August 17, 2002


Why I oppose an attack on Iraq (Gerald Kaufman, The Spectator)
It was Cato the Elder who uttered the anathema, "Delenda est Carthago" - Carthage must be destroyed. While I do not advocate that Baghdad literally must be destroyed, I have for years believed that Saddam Hussein is one of the most dangerous men in the world. He launched a war against Iran which left millions dead. He annexed Kuwait, killing, raping, looting. He launched lethal Scud-missile attacks against Saudi Arabia and Israel. He has murdered and tortured countless Iraqi citizens, using chemical weapons to do so. He is intent on developing weapons of mass destruction; indeed, if the Israelis had not destroyed his Osirac nuclear reactor, he might well by now have nuclear capacity. He has violated a score of United Nations Security Council resolutions. If anyone on this planet can be categorised as a menace to world peace and equilibrium, it is Saddam Hussein.

When I was shadow foreign secretary I supported first the Security Council-authorised sanctions, and then the air and ground war against Saddam that brought about the liberation of Kuwait. I led (most of) the parliamentary Labour party into the Commons division lobby in support of these actions. In the 1997-2001 Parliament, as a government backbencher, I supported this country's participation in the air war against Iraq following Saddam's expulsion of United Nations weapons inspectors. I think it would be a blessing for the world if Saddam were removed from office and replaced by a regime that rejoined the world community. I have over a dozen years rejected the arguments - if they can be dignified by such an epithet - of those such as Tam Dalyell who have opposed military action against Iraq (as well as military action to liberate the Falkland Islands, military action in Kosovo and military action to remove the Taleban and root out al-Qa?eda in Afghanistan).

So, presumably, to be consistent, I should be at the forefront of those urging President Bush to attack Iraq as soon as possible, and should be pressing Tony Blair, of whom I am an ardent supporter, to line up with Bush in any military action he may take. I am afraid it is not as simple as that.

There are perfectly reasonable arguments available for not going to war with Saddam. Among them are that he's not a genuine threat anymore or that we can get rid of him without having to invade, etc... But there's something almost deranged about the formulation "I think it would be a blessing for the world if Saddam were removed from office", but "I oppose an attack on Iraq". Try shortening it--"I oppose a blessing for the world"--and explain how it makes any sense.
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2002 12:24 PM
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