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Iraq Disarmament Crisis History Guide..
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Iraq Disarmament Crisis

From the White House Press office:

President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours

8:01 P.M. EST THE PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, events in Iraq have now reached the final days of decision. For more than a decade, the United States and other nations have pursued patient and honorable efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime without war. That regime pledged to reveal and destroy all its weapons of mass destruction as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Since then, the world has engaged in 12 years of diplomacy. We have passed more than a dozen resolutions in the United Nations Security Council. We have sent hundreds of weapons inspectors to oversee the disarmament of Iraq. Our good faith has not been returned.

The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly defied Security Council resolutions demanding full disarmament. Over the years, U.N. weapon inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged, and systematically deceived. Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and again -- because we are not dealing with peaceful men.

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.

The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.

The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.

The United States and other nations did nothing to deserve or invite this threat. But we will do everything to defeat it. Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety. Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed.

The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to me, as Commander-in-Chief, by the oath I have sworn, by the oath I will keep.

Recognizing the threat to our country, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly last year to support the use of force against Iraq. America tried to work with the United Nations to address this threat because we wanted to resolve the issue peacefully. We believe in the mission of the United Nations. One reason the U.N. was founded after the second world war was to confront aggressive dictators, actively and early, before they can attack the innocent and destroy the peace.

In the case of Iraq, the Security Council did act, in the early 1990s. Under Resolutions 678 and 687 -- both still in effect -- the United States and our allies are authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will.

Last September, I went to the U.N. General Assembly and urged the nations of the world to unite and bring an end to this danger. On November 8th, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, finding Iraq in material breach of its obligations, and vowing serious consequences if Iraq did not fully and immediately disarm.

Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. And it will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power. For the last four-and-a-half months, the United States and our allies have worked within the Security Council to enforce that Council's long-standing demands. Yet, some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it. Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace, and a broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world. The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.

In recent days, some governments in the Middle East have been doing their part. They have delivered public and private messages urging the dictator to leave Iraq, so that disarmament can proceed peacefully. He has thus far refused. All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing. For their own safety, all foreign nationals -- including journalists and inspectors -- should leave Iraq immediately.

Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.

It is too late for Saddam Hussein to remain in power. It is not too late for the Iraqi military to act with honor and protect your country by permitting the peaceful entry of coalition forces to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. Our forces will give Iraqi military units clear instructions on actions they can take to avoid being attacked and destroyed. I urge every member of the Iraqi military and intelligence services, if war comes, do not fight for a dying regime that is not worth your own life.

And all Iraqi military and civilian personnel should listen carefully to this warning. In any conflict, your fate will depend on your action. Do not destroy oil wells, a source of wealth that belongs to the Iraqi people. Do not obey any command to use weapons of mass destruction against anyone, including the Iraqi people. War crimes will be prosecuted. War criminals will be punished. And it will be no defense to say, "I was just following orders."

Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it. Americans understand the costs of conflict because we have paid them in the past. War has no certainty, except the certainty of sacrifice.

Yet, the only way to reduce the harm and duration of war is to apply the full force and might of our military, and we are prepared to do so. If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a deadly foe until the end. In desperation, he and terrorists groups might try to conduct terrorist operations against the American people and our friends. These attacks are not inevitable. They are, however, possible. And this very fact underscores the reason we cannot live under the threat of blackmail. The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed.

Our government is on heightened watch against these dangers. Just as we are preparing to ensure victory in Iraq, we are taking further actions to protect our homeland. In recent days, American authorities have expelled from the country certain individuals with ties to Iraqi intelligence services. Among other measures, I have directed additional security of our airports, and increased Coast Guard patrols of major seaports. The Department of Homeland Security is working closely with the nation's governors to increase armed security at critical facilities across America.

Should enemies strike our country, they would be attempting to shift our attention with panic and weaken our morale with fear. In this, they would fail. No act of theirs can alter the course or shake the resolve of this country. We are a peaceful people -- yet we're not a fragile people, and we will not be intimidated by thugs and killers. If our enemies dare to strike us, they and all who have aided them, will face fearful consequences.

We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities.

