Preparing for war

Saddam Hussein is an evil man. During the 1980s he used chemical weapons against Iraq’s Kurdish citizens and against the Iranian army with whom he fought a decade-long war. In 1990 Iraq’s army overran Kuwait, and though quickly defeated by a U.S.-led coalition, Saddam has never lived up to his country’s treaty obligations. He has thwarted the efforts of UN weapons inspectors and diverted funds from the UN food-for-oil program. Iraqi oil illegally smuggled out of the country pays for Saddam’s army, his weapons program, and his personal aggrandizement as well as that of his advisers and allies while the Iraqi standard of living declines. He continues to threaten his neighbors, especially Kuwait.

Most observers-American, European, Middle Eastern-agree that there are sound and serious reasons to wish Saddam gone as the president of Iraq. But that is not the critical question. The critical question is: Are there justifiable reasons to go to war against Iraq in order to get rid of him?

Several members of the Bush administration, along with a string of conservative commentators, have been pressing action since the president came to office. Yet until the September 11 terrorist attack, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein stayed safely on the wish list of Bush advisor Richard Perle and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Since then, the war on terrorism has come to be regarded as authorization for regime...

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