Nagging questions about the Iraq war remain unanswered. Both advocates and opponents have failed to address a range of issues even when they seemingly could be used to bolster their respective positions. Until and unless we obtain answers to some of the questions presented here it will be difficult to fully trust the judgment of either side in this debate.
Administration advocates for regime change in Iraq have failed to make their best case. Their response to the charge of no WMD found in Iraq is weak, and consequently has allowed the opponents to further charge that the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans in order to justify an unnecessary war.
Libya is one such example. After Colonel Khaddaffi relinquished his WMD programs the U.S. moved large amounts of weapons material from Libya to secure storage inside the U.S. It was reported that Saddam Hussein had sponsored WMD programs in Libya together with some of his scientists also located there. It was also reported that Libya originally claimed the secret work being carried out under a huge bombproof mountain was for manufacturing pharmaceuticals. It remains a puzzle why the Bush administration has consistently failed to tell us what was discovered in Libya and to cite this as a legitimate example of an ongoing Iraqi—sponsored WMD program.
There is also the Syrian question. Multiple reports described a convoy of trucks moving materials at night from Iraq to neighboring Syria shortly prior to the start of the war. Sources such as David Kay, the former head of the coalition's hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and others such as John Loftus, former U. S. Justice Department prosecutor, and the Washington Times reported on these transport projects, including specific storage locations in the Bekka Valley where these materials were buried along with special military protection. Before the war President Bush warned Syria against receiving any WMD from Iraq.
Surprisingly the Bush administration has been inexplicably silent on this matter since that time. There is understandable speculation that the Russians were involved and, along with Saddam Hussein, preferred to have any evidence of WMD removed, along with any possible evidence of their involvement. It remains a mystery as to why there is no western and U.N.—sponsored demand to inspect what was trucked out of Iraq and buried in the Bekka Valley.
For years Saddam Hussein played elaborate cat and mouse games to foil the U.N. weapons inspectors. If he had nothing to hide, do we then believe he did this deliberately to provoke America and its allies to finally lose patience and attack while assuming he was hiding WMD? Opponents of the war have a special obligation to explain what Saddam was hiding and why he blocked U.N. inspections.
Opponents of the war have failed to offer their own long—term response to dealing with Saddam Hussein. Simply standing still indefinitely would not have been a satisfactory answer. It would have allowed Saddam to defy over a dozen U.N. resolutions demanding freedom on arms inspection, which in turn would have allowed other nations also to flout international arms controls. It would have allowed him to further brutalize his own population with impunity, which is a direct challenge to the cause of human rights around the world. It would have allowed more time for him to research and develop WMD, either inside Iraq or subcontracted to other countries such as Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, etc. It also would have allowed more time for the U.N.'s oil—for—food scandal to persist in which Saddam bought the support of Russia, France, Germany and others while blaming America for his deliberate failure to properly feed and care for his own people. If war was not the answer what credible alternative was put forward by the war's opponents, along with what timetable?
The failure to properly answer these questions regarding Iraq can make it more difficult to deal with the threat from a nuclear Iran. Some of the opponents of the Iraq war are transferring their skepticism on U.S. action against Iraq to skepticism on any U.S. action against Iran. Decisions on Iran should be based purely on facts about Iran, but politics may cause opponents of George Bush to exploit the Iraq war to block needed action on Iran.
Opponents of the war also cite the fierce and ongoing insurgency that is taking a heavy toll on American forces and American resources and citing this as more evidence that the war was a mistake. But we also know that many of the insurgents come from, and receive support from, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, among others. The obvious question is why the U.S. is not squeezing these countries so they will reign in their support which is costing American lives and destabilizing Iraq.
Another mystery is Egypt. The U.S. taxpayer has provided some $50 billion in aid to Egypt over the past 30 years. Today Egypt has a military with strong offensive capability although facing no enemy. While Egypt continues to incite hatred for America and Israel they contribute nothing toward our effort in Iraq. As a well—armed Arab country with huge and available forces why are they exempt from aiding our anti—insurgency efforts? They can easily spare many thousands of ground troops to relieve the task now borne by American forces. Neither supporters nor opponents of the Iraq war have addressed this question.
We cannot arrive at the best decisions as long as so many important questions remain unanswered and even unasked.