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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 02:09 GMT 03:09 UK
Iraq: Can war be avoided?

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Senior US officials have dismissed Iraq's latest offer to readmit weapons inspectors unconditionally, describing it as a tactical ploy by President Saddam Hussein.

In the meantime, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has met the foreign ministers of other permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, China, France and the UK - to try to agree a tough new resolution on Iraq.

Saudi Arabia has also strengthened America's hand by indicating that it could allow US forces access to bases on its territory from which to launch military strikes on Baghdad.

Is Iraq's offer genuine? Is the US right to be sceptical? Should there be a war against Iraq? Tell us what you think.

This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your e-mails below.

The world must stand together

Geoff, USA
Aziz's conditions are not reasonable; the sanctions and no fly zones were implemented because Iraq was not submitting to weapons inspections, and should remain until inspections are completed. The US, however, cannot act alone in this matter. The world must stand together, and the US needs to submit its forces to a UN commander, not expect the rest of the world's militaries to submit to a US commander.
Geoff, USA

I believe that the American public would be much more receptive to Bush's planned "regime change" if he would actually come out and discuss the idea with us. He uses his catchy phrases and embarrassing slogans, but never discusses the issues at hand.
Andy, USA

Of course Aziz's conditions are unreasonable. He has no right, and is in no position, to set conditions on the presence of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq. His regime already agreed the terms of inspections, as part of its survival deal after defeat in the Gulf War. The sanctions and air patrols are part of the UN conditions put in place until such time as the Saddam regime fulfils its obligations. The Iraqi regime doesn't get to set conditions; it either fulfils its obligations or it suffers the consequences. This is legal fact, not idealistic rhetoric.

There is no doubt that one way or the other the US will pursue military action against Iraq. The worrying thing is whether they do so with UN backing. It is the motives behind this which are disturbing. For all the talk of non-compliance with UN directives and support of terrorism, it comes down to oil and the US want for an increased presence in the eastern Middle East.
Timothy Smith, NZ

They aren't even trusted in their own countries

Leigh, USA (UK orig)
The reason there's not 100% backing for Bush and Blair's Iraq campaign is the lack of public trust in them. They aren't even trusted in their own countries.
Leigh, USA (UK orig)

I'm amazed at how short some people's memories are. Appeasement of dictators doesn't work. Sometimes it is necessary to stand up them and it is always better to do so before they are fully armed and prepared for it.
Scott W, USA

If war happens then innocent people will die. If it doesn't happen innocent people will be persecuted by Saddam Hussain. Is there an end to the killing????
Amelia, age 15, England

Bush and his people have a vendetta against Saddam

David, USA
Aziz's terms are reasonable, but will never be agreed to by the Bush administration. Bush and his people have a vendetta against Saddam which will bring about war with Iraq no matter what the rest of the world or his own citizens think.
David, USA

We must allow due process of international law and allow the United Nation weapons inspectors to do their job. If we don't, we risk our own due process of democracy. Using war and aggression as a "means to the end" is a destructive path to more violence.
F. Douglas, NY, USA

The bigger picture here is that Iraq is not complying with UN resolutions requiring inspections. What influence can the UN expect to have if it does not enforce decisions?
Tiffany, USA

Saddam isn't going to let the inspectors in, so war is inevitable

Tom, USA
Who are we kidding? Saddam isn't going to let the inspectors in, so war is inevitable. It's about time this episode came to an end with the freedom of the Iraqi people and the end of the no-fly zone charade. Yes, there's oil there, and there isn't a thing wrong with that considering the Iraqi people are the ones who will benefit most from its sale.
Tom, USA

This is in response to anyone who wants a war to get rid of Saddam thinking it would be followed by free, fair and democratic elections for the leader of the Iraqi people's choice. If they believe that - I've got a bridge to sell them. The US CIA will put in their puppet of choice. They need only look as far as Afghanistan's Kharzai for a clear reminder of the intent of the Washington DC 'Oiligarchy'.
Judi Sierra, Oakland, California

War can be avoided because it must be. Those who advocate war should ask themselves one simple question - would you send your son, brother or father to Iraq to fight? If you can't answer that question with a sincere yes then you have no right to advocate this war.
Cliff White, UK

This is just another distraction the Bush administration is trying to use to keep the average American's mind off of the sluggish economy, corporate fraud, and the attack on our civil liberties. To think that by killing thousands of innocent Iraqis we are doing the world justice is flat out ridiculous.
Ben, USA

