Answering 50 Frequently Asked Questions About The War On Terrorism
“And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
Given that, there’s no way anyone can credibly claim we’re “rushing to war”.
2) Is it a war for oil?: No, this is no more a war for oil than WW2 was a war for cheap electronics from Japan. We’re not going to gain anything economically by invading Iraq that we couldn’t just as easily gain by simply lifting the sanctions. Even if Iraq had no oil, they’d still be our target. You can get more info on this subject by reading editorials: here: and: here.
3) Could Bush be trying to get revenge for Saddam’s attempted assassination of his father?: There’s nothing Bush has said that would indicate that this is simply about revenge. Furthermore, the fact that the majority of Americans and more than 80% of the GOP support the invasion would seem to clearly indicate that there are a lot of reasons to support this war that go beyond a desire for payback on the President’s part.
4) Why haven’t we gotten more support from our allies since 9/11?: There are a lot of theories about this, but Machiavelli accurately summed it up almost 500 years ago when he said,
“One can make this generalization about men they are ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers, they shun danger and are greedy for profit; while you treat them well, they are yours. They would shed their blood for you, risk their property, their lives, their children, so long, as I said above, as danger is remote; but when you are in danger they turn against you.”
Our “allies” in Europe have been for the most part with us as long as WE were liberating them from the Nazis, protecting them from the Soviets, or helping them to clean up problems in their backyard. However, now we’re asking for help and many of our “allies” have made themselves rather scarce. What Bush has done or hasn’t done isn’t the issue, the issue is that we’re asking them for help this time instead of the reverse.
5) Why Iraq and not North Korea?: First and foremost, there appears to be little chance that we can peacefully convince Iraq to disarm, while many people believe North Korea’s recent saber rattling is primarily designed to help them get a good deal with the US in negotiations. There are other factors as well; the almost certain devastation of Seoul in the event of a war, the fact that a war with N. Korea would be far bloodier than a war with Iraq, North Korea’s minimal contact with terrorist groups, the significant chance that a war with North Korea could go nuclear, and that we believe we have enough leverage with the other nations in the region to severely cripple North Korea with sanctions (if necessary) in a way that we never could with Iraq. Also, don’t think that we’re not going to deal with North Korea one way or the other — we are, Iraq just happens to be next in line. You can get more info on this subject: here.
6) Iran also has WMD and is building nukes and they’re the world’s premier sponsor of terrorism. Why aren’t we hitting them now instead of Iraq?: Two reasons. First off, because of Iraq’s defiance of the UN since the Gulf War, we can get much more worldwide support for an invasion of Iraq. There would be almost no worldwide support for an invasion of Iran. Secondly, the mullahs in Iran are holding on by their fingertips. It’s entirely possible that the Iranian people may be able to overthrow their government without the US military having to get involved. Last but not least, do keep in mind that one way or the other, we’re going to have to deal with Iran. Just because they’re not next, doesn’t mean they’re off the agenda.
7) Why are we going to invade Iraq?: Nine days after 9/11, George Bush: said,
“(W)e will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”
That definition fits Iraq and since they happened to be the easiest nation to make a case against at the UN and in the court of World Opinion, they were our next logical target after Afghanistan — although they’re not our last target.
8) If we’re going to war with Iraq for humanitarian reasons, why aren’t we going to war with other nations that also abuse their people?: We’re not going to Iraq to liberate the Iraqis and help them build a Democracy any more than we went to Japan in WW2 to free the Japanese from their Emperor. While freeing the Iraqi people is certainly a noble thing to do, it’s a secondary benefit of the invasion, not the primary purpose of it.
9) Are we being unilateral?: Currently our “unilateral” attack is supported by Australia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom. By the time it’s all over, there will likely be more nations that will publicly agree to support out attack and there are probably a good 6-10 Middle-Eastern nations that are helping us out privately while they condemn us publicly (to keep their people happy). Since simply having one country with us would mean that we were no longer being “unilateral” or “going it alone,” I’d say having 22 nations with us means that we can we safely say that this will be a “multilateral” invasion.
