The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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The madness of war with Iraq by General Sir Michael Rose Merely crying "Havoc!" and letting slip the dogs of war is no substitute for clear thinking or the development of a welldefined military strategy. Yet the evidence of the last few days seems to be that we are heading for an assault on Iraq without - on either side of the Atlantic - anything like enough open debate about the moral justification or military practicality of doing so. If we in the West were confident that our reasons for going to war were sound, we would be getting the UN's agreement before doing so. But it seems we're not. Instead of open debate, what we have had from President Bush is the vague assertion that Saddam Hussein has "plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade". Our own Prime Minister is even more vague, implying that Saddam Hussein now possesses an arsenal of dangerous but as yet unspecified weapons of mass destruction. Neither of them has yet produced any evidence that Saddam plans to use any of these weapons against the West. If there was such a threat, necessary authority for any invasion would be needed from the UN in accordance with article 39 of its Charter. This article clearly states that the Security Council should determine the existence of any threat, as well as decide what measures must be taken thereafter to maintain international peace and security. The launching of a war against Yugoslavia in 1999 by American-led Nato forces without due authority of the UN greatly diminished both the moral standing and legitimacy of that action, and this made it subsequently much harder for the Alliance to criticise others who did the same in pursuit of less worthy causes. Certainly it would make no sense for member states to go to war on behalf of the UN - because Saddam is not fully cooperating with UN Security Council Resolutions - if that body itself doesn't approve. Today it is reported that Tony Blair has been advised by Government lawyers that an attack would be illegal without UN backing. He should heed that advice and refuse to allow British troops to take part in any attack without UN approval. IF Bush thinks UN support is not a legal necessity, he will still have to consider the military options. The launching of a largescale ground offensive by USled forces against Saddam Hussein in Iraq is fraught with operational risk. Its success would be dependent on good intelligence, quick execution, and general support for the action from the Iraqis - none of which can be guaranteed. Furthermore it is likely that the operation would have to be mounted at long distance, as there would not be the same level of support from neighbouring Arab states, including Jordan, as was provided at the time of the Gulf War. Since Iran has also been identified as being part of President Bush's axis of evil, what would their leaders make of an attack? It is almost designed to create instability and a lack of security. Is that what Bush wants? Even if an attack against Iraq did meet with early success, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would not, of course, succeed in eliminating the possibility of terrorist attack against the West. International terrorism is not just a product of tyrants or rogue states, - nor can it be defeated by conventional military means, no matter how superior US weapons technology might be. As Northern Ireland showed us, terrorists can only be defeated when they lose the support of the people. Resolving political, economic and social grievances is therefore a far more important aspect of counter terrorist wars than direct military action, which often adds to the numbers of people prepared actively to support the terrorists. Sadly, because the US is seen as condoning Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, hostility towards America and the West is mounting, providing fertile ground for extremist Islamic terrorist organisations among the one billion Muslims around the world. Addressing the basic question of the Palestinian grievance would do far more to defeat terrorism than the use of the kinetic energy weapons so favoured by President Bush. When he assumed command of the Army of the United States Colonies in 1775, George Washington was assured that a single victory against the British was all that was necessary to achieve total victory, and that the war would be short in duration. In fact the war dragged on for six years. The US Army today does not have the luxury of being able to wage a long drawnout war against Saddam Hussein, for protracted operations would produce growing opposition to the war at home. Recent wars in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan have been conducted at arm's length without responding counter strikes by the enemy in our homelands. This time, things would almost certainly be different. In the event of such attacks on our own doorstep, politicians will be hard pressed to explain why an action designed to prevent Saddam Hussein from attacking the West, had provoked that very thing. The British Army fought three times in Iraq in the last century, not always with successful results. It would be unfortunate if we have to do the same again this century. There are huge political and military risks associated with launching large-scale ground forces into Iraq. A more successful strategy would be to strengthen economic sanctions, help create a viable political and military opposition to the regime within Iraq, obtain improved intelligence about his arsenal of weapons and whereabouts, and where necessary carry out limited airstrikes against associated targets. That is the sensible option. It also happens to be the way, I suspect, the UN would want it done. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk