We must follow through with our promise to Iraq

By on October 9, 2003

On September 23, President Bush delivered his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly. Last year’s address was centered mainly on building the case against Iraq. With major military operations over there, this year’s version focused on defending the war and opening the door for the UN to take over a limited portion of the reconstruction effort.

Since the months leading up to war, Bush has been at odds with Germany and France, both of whom opposed the military action without an official UN mandate. The rift with France and its president, Jacques Chirac, was most notorious, as that nation clearly went out of its way to undermine Washington’s attempt to gain a final resolution authorizing war.

Bush defended the war in his speech, saying that “Iraq’s former dictator will never again use weapons of mass destruction.” In response, Chirac said that “no one can act alone in the name of all.” Of course, this highlights the fact that France’s only say in the world today is through the wavering and increasingly inept UN.

Indeed, the chief disagreement between America and the UN is the former’s new doctrine of pre-emption, or the right to attack another nation that might attack it first. However, we were taught on 9/11 what can happen if we wait to strike until we are attacked first.

Considering how deceptive and unpredictable Saddam Hussein was acting prior to the war, how could you not think he had something up his sleeve? If Saddam wanted to reduce the justifications for this war, he could have complied with at least one of the 17 UN resolutions passed against him since 1991, not to mention the cease-fire agreement that ended the Gulf War, all calling for him to disarm.

Eleven years later, in November 2002, the UN Security Council unanimously voted that Iraq was in material breach of these previous resolutions, and ordered Saddam to produce a detailed list of his weapons or proof that they had been destroyed. If not, the resolution stated, Iraq would face “serious consequences.”

In response, Iraq produced a weapons document that the UN found to be vastly incomplete. Saddam thumbed his nose at this “international community,” and no one except America cared. The UN just sent Hans Blix and his “inspectors” in to play a game of hide-and-seek and didn’t change anything when it became clear last January that Iraq was not being fully cooperative and forthright with the inspectors. Nations like France were content to allow this foolish charade to continue indefinitely.

By refusing to strictly enforce its own laundry list of resolutions against Iraq even in the face of evidence that the most recent one had been violated, the UN and member nations such as France and Germany rendered themselves irrelevant to the process. Conversely, Saddam likely felt that he could withstand this latest challenge to his deception, but unlike the previous two administrations, President Bush followed through on his threat of force and did not back down.However, that is all over now, and the present reality is what matters most. France and Germany support a plan that would give the UN sweeping authority in reconstructing damaged Iraq. Bush should, and will, oppose this plan.

America must remain in command of overall operations in Iraq. None of what is happening now, other than the resistance we’re meeting, should come as a surprise to anyone. The administration said before the war that we would take the time to rebuild Iraq and get it started on a better government. Now, after a mere six months, impatient people in and out of America are already growing tired of the situation and blindly labeling it a “quagmire.”

However, there’s a much larger and more important issue here. Pulling out of Iraq now and transferring all authority to the UN would undermine American credibility even more than the left says the war itself did. America would be perceived by parts of the volatile Middle East and elsewhere as uncaring and aloof, simply invading a nation, bombing it, and leaving it in chaos.

We promised the Iraqis and the rest of the world that we would rebuild Iraq after the war was over. Now we must continue to fulfill that promise. Just because we have encountered more immediate resistance than we expected does not mean that we should abruptly scrap the entire plan.

By pulling out now, we would be leaving the region with a large and glaring broken promise, which would breed more of the very same anti-American sentiment that we’re trying to avoid.

Those crying about the loss of American credibility abroad should consider the shot that our credibility would take if we were to suddenly break this key pre-war promise and leave Iraq in ruins for someone else to clean up.


About A. J. Atchue