Saddam is one of the worst killers in history and he is leading a far from small country. He will always represent danger for all countries within his reach. That's the reason why he must be compelled to accept UN inspections or all suspicious objects must be destroyed in Iraq.
Pavel Kratochvil, Czech Republic

I say if Bush wants to fight Saddam put them in a ring and let them fight it out

George Pavlou, Ohio USA
I am tired to hear about "weapons of mass destruction" as the main cause for starting a war with Iraq. Why Mr Bush does not come out and say what the real truth for wanting to start a war is? The real issue here is oil and the control over an oil rich region. Why then we should sacrifice any American lives over a "Barrel of Oil"? I say if Bush wants to fight Saddam put them in a ring and let them fight it out.
George Pavlou, Columbus, Ohio USA

What has Saddam Hussein done that is so bad and should cost the lives of millions of Iraqis?
Rihana Kouser, Bristol, England

The most likely "war" would be a massive air bombardment, perhaps with some US special forces on the ground, similar to what happened in Afghanistan. Will this kind of "war" achieve the stated aim of a "regime change" in Iraq? I doubt it, but it will certainly kill scores of people and alienate most of the Arab world. Such a "war" is immoral and ineffective.
Lewyn Li, Boston, USA

War against Iraq is inevitable

Rob G, Shropshire, England
War against Iraq is inevitable. If we don't do something about Saddam Hussein's regime now, it will be too late. His weapons of mass destruction could be unleashed on the Arab region and even the West.
Rob G, Shropshire, England

Let weapon inspector's check all the weapons of mass destruction both within Iraq and the USA. Iraq alone is not a threat for world peace and stability, the USA is as well! To be fair and just both Iraq & USA should be disarmed.
Chowdhury, Dubai/UAE

President Bush has no choice but to engage in war. 11 September has put many Americans under fear of many things and that includes Saddam Hussein and his people.

Things may have been different if there had been a representative of an Islamic country in place as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Were they even represented among the "non-permanent" members?
John, Zurich, Switzerland

A wounded tiger is more dangerous.
Salleh, Malaysia

If Saddam is not trying to hide anything then why were the inspectors thrown out?

Glenn, Maryland, USA
If Saddam is not trying to hide anything then why were the inspectors thrown out? This debate should not be taking place now, as we should have attacked him 4 years ago. This man is like a cancer. Many people say that the U.S. should get world support. However getting support from anyone in Europe, with the exception of Great Britain, is very difficult. History should show us that appeasement does not work.
Glenn, Maryland, USA

The war is unavoidable, because America wants the war and America always gets what it wants. How many oppressive dictatorships are there in the world, that are killing their own people? How many nations that "might, possibly, sometime" develop nuclear weapons could be a threat to us? There are other motives behind this.
Joel Lewis, Bristol, UK

Am I alone in finding it rather disturbing that so many individuals from so-called civilized nations actually want a war. They obviously have little idea what war is all about.

Greed and selfishness rules this world

Danielle, Scarborough, England
Greed and selfishness rules this world. Why does nobody think of others? Surely Saddam knew we would retaliate, he has put his people in danger as well as himself. He has also killed many innocent people to get his own way.
Danielle, Scarborough, England

I don't think Bush has made a valid case against Iraq. But there should be a war against Iraq because it can bring democracy and modernity to Iraq. This could inspire the Middle East region just as Japan inspired East Asia. This could reform the Arab world and Iraq could work as beacon of freedom for Arabs. Arab governments' policy of repression has so far produced fundamentalism and terrorism. If done correctly a success story in Iraq could work as role model for Arabs throughout the region.
Vishal Sharma, India

The people of Iraq are very afraid of Saddam. If we were to get rid of him that nation would praise us. They are starving and being slaughtered and if some of you went there you would certainly have a different opinion. War is eminent and we (the USA) will prevail. The citizens of Iraq can then get food for their oil, and the US could exterminate more terrorists.
Bill, Gorham Maine, USA

The Iraqi people must be helped. Only the US can get rid of Saddam Hussein. Those who say "let the Iraqi people decide" are profoundly ignorant of the situation in Iraq. Many thousands of Iraqis have been executed, tortured to death or just simply slaughtered in the past 30 years trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi people cannot do it alone.
Yasser Alaskary, London, UK (previously Iraq)

There is legitimate concern for the precedent that toppling Hussein would set

P Thangarajah, USA
I think war should be avoided. Demanding compliance with UN resolutions is different from insisting on regime change through war. There is legitimate concern for the precedent that toppling Hussein would set. The UN should not allow Bush to satisfy his ego in waging a unilateral war against Iraq, but decide on a practical solution.
P Thangarajah, USA