10) What are some of the strategic advantages of invading Iraq?: We could remove a source of funding & training from the terrorist groups in the area as well as prevent Saddam from giving them WMD in the future. Furthermore, we would have a base capable of being used for attacks against Iran and Syria if necessary, we could move our troops out of Saudi Arabia, we’d have another reliable source of oil that would make us more able to put financial pressure on the Saudis, and any threats of force that we made towards Syria, North Korea, & Iran (all of which need to be dealt with) would become much more credible after an Iraqi invasion.
11) Was Iraq involved in 9/11?: The Bush administration has never claimed that Iraq was involved in 9/11, however there is one piece of evidence that will bear watching.: Richard Perleclaimed that Al Qaeda trained at Salman Pak, an Iraqi terrorist training camp where terrorists learned to take over an airplane using nothing but knives and barehands. That could just be coincidence, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some of the hijackers were trained there. However, that’s pure speculation at this point and there is no concrete evidence that Iraq had a 9/11 connection.
12) Can Iraq be linked to Al Qaeda or other terrorists?Yes. Iraq has been on the State Department’s list of terrorist sponsoring nations for more than a decade. They’ve also long been the home to the terrorist organization run by Abu Nidal, the notorious terrorist who perished under mysterious circumstances in Iraq last year. Then there’s Saddam’s generous payments to the families of Palestinian martyrs, the now infamous: Salman Pak: terrorist training camp, and Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi who the administration claims was treated in Iraq after being wounded in Afghanistan. Without a doubt, Iraq is a terrorist supporting state.
13) Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction?: To come to the conclusion that Hussein doesn’t have WMD, you have to believe that after the inspectors left in 98, Saddam Hussein destroyed all of his WMD and then decided that he’d lose billions of dollars in oil revenue because of the sanctions rather than tell anyone about it. Furthermore, Saddam has refused to let his scientists and their families leave the country, defectors have talked about Hussein’s WMD, rockets with empty chemical warheads have been found, and the inspectors have actually found artillery shells tipped with mustard gas. So yes, Saddam does have WMD, and to be honest, that has been patently obvious since the Gulf War.
14) What’s the harm of giving the inspectors a few more months of inspections?: There is no point to giving the inspectors any more time. They can’t possibly disarm Saddam in that amount of time and we have absolutely no reason to think that giving the inspectors more time will bring anyone else over to our side. After all, if 12 years of demanding Iraq disarm hasn’t convinced anyone, another few months is unlikely to help on that front, but it will give the anti-war protestors and French diplomats another few months to try to sap the public’s will.
15) Should we have hit Iraq already?: Yes, ideally we would have hit Iraq months ago, but instead Bush chose to get an another Congressional Resolution and go to the UN. Politically, Bush probably benefited in the 2002 elections and we may have gained a bit more support by waiting. However, we also gave Iran and North Korea more time to work on their nuclear programs and the momentum for war slowed down as we got further from 9/11. Had we moved six months ago, Saddam would probably already be gone and we could be having this same fight about whether to topple the mullahs in Iran, instead of still debating Iraq. However, in the Bush administration’s defense, we did have to replenish our depleted missile supplies and get massive amounts of equipment and manpower into position to strike. That means the delay may not have been avoidable.
16) Is Iraq violating UN Resolution 1441?: Without question. Iraq had 30 days to give a complete account of all their WMD and delivery systems and yet they didn’t do so. We’re months past the drop-dead date and the inspectors are still finding drones, missiles, and chemical warheads that Iraq said no longer existed. Furthermore, Iraq’s firing on planes patrolling the no-fly zone and refusal to allow scientists and their families to leave the country and be interviewed by the inspectors are also clearly violations of the Resolution as well.
