Dear family and friends,
As most of you know, Barbara and I teach on military installations in Germany. Our students are the sons and daughters of US military personnel, many of whom are presently “forward deployed”. I thought you might be interested in my thoughts about the war in Iraq.
I am against war. I guess everyone is. Good people die, some are injured terribly, and families are torn apart forever. I think everyone would agree that we, the United States, entered the last world war because there was no other choice. Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, and Hitler was taking over Europe. We had hesitated entering that war for a long time, too long. While we debated the issue, tens-of-thousands of people died. Had we stopped Germany and Japan sooner, millions of people might have been saved.
Twelve years ago Iraq invaded Kuwait. A coalition of nations headed by the United States and under the auspices of the United Nations, threw the invaders out and occupied southern Iraq. Some wanted to overthrow the Iraqi government headed by Saddam Hussein, but the UN negotiated an agreement by which Iraq would be spared if it agreed to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Under the agreement, certain sanctions were placed on Iraq until it could demonstrate that it had disposed of all WMD. Twelve years later Iraq had not lived up to this agreement and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi people were dying each year because of the policies of the Iraqi regime and UN imposed sanctions. The UN policy had failed.
In light of the events September 11, 2001, it is clear that the United States is not immune from attack. The media has pointed out numerous “soft targets” all over the United States and overseas. With this in mind, the United States spearheaded a new UN resolution last fall that demanded that Iraq comply with the original agreement or there would be "serious consequences". To motivate the Iraqi regime, the US (and other nations) started massing troops along the borders of Iraq. UN inspectors discovered certain WMD and Iraq agreed to destroy them. Iraq, however, did not become proactive. It did not lead the inspectors to WMD and destroy them nor did it prove that it had destroyed its large inventories of biological and chemical weapons or disclose the whereabouts of radioactive materials it has. It was evident that the regime was stalling. It was buying time in order to prevent an invasion by the United States and other countries. Saddam Hussein knew that if he could stall long enough, it would be too hot in Iraq for troops to effectively use biological and chemical protective suits.
The United States had two options. Invade immediately or wait six to eight months to see if Saddam would disarm and then invade if he did not. Logic would say that if he did not disarm in twelve years and he was not being proactive about disarming now, there was no reason to believe that he would disarm in six to eight months. The consequence of not acting now would be the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, the possibility that Saddam would distribute his WMD to terrorists to use in the US or against other US interests abroad, and the immense cost of keeping 300,000 troops ready to invade. The consequences of acting now are that we don’t have the full support of the UN and the inevitable deaths that are associated with armed conflict. And, we would probably have to invade anyway.
I am surprised that France, Germany, and Russia do not support the United States. Had we not entered WW II, the face of Europe would be quite different today, and those who are protesting against the war today would probably not be free to do so. We didn’t want to enter the war then, and we didn’t want to do it now, but we did. Had the Germans, Russians, and France sent armed troops to the borders of Iraq as we did, perhaps the Iraqi regime would have been convinced to disarm. The bottom line is that we are now in the midst or a conflict that will free the Iraqi people for the first time in decades. I have no doubt that WMD will either be used in this conflict or be uncovered in Iraq at some point in the not too distant future.
I support our military and the cause for which they are fighting. I think this very well could be a turning point in history. Tyrants such as Saddam have brutalized their populations throughout history. For the first time outside the UN, free nations have taken it upon themselves to free an oppressed people, not because they were attacked, not because they stood to gain riches, but rather because it was the right thing to do. This should be a lesson to other dictators. Civilized people will no longer stand for oppression of civil rights no matter where they are.
Ed Goff – April 2, 2003