An Open Letter to the President Jacques Chirac
Originally published at Meidard
France doesn’t want to spend the last half of March watching American
forces invading Iraq, it must support an Iraq resolution with a specific
deadline or set of deadlines before force is used. A resolution stating
disarmament had been achieved would have to be adopted by the deadline
to prevent use of force.
France has been sitting on the fence. It claims to support a requirement
that Iraq disarm, but when that should happen is set at some indefinite
time in the future with no apparent penalties for failing to comply.
The result is an apparent debate between the U.S. view that Iraq should
be forced to disarm and the French view that force isn’t necessary. In
such a situation the United States sees no reason to delay action given
claims that Iraq is still covering up weapons of mass destruction(WMD).
If France believes that anti-war demonstrations or statements by other
nations will prevent U.S. action, it is ignoring history. Strong presidents
aren’t deterred by such things, although war opposition might cause them
to act in a more devious manner.
Anti-war protests in the United States and protests by other governments
during the Vietnam War didn’t stop the American war effort. Franklin
Roosevelt secretly conspired with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
to get the United States into World War II in spite of widespread opposition
to the war in the United States.
He deliberately placed American war ships, like the Reuben James, in
jeopardy to create the possibility of an incident that would persuade Americans
to go to war. According to some historians he deliberately withheld valuable
intelligence information from American commanders at Pearl Harbor so they
wouldn’t be aware of an expected Japanese attack. Such an attack could,
and did, generate support for the war.
President George W. Bush already believes he has sufficient authorization,
in the form of last fall’s U.N. resolution, to attack Iraq. Thus, he
is unlikely to delay any attack just because the U.N. hasn’t adopted
a new resolution supporting an attack.
Saddam Hussein of Iraq has a record. He has used chemical weapons in
the past and has invaded the neighboring country of Kuwait. He is accused
of having chemical and biological weapons that are prohibited to him by
the United Nations. He has been found to have rockets and warheads that
he isn’t supposed to have.
If allowed to continue in power he might use illegal weapons or provide
them to others, including al Qaeda, to use against the United States or
other nations. President Bush believes it would be better to disarm Iraq
first instead of waiting for him to provide WMD to those who would kill
innocent America civilians.
The United States because of its world leadership responsibility has
adopted the role of prosecutor of Hussein. Prosecutors typically develop
a strong belief that the accused is guilty and look only for evidence to
prove that guilt. Those who play the role of prosecutor claim, and often
really believe, all of their evidence is valid.
Often in a trial defense attorneys will show some of that evidence is
inadequate or invalid. For example, evaluation of U.S. evidence that Iraq
was attempting to obtain nuclear weapons has recently been proved false.
Individuals in a conflict situation want to win. Winning requires a
positive attitude that one’s positions are valid. Doubts can interfere
with winning which creates a psychological incentive for prosecutors to
ignore doubts and accept evidence from sources that may have an incentive
to provide false evidence.
For example, Iraqi exiles who oppose Saddam Hussein want someone to
force him out. Some of them have inside knowledge that could not be obtained
otherwise. Difficulty in obtaining such knowledge often occurs when attempting
to prosecute those, like members of criminal organizations, who are likely
to kill anyone who talks to prosecutors. On the other hand, some exiles
might be sufficiently desperate to fabricate evidence against Saddam such
as the documents indicating he attempted to purchase uranium in Africa..
Recent revelations have shown that Hussein cannot be trusted to tell
the truth about his arsenal. He cannot be trusted to voluntarily disclose
WMD that he believes he has sufficiently hidden that inspectors are unlikely
to discover it. Some allegations about where he has hidden WMD may be false,
but cannot be dismissed without thorough investigation.
The United States lacks sufficient confidence in current inspection
procedures to trust the inspectors to find all such weapons. If France
wants to prevent the United States from invading Iraq to force compliance
with the original disarmament resolution, it must do something to improve
confidence in the U.N. inspections and agree to the possible use of force
at some specific point in the future. New procedures might include armed
troops(preferably from non-Middle Eastern Muslim nations) to guard sites
that have been inspected or might be inspected in the future. Other nations,
including the United States and Britain, could be allowed to have personnel
lead those guards to sites such nations believe should be inspected.
The potential of an eminent use of force by the United States has caused Iraq to provide much more cooperation than it had been providing. A definite indication that the U.N. would allow force in the future could encourage even greater cooperation.
I also write at Mediard
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