17) Can the US attack Iraq without UN approval?Absolutely. While there are political and diplomatic benefits to getting UN approval, it’s certainly not necessary. President Bush didn’t get permission to invade Afghanistan, President Clinton didn’t get permission to bomb Kosovo, President Reagan didn’t ask about invading Grenada, etc, etc. This isn’t just an American thing either. France hasn’t asked for permission to fight with rebels on the Ivory Coast, China didn’t ask for permission to swallow Tibet, Russia didn’t ask permission to blast Chechnya, and on and on it goes. Nations regularly ignore the opinion of the UN when they find it inconvenient and we will do so as well if it comes to that.
18) Will the Iraqi people welcome US troops?: Everything we’ve seen leads us to believe that the Iraqi people strongly support the invasion and will be thrilled to be rid of Saddam Hussein. In fact, many people have predicted that the Iraqis will be “cheering in the street” when we arrive. If you want to hear what some Iraqis in Syria have to say about the upcoming invasion, click: here.
19) Why won’t inspections work?: UN inspectors spent seven years in Iraq and the only thing they were able to determine for sure was that they hadn’t disarmed Saddam by the time they left. Furthermore, trying to take a smaller number of inspectors and turn them loose in a nation the size of France with the entire apparatus of a police state working against them is futile. Last but not least, only the threat of an invasion has gotten Saddam to give the most limited amounts of cooperation. If Saddam were to believe that an invasion was no longer likely (and we can’t keep all of our men poised to strike indefinitely) he’d simply cease cooperating with the inspectors at all or simply kick them out.
20) Why won’t containment work with Iraq?: Containment in and of itself doesn’t work against terrorist states. That’s because not only is it very easy for nations to hide their involvement in particular terrorist plots (ex: who was responsible for sending out the anthrax laced letters?), but the terrorist groups themselves are difficult to control. So simply threatening to retaliate for terrorist attacks sponsored by other nations is not an effective strategy. As an illustration of that, keep in mind that Afghanistan was completely “contained” on 9/11/2001.
21) Was the NSA spying on the UN Security Council to see how they’d vote on Iraq?: The: Daily Observer: claimed to have an email that proved the NSA was spying on UN Security Council members to try to see which way they were voting. However, there were a lot of problems with the email. The Observer did not specifically reveal where they got the email from or produce any named sources that could verify it was true. So since we’re talking about the NSA here, we have a story that is probably unverifiable from the get-go. Furthermore, there were a lot of problems with the email. Several words (‘favourable’, “emphasise” & “recognise”) had British, not American spellings. The date format was British and not American. The subject line (High TOP SECRET/COMINT/XL) had another mistake in it, (XL should have been x1) and the name wasn’t even right on the email. It was from “FRANK KOZU,” not the Frank Koza that the Observer said worked for the NSA. After all of these errors were pointed out, the Observer cleaned up the mistakes. But the credibility of their claim was in doubt at that point although depending on how: this story: plays out, they may be vindicated.
22) Do we believe Iraq’s soldiers will fight?: Most of the conscripts will probably surrender as soon as possible, in fact some have already: preemptively surrendered. However, it is believed that the Republican Guard will fight — although how long and how hard they’ll fight is anyone’s guess. However, the hope is that they’re not willing to die for Saddam and will quickly surrender or kill Saddam themselves once it becomes obvious that they can’t win. Who could blame them for surrendering given a choice between fighting a hopeless battle for a thug like Saddam or giving in to a country that wants to help them form a Democracy?
23) Will Saddam use WMD during the war?: It’s highly likely that he will. There have been reports that Saddam has already ordered his men to use chemical weapons in a fight and has supplied them with gear and shots to protect them from the effects. The US has been aiming a lot of propaganda at Iraqi troops in an effort to convince them not to use WMD, but you have to think that at least some Iraqi units will go through with it.
