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Tuesday, 3 September, 2002, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Iraq: Has America made its case?
Click here to watch a previous Talking Point special on Iraq
US Vice-President Dick Cheney has given one of the clearest signals yet that the Bush administration intends to depose Saddam Hussein.
Mr Cheney, a leading hawk, said a policy of containment was no longer an option because doing nothing was riskier than acting against the Iraqi leader.
He said there was no doubt that the Iraqi leader possessed chemical and biological weapons and was determined to add nuclear weapons to his arsenal.
For the first time, he also described America's goals for a post-Saddam Iraq, saying the US wanted to see the country remain intact territorially and governed as a democracy.
However, US officials are stressing that no decision has yet been made on what to do or when.
Bob Skinley, Lerwick, Shetland Isles
I think Mr Bush has a lot of shares in a Texan oil company and wants to make a huge profit while he's calling the shots.
Our government has a thing about ousting leaders from other countries. Castro is a good example, and what did that man ever do to the American people? Shame on our government.
If IRAQ is to be attacked for 'defying UN resolutions' why is Israel not being attacked for the very same offence? The real key here is of course the eventual US capture and possession of Iraqi oilfields.
It is wrong for the United States to make threats against a sovereign nation that has not attacked us. I do not believe that there is a link between the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda. I cannot help but wonder why so much noise is made about an invasion for months in advance, and the schedule for the said war is even announced in the mass media? I can't help but think that this is a diversion and that the real action will take place elsewhere.
Matt Palm, Chicago, USA
What about Iran, South Korea and other small "terrorist" supporting nations. Saddam is evil no doubt, but this just seems to be an oil and revenge issue, with no regard for all the friendly surrounding Arab states who don't want this. A completely destabilised Middle East would be disastrous for the rest of the world. I hope the Americans think. There is no need to rush into this!
Owen Stuart Phiri, Malawi
America has no right to act against Iraq. The rest of the world doesn't see Bush as a sound leader and a good guy for his country and the world. Should we remove Bush from office instead?
There appear to be several reasons for attacking Iraq, I just don't think that any of them are the ones Bush likes to tote out for the press. The world economy is in decline at the moment, especially the US, and nothing is better for business than a good old war. WWII definitely cut the Depression down! If history's taught one thing in regards to American foreign policy: it's doomed to repeat the same mistakes over, and over, and over, and over
Anyone thought that this could lead to another Vietnam?
As a former member of the armed forces, and participant in the last war in the Gulf, I am still upset that we didn't "finish the job" of getting rid of that tyrant Saddam Hussein while we had an army there to finish him. We did the political thing and let his regime survive. We let the folks in the U.N. and in the EU, and in the so called moderate Arab states decide to keep him on as a "stabilizing influence" against other radical elements. It was a bad trade then and it is a bad trade now. It is as if two world wars haven't taught anyone anything about how to deal with despotic regimes. I am personally annoyed at the seeming lack of support we get when we speak of removing one of these tyrants.
Chris Muller, Singapore
Eleven years ago, America successfully went to war against Saddam's Iraq to prevent it from gaining a strangle hold on much of the world's vital oil supply. The fighting ended when a cease fire conditional on unfettered access to all Iraq's weapons and their destruction was agreed to. Iraq never lived up to that agreement and now has or is developing the means to resume where it left off threatening enormous retaliation to anyone who stands in its way, especially the United States.
Just because Dick Chaney says that Iraq have nuclear capabilities doesn't mean to say that it is so. Is America really going to attack a country with nuclear weapons? Didn't USA say Iraq had nuclear arms before the gulf war? What happened to them? Their "Scuds" couldn't get out of their own country!
I'm not sure how the US can justify an attack against Iraq. Since the conflict in the Gulf so many years ago what has he/the country has done that is so different since that warrants an attack of any sort? Why did the US not finish it last time if it is so important that it must be done? I don't necessarily agree with Saddam Hussein and his supporters, but how can ANY nation justify bombing a country that builds up weapons to "defend" itself - we can't! Come on Mr Bush - see some sense (and you Mr Blair!)
America's point was made on 11 September, 2001. The dead and those who suffer today as a result of that incident are "3000 points" for America to act. The sooner we take Saddam out the better the world will be.
All this talk about war is just a way to talk up the oil prices. Bush is the servant of the Texas oil industry, just as his father was, and he is just doing his job to raise the prices of their products, and their shares. We shouldn't let ourselves get dragged in.