I am afraid the Right Wing influence on the Bush Administration has cemented a commitment for war. Such disregard for innocent lives, both American and Iraqi. This short term opportunistic action will bring a clash of East and West to a bloody beginning. The end is nowhere in sight. The anti western sentiments in the Middle East will boil over, the Royal Houses in the Gulf will fall and where will that leave future generations?
Zak, Australia

The world will definitely be a better place without Saddam. War should not be avoided. If war is the price we have to pay to get rid of Saddam, let's get on with it.
Akbar Ehsan, USA

What I fail to understand is why the US and Blair are so eager to see more blood shed by attacking Iraq. It certainly isn't because Iraq may or may not be amassing WMD. More unstable countries already have them. It certainly isn't to "free" the Iraqi people. As the US and Europe turned a blind eye to Saddam's murderous tendencies when it suited them, and there are people living under the heel of despots all around the world, and in the Middle East - some of them "supported" by the US.

This leaves us with rather more truthful reasons. The control of oil supplies. The need to re-boot the US economy through the defence industry. Or the need to divert the people's attention from the corporate corruption that's coming to light. So can war be averted - no chance!
Pat Vincent, UK

Bush should stop wasting US time and resources on nothing. If the US want to get Bin Laden, they should attack Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. These are the real enemies of the US not Iraq.
Fortune, Owerri Nigeria.

You Europeans ought to well remember just what happens when you appease a thuggish dictator like Saddam. Like it or not, President Bush and the US military are going to remove him by force, if that's what it's going to take. Hussein has mocked the UN, gassed his own citizens, taken over a neighbouring nation, and rattled his sabre loudly enough to threaten the entire region. And now he is trying to get his grubby mitts on a nuclear bomb. The USA will not permit this. No conflict in world history was ever settled solely by a peace conference. This will be no exception.
Nathaniel, USA

My friends had the terror of Saddam visited upon their village

Charles Carter,
Windermere, Florida, USA
My friends are Iraqis who had the terror of Saddam Hussein visited upon their village. The threat of weapons of mass destruction is a big deal; for this reason alone Saddam needs to be removed. Have a heart you people, it's time to defend the rights of these poor terrorised people instead of sitting on the fence of appeasement while Saddam plays the UN.
Charles Carter, Windermere, Florida, USA

Even in the face of such extreme provocation, war with Iraq is still avoidable. Contrary to the cowboy cartoons, Bush is a very peaceful man. He's argued for a Palestinian state, stopped the Israeli prime minister from totally destroying the Palestinians and talked about a humble America amongst nations. His father even argued for a gentler and kinder society in the world. So Bush has conscience and he's met the world halfway by going to the UN to present his case. If Saddam meets halfway by accepting the inspectors back, war may be avoided.
Stephen Uchenna Ikem, Sacramento, California.

After 10 years of defiance, why is Saddam still receiving the benefit of the doubt? If he wants to avoid another war, he must provide unfettered access to all UN weapons inspectors. Look at all the trouble he's created. Shame on him!
Travis, USA

It might be helpful and necessary

Daniel, Toronto, Canada
People think war can be avoided because it's easier that way; nobody really knows if it can be or not, they just wish it can. The Arab world has shown itself to be a profoundly untrustworthy 'peace partner' and maybe a big regional war is the only way, after 30 years of diplomacy, to resolve the fanatical impasse in the region. War is an extension of political will; it's one of the tools in the bag. It might be helpful and necessary.
Daniel, Toronto, Canada

Bush is going to do it, with or without the United Nations. I'm beginning to worry who is the bigger danger to world peace: Saddam or Bush!
Dan, England

I strongly believe in a war but Bush is not the right person to lead

Ed Karten, London, UK
This is an attempt to distract from the fact that, despite all their efforts, the US has failed to even come near Bin Laden. I strongly believe in a war against terrorism but Bush is not the right person to lead such a war. The man was barely elected when 9/11 happened and it seems he never recovered from the shock. Let more experienced and clued up leaders take charge. I'm not a US citizen and had no influence on the elections there, but I refuse to have my life affected by the decisions of a man I have no faith in whatsoever.
Ed Karten,
London, UK

Isn't there a simple and fair way to settle this? Let the same team of neutral inspectors visit both Iraq and the US, and arrange for any weapons of mass destruction to be decommissioned in both countries.
Malcolm Perkin, Waltham Cross, UK

War with Iraq will not be averted if the priority of the US Government is to have a puppet oil state in the Middle East.
Wendy Whittall, Hampshire, UK

Business interests run the world

Kaz, New Jersey, USA
The only thing needed to prevent war - any war - is political will. The only thing needed to enforce UN regulations on Iraq or any other nation is political will. Sadly, business interests run the world, which is why we've been conveniently ignoring so many human rights abuses. Not to mention the USA's constant undermining of UN resolutions on weapons of mass destruction.
Kaz, New Jersey, USA

No. I don't think that war with Iraq can be avoided even if weapons inspectors are allowed back in. The US will find some excuse to resume its intentions of ousting Saddam regardless of their actions. They have to. The cat's out of the bag now. Leaving Saddam in power now is leaving an enemy that will still try to harm the US with or without weapons of mass destruction.
Brock Clark, Canada

This war is preventable but only if we all actively mobilise as one voice in opposition to the undemocratic way Bush and Blair are trying to push it through.
Stephen Wey, UK

If President Bush can get the UN to actually enforce its own resolutions we will avoid a war. Thus far however, the UN has not even been able to ensure Israel's territorial sovereignty behind the Blue Line as it is bound to do and we are, in consequence, threatened by a war between Israel and Lebanon/Syria. So hypothetically yes, war can be avoided but in practice the UN's record in taking its own resolutions seriously is abysmal.
Inna Tysoe, Davis, CA, USA

Both Iraq and the US need to make clear and concerted efforts to come to an agreement

Khanh Duc Kuttig, Duesseldorf, Germany
War can definitely be avoided. Both Iraq and the US need to make clear and concerted efforts to come to an agreement. There should be no presuppositions about any reactions beyond the negotiating table. If Iraq has nothing to hide, then it has nothing to fear. If America has something to prove, then it should have hard evidence.
Khanh Duc Kuttig, Duesseldorf, Germany

For over a decade Saddam has made an expensive monkey out of the UN. Bush has finally called time on this. If the UN bureaucrats want to keep their jobs, they will pressure Iraq into compliance. If they don't, or if the inspections change nothing, then Saddam will deservedly go the way of Hitler and the UN will deservedly go the way of the League of Nations.
T.J. Cassidy, USA

Why does it seem like the US has nothing better to do than to threaten countries with war? How had Iraq provoked this? First it was Afghanistan, which turned out to be fruitless and only ended up killing the innocent, and now that the spotlight has died down, Bush is looking for another reason to be back in it.
Vidhya, NJ, USA

The repercussions of an unprovoked attack on Iraq - which has just signed a military treaty with its Arab neighbours - do not bear thinking about. Do you Bush supporters actually believe this will make the world a safer place? Think again.
George, Durham, UK

If they have nothing to hide, this shouldn't be a problem

Gina, Appleton, WI, USA
I think war can be avoided if Iraq will allow the investigators to come in. If they have nothing to hide, this shouldn't be a problem. However, with all the ethnic cleansing that Saddam has commandeered, I hope the UN will keep closer watch on him before we end up with another Holocaust.
Gina, Appleton, WI, USA

Clearly, and unfortunately for the already suffering Iraqi people, Saddam qualifies for little sympathy. However, what guarantees does the rest of the world have that some other country will not follow the lead of the US in launching a pre-emptive strike if from its own perception, it feels its security is threatened?
Napoleon Esemudje, Lagos, Nigeria

Saddam is a threat to the peace and security of the entire world. Nothing short of his stepping down from power should prevent the US, or UN, from attacking and forcibly ending his reign of terror.
Jamie Simmons, Yakima, USA

Any attacks will be devastating to an already beleaguered nation

Chris, USA
War can and should be avoided for the simple reason that we're after Saddam, not the Iraqi people. Any attacks will be devastating to an already beleaguered nation, while Saddam will probably be sitting deep underground in a reinforced bunker. He will allow his whole country to go down the tubes before he gives himself up.
Chris, USA

We should be doing everything in our power to avoid war, NOT start war!
Eric C, USA

If we win the war against injustice, then there's a chance of winning the war against terrorism too. So yes, let's enforce UN sanctions against Iraq, but let's do the same in Israel/Palestine too. That way there's a chance of bringing lasting peace to the region.
John Mack, Somerset, England

Key stories





Should there be a war against Iraq?



72992 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

17 Sep 02 | Middle East
11 Sep 02 | Americas
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