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"US has a reason to attack Saddam" PLEASE RESPOND TO: LETTERS (at) SUNTIMES.COM

U.S. has reason to attack Saddam

August 19, 2002

No one wants war. Let's be plain about that. The doves finding their voices lately like to portray the decision to attack Iraq as a vote for war. But it is not.

Instead, it is recognition of a situation that has been a reality for a long time. When the Gulf War ended in Iraq's defeat, that nation was spared utter destruction and occupation by agreeing to allow inspection to prevent it from developing weapons of mass destruction.

For nearly five years, the Iraqis have spurned those inspections and thus violated the agreement that ended the war. It can be argued that President Bush's decision to attack Iraq is merely a question of timing and strategy, since a state of war already exists.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice explained it well to a BBC radio audience in an interview designed to boost our quavering British allies. ''This is an evil man who, left to his own devices, will wreak havoc again on his own population, his neighbors and, if he gets weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, all of us,'' Rice said. ''We do not have the luxury of doing nothing.''

But we have advocates for doing nothing, nevertheless. Even members of Bush's own party have been restive lately, complaining that the case to attack Iraq has not been made, the peril not proven.

This is disappointing, but not surprising. When Adolf Hitler's troops were rolling over Europe, there were loud voices in the United States claiming there wasn't a threat. They were wrong in 1941. And they're wrong now. For weeks after Sept. 11, the public was obsessed with what the United States knew about terrorist activity and why it hadn't ''done something'' to prevent attack. Yet with Iraq, with the danger so clear and so spelled out, many counsel inaction, out of fear, out of habit, out of reluctance to exercise American power.

One last point to remember: During the Gulf War, Iraq rained missiles down on Israel, a noncombatant. Consider what one military analyst told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month about what would happen if Saddam Hussein did that again with nuclear weapons.

''Strikes on Israeli population centers are likely to trigger a major nuclear war,'' he said.

If averting a ''major nuclear war'' isn't reason to act, what is?



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