I am not sure what the correct action would be here. What I do know is that, as an American, I live inside a powerful nation, despised by some, mistrusted by many, and currently controlled by a head-strong power group, with a very narrow vision of what's "moral." And "moral" seems to me to have little relationship with "ethical" or "right". It bothers me that folks here (i.e., in Americans) do not seem very interested in this issue. They sort of go "oh yeah, I heard about that".
The time has come for America to stop bullying the small nations, to show how powerful it is.
The time has come for Britain to stop encouraging them
Agha Ata, Houston US
Let's face it, America will do anything it wants whenever it wants. The saddest aspect of this new war is they supported Saddam to become the evil tyrant they say he is. I also find it sad that the UN will not at least try to get inspectors in one more time before many innocent civilians are killed in Iraq. America says it's only collateral damage; I pray the UK will not support any military adventure against Iraq. Give peace a chance: Canada does. This is nothing more than revenge and control of the second largest oil deposits in the world.
When George W. got elected, I started praying he wouldn't do anything stupid, just sit out his term and that's it. I have just started praying a little bit harder.
Andrew, Austin, Texas
When did international law change to say that, "the potential that a regime may at some point in the future develop weapons of mass destruction" is all that is required for the USA, in its self-appointed position of guardian of all that is good in the world, to invade a sovereign nation?
Michael Staley, Castle Rock, USA
It angers me that we are being lied to. This proposed war with Iraq is not about weapons of mass destruction, it's all about oil and economics. I think we all need to take a hard look at both sides of this equation and decide if we want to take the moral or economic side. All the modern economies live on oil and could die for the lack of oil. All our governments should have tried to wean us off oil 30 years ago. Now it may be too late and we could pay the price.
As the US has failed to produce evidence against the people it arrested and interned in the US and had arrested around the world following September 11th can we believe them when they say they have compelling evidence against Iraq?
Chris Carey, Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Here's a question for Mr Bush to answer. Suppose Saddam Hussein was removed/died or was in no way in power in Iraq as of tomorrow, would they then still insist that Iraq is not allowed WMD's. The argument is always that Iraq is in the hands of a lunatic and therefore isn't allowed them. If that lunatic died tomorrow, would all sanctions and restrictions be lifted immediately without any conditions or would they still insist that weapons inspectors go in etc. I think we know the answer to that.
You can't just remove a leader of an Islamic fundamentalist regime without having a better idea for a long-term solution. It is obvious to see that a military coup will occur in a very short time, removing whatever pro-American leader the US plans to install, replacing him with yet another Saddam. A change in regime can only start when attitudes within Iraq become more open-minded.
Tim Green, Reading, England
This would be the most intellectually backward decision of this administration.
Can some American correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the authority to declare war reside in Congress, not the president? In other words, would Bush be unable to order an attack unless Congress says so? Or has Bush already been given a carte blanche to do whatever he wants in his "war on terror"?
I think we should do nothing. We should all just bury our heads in the sand, make paranoid excuses as to why America really wants Saddam gone, and generally leap onto the moral high ground as quickly as we can. Then in a few years when Washington vanishes under a cloud of nerve gas or London is turned into a radioactive wasteland, we can all jump up as one and cry "Why didn't we do something when we had the chance?!"
Who is the US to decide on a regime
change? Who elected the US to decide on
who should govern what country?
This would be ridiculous if it wasn't so serious.
The whole stability of the world rests on the
outcome of this debate.
The only people who should decide on who
governs them is the people of that country
and no one else.
It's a simple lesson, proven in unfortunately countless circumstances. Violence begets violence. Work it out for yourself. If you want a safer world there are ways of achieving it without violence... if you really want a safer world!
Why burn down the whole house over one bug? If Bush really wants Saddam and Saddam only, why not send in his special forces to take him out? No need to risk the lives of innocent Iraqis or risk a major war. As long as Saddam is labelled as a valid combatant and killed in combat, there should be no issues with bans on assassination of head of state. The only reason Bush is talking of war with Iraq is to give the US economy a nice bonus via his defence industry a bonanza that comes from a full scale war.
While the whole world is trying to bridge gaps between poor and rich nations, America is too busy in planning a war. America wants a regime change only to benefit Israel and itself. Far as I'm concerned, the only regime change should be in America and Israel.
