FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Alternative to War in Iraq

by John Absood

As the impressive U.S. military rout of the Taliban regime and the terrorists they harbored enters a new phase, some in Washington propose a similar strategy for Iraq. I argue against this for several reasons and propose a non-military solution. Indeed, a carefully revamped weapons inspections process may well provide the answer.

As a primary matter, all of Iraq’s neighbors prefer a united Iraq to a fractured one. It would be difficult to guarantee Iraq’s unity by arming Kurdish forces in the North and Shiite forces in the South. The Shiite rebels in Iraq maintain ties with Shiite Iran. Iraqi Kurdish groups have a long history of struggling for Kurdish autonomy from Baghdad and a newly formed Iraqi Kurdistan could incite the restless Kurdish minority in Turkey to rebel against Istanbul. This eventuality could well spiral into a wider and undesired conflagration. While U.S. military superiority is certain to unseat the Baghdad regime, the aftermath is far less clear and America could well loose control of the situation on the ground.

More importantly, war should be the last resort and not the first priority. This leads to the question of why weapons inspections have failed and whether they can be redrafted to work. It is difficult to answer the first part precisely. Although UNSCOM has admitted to destroying much of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD), it was unable to certify full Iraqi compliance. Certainly, the fact that the U.N. commission dismantled more chemical and biological weapons than the allies had destroyed during the Gulf War is evidence that weapons inspections have worked and can work.

But attitudes need to change if a new weapons inspections regime is to be effective. Clearly, Baghdad must demonstrate greater willingness to cooperate than it has in the past. Political roulette is a sure recipe for failure. But equally important, Washington must unequivocally declare its respect for Iraq’s independence and integrity. This would require that the United States abandon its long standing commitment to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and embrace the U.N. mandate to disarm Iraq instead.

Clinton administration affirmations that the United States had no intention of lifting the crippling economic sanctions on Iraq until the Baath regime was overthrown served to undermine the weapons inspections process. The public debacle over Washington’s alleged interference with UNSCOM’s mandate and the resignation of key members of the commission only reinforced the perception in Baghdad that Washington was not really after Iraq’s compliance or disarmament but after the regime’s ouster. Baghdad’s perception that it is “damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t” must change if weapons inspections are to be effective.

Therefore, what is called for right now is a serious reexamination of each side’s attitude and of the inspections process itself. A newly reconstituted inspections regime must address a few loopholes in the original formulation.

First, the specific steps that Iraq must take to satisfy the commission’s requirements of “full compliance” must be spelled out in detail. Any ambiguity can create a situation of an ever moving “goal post.” This scenario would cause each side to question the motives of the other and would frustrate the process.

Second, some oversight would be required to ensure that the new inspections team remains wholly scientific and independent of any external pressure or interference. Secretary General Kofi Annan may even assume this oversight role himself or delegate a trusted associate. The possibility that the new team could be comprised of capable inspectors from “neutral” countries (particularly European) should be seriously considered.

Third, the new mandate must unambiguously endorse the lifting all economic sanctions once Iraq has fully complied.

Fourth, some meaningful monitoring mechanisms need to be put in place after economic sanctions have been lifted to ensure that Iraq does not reconstitute its weapons programs.

Finally, I believe that these collective steps can form the basis of a long overdue resolution to the Iraq dilemma. The economic sanctions have exacted a heavy toll on the Iraqi people. We have a moral obligation not only to protect ourselves from weapons of mass destruction but also to end the decade of suffering of the Iraqi people. This proposal can form a blueprint for achieving both.

John Absood lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
Margaret Kimberley
Liberal Hate for the Green Party
John Davis
Lost Peoples of the Lake
Alex Richardson-Price
The Fight for a Six Hour Workday
John Wight
Why Palestine Matters, Even on the Pitch
Brian Cloughley
Hillary Clinton’s War Policy
Patrick Cockburn
A Battle to the Death in Syria
David Rosen
The Great Fear: Miscegenation, Race “Pollution” and the 2016 Election
Ben Debney
Worthy and Unworthy Victims of Child Abuse
David Barouh
Liberal Myths: Would Al Gore Have Invaded Iraq?
Graham Peebles
Democratic Revolution Sweeps Ethiopia
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
How Parasitic Finance Capital Has Turned Iran’s Economy Into a Case of Casino Capitalism
David Swanson
The Unbearable Awesomeness of the U.S. Military
Robert Fantina
The Olympics: Nationalism at its Worst
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail