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SKYBIRD: Dale Brownís Ops Report
September 2002
Copyright © 2002, HDM Inc.

Opinions on current events:
WAR WITH IRAQ: Outdated Thinking

I enjoy columnists like William F. Buckley, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh--but I donít read them on a regular basis. I have my own mind made up, and I donít need to read the opinions of folks whose opinions are generally similar to my own. I like challenging and testing my own views against opposing views to see if I can sway my own opinion. So on a regular basis, I enjoy reading the columns of writers who have much differing views.

There is a lot of discussion lately about whether or not it is in Americaís best interests to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. Ted Rall suggests that all this talk about invading Iraq is nothing more than an attempt by President Bush to lift his own flagging public opinion poll ratings and distract folks from corporate scandals, the recession, and the weak stock market.

Before September 11, 2001, I would have argued that the President needs to build a better case on why we should attack. After all, whereís the threat? Iraq has been lying quite low since Desert Storm, there is no direct threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East-- yes, Iím talking about the oil--and we donít have any direct evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. During Desert Storm, Iraqís military forces were nearly cut in half, and surely he hasnít had to rebuild them to the point where he is a threat to his neighbors, let alone to the U.S.? Besides, doesnít President Bush need permission from Congress to launch a pre-emptive attack against another country?

My friends, we live in the shadow of September 11 now. We canít afford to sit back and wait until some maniac like Saddam has already pressed the button or given the order. The evidence may be circumstantial and arguable at best or nearly invisible at worst--but if there is even the GLIMMER of hope that a pre-emptive strike against carefully selected military targets in Iraq could save lives, we should do it IMMEDIATELY!

[IMAGE] Thatís war, my friends. The rules changed when those terrorists flew into the WTC and the Pentagon. The new rule is: if a target presents itself, nail it.

Ted Rall suggests in his 1 August column that all we need to do against Iraq is continue our ďweekly bombing raidsĒ and ďdevastating economic sanctionsĒ to keep Iraq in check. Letís remember that Iraq is NOT ALLOWED to shoot at Coalition aircraft patrolling the No-Fly Zones. A lot of folks seem to have conveniently forgotten that Iraqis shoot at Americans almost every week! Where is the outrage? Where is the condemnation against Iraq? Isnít anyone concerned about these flagrant violations of the cease-fire agreement that ended the Persian Gulf War?

According to Rall, Iraq is like the militant Palestinians, and the U.S. is like the Israeli army. When a Palestinian suicide bomber or militant attacks and kills an Israeli civilian, itís not a crime--itís justified because the attack is considered a backlash against Israeli ďoccupation.Ē When the Israelis use military force to try to capture a suspect or kill a terrorist ringleader, itís considered murder.

Similarly, Saddam Hussein can continue to defy United Nations observers and inspectors, rebuild its own offensive military forces by using oil revenues meant to help its people, and fire missiles at American patrol planes over the No-Fly Zones, and itís considered justifiable because Saddam was the loser against the Great Satan. All of our actions and threats against Saddam will never be justified unless Saddam actually attacks a neighbor or the United StatesÖ

Ö but by then, of course, itíll be too late.

Letís STOP the argument about whether we should use the Schwarzkopf-Franks method--invasion-or the Rumsfeld-Meyer method--destroy and disrupt.

Which method should we use? Simple: ALL OF THE ABOVE! Why pick only one tactic? Why not use ALL AVAILABLE RESOURCES to fight this conflict?

We can pound Iraqi military forces, air defenses, lines of communication, and command and control facilities for months until we build up enough ground forces for an invasion--hopefully by then, Saddam will be dead or on the run. We can attack targets inside Iraq with cruise missiles, followed by stealth precision- and near-precision bombing, followed by heavy bombardment, followed by tactical bombardment. In the meantime, we can pursue diplomatic resolutions to the conflict, insert special operations forces, identify and support opposition forces, and continue to build up heavy ground forces in case an invasion is necessary.

Weíre not using cruise missiles and air power simply to minimize American losses--weíre doing it because theyíre the best weapons for the job. Although itís obvious that using unmanned and stealth aircraft significantly reduce the chance of casualties, they also represent the best way to destroy a military target quickly and effectively while reducing non-combatant casualties and collateral damage.

The argument also follows that if weíre targeting Saddam, why not target other obvious threats like Iran, Syria, and North Korea--or even some not-so-obvious regimes that harbor and support terrorists like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan?

The answer: those nations should be checking the skies often.

This is more than just hawkish chest-thumping from a former military guy. Folks donít seem to want to believe the fact that AMERICA IS UNDER SIEGE. And this attack on America didnít start on 9/11--it started years ago with terrorist attacks against Americans in Lebanon, England, Italy, and Saudi Arabia; overt threats against U.S. presidents; and the first attack on the World Trade Center.

We have the greatest military arsenal in the world. Are we expected to just sit back and let terrorists do whatever they like because we dare not start a fight unless someone else throws the first punch?

Iíll remind you again: the first punch has already been thrown, and America has already been badly beaten and bloodied--and Iím not talking about 9/11. We need to get tough and we need to get serious about security and about stopping hostile regimes before we get hit again.

Terrorists seem to feel that acts of terrorism--even against innocent civilians--are somehow justified because thatís the only weapon poor, oppressed people have against superpowers like the United States. That opinion is fine--as long as they accept the consequences of their actions.

If a country or regime supports terrorists for whatever reason, they should be prepared for some superpower payback--and we should do it on our timetable, with our leaders, and with our goals and objectives in mind.

Letís briefly touch on the other arguments against lauching a pre-emptive strike against Iraq:

Is it illegal for the President to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iraq?

According to the War Powers Act of 1973, the President must: consult with Congress beforehand; report to the Congressional leadership in writing within 48 hours of initiating hostilities; report to Congress every six months; and withdraw forces after sixty days unless extended by Congress, or unless Congress declares war.

Otherwise, the President is the commander-in-chief, responsible for the defense of the United States of America, and he has the authority to do whatever he feels is necessary to defend the nation.

Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction (WMD)?

There is no public direct evidence that Saddam has WMDs. However, there is plenty of facts and evidence that shows that Saddam has obtained, stockpiled, and used WMDs in the past; and he certainly has the capability and desire to obtain and use them again.

Many argue that this is not reason enough to launch an attack. The only way to know if he does not have these weapons is to be allowed to inspect suspected facilities for evidence of these weapons. If United Nations inspectors are not allowed to inspect where and when they want, thatís a pretty clear indication to me that they have something to hide.

OK, so itís not the smoking gun a lot of people want. As I said, before 9/11, Iíd want to see the smoking gun. Today, Iíve got all the evidence I need to start bombing military targets and suspected WMD facilities in Iraq. OK, itís not fair. Maybe itís not right. But if it helps save thousands in the long run, Iím all for it.

I donít extend the privileges, protections, and responsibilities of the U.S. Constitution on Saddam Hussein. I INSIST on my Constitutional rights as an American citizen--but if we donít build a rock-solid legal case against Saddam before we launch a pre-emptive attack, I donít care.

Wonít attacking Iraq, as Ted Rall suggests in his 8/1 column, make the U.S. look even worse in the eyes of the Muslims of the world?

For some Muslims, the United States will always be the ďGreat Satan.Ē We can dump another thousand tons of food on Afghan refugee camps; we can liberate another one hundred thousand Muslim women from repressive, oppressive, and sometimes cruel religious practices; we can save another entire nