I think that the UK and USA should not attack Iraq, at least not on their own. If they were to get the full support of the UN, then possibly an attack of some form should be fought against Iraq, however a full-scale invasion may not be the answer. In the light of experience, there can hardly be any doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime represents a threat to the Middle East region in the medium to long term. On the evidence available it represents no immediate threat.
If this is correct, there is no case for military action in the near future: there are several courses of action that can be adopted short of war, and on moral and other grounds, war should be a last resort. Invasion of Iraq would involve the killing of large numbers of innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as large numbers of soldiers on both sides. This alone is sufficient reason not to invade. Such killing will intensify existing animosities towards US influence in the Middle East, thus increasing the number of enemies of the US and also the probability of future acts of terrorism against the US, UK and its allies.
An invasion would force the countries of the region to take sides, producing regional destabilization and threatening world energy, particularly oil, supplies. A long-term allied occupation of Iraq could face serious resistance, leading to more deaths on both sides. The UK, and US are bound by federal law to abide by the UN Charter as US and UK membership in the UN constitutes a treaty. They are therefore subject to abide by UN Security Council resolutions.
Article 2 of the UN Charter forbids ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state’ and requires UN members to ‘settle their international disputes by peaceful means. ‘ The Pact renounces aggressive acts of war by nations. Further, the Hague Convention prohibits ‘attack or bombardment of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended. ‘ US Federal Law also expressly prohibits the assassination of foreign leaders. Given these laws and precedents, any invasion of Iraq could result in US and UK leaders, as well as soldiers, facing trial.
I believe that the US in particular has already gone too far in their war against Iraq. The bombings, as a result of the enforcement of the no fly zones, inflicts death and injuries on the Iraqi population. Established over 60% of Iraqi airspace, on the grounds of needing to ‘protect’ the Kurds in the North and the Shia Muslims in the south from the Iraq regime. Bombings outside the ‘no fly zones’ such as the December 1998 ‘Desert Fox’ Bombing of Baghdad, have also killed and wounded innocent Iraqis. How can the US be allowed to murder innocent civilians, and claim that it is stopping a rogue dictator.
I believe that the USA has already taken it too far and for Iraq there is no going back, they have seen so many people of their nation murdered, so they feel they have to retaliate. Already enough harm has been done to Iraq, the sanctions against Iraq, the most severe ever imposed on any nation, have contributed to the deaths of countless Iraqi civilians and have devastated Iraq’s economy. A 1999 UNICEF study of child mortality in Iraq concluded that if pre 1990 trends in child mortality had continued through the 1990s, 500,000 fewer Iraqi children under the age of 5 would have died between 1991 and 1998.
Today, it is widely estimated that over 1,500,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of the deprivation wrought by sanctions. Since 1990, the infant mortality rate for Iraqi children under 5 has increased by over 160%. Iraqi children under 5 continue to die at a rate of over 5,000 per month from dysentery, malnutrition and other treatable diseases. Prior to the Gulf War, Iraqis enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the region. Today, poverty and disease are endemic, and Iraq’s middle classes have either been driven into exile or into poverty.
Sanctions against Iraq were imposed on August 6, 1990, four days after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Their original purpose was to pressure Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. Iraq was driven out of Kuwait by the US led military campaign of January-February 1991, yet the sanctions continue. The bombing campaign destroyed Iraq’s factories, water and sewage treatment plants and electrical power plants. Today, most medical problems in Iraq are the result of the inability of Iraq to restore its water and transport infrastructure under sanctions.
On top of the physical harm Iraqis have suffered under the deprivation of sanctions, the emotional and psychological damage is incalculable. The US maintains that Iraq has or will develop ‘weapons of mass destruction,’ threatening the US and Iraq’s neighbours. Since the ‘Desert Fox’ bombing campaign of December 1998, there have been no further weapons inspections in Iraq, and thus there is no proof that Iraq has chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. In its ongoing negotiations with the UN, Iraq has tried to get removal of the sanctions as a condition for agreeing to further weapons inspections.
The US refuses to meet with Iraq on this issue and the negotiations have again stalled. This seems to me to suggest that the USA want an attack on Iraq so badly that they will use any excuse possible to try and justify their cause. Yes Iraq should not be allowed to develop weapons of mass destruction, but this can be resolved by talks and by allowing weapons inspectors into Iraq. In the absence of democratic institutions within Iraq, pressure applied to the Iraqi government in the form of sanctions has not produced democratic change, but has merely worsened the condition of ordinary people.
An invasion would involve further destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure, already reeling from twelve years of sanctions and bombings, thus weakening the prospects for the creation of stable, democratic institutions in Iraq. Nearly the entire world community is opposed to a US invasion of Iraq. This opposition is in accordance with international law, particularly the UN charter, which prohibits such violations of Iraqi sovereignty. Only the Iraqi people have the sovereign authority to determine what type of government they live under, and how to deal with those who have violated their human rights.