There is a growing effort to distort the conflict in Iraq by blurring ethnic and human rights issues. The Bush administration, however, has chosen to address the cause of the problem and refuses to participate in international bickering. Air strikes last Friday by U.S. and British forces, despite what some believe, have been well overdue. President Bush’s policies have been straightforward and fair.
The issues are clear. United Nations inspectors have been barred from inspecting Iraq’s arsenal of nuclear weapons since 1998, which can only mean Iraq has something to hide. Also, Iraq has been violating so-called no-fly zones protecting its Kurdish population in the North and Shiite population in the South, both of whom have been threatened by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Furthermore, Iraq enlisted the help of China to build a fiber-optic network for its air defense system, a clear violation of U.N. sanctions and a sign Iraq plans to increase its military capabilities.
Most importantly, the strikes against Iraq responsed to surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery used last weekend against allied planes patrolling the no-fly zones.
And if this were not enough, Hussein has recently threatened efforts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict peacefully by preparing what he calls the Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, army. He has ordered the training of 300,000 Iraqi soldiers to free Jerusalem from the Israelis. He has also called the 6.5 million Iraqis to prepare for jihad – Islamic holy war – against Israel. The least Americans can do is protect the peace process while the Israeli government restructures.
The manner in which U.S. and British forces carried out their attacks should be commended. Though Hussein offered a reward to any unit that succeeds in downing an allied plane, American and British forces sought to minimize casualties. The air strikes were carried out on a Muslim holiday to avoid Iraqi deaths and focussed on 20 radar stations to contain Iraqi military capabilities without loss of life. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “Containment has been a successful policy, and I think we should make sure that we continue it until such time as Saddam Hussein comes into compliance with the agreements he made at the end of the war. But we have to find ways to do it, to not hurt the Iraqi people.”
The issues surrounding allied actions are clear. If critics wish to argue Iraq has the right to live without allied involvement, they need to consider the right of Kuwaitis, Iraqi Kurds, Iraqi Shiites and Israelis to live without the threat of attacks on their sovereignty. Most importantly, Iraq needs to know that attacks on Americans will be met with containment of Iraqi capabilities. This policy is more than fair, and we should thank the Bush administration for acting honorably.
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is public affairs director for the GW College Republicans.
This article appeared in the February 22, 2001 issue of the Hatchet.