The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize new and undeniable realities. In the 20th century, some chose to appease murderous dictators, whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and global war. In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth.

Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations -- and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.

As we enforce the just demands of the world, we will also honor the deepest commitments of our country. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty. And when the dictator has departed, they can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.

The United States, with other countries, will work to advance liberty and peace in that region. Our goal will not be achieved overnight, but it can come over time. The power and appeal of human liberty is felt in every life and every land. And the greatest power of freedom is to overcome hatred and violence, and turn the creative gifts of men and women to the pursuits of peace.

That is the future we choose. Free nations have a duty to defend our people by uniting against the violent. And tonight, as we have done before, America and our allies accept that responsibility.

Good night, and may God continue to bless America.

END 8:15 P.M. EST

Latest War with Iraq News - The war begins
at approximately 5:32 am Baghdad time on March 20.
(In the United States, 9:32 pm, EST, March 19, 2003)

  • For continuing up-to-date coverage of the War in Iraq, we recommend these online news sources - BBC News, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times - Associates Press News Wire, Sydney Morning Herald, CNN News, MSNBC News, CBS News, International Herald Tribune.
  • First U.S. Allied Airplane lands in Baghdad LA Times - A hulking U.S. C-130 transport plane landed at the Baghdad international airport, carrying unknown cargo but weighted with symbolism and tactical importance...
  • US moves to encircle Baghdad - BBC News - American troops strengthen their positions around the Iraqi capital amid fierce fighting on the western outskirts...
  • UK troops storm Basra - BBC News - British troops bombard the local headquarters of Iraq's ruling party as commanders promise the “liberation of Basra”...
  • U.S. Forces Head Into Heart of Baghdad - Washington Post - U.S. Army troops and armored vehicles entered Baghdad in large numbers this morning for the first time, military officials said, probing toward the heart of an Iraqi capital now ringed by U.S. forces.
  • U.S. Seizes Iraqi Guard Division's HQ - LA Times - U.S. Army soldiers Saturday captured the headquarters of the Republican Guard's Medina Division in this town about 35 miles southeast of Baghdad. Two tank companies and an infantry company of the 3rd Infantry Division rolled through the headquarters unopposed and quickly took over the entire base. It appeared that the Republican Guard defenses had completely collapsed.
  • The airfield is secure - 2,500 Iraqi Guards Surrender - LA Times - U.S. armored units backed by warplanes ousted Iraqi forces from Baghdad's airport Friday while 2,500 Republican Guard soldiers south of the city surrendered to Marines, American officials said. "The airfield is secure and our forces are continuing to clear the areas in and around it," said Col. John Peabody, whose 3rd Infantry Division engineer brigade was at Saddam International Airport...
  • U.S. Forces Occupy Part of Baghdad Airport - LA Times - NEAR BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. forces occupied part of Baghdad's airport before dawn Friday, putting them about nine miles from the capital after a fierce battle up a single-lane road with Iraqi fighters...
  • The ground war moved closer to Baghdad on Monday, with fierce skirmishes between US troops and Republican Guard units at Hindiya, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the capital, the US military said. - BBC News - Coalition bombs and missiles have struck Iraqi presidential sites in central Baghdad and pounded Republican Guard divisions just south of the city in a round-the-clock bombardment...
  • First Relief Convoy Rolls Into Iraq - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ - UMM QASR, Iraq (AP) - The first sizable relief convoy rolled into Iraq on Wednesday bringing water, tuna, crackers and other food to Iraqis, some of whom cheered as they swarmed allied troops handing out supplies...
  • US-led forces have been encountering pockets of stubborn resistance as they press ahead towards the Iraqi capital Baghdad. - BBC - In one of the longest-running challenges so far in the conflict, air strikes were called in on the southern port town of Umm Qasr to overcome about...
  • Attack Was 48 Hours Old When It Began - Washington Post - Under the official war plan, designated “OPLAN 1003 V” and approved by the president, the war with Iraq had already begun...
  • Anti-war protests span the globe - BBC - Tens of thousands of people worldwide have taken to the streets to stage the latest series of demonstrations against the conflict in Iraq...
  • Coalition Troops Barrel towards Baghdad - Washington Post - Swifly moving columns of U.S. tanks and armored vehicles pushed towards Baghdad today and allied warplanes and ships rained bombs and missiles on the Iraqi capital in a day-and-night pounding...
  • The Antiwar Movement - Washington Post - Its Roots, Major Protest Groups, Global Views...
  • Allied Forces Take Basra Airport, Bridge - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ (AP) - U.S. and British forces moved in on Iraq's second-largest city Saturday, taking its airport and a bridge while Saddam Hussein's security forces resisted with artillery and heavy machine guns...
  • Entire Division of Iraqi Army Surrenders - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - An entire division of the Iraqi army, numbering 8,000 soldiers, surrendered to coalition forces in southern Iraq Friday, Pentagon officials said...
  • Massive air raids rock Iraq - BBC - United States and British forces have launched massive aerial assaults on targets in Baghdad and beyond in a major escalation of the war...
  • Turkish Troops Will Enter Northern Iraq - Turk FM Washington Post - ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey said on Friday its troops would enter northern Iraq to prevent an influx of refugees across its borders, but gave no date for an incursion the United States says it opposes...
  • Desert Rats in fierce tank battle - The Scotsman - BRITAIN’S elite Desert Rats today came under heavy fire as they provided cover for a US thrust into the heart of Iraq. The British 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats, were engaged in fierce fighting with Iraqi forces as they flanked the main thrust towards Baghdad by the 7th US Cavalry in Abrams tanks...
  • Marines Take Strategic Port in S. Iraq - LA Times - KUWAIT CITY (AP) - U.S. Marines have captured the strategic port in the southern Iraqi city of Umm Qasr but are still encountering pockets of resistance, U.S. military sources said Friday. "We've taken most of the port, and at least a couple of hundred prisoners," a U.S. military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We're not done securing it at this time."
  • THE AMERICAN 3rd infantry division was today 90 miles inside Iraq - The Scotsman - U.S. troops pushing forward towards the main road to Baghdad.
  • Battle for Iraq Not the Pushover It Appears - Reuters - AS SAYLIYA CAMP, Qatar (Reuters) - Television images of U.S. tanks tearing across desert sands make the invasion of Iraq look as easy as punching through a soggy paper bag, but the toughest battles of this war are yet to come...
  • Weather Forecast: Hot and furious dust storms predicted for battle zone - The Sydney Morning Herald - A powerful storm is likely to pummel military forces in and around Iraq with blinding sand and choking dust starting on Monday night, meteorologists predict. The dust storm would probably be nearly twice as strongas the one that grounded helicopters and limited troop movements in Kuwait on Wednesday, the forecasters said...
  • Iraq could release strategic floods: US - Indian Express - Iraq's military could deliberately cause flooding along the Tigris River between the capital Baghdad and the city of Al Kut by releasing water from upstream reservoirs, the US Defense Department said in a statement...
  • U.S. Forces Seize Western Iraqi Airfields - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - American forces seized important airfields in western Iraq, and a U.S. Marine became the first combat death while fighting for control of a southern oil field. The airfields known as H-2 and H-3 in far western Iraq were taken without much resistance from Iraqi troops, defense officials said on condition of anonymity. But they called control of the installations "tentative."
  • Aussie anti-war protests intensify - News Interactive - PROTESTERS lit fires in Sydney and staged a "die in" in north Queensland as another wave of anti-war protests swept Australia today. As news of the push into Iraq by the United States and its British and Australian allies gathered pace, peace activists maintained their anger.
  • Mass protests in Switzerland against war - Swiss Info - Tens of thousands of students have taken to the streets of Switzerland to voice their opposition to the United States-led war against Iraq. Around 40,000 students joined protests in cities such as Zurich, Bern and Geneva to demand the withdrawal of US and coalition troops from the region.
  • The capture of Iraqi oil fields by UK troops is a victory, says BBC's Clive Myrie. BBC - Royal Marine commandos made the successful sea and air assault on the strategically important al Faw peninsula in south-eastern Iraq, where they captured oil facilities...
  • Allies Suffer First Combat Deaths in Iraq - LA Times - IN THE KUWAIT-IRAQ DEMILITARIZED ZONE (AP) - One U.S. Marine died Friday in fighting as troops advanced on an oil field in southern Iraq, the military said. Separately, 12 coalition soldiers were killed as their helicopter crashed in the first hours of the ground war. U.S. Marines encountered mortar fire as they took control of the main highway leading to the key port city of Basra, at the heart of Iraq's southern oil facilities. The Marine was killed during the advance on the Rumeila oil field, the military said.
  • Forces may enter Baghdad within four days, British military says - Sky News - UK - Allied troops are driving deeper into the Iraqi desert, with commanders predicting arrival in Baghdad within four days...
  • Brits capture Faw; British forces secure Iraq's Faw Peninsula - CNN - INSIDE SOUTHERN IRAQ (CNN) -- U.S. and coalition forces swept across the Iraqi desert Friday, seizing key towns in the southern part of the country, U.S. and British officials said...lead element of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, raced unopposed toward Baghdad in what CNN Correspondent Walter Rodgers described as "a huge wave of steel."
  • US, Britain Race Into Iraq, See War Over Soon - SOUTHERN IRAQ (Reuters) - U.S. and British officers predicted a swift victory on Friday after American armored columns raced deep into Iraq and British marines seized vital oil facilities in the south. More...
