With American troops now amassing on the outskirts of Baghdad, there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the Iraqi Baathist regime’s days are numbered. Regardless of whether we support this war or not, we all knew the invasion would be relatively easy. However, winning the peace – that is successfully occupying and rebuilding Iraq – will be no easy task.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
This is the reason the United States embarked upon this grand campaign. Saddam Hussein was a threat to American security and regional stability, not to mention a blight on his own people. We were told that Iraq had a wide-ranging and clandestine program to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Once the fighting ends, we must find these weapons of mass destruction and show the world that this was not just a show – that Hussein was hiding these weapons and intended to manufacture more. Then we must totally dismantle and destroy all of Iraq’s illicit weapons programs. There is the threat that these weapons could reach the black market, as well as the fact that their existence interferes with the objective of building a peaceful and democratic Iraq. My greatest fear is that we will not find any weapons of mass destruction, which will raise questions about the legitimacy of President George W. Bush’s mission.
War Crimes Tribunal
For the past 25 years Saddam Hussein and his band of sycophantic thugs have been a menace to the world. Hussein has used chemical weapons against the Iranians and Iraqi Kurds, invaded and attacked many neighboring countries, supported foreign terrorism and embarked upon a program to develop illegal weapons. The best venue for prosecuting these war crimes and crimes against humanity would be an international tribunal, similar to the one trying Slobodan Milosevic. Considering the scope of his crimes and the fact that we embarked upon this war to cleanse the world of Hussein and his henchman, it is most fitting that he is prosecuted in an international body before the eyes of the world. The prosecution of the Baatthist regime, coupled with a truth commission, similar to that of South Africa’s following apartheid, would do a great deal to rehabilitate the psyche of the Iraqi nation.
Occupation and reconstruction
In a few weeks we will know for certain that the U.S. armed forces needed no help in defeating Hussein’s security forces. Occupation and reconstruction, however, can only be accomplished successfully through an international effort. In both monetary and political terms, the United States cannot afford to rebuild Iraq alone. Especially in our weakened economic state, we are unable to shoulder the multibillion dollar expense of rebuilding Iraq (and Afghanistan) alone. Additionally, an international postwar effort in Iraq brings greater legitimacy to the reconstruction effort and restores some credibility to international institutions. We must learn a lesson from Afghanistan, and put more money, troops and greater initiative into restoring Iraq.
We must not deceive ourselves into believing that the world suddenly supports our war in Iraq because we have nearly won. We embarked upon this war without institutional backing (U.N. or NATO), against the will of most nations, including important allies like France and Germany, and also against overwhelming world public opinion. Now we must rebuild Iraq and for this objective, international support is indispensable. Furthermore, giving the U.N. an important role in reconstruction and a war crimes tribunal, as well as exposing Hussein’s weapons programs, are good ways to strengthen international institutions, improve America’s reputation abroad, and build a better Iraq.
-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.