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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hot flashback: Iraq, January 2003

It looks like a number of left-leaning bloggers are referencing particularly prescient pieces about the potential Iraq war, written before March 19, 2003.

My blog did not begin until September 2003, but I was trying to find an op-ed home for my thoughts. I'm virtually certain that the following -- dated January 10, 2003, in my file list -- is the document I sent to the PR person at Louisville in advance of the war:
If evidence of Iraqi wmd emerges, then the United Nations Security Council might well authorize the use of force against Iraq. It would depend upon the size of the arsenal and Iraq's willingness to destroy the weapons.

Absent documented evidence, however, much of the world is going to be reluctant to begin a new war. It is difficult to believe that the Security Council would act.

Even Britain, America's closest ally, has recently called for the US to listen to the world if the US wants the world to listen to its concerns.

If the US goes to war against Iraq without explicit authorization from the UN, it will be an unpopular move globally. Much of the world would view such an attack as a violation of the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of force except in self defense. Under international law, preemptive attacks are legal only if threats are imminent.

Germany, one of America's closest allies, is adamantly against war. Virtually no Persian Gulf states have publicly agreed to serve as a base for war absent UN authorization -- and Turkey is also quite reluctant.

The US needs these allies. In the Persian Gulf War, most of the funding came from Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Most of the ground troops were deployed in states surrounding Iraq.

Thus, it seems clear that the US should only go to war after Iraqi wmd have been documented and the UN Security Council acts. In that case, the US would likely lead a large coalition of willing partners.

The alternative would have much higher economic, political and military costs.
What do I win?

Ultimately, this press release did lead to a number of interviews about Iraq in 2003. My favorite headline was dated April 10, 2003, soon after Saddam's statue fell: "Iraq war not over, experts say."
"Going into the middle of Baghdad and toppling a statue doesn't constitute the end of the war," said Rodger Payne, an expert on international relations and professor of political science at the University of Louisville....

But the conflict will continue even as troops leave and peacekeepers enter, Payne said.

Even if U.S. or U.N. peacekeepers are in place, fighting likely will occur because dissidents will be opposed to new types of authority.

But no one is sure whether those peacekeeping troops will be predominantly from the United Nations or the United States.

Leaders of many European countries have said the United Nations should play a large role in peacekeeping, Payne said, but U.S. leaders think differently. "The actor that envisions the least amount of U.N. involvement is the U.S."
An anchor man from a local TV station appeared in my office the day the statue fell. He was so excited and seemed quite unhappy when I told him the war was not nearly over.

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