  • U.S. Army, Marines Drive Deeper Into Iraq - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ (AP) - The U.S. Marines and Army rolled into Iraq and engaged Saddam Hussein's forces in the desert on Thursday, joining British troops in launching the war's ground assault. As U.S. armor drove deeper into Iraq Friday morning, British troops conducted an assault on the strategic al-Faw peninsula, Iraq's access point to the Persian Gulf and the site of major oil facilities. British military officials said they hoped to seize the key port of Umm Qasr before the day's end.
  • Troops die in air crash - BBC - A US CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter has crashed in Kuwait, killing 12 British and four American troops. US defence officials said there appeared to have been no survivors in the crash...
  • Aerial Assault of Baghdad Continues Washington Post - Air raids resumed over Baghdad's night sky, as U.S. and British tanks and helicopters moved into southern Iraq, headed toward the strategic city of Basra, British military sources said...
  • U.S. Talks With Iraqis About Surrender LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. officials are communicating with Iraqis to surrender or attempt a coup that might topple Saddam Hussein's regime without a full-scale U.S. invasion, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday night. Rumsfeld said communications included talks with Iraq's elite Republican Guard, and he was optimistic about the outcome.
  • US, UK forces enter Iraq in Gulf War II - Daily Times, Pakistan - The United States launched cruise missile and air strikes on Baghdad while US and British troops invaded southern Iraq from Kuwait on Thursday, as the ...
  • U.S. Confirms Saddam Hussein in Video - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence officials said Friday they have determined that it was almost certainly Saddam Hussein, not a look-alike, who appeared on a video recording that aired on Iraqi television a few hours after he was targeted by an American air strike. However, officials say it is unclear whether the message was recorded before or after the strike. They said some reports indicate Saddam pre-recorded several speeches to air during fighting.
  • Saddam Or Imposter? - CBS News - The look-alikes reportedly had plastic surgery and were trained in the dictator's mannerisms, including the way he walks, and even down to his facial tics. ...
  • Allied Forces Cross Into Southern Iraq - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ (AP) -- Allied forces crossed into southern Iraq on Thursday after a thundering barrage of artillery that signaled the start of ground war. Infantrymen on the move, their weeks of waiting at an end, cheered as shells screamed overhead...
  • Mystery over vanished Iraqi general - BBC - Danish police are searching for firm leads in their hunt for a key missing Iraqi defector, as reports said he might have been snatched...
  • Officials: Saddam in Compound When Hit - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence believes Saddam Hussein and possibly two of his sons were present inside a suburban Baghdad compound when it was struck by U.S. missiles and bombs and that medical attention was summoned afterward, government officials said Thursday night. The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said intelligence agencies have not made any determination yet whether Hussein himself or his sons were injured or killed in the attacks and they were carefully analyzing videotapes purporting to show Hussein after the attack.
  • Antiwar protests circle the globe - MSNBC - A wave of sometimes violent protests circled the globe Thursday to protest the beginning of a U.S.-led war against Iraq. In the United States, anti-war demonstrators blocked morning rush-hour traffic in Washington and San Francisco and chanted “no blood for oil” outside the White House. Internationally, protests were mounted from Athens to Asia ...
  • UN readies Iraq food crisis plan - BBC - The United Nations food agency, believing that it may be facing the largest and most costly humanitarian crisis in history, is making contingency plans to feed the people of Iraq...
  • Worldwide protests denounce war in Iraq; 13 US missions close International Herald Tribune - Protests swelled around the world from Stockholm to Srinagar and San Franciscoon Thursday as the United States and Britain launched military action in ...
  • Iraq Fires Missiles Toward U.S. Troops - LA Times - IN THE KUWAITI DESERT (AP) -- Iraq fired missiles across the Kuwaiti border toward U.S. troops Thursday, prompting soldiers to don gas masks and chemical protective gear. At least one of the rockets was intercepted by a Patriot missile, U.S. officials said.
  • President Bush Addresses the Nation - The Oval Office 10:16 P.M. EST - THE PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger...
  • War on Iraq begins - BBC News - US President George W Bush has said he has launched a war on Baghdad, vowing to "disarm Iraq and to free its people". Mr Bush delivered a live television address shortly after explosions rocked the Iraqi capital, signalling the start of the US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein...
  • War begins with strike at Iraqi 'leadership targets' - Stars and Stripes - War erupted Wednesday night as the United States launched cruise missiles at Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and other "leadership targets" in Baghdad, officials said. The strike was aimed at crippling Hussein's regime and specifically targeted him, his sons and other senior leaders of the Baath Party and Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council, according to a senior Bush administration official. Ground forces poised at the Iraqi border did not appear to have been ordered into combat, however.
  • Air Raid Sirens, Planes Heard in Baghdad - Yahoo News
  • U.S. Begins Striking Iraq - Washington Post - U.S. Begins Striking Iraq“Military stages of Iraqi disarmament have begun,” said Ari Fleischer.

