First strike in Iraq negates deterrence
America is currently facing what could be the greatest foreign policy blunder of the current administration. The proposed “regime change” in Iraq would entangle the United States in a war with a desperate dictator armed with weapons of mass destruction in an already unstable region.
The overt goal of the proposed military action in Iraq is to remove Saddam Hussein’s regime and its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction as a threat to the region, though the logic behind this plan is fundamentally flawed. The inability of Iraq to use its weapons of mass destruction offensively against its neighbors or even defensively during the 1991 Gulf War is based upon a principal known as deterrence. Iraq cannot use it weapons of mass destruction offensively because doing so would result in complete annihilation in the resulting counter strike by the United States and its allies.
Interviews with high ranking Iraqi military officials conducted by the UN Special Commission on Iraq revealed that Iraq was deterred from using chemical weapons during the Gulf War by the threat of U.S. retaliation, though these same chemical weapons would have been used if the allied forces had marched on Baghdad.
This leads us to the fatal paradox of this policy. By engaging in a “first strike” military campaign aimed at unseating Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration would be forcing the desperate dictator into a situation where the use of chemical weapons against the invading U.S. forces or neighboring Israel would be significantly more likely. A “first strike” by the United States would throw out the stabilizing effect of deterrence and likely result in a horrifying war in the Middle East fought with weapons of mass destruction.
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