Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

12 March 2003

"The Right War for the Right Reasons," by Senator John McCain

(Arizona Republican defends war plans in New York Times article) (870)
(This column by Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona, was
published in The New York Times March 12 and is in the public domain.
No republication restrictions.)
(begin byliner)
The Right War for the Right Reasons
By John McCain
Washington -- American and British armed forces will likely soon begin
to disarm Iraq by destroying the regime of Saddam Hussein. We do not
know whether they will have the explicit authorization of
veto-wielding members of the United Nations Security Council. But
either way, the men and women ordered to undertake this mission can
take pride in the justice of their cause.
Critics argue that the military destruction of Saddam Hussein's regime
would be, in a word, unjust. This opposition has coalesced around a
set of principles of "just war" -- principles that they feel would be
violated if the United States used force against Iraq.
The main contention is that we have not exhausted all nonviolent means
to encourage Iraq's disarmament. They have a point, if to not exhaust
means that America will not tolerate the failure of nonviolent means
indefinitely. After 12 years of economic sanctions, two different
arms-inspection forces, several Security Council resolutions and, now,
with more than 200,000 American and British troops at his doorstep,
Saddam Hussein still refuses to give up his weapons of mass
destruction. Only an obdurate refusal to face unpleasant facts -- in
this case, that a tyrant who survives only by the constant use of
violence is not going to be coerced into good behavior by nonviolent
means -- could allow one to believe that we have rushed to war.
These critics also object because our weapons do not discriminate
between combatants and noncombatants. Did the much less discriminating
bombs dropped on Berlin and Tokyo in World War II make that conflict
unjust? Despite advances in our weaponry intended to minimize the loss
of innocent life, some civilian casualties are inevitable. But far
fewer will perish than in past wars. Far fewer will perish than are
killed every year by an Iraqi regime that keeps power through the
constant use of lethal violence. Far fewer will perish than might
otherwise because American combatants will accept greater risk to
their own lives to prevent civilian deaths.
The critics also have it wrong when they say that the strategy by the
United States for the opening hours of the conflict -- likely to
involve more than 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles in the
first 48 hours -- is intended to damage and demoralize the Iraqi
people. It is intended to damage and demoralize the Iraqi military and
to dissuade Iraqi leaders from using weapons of mass destruction
against our forces or against neighboring countries, and from
committing further atrocities against the Iraqi people.
The force our military uses will be less than proportional to the
threat of injury we can expect to face should Saddam Hussein continue
to build an arsenal of the world's most destructive weapons.
Many also mistake where our government's primary allegiance lies, and
should lie. The American people, not the United Nations, is the only
body that President Bush has sworn to represent. Clearly, the
administration cares more about the credibility of the Security
Council than do other council members who demand the complete
disarmament of the Iraqi regime yet shrink from the measures needed to
enforce that demand. But their lack of resolve does not free an
American president from his responsibility to protect the security of
this country. Both houses of Congress, by substantial margins, granted
the president authority to use force to disarm Saddam Hussein. That is
all the authority he requires.
Many critics suggest that disarming Iraq through regime change would
not result in an improved peace. There are risks in this endeavor, to
be sure. But no one can plausibly argue that ridding the world of
Saddam Hussein will not significantly improve the stability of the
region and the security of American interests and values. Saddam
Hussein is a risk-taking aggressor who has attacked four countries,
used chemical weapons against his own people, professed a desire to
harm the United States and its allies and, even faced with the
prospect of his regime's imminent destruction, has still refused to
abide by the Security Council demands that he disarm.
Isn't it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the
Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant
Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its
ruthlessness? Wouldn't people subjected to brutal governments be
encouraged to see the human rights of Muslims valiantly secured by
Americans -- rights that are assigned rather cheap value by the
critics' definition of justice?
Our armed forces will fight for peace in Iraq -- a peace built on more
secure foundations than are found today in the Middle East. Even more
important, they will fight for the two human conditions of even
greater value than peace: liberty and justice. Some of them will
perish in this just cause. May God bless them and may humanity honor
their sacrifice.
(John McCain is a Republican senator from Arizona.)
(end byliner)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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