Background to the current Iraq Disarmament Crisis

In the decade following the Gulf War in 1991, the United Nations passed 16 Security Council resolutions calling for the disarmament of Iraq. The UN has shown obvious frustration over the years that Iraq was not only failing to disarm, but was interfering with the work of weapons inspectors. Resolutions were passed and statements were released - at least once a year - calling for Iraq to disarm and fully cooperate with inspectors. On many occasions, Iraqi soldiers physically prevented weapons inspectors from doing their job and in at least one case, actually took documents away from the inspectors.

In 1998, US President Bill Clinton expressed concerns about Iraq's failure to disarm, noting that he believed the country would give its weapons of mass destruction to other countries. Clinton also stated his belief that Saddam Hussein would eventually use these weapons - it was "only a matter of time." Paul Wolfowitz, the "hawkish" conservative military analyist for the Defense Department under Ronald Reagan, had formulated a new foreign policy with regard to Iraq and other "potential aggressor states", dismissing "containment" in favor of "preemption": Strike first to eliminate threats. Clinton, himself had begun plans to remove Hussein from power, which were put on hold when the UN, under Kofi Annan], brokered a deal wherein Iraq would allow weapons inspectors back into the country.

This was short lived, however, and Clinton, along with Bush Senior, Colin Powell, and other former Bush administration officials, dismissed calls for "preemption" in favor of continued "containment." This was the policy of George W. Bush as well for his first several months in office. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, killed what was then believed to be nearly ten-thousand people, and brought to life Wolfowitz's and other hawks' advocacy for "preemptive action"; and Iraq was widely agreed to be a likely subject of this new policy. Powell has continued to support the philosophy behind containment; as a moderated degree of action, and it is his advice which President Bush has balanced with Wolfowitz's calls to action for a moderated approach, beginning with the US appeals to the UN which resulted in UN Security Council Resolution 1441.

