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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 02:09 GMT 03:09 UK
Iraq: Can war be avoided?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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????
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.
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?
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'.
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.
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.
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.
George Pavlou, Columbus, Ohio USA
What has Saddam Hussein done that is so bad and should cost the lives of millions of Iraqis?
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.
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.
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?
A wounded tiger is more dangerous.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
We should be doing everything in our power to avoid war, NOT start war!
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.
17 Sep 02 | Middle East
11 Sep 02 | Americas
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