24) Will our attack on Iraq increase the chances of a terrorist attack on America?: In the short term, yes. Al Qaeda and Iraqi agents will attempt to carry out terrorist attacks against us although whether they will succeed or not is anyone’s guess. However, we have every reason to believe that Al Qaeda & agents of the Iraqi government / terrorists aided by Iraq are going to attack us in the future no matter what we do. Therefore, we’re better off hitting them now and making them less able to carry out attacks in the future rather than letting them continue to gather strength for attacks on us at their leisure.
25) How many of our men are we likely to lose in Iraq?: It’s always difficult to predict how many people are going to die in an upcoming conflict because war is so unpredictable. My best guess would be a number between 100 – 1500, depending on how long the Iraqis fight and how much house to house fighting we have to do in Baghdad and other areas of resistance. If it does turn out to be a “cakewalk” and the Iraqis surrender en masse almost from the beginning we could see numbers on the low end of that scale. On the other hand, if the Republican guard holds out, fires off a lot of chemical weapons, and we decide to slog it out all the way through Baghdad, the number of American casualties could be much higher.
That being said, considering the incredible record of our military in the last twenty years, you almost have to figure that they’ll find some way to win without taking heavy casualties. Of course, no one should discount the possibility that Saddam will get off some sort of brilliant & unexpected attack or that he might get lucky with weapons of WMD and kill thousands of our men. That is unlikely, but it’s always a possibility.
26) How many Iraqi civilians are likely to die in the fighting?: That’s difficult to predict. We’ve already heard rumors that Saddam will blow-up oil wells and dams and that his men have been given American uniforms so they can massacre Iraqi civilians and blame it on US forces. Furthermore, Saddam is deliberately putting high value military targets near civilian targets in an effort to shield his troops from attack. So at this point, there’s no way to say how many civilians may die in the fighting although Saddam is doing a lot of things likely to raise the civilian body count.
27) How long will it take to win?: Most analysts seem to be predicting a relatively quick war that will be over within a few weeks. When you consider that we’ve already beaten the Iraqis once, that Saddam is hated, and that the Iraqis can’t possibly win and they know it, it’s hard to see the conflict dragging on endlessly. However, wars can be unpredictable & there’s no guarantee that we’ll pull off a quick victory.
28) Do we have to get Saddam to win?: The honest answer to this question is “no”. Saddam is only a threat as long as he’s running the show in Iraq. The moment he’s out of power, he ceases to be dangerous. Of course, it would be great to get Saddam, but whether we do or don’t, regime change will allow us to achieve our goals.
29) Will invading Iraq create new terrorists?: Actually, the reverse is more likely to happen. Not only because Saddam is strongly disliked in the Middle-East, but because the Iraqi people are going to be thrilled to be free of him and aren’t going to be shy about sharing that sentiment. Furthermore, since Saddam funds, trains, and supports terrorists in the region, we’ll actually be weakening the terrorists groups that rely on him for support. Also, keep in mind that after we get rid of Saddam, we’ll be able to remove our troops from Saudi Arabia and that will take away a genuine recruiting tool for terrorist groups in the region.
30) How long will our soldiers be in Iraq after the invasion?: At a minimum, they’ll be in Iraq for a few months to maintain order, but it’s much more likely that they’ll be there for years & perhaps even decades. Even after the new Iraqi government is capable of policing it’s citizens, we’ll probably want to keep bases on Iraqi soil that can be used in the war on terror. However, when you consider that we currently have military personnel in 90+ countries as it is, stationing some troops in Iraq on a permanent basis really isn’t a big deal.
31) What’s going to happen in Iraq after we get rid of Saddam?: That’s hard to say at this point. The rumor is that we’re going to set up a military government with a civilian commander (Barbara Bodine’s: name has been mentioned). However, there are also rumors going around that say that no matter what happens with the vote at the UN, we will allow the UN to start running the show in Iraq within a few months of ousting Saddam. While the immediate shape of the government is still unclear, the Bush administration seems determined to set-up a Democracy in Iraq which they hope will be an inspiration for other nations in the region.
