Military force against the government in Iraq is warranted only as part of an overall military, political, and economic strategy. Without this context, a military attack by itself could reduce political support for the campaign against Iraq and spur retaliation and terrorism, while the Iraqi government remains in power and capable of rebuilding its weapons.
President Clinton is to address the nation on Tuesday, February 17 on the crisis in Iraq and the possibility of a military campaign. The purpose is to reduce the Iraqi government's production of weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, the choice offered is between doing nothing and the military attack, both bad choices. Doing nothing - no military action - results in a win for the Iraqi policy of defying the United Nations inspection team, sets a bad precedent for other countries, and leaves the danger of Iraq's weapons open. But simply attacking Iraq is also dangerous, since Iraq could retaliate against oil supplies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. If Iraq attacks Israel, it could result in another Middle Eastern war, drawing in Russia, Europe, and the United States. It could bring the world to Armageddon.
There is a third way, in which any attack is part of an integrated, holistic policy, a context that greatly reduces the dangers. The elements of a visionary multi-pronged strategy would include:
* Recognize a government in exile for Iraq and obtain recognition from as many countries as possible. The new government-to-be would have a constitution providing for democracy, liberty, and economic justice for Iraq, and peace with all its neighbors.
* Declare all of Iraq to be a "no fly" zone for Iraqi military.
* Declare that the U.S. will recognize Palestine as an independent state federated with Israel (see www.progress.org/archive/fold01.htm). This will boost support from the Arabs and reduce the threat to Israel from Iraq.
* Saturate Iraq with propaganda by the government-in-exile informing Iraqis that their country poses a danger to world peace, and that any attack is to be directed against the regime, not the people.
* End the economic boycott against Iraq. A military campaign to destroy the Iraqi weapons makes the blockage of trade redundant. Letting Iraqis trade will benefit the people and reduce their animosity against the U.S. and its allies.
In the context of this economic and political policy, military action by a coalition that includes the Iraqi government in exile against the Iraqi weapons and capacity to produce them would then be warranted and effective. It would have better support from neighboring countries and even from the people of Iraq. The action would not then be regarded as an attack against the people of Iraq.
These political and economic measures would be bold, radical acts that require a broad vision by the leaders of the government of the United States. This vision goes beyond the narrow aim of containing Iraq, and looks towards the creation of peace, justice, and liberty in the Middle East. But such a vision would transcend conventional politics, which the government leaders are not willing to do. As the Bible tells us, "Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not" (Isaiah 59:7-8).