Arguments for Iraq invasion are unpersuasive

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 12, 2005

Editor, the News-Herald:

I would like to thank Mr. Forsythe of Jacksonville, Fla., for taking the time to tell me why he thinks we should have invaded Iraq. Although I found his arguments less than persuasive, at least he made a response. That’s more than I can get out of any of our elected officials to whom I have written.

As to why I found Mr. Forsythe’s arguments unconvincing, I will try to keep it simple. He maintains that it is &uot;silly&uot; to conclude that there were no WMDs in Iraq just because we didn’t find any. Well, all I can say is what you see is what you get. If we haven’t found any WMDs in two and a half years (and it’s not because we didn’t look), I’m willing to accept that as fairly strong evidence that there weren’t any. And even our government has dropped this as an alibi for our invasion/occupation of Iraq.

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As for Saddam giving his &uot;mobile chemical trailers&uot; to &uot;a brother Muslim nation,&uot; we know that didn’t happen because Colin Powell showed us surveillance pictures of them right there in Iraq for all to see. Only when we actually found them they turned out to be portable hydrogen generators, likely used to inflate weather balloons.

I will only comment to this extent on Mr. Forsythe’s comparing WWII Germany and Iraq: We did not &uot;overrun Germany&uot; to be able to prove &uot;what they were doing.&uot; We fought them because Germany declared war on us shortly after Pearl Harbor – the trigger that Roosevelt needed to incite us into the &uot;foreign war&uot; that he wanted, but had promised us he would stay out of.

(&uot;I will not send your sons to fight in a foreign war&uot; – 1940 campaign promise.)

Regarding Saddam’s supposed ties to al Qaida, Volume XI, Number 1 of the Winter 2004 issue of Middle East Quarterly reported: &uot;After the war, it became a matter of common wisdom that Saddam had no links to al Qaida. Karl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the case linking Saddam to al Qaida was never ‘bullet-proof.’ Former VP Al Gore [not my favorite all-time authority] denied that such ties existed at all.&uot; Moreover, our allies in the UK never did believe there was any meaningful connection between Saddam and al Qaida.

Yet Mr. Forsythe was right in saying that Ansar al Islam was &uot;a terrorist group that was totally unchecked by the Iraqi government.&uot;

The group was formed in late 2001 for the purpose of establishing an independent fundamentalist (some would say radical) Islamic state in Kurdistan/Iraq; and there is little doubt they were violent and terrorist in nature. But as Colin Powell said in a speech to the UN on Feb. 3, 2003, the Ansar villages were &uot;in a part of Iraq outside the control of Saddam Hussein&uot; (emphasis added). Moreover, even had Saddam wanted to take action against them, he would have been constrained by the &uot;no fly zone&uot; rules that were in force at the time.

Following Mr. Forsythe’s suggestion, I consulted Wikipedia on line. Here’s what they had to say about the subject: &uot;When the U.S. invaded, it attacked the Ansar al Islam training camps in the north and the…leaders retreated to neighboring countries. When the war in the north settled down, the militants returned to fight against the American occupying forces.&uot;

Finally, did Ansar have ties to al Qaida? Very possibly; although the group’s leader continues to deny any connection. (He probably ranks right up there with Al Gore when it comes to reliability.) But I find it curious that, as reported by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Jan. 17, 2003, this Islamic group had not appeared on any official U.S. terrorist lists up to that time. It was not until March 15, 2004 – a year after our invasion of Iraq – that the State Department declared Ansar al Islam a &uot;foreign terrorist organization.&uot; This seems to lend support to those who claim that our invasion of Iraq only increased the threat of terrorist activities against us rather than diminish it.

So even if it were proven conclusively that Ansar had al Qaida support, it is clear that we (i.e., the State Department) did not consider them a threat to the U.S. in 2003. Therefore they can hardly be held up as a justification for our having invaded Iraq in March of that year.

I’m sure Mr. Forsythe is sincere in his support for the war. Whatever his reasons, I trust they will sustain him as the numbers of American dead and wounded continue to mount, and our country is plunged deeper and deeper into crippling debt. (For his further edification, I recommend that he read the Sept. 8 speech given in the House of Representatives by Congressman Ron Paul (R – Texas). It can be found at www.house.gov/paul.)

John M. Sharpe

Suffolk