During most of 2002 and into 2003, the United States government has called for "regime change" in Iraq and threatened to use military force to overthrow the Iraqi government unless Iraq rids itself of all weapons of mass destruction and convinces the UN that it has done so. See also Disarmament of Iraq. US diplomatic pressure to bring Iraq to compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1441, has created a diplomatic crisis in the UN, where some are in agreement with the US position, while others are dissenting; notably France, Germany, Belgium, China and Russia.

United Nations actions regarding Iraq

Support and opposition for the U.S. plan to invade Iraq

US invasion of Iraq - military plans

The US has given the following reasons for its seeking to force Iraq's compliance:

That the government of Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein, are anti-democratic and violate human rights - and has even been implicated in attempts at genocide.

That the government of Iraq has caches of weapons of mass destruction, i.e. biological, chemical, as well as has secret programs to produce nuclear weapons.

That the government of Iraq has supported terrorist operations and groups, and is likely to supply them with weapons of mass destruction at some future point.

Several close allies of the U.S. (e.g. Germany, Belgium and France), although mainly sharing that estimation of the United States, oppose a military intervention because they claim that it will not decrease but increase the risk of terrorist attacks. Although the UK and governments of other members of the EU and NATO also support the US position, opinion polls show that in general their populations are against an attack, very much against without strong UN Security Council support. February 15, 2003, peace marches demonstrated the capacity of the peace movement to mobilize hundreds of thousands in the major cities of Europe, and almost as many in major cities of North America - which itself seems to be influencing the US position back towards the UN.

The serious concerns of war opponents arise in part from a fear of US hegemony (NATO nations with proportionately larger Muslim populations, e.g. France, Canada, disproportionately seem to have this view). However, most governments and US sympathizers state that their concern rises from the estimation that a military way of solving will foment more radical Islamism and terrorism, and question all borders in that region (especially in Kurdistan, a disputed region that demographically includes areas in Turkey, Iran and Syria as well as Iraq - see also the frequent wars between Arab nations in Middle East conflict). Perhaps most importantly it is thought to jeopardize all efforts of supporting nonviolent democratic Islam, led by moderates who are themselves generally against a war. For most war opponents, the American intention largely exceeds the fate of Iraqi disarmament. The relationship between Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden appears forged for hiding other goals. Beyond disarmament, it is in Saudi Arabia that Bush is interested. It is in Riyadh that are the financial and strategic keys of the Middle-East.

These allies and movements prefer a diplomatic solution to disarm Iraq and support democratization in the region (similar to Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik in the 1970s which finally led to the peaceful revolutions in the Eastern Bloc in 1989).

Other opponents of the American invasion plan say that the US's reasons are selective and ultimately insufficient, pointing out that states that the US regards as friendly to it share some of these attributes. For example, Saudi Arabia is not a democracy and is closely connected to the terrorists who executed the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon. Also, Kuwait did not become a democracy with universal suffrage after the UN-Iraq War. Many states have weapons of mass destruction, the US more than any other, and the US itself (they claim) has not only supported terrorist operations and groups, but also engaged in terrorism.

Many opponents of the plan also claim that some or all of the above claims are vastly misrepresented by the Bush administration, especially in the connection between Iraq and terrorist groups. Fundamentalist Muslim groups generally do not support Iraq, as it is a secular nation that does not enforce what they perceive as Muslim law dictated by the Koran - in a tape reputedly released by Osama bin Laden in Feburary 2003 Saddam Hussein is referred to as an 'ignorant infidel' and placed only second on the list of evils, after an invasion by the United States - of course collaboration between them would likely result in just such a tape, and it is impossible to verify that such tapes do not come from the CIA, as is widely believed about all such evidence in the Arab world.

Although G. W. Bush originally stated that existing resolutions were sufficient to justify the US launching a war, Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, insisted that the UN must be involved, and it is widely believed that Colin Powell, US secretary of state, agreed strongly with this view, and that a new resolution was required.

The United States led the tumultuous effort within the United Nations to pass UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which called for sweeping new powers for weapons inspectors within Iraq and threatens "serious consequences" if Iraq fails to comply with the resolution. This measure has been successful, according to the peace faction, as Iraq has allowed inspections to continue (after a four-year hiatus) soon after the measure passed, and has responded in a timely fashion to concerns raised about it.

