2003 January 19 Sunday
The Iraq Attack Should Not Be Delayed

There is an argument being made now by Hans Blix and all the usual suspects for letting the UN weapons inspections run on for months until more hotter "smoking gun" evidence is found against Saddam. The argument is not convincing for a number of reasons. Here are some reasons for attacking sooner rather than later:

  • North Korea is using our preoccupation with Iraq to embark on a threatening and dangerous course of action. The longer the Iraq issue hangs in the balance the longer the US have fewer resources to bring to bear on the North Korean threat.
  • Iraq's WMD programs are still on-going. Delay allows him time to make more WMD to use against invading troops.
  • Pressures will build in the Middle East against an attack the longer we wait
  • Inspectors can not find all the weapons and weapons labs. Only an invasion can disarm Saddam. He has already demonstrated an unwillingness to voluntarily give up his WMD capability.
  • An invasion that starts in the spring will put allied troops at a huge disadvantage against Saddam's biological and chemical weapons because the protective suits for the soldiers are too hot to use in weather that is the least bit warm. This was dramatically shown during a Pentagon press conference when one of the soldiers wearing the protective clothing fainted from the heat build-up the protective clothing causes.
  • The invasion of Iraq will be an intelligence bonanza in notable ways. The identities of most of Iraq's sources of technology for WMD development will be discovered. The types of technology discovered and the origins and methods of acquisition (e.g. names of brokers and smugglers) will point to where and how other regimes are acquiring the same kinds of technology. Also, Iraqi contacts with and assistance to assorted terrorist groups will be discovered and the details will be helpful in fighting those terrorist groups.
  • Firm control of Iraq would put the US into a stronger position from which to pressure Saudi Arabia on issues relating to terrorism. We wouldn't need Saudi bases. We wouldn't need to defend Saudi Arabia from Iraq. We wouldn't need Saudi oil.

Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution lays out arguments against delay in the Financial Times of London.

Some will argue that inspections are working. But disarmament is the goal, and it is not happening. Iraq has failed to account for large quantities of precursor chemicals, biological growth media and other dangerous technologies that we know it imported or produced at one time. This is not a US conclusion; it is a UN conclusion based on inspections in the 1990s as well as Iraq's seriously incomplete weapons declaration of last December 7. The US has done a poor job of reminding the international community about what we know, and how we know it, and must radically improve its diplomacy to develop a strong coalition for war in the coming weeks.

The Financial Times also reports on Turkey's reluctance to allow US troops to attack Iraq from Turkey.

Turkey's stated intention of giving "limited" support to any US-led war on Iraq means restricting the number of troops that Washington could deploy in a second front to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, officials and analysts said at the weekend.

If the United States had attacked Iraq last winter while the less Islamist government was still in power in Turkey it is very likely that the US could have struck a better deal with Turkey over Iraq. This demonstrates the danger of waiting: more new things can go wrong. Can we count on continued political support from Kuwait or Qatar if we delay for most of 2003? Delay gives domestic opponents in each Middle Eastern supporting country time to organize opposition and use various means (possibly including terrorism) to pressure their governments. The regional media are beating the drums against war. Also, there are signs that Jordan's King Abdullah may be backing out of allowing Jordan to be used as a jumping off point into Iraq..

Jordanian’s monarch Abdullah II has developed cold feet on his armed forces’ role in the US campaign against Iraq, a mere two weeks after Turkey held back permission for US forces to use its bases as staging posts for its invasion of Iraq from the north (as first revealed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly on Jan. 10) – halting the transfer to Turkish bases of American armored divisions, warplanes and naval units. Abdullah followed suit by backtracking on his previous consent for additional US forces to ship out to Jordan to build up the invasion force on the Western sector.

The United States does not have an infinite amount of military or diplomatic resources. The US needs to invade Iraq and get it over with so that attention can be shifted toward other pressing matters. Also, an invasion of Iraq should result in an intelligence bonanza as Iraqi intelligence agents with links to regional terrorist groups are rounded up and interrogated.

By the way, the need to attack simultaneously into all of Iraq's regions at the outset is illustrated by a StrategyPage.com map of Iraqi missile ranges from three different launching points.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 January 19 03:13 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment

Bob said at January 19, 2003 4:07 PM:

Let's not forget the morale of the troops already in the middle-east. These brave young men and women are separated from their families and living with the sword of Damacles dangling over their heads.

What would an additional six or nine months of uncertainty contribute to their morale?

bunuel said at January 21, 2003 1:42 PM:

Am surpised your page is not getting the attention it merits.
As to the apparenetly endless preamble:probably the price to pay for putting togather a decisive enough blow.

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