32) Will the war cause instability in the region?: Possibly. Iran is teetering on the verge of a revolution, but since in the event of a coup we’d likely see the replacement of what is for all intents and purposes a hostile, pro-terrorist theocracy with a pro-American Democratic government, a revolt in Iran would be great news.
There is an outside chance Saudi Arabia could face a revolt as well, but that could be an opportunity for us to help them purge the Wahabi clerics and pro-Al Qaeda forces in the kingdom who’ll have to be dealt with one way or the other. In any case, I don’t see the US military letting openly pro-terrorist / anti-American forces take control of Saudi Arabia.
Also, there’s an outside chance that there could be trouble in Pakistan as well, but they’re not a stable nation to being with. Musharraf may fall whether we invade or whether we don’t. That’s a troubling possibility in a nation with nukes and a significant radical Islamist presence, but it’s probably something we’re going to have to deal with in the next few years in any case.
Last but not least, is it in our interest to encourage stability in a region that’s producing people who are flying airplanes into our buildings? More of that sort of stability is the last thing we need.
33) How much will the invasion cost?: There have been a variety of estimates about the cost of the war, most of them ranging anywhere from 20 to 200 billion. However, no one can give an accurate estimate of the cost at this point. Until we know how long the conflict will last, how many countries will help us pay for the war, whether we will be selling Iraqi oil to help pay some of our expenses, how long our troops will be needed for peacekeeping, and whether other nations will be making a significant peacekeeping contribution, it’ll be very difficult to know how much we’re going to have to spend.
35) Why haven’t more peacekeepers been brought into Afghanistan to police the areas beyond Kabul?: The administration hasn’t really explained its reasoning here, but it’s likely that either; we couldn’t get the number of peacekeepers needed from our “allies”, that we felt the peacekeepers would take a lot of casualties from the remnants of the Taliban/Al Qaeda forces, or that we feared Afghanistan’s xenophobic populace might view the peacekeepers as an occupying force.
36) How many civilian casualties were there in the war in Afghanistan?: It’s very difficult to make an accurate assessment of how many civilians died in Afghanistan for a number of reasons. Foremost among them was that the Taliban forces didn’t wear uniforms and deliberately congregated in areas also used by civilians. However, most estimates of civilian casualties were in the 500 – 1300 range. Professor Marc Herold did come up with a number close to 4000, but his numbers are: highly suspect.
37) Did the United States bring the Taliban into power?The Taliban came out of Pakistan in 1994 and their primary backers were the government of Pakistan. They were not supported, funded, or brought into power by the US although some Afghan fighters supported by the US in the eighties did end up joining with the Taliban as they gained power.
38) Did the CIA train Osama Bin Laden?: The answer to this question is unclear. In the eighties, the CIA did train mujahideen and funneled billions of dollars worth of weaponry into Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden, who was not a terrorist at the time by the way, may have received some CIA weaponry and minor amounts of training, but there’s no definitive proof that ever occurred.
39) Did the Bush administration give $43 million dollars to the Taliban?: No. However, the Bush administration did go around the Taliban and give: $43 million dollars: worth of “U.S. aid” to the “United Nations and non-governmental organizations” to distribute in Afghanistan.
40) Was the war in Afghanistan a war for oil?: To believe this ridiculous theory, you have to ignore the fact that 9/11 happened. It’s like claiming that we went to war with Japan in WW2 not because of Pearl Harbor, but because we were hoping to get a cheap source of electronics down the road. If you don’t believe me, here’s an: article: from the left-wing BBC that discusses this “theory” in more detail.
42) Has Bush unnecessarily damaged our relations with other nations in the war on terrorism?: No, he hasn’t. Quite frankly, the reaction we’re seeing to the Bush administration is about the same reaction a Democratic President would have gotten in the same situation. However, the difference is that a Democratic President would have been likely to give up in the face of this sort of opposition whereas Bush has refused to do so (Ex: neither Gore nor former Presidents Clinton & Carter favor invading Iraq). Despite all the sound and fury, our relationships with the majority of world have suffered very little. That’s because in almost every case, they need us much more than we need them. Some nations may have refused to back our attack on Iraq, but we’re still getting good cooperation in other parts of the war on terrorism if only because the terrorists are almost as much of a danger to our “allies” as they are to us.
43) Is protesting the war unpatriotic?: In and of itself, protesting the war is not unpatriotic although some specific protestors in word and deed have engaged in acts that could fairly be called unpatriotic (Ex: burning the American flag, rooting for America to lose in Iraq, destroying 9/11 memorials, etc)
44) Why isn’t the war on terrorism limited to just Al Qaeda?: Because simply getting rid of Al Qaeda solves nothing as long as the global terrorist network remains in place. Even if we “destroy” Al Qaeda, there’s nothing to stop the remnants of Al Qaeda from getting together and rebuilding their group under another name. Furthermore, other terrorist groups like Hamas have directly threatened the United States and Hizbollah has killed Americans before as well. Unless we deal with all of the terrorist groups with global reach, it’s just a matter of time until we’re hit with another major attack.
45) Why haven’t we “solved” the Israel/Palestinian problem yet?: Because they situation in it’s current form is essentially unsolvable without going to extremes (Ex: One side or the other being wiped out, Palestinians being transferred, etc). Polls show that the majority of Palestinians don’t accept the existence of Israel and don’t want to stop the Intifada. Furthermore, the majority of surrounding nations do not accept Israel’s existence, do not truly want and end to the violence, and intend to wipe Israel out if the opportunity arises. Furthermore, the “right of return” issue is basically an irreconcilable difference. In any event, no matter what the US does, a real & lasting solution is probably a decade away at the earliest. You can read more about this: here.
46) What happens after Iraq?: This is difficult to say. Will Bush attempt to force a resolution to the conflict in North Korea? Will he keep the troops in Iraq to use to intimidate Iran? Could the Bush administration be planning to deliberately calm things down in order to give the economy a little breathing room? It’s hard to say because the administration has been playing their cards close to their vests. But the pressing problem would seem to be the threat of North Korea cranking out nuclear weapons this summer and I expect that’s where Bush will focus most of his attention diplomatically and perhaps militarily after Iraq is under control.
47) Is this a war against Islam?: Not at all. George Bush has bent over backwards to make that clear. In fact, the phrase “Islam is a religion of peace” has actually become a cliche because Bush has used it so many times. Furthermore, there’s no reason to think that US has any intention of declaring a “war against Islam” given that no nation has done more for Muslims than the United States in the last 20 years. Just think about Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Kosovo, Bosnia, & Afghanistan in the eighties and nineties and it’s obvious that the US has no intention of waging war against Islam.
48) Can terrorism be completely eradicated?: No, it can’t be. However, we can greatly minimize the damage terrorists can do by destroying the global terrorist network and toppling any regimes that continue to support them. If you want a parallel, think of piracy. Yes, it still exists, but it’s no longer the terrifying force it was 200 years ago.
49) Why hasn’t the Bush administration had more of a reaction to North Korea’s threats?: One, because Kim Jung-Il has a tendency to crank up his level of rhetoric and provocative actions when he wants to bring us to the table and Bush doesn’t want to play his game. Secondly, it’s in our interests to keep the North Korean situation as low-key as possible until we’ve dealt with Saddam.
50) Is Bin Laden still alive?: Unknown. Many people believe Osama Bin Laden died at Tora Bora in December of 2001. Since that date, there have been no new videos featuring Bin Laden that have been released. However, there have been new audio recordings of questionable authenticity and when he was captured, Kalid Shaikh Mohammed was said to have had hand written letters of an unknown age from Bin Laden. Furthermore, we have again been hearing rumors of late that Bin Laden is being pursued in Pakistan. However, we have seen no ironclad evidence that Bin Laden is alive since December of 2001.
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Yesterday, I ran across an article in USA Today that should have created a firestorm of controversy. Apparently, Congress has