Others, including Colin Powell and Hans Blix, hold that Iraq has never complied fully with the terms of this resolution. Iraq was supposed to exhaustively list its existing weapons of mass destruction by December 8th 2002, and the inspectors would then confirm their existence and subsequent destruction. Inspection is not supposed to be a game of 'Hide and Seek', but a verification of disarmament, and inspectors are not trained as detectives, nor should the onus of proof fall upon them to find such weapons. Suspicion of withholding such evidence is enough to violate the terms of 1441. However, factions differ on whether 'serious consequences' are necessarily inclusive of an outright invasion of Iraq.

In February 2003 the effort to draft an 18th resolution in the UN Security Council was underway. It was influenced at least in part by a near-revolt inside the UK Labour Party, which has the power to remove Tony Blair as PM of the UK, and which has made clear that without another resolution, Blair is proceeding without the support of most of the UK's voting population, which is strongly against a war including only US and UK forces. Current events in this effort are dealt with further below.

Authority under International Law

The position under international law is unclear. Article 2 of the United Nations Charter forbids UN members from employing "the threat or use of force" against other states in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, but it does not explicitly require UN authorization for the use of force. The United States and Britain have said repeatedly that they are willing to invade Iraq with or without Security Council authorization. The United States has does not recognize the jurisdiction of any international court over its citizens or military, holding that the United States Supreme Court is the final authority. One example of this policy is that the United States did not ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty, and on May 6, 2002 it informed the UN that it has no intention to join the treaty.

As of Febuary 10, 2003 neither Iraq nor the United States have ratified the ICC treaty, and therefore a US attack on Iraq would not fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC. The actions of signatories such as the United Kindom and Spain could however fall under the ICC jurisdiction.

Authority under US Constitution

The Constitution grants the power to declare war exclusively to Congress, but declares the President to be Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Because of this division of power, there has long been controversy regarding the authority of the President outside of a declared war. Nonetheless, of the hundreds of times the United States has exercised force outside its borders, only five have been as part of a declared war. In 1973, amid increasing domestic controversy about the Vietnam War, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution to limit the ability of the president to undertake prolonged military action without Congressional authority. No president since has recognized the constitutionality of this act, and most legal scholars believe it would not survive a challenge in court.

To avoid initiating a crisis under the War Powers Resolution, the Bush Administration sought explicit approval from the Congress to exercise force in Iraq. On October 2, 2002, the Congress passed a joint resolution which explicitly authorized the President to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate.

Iraqi opposition groups

In early August of 2002, US Vice President Dick Cheney met with leaders of the Iraqi opposition groups, pledging that the Bush Administration intended to replace Saddam Hussein with a democratic government. This pledge is viewed cynically by those who recall G. H. W. Bush's call for Iraqis to overthrow Saddam in 1991, which led to the murder of a large number of Shiites in Southern Iraq when US air forces held back and led Saddam's helicopters fly in the southern no-fly zone to defeat the uprising. Cheney was the Secretary of Defense in that first Bush administration. Dick Cheney, in his role as Vice President of the United States, has taken the lead in advocating an invasion, maintaining that it is foolish to wait until Iraq has completed construction of a nuclear weapon. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay have also been vocal in urging an invasion. Colin Powell appeared to favor diplomatic engagement, until very recently (see below).

War on Terrorism

As part of its War on Terrorism, the President of the United States, George W. Bush, announced on September 4, 2002 the Bush Doctrine that the United States would launch a preemptive military strike at any nation that could put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists, and had a right to do so. At the same time he stated he would seek congressional approval for a strike against Iraq, which he received shortly before the mid-term elections in November.

Further Reading

The War Against the Terror Masters: Why It Happened. Where We Are Now. How We'll Win., Michael Ledeen, St. Martin's Press, 2002, hardcover, 288 pages, ISBN 031230644X

Threatening Storm: The United States and Saddam's Iraq, Kenneth Pollack, Random House, 2002, hardcover, 494 pages, ISBN 0375509283

War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, William Rivers Pitt, Context Books, 2002, paperback, 96 pages, ISBN 1893956385

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