Iraq

    Today there is tremendous amount of news on the ongoing push for broad war in Iraq. (I have only picked a selection of the news from today to link from here.)

    The most serious news is of yesterday’s discovery of empty rockets that could be used for chemical weapons delivery. This is incredibly disheartening news (not that they were discovered, certainly it is good that the world knows about this… but rather that Saddamm appears to have lied in his WMD – weapons of mass destruction – statement) and to me looks like will give the US the “justification” it needs to proceed with war.

    I have been asked off-line what I think of this development, so I will address this here. Mostly I find it tragic, because I know that if nothing changes then likely tens or even hundreds of thousands of people will die. If 35,000 civilians were killed by the US in the 1991 campaign in Iraq, then likely many more will die this time.

    I also question the seriousness of this discovery. I do believe that the possession of a WMD (be it nuclear, chemical, or biological) is a serious crime against humanity, no matter who possesses them. The US has these weapons of evil, as does the UK, France, Russia, Israel, India, China, Pakistan, and others. If mere possession of such weapons is an offense that merits invasion, then the US needs to go to war with itself to destroy its own WMD stockpiles.

    But arguably, in the eyes of the US this is not about mere possession but rather the liklihood that such weapons would be used. In this measure, the nations that I am aware of that have used such weapons in the last 50 years are few: the U.S. (with the atom bomb drops in Japan, the horrific firebomb attacks in German, and the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam), Iraq (in in the Iran-Iraq war, and against the Kurds during civil wars), and . . . that’s actually all that I can think of. As to future risk, likely North Korea is a much greater risk and is much more unstable.

    Finally, these warheads are short-range weapons. From what I can tell (the news articles did a horrible job of explaining how these things work, but I did find this report from the Turkish government that says that 122mm rockets have a range of 20 km but that they have found a way to extend the range to 40 km. There is also another possibility, IF Iraq still has SCUD missles and the warheads to fit those kinds of missles then they would have the capability to hit targets 300 km away, however using the maximun range would result in the reduction in the quantity of chemical agent that could be delivered. (I found this out from this report from the American Federation of Scientists.

    What this says is to me is that IF Sadaam has chemical weapons (remember what they found yesterday were empty 122mm rockets), then he could either put the chemicals in these rockets that would at best have a range of 40 km, or at best put them in a SCUD missle with a maximum range of 300 km (187 miles). Given these facts, unless there is something else we don’t know about, it seems like Iraq is not a substantial threat to anyone except his immediate neighbors or the Kurds in the North. He is no threat to US to say the least, so I still am inclined to believe that this war is not about chemical weapons but about oil.

  • MSNBC: U.S. says U.N. discovery ‘troubling’
  • Newsweek/MSNBC: Where’s the Dissent? — Antiwar protests are happening all over the country and the world but the mainstream media is hardly paying attention — Thus far, it seems like the NY Times has done a horrible job of covering America’s growing anti-war movement (estimated now at 20% of the population who are opposed to war and growing every day), while the Washington Post has done a much better job.

  • ABC News: Defiant Words — Saddam Urges Iraqis to Defend the Country; U.S. Calls Empty Chemical Warhead Find ‘Serious’
  • ABC News: Rallying Cry — Admiral Tells Sailors: Be Ready to Write Some History
  • OnlineJournal: Preemptive impeachment — Law professor stands ready to draft articles for any member of the House
  • The Observer: Where the world stands on an invasion of Iraq
  • ABC News: Mass. Students File Lawsuit Over Selective Service Act