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Implications of Attacking Iraq

Reasons For

Reasons Against

  • Generally, Hussein is a proven threat to international security, he is interested in developiong chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and has shown a willigness to use such weapons on Iraq's neighbors but also against Iraq's Kurdish population. Iraq has to be removed as a threat now before it has the ability to lash out at Israel, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait or US troops stationed in the region.
  • Iraq is effectively contained. In the ten years since the Gulf War Iraq has not troubled its neighbors, its military has fallen into neglect, and its WMD program has been hindered.
  • Alternatives to invasion won't solve the problem. UN inspectors were unable to certify that Iraq had disarmed its WMD programs due to Iraqi obstructions. Since the inspectors left Iraq in 1998 Hussein has had considerable time to rebuild his WMD program and to improve his ability to hide critical facilities.
  • Inspections will work and were successful in the 1990s. Iraq's WMD program is a shadow of its former self due to effectiveness of UNSCOM. Furthermore, the United Nations has reformed its inspection regime to make it even more effective.
  • If Iraq were to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction it could threaten regional stability and deter any potential military action against Iraq. Hussein and his gorvenment believe that it was their possession of chemical and biological weapons that deterred the Coalition Forces from invading Iraq during Desert Storm. A WMD capable Iraq would become a regional hegemon.
  • The United States' nuclear capability currently deters Hussein from using WMD on its neighbors. But a US invasion could prompt Hussein to use his chemical and biological weapons against Israel, Kuwait or Saudia Arabia in a final act of defiance.
  • Winning the war would be easy and the costs would be minimal. The Iraqi military was devestated during the Guld War and has continued to suffer after 11 years of sanctions and other military actions. The United States and its allies can achieve their goals with relatively few troops and costs can be measured as low as $20 billion.
  • The costs of this war could be prohibitive. Reports indicate that over 200,000 troops could be needed and that the war could cost $80 billion.
  • American lives could be lost. Despite years of neglect the Iraqi military is still a significant force in the Middle East and can still cause some damage.
  • Removing Hussein would be consistent with the goals of the war on terrorism. Iraq has a track record of supporting terrorism throughout the Middle East. A change in regime would eliminate a state sponsor of terrorism.
  • Invading Iraq will hurt the war on terrorism. A US attack will alienate Muslim countries especially the Arab street potentially removing crucial support for military operations against Al Qaida and significantly increasing additional acts of terrorism by those who oppose the US action.
  • Invading Iraq will divert political attention and scarce military resources from Operation Enduring Freedom , hurting the war effort and possibly allowing al Qaida to regroup and to counterattack.
  • The Iraqi people would support this action. They live under a brutal and repressive regime with little or no true freedoms.
  • Iraq could collapse and devolve into civil war if Husseins successors fail.
  • The US would have to keep troops in Iraq even after Hussein's regime has fallen. Such an occupation could be along the scales of Allied occuaption of post-war Germany and Japan.
  • A democratic Iraqi government would help with the Middle East peace process. Moderate Iraqi regime would discourage militants and boost the credibility of moderate Palestinians who are interested in peace. Iraq financially supports the families of suicide bombers in Palestine, a change of regime could bring an end to this practice.
  • Or it might not. The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians centers on cultural and territorial issues that transcend political systems. A change in leadership in Iraq, a country on the periphery of the conflict, will most likely have little effect on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Non-democratic governments could renew political repression of dissidents and opposition groups to stifle democratic pressures brought on by a liberated Iraq.
  • If Hussein develops chemical, biological or nuclear weapons he could give the weapons to terrorist organization who could use those materials against the United States or its allies.
  • Fears that Iraq would give WMD to terrorists lack credibility. Hussein would be unwilling to hand over these weapons as it would dilute his power and increase Iraq's exposure to a potential US counterattack.
  • Even if Hussein is removed from power Iraq could still decide to continue its WMD programs. Biological, chemical and nuclear weapons have a certain prestige and symbolism that a new government might decide to pursue.
  • Toppling Hussein will have little or no negative impacts the region.
  • Iran, fearing that it could be the next state to be attacked, could nuclearize.
  • Non-democratic governments could renew political repression of dissidents and opposition groups to stifle democratic pressures brought on by a liberated Iraq.



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