Action speaks louder than words
The hints are becoming less subtle. In America’s war on terrorism, the next battleground will likely be Iraq. Spurred by fears that an attack on another Middle Eastern nation may unite people of that region, Americans are hesitant to rally as they did against the Taliban. The question that should be asked is: Does the United States have any other choice?
Ten years ago, now retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf met with Iraqi generals to discuss terms of surrender. Most significant among those terms was that Iraq not develop weapons of mass destruction and the nation be left open to inspection by United Nations officials.
Initial probings left no doubt: Iraq was developing nuclear and chemical weapons. Difficulties in finding biological weapons made inspectors even more certain that those weapons were hidden somewhere among the sands of the desert country.
In 1998, Iraq ceased to allow the searches. It’s impossible to say where Iraqi weapons programs are now, but one thing is for certain, Saddam Hussein has made progress in the last three years.
The CIA knows that sanctions don’t work. They only slow things down. Waiting until Hussein can hold the world for ransom is waiting too long. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? So does the need for military action.
Maybe it’s not the warfare that concerns Americans, but the missteps we may take on the way to crippling or restructuring Iraq. Even when the right thing to do seems obvious, such as not abandoning Afghanistan after helping its people drive the Soviets out, the United States government has repeatedly found a counterproductive alternative.
It was feared America would repeat its mistakes after Sept. 11, that without a lingering strategic purpose for its presence there, America would turn its back on Afghanistan once again. Now, it seems clear, neither the United Nations nor the United States has any intention of leaving Afghanistan without making it a better place.
Images of Palestinians shooting rifles in the streets to celebrate the deaths of thousands of Americans have been replaced by Afghans dancing, denouncing Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, and, incredibly, asking for occupation by a multi-national peacekeeping force. The United States has achieved a diplomatic victory in Afghanistan.
President Bush has listened to good advice and made smart decisions. The skeptics’ numbers are waning. Bush has undeniably scored an international political victory.
Our military campaign has been so successful that the Taliban was reduced to taunts, hoping high-altitude bombers would fly lower and give anti-aircraft fire a chance to hit targets. While all the Taliban’s cities, except Kandahar, have fallen under Northern Alliance control, the United States confirms only one American lost in combat.
Iraq knows the penalty for refusing diplomacy. It’s time the penalty is enforced.
— CHARLES S. EWRY