds. On September 11th, they started killing us by the thousands, and we have documentary evidence that their goal is to be able to kill us.

DR. ELAND
And how does that relate to Saddam Hussein?

DR. MURAVCHICK
Let me finish. Their goal is to kill us by the hundreds of thousands if they can get their hands on weapons that will enable them to do this. Saddam Hussein is the most malevolent ruler in the world.

DR. ELAND
Prove that. What about Kim Jong-Il? What about the North Koreans? What about the Iranians?

DR. MURAVCHICK
Well, I'll tell you exactly. I'll prove it. It's easy to prove. The proof is that he has not only developed these weapons of mass destruction, but he has already used them.

DR. ELAND
Other countries have used them too. Libya has used them in Chad.

DR. MURAVCHICK
He has used them in the war with Iran. He has used them on his own people.

DR. ELAND
And Libya used them against Chad. Other countries have used them as well.

DR. MURAVCHICK
None has used them as much as he has. None has used them on their own people the way he has done. And none of them are as far along in developing them or have --

DR. ELAND
That's not true. North Korea already has nuclear weapons. The North Koreans are further along with long-range missiles that could hit the U.S.

They're farther along in nuclear weapons. They're the bigger state sponsor of terrorism than Iraq. In all categories, Saddam is not number one.

MR. BORGIDA
Gentlemen, we've got about a minute to go, and I want to ask you quickly, with 30-second answers, if you might, is it appropriate to go it alone at this point, for the United States? Would you endorse that?

DR. MURAVCHICK
Absolutely. But there is no question of going it alone. Great Britain is going with us and so will several others. What you mean is going without a U.N. Security Council resolution.

That's absolutely appropriate, because we have a firm basis in international law, without a U.N. Security Council resolution, to take military action against Iraq.

MR. BORGIDA
Dr. Eland, your answer?

DR. ELAND
It's not just a question of us and one other country, Great Britain, doing it. And it's not just a question of getting another U.N. resolution. There are a lot of allies who are unhappy with this, who are not on the Security Council, Germany for one, and they are very important allies. And the American people said, 70 percent of them in a poll just today in the Washington Post, said that they want to wait for the inspections. So, why not wait? Why do we have to do it now?

MR. BORGIDA
Dr. Eland, you have the last word. Dr. Ivan Eland of the Cato Institute, here in Washington, and Dr. Joshua Muravchick of the American Enterprise Institute, thank you so much. A sense of the fire and the fury of this story. Thanks for joining us.

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