Can someone give me a reason why we should only invade Iraq? The war against terror? Saddam's appalling human rights record? Saddam's sponsorship of terrorism? Because if these are the reasons, then when we've finished with Iraq, we'd better invade and replace the regimes of China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Syria... End result of invading Iraq: polarise anti-Western opinion in Islam, destabilise the Middle East, lose the moral upper hand, and send the price of oil rocketing, effectively shooting ourselves in the foot.
I feel that the US is jumping too quickly into a war situation again. Cheney and Bush seem to speak of little else, but "Iraq's weapons of destruction" when they themselves carry the most advanced and deadly weapons of any nation on the planet, maybe the rest of the world should also be asking are we safe with a world leader who seems more interested in flexing muscle whenever and wherever they feel there is a regime that they don't agree with.
I think G W Bush is like a little boy with a set of very dangerous toys. He seems to marvel at the fact that he can use that power at will. To me it's just an election game, with votes being won for taking on the whole world, and the Americans seem to be gullible enough to fall for this tactics.
Why is everyone ignoring the real issue here, that millions of Iraqis both in and outside the country have been struggling to topple Hussein for years? If the US and the West aid them in this, albeit for their own interests, what is really so wrong? Why are Europeans opposed to this? After all, European governments have been aiding revolutionary movements for centuries. I sense some hypocrisy here on the part of our trans-Atlantic allies.
The justification that this war is morally justified, is absolutely ludicrous. If the invasion does take place, the people who would suffer the most are the innocent Iraqis themselves. Furthermore, who knows what Saddam would do in his last acts of desperation?
Sanjay, Dubai UAE
The Americans have no real reason to attack Iraq. Israel, Brazil, Pakistan, South Africa, Iran, India, Pakistan all have weapons of mass destruction. Yet, there is no talk of bombing any of these countries.
UNSCOM spent seven years in Iraq but could not unearth anything significant. So what is America's real reason removing Saddam? George Bush hopes to give a lift to the American economy, and the firms he and his senior colleagues, and his party faithful have interests in. The only good outcome is that they will permit the UN to lift its sanctions that kill Iraqi children.
When it comes to a nation with WMD there is a difference between one which has checks and balances on it and one that has a single aggressive dictator at the helm. To even suggest that because nations like France, China and the US have WMD it's only fair for Iraq to have them as well. This logic is frankly, ignorant. We all admit that Saddam is trying to developed WMD so why are we waiting? There was once a time when the world called for disarmament and now some are willing to even give Iraq a chance to get nuclear weapons. If this is where we differ then maybe we do need to act unilaterally.
Terrorism is a handy little piece of propaganda-speak to foster your fears and win your approval. War is always about gaining and controlling resources. Support this war, and yes, our sons and daughters will die for oil.
We never even think twice about the countless innocent civilians that have died in our blanket bombing of Afghanistan to "weed out the evildoers". Those who weren't lucky enough to die in the bombings watched their families starve to death, unable to reach food. Do we really think they are expendable in avenging our own terrible losses? An invasion of Iraq is not only unnecessary, but when their starving civilians are forced to arms - are we actually going to have the nerve to call them "evil-doers"?
We can talk about this a long time and from a million different angles. But at the end of the day there are countries in the Middle East who are manufacturing weapons that can kill very large amounts of people at once. And they are developing the technology to deliver those weapons in Europe (sooner rather than later). You can assume they'll never use them. It seems hardly sensible to take the chance though.
WMD are a huge concern, but the list of countries that have them is huge. Are the US planning attacks against China, Russia, India, South Africa and Israel, to name just a few, next? I doubt it. Iraq is being targeted simply because the US needs a whipping boy to take the focus away from the mess their and the world's economy is in. Oh, and the fact that Iraq has huge reserves of oil is probably as coincidental as the fact that Afghanistan has huge reserves of natural gas. Talk of a regime change is laughable. Replacement of one brutal dictator with an equally brutal, but more western-friendly one makes no sense when viewed from the moral high ground Bush likes to occupy. I'd like to see weapons inspectors in Iraq. And inside Fort Detrick too.
A war can be avoided when the Saddam cares more about the safety of his people than his own lust for power. I think he will not surrender his prized WMD components and will repeatedly hide them (as the satellites have proven). The US will continue to threaten to beat him down until he fully capitulates. War ultimately will free those people. Are we so clueless that we think that war is not an option anymore?
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