U.S. should not `go it alone’ in Iraq | PostIndependent.com

U.S. should not `go it alone’ in Iraq

President Bush told the United Nations Thursday that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein is a “grave and gathering danger” and urged diplomats to back a resolution calling for action.

Bush says Hussein has violated 16 previous U.N. resolutions to build an arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

If Iraq continues to defy U.N. orders, Bush maintains, “action will be unavoidable.”

Hussein is a brutal dictator who controls 15 nuclear facilities, 12 biological and chemical weapons plants and 11 missile factories. His actions call for close attention.

But the United Nations, our Western allies, the U.S. Congress and the American people must be firmly convinced that Hussein poses a direct threat before we launch a military offensive.

We urge a cautious, methodical and unified approach in determining what Hussein is up to and what our next step should be.

This newspaper has yet to be convinced that a military strike against Iraq is justified. Such an attack must be fully explained before lives are lost.

Declaring war on Iraq will be also be a long and costly commitment. Assuming we can successfully depose Hussein and dismantle his arsenal, the United States should expect to occupy Iraq for years as the country builds its own democratic government. The U.S. Army estimates that this could require 80,000 troops and cost $20 billion.

For now, the action should remain in the chambers of the U.N., the halls of Congress and in an open dialogue between the Bush administration and the American people.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is taking critical steps as he works with the U.N.’s four other permanent members, Russia, China, France and Britain, to agree on a resolution and deadline for Hussein to disarm.

This resolution should be specific, and include a weapons inspection deadline.

It should also clearly spell out the consequences for Iraq if it does not comply.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials should listen to our foreign allies. At present, only Great Britain favors military action.

President Bush is contemplating a war that could further destabilize the Middle East, one that may lead to Iraqi attacks against Israel. The United States should not “go it alone.”

The United States is already waging a war in Afghanistan against terrorism. Brave men and women of the armed forces are fighting, and some have died.

We support military action against Iraq only if Congress and the U.N. jointly agree there are no other alternatives. A war with Iraq could turn our world in a terrifying direction. This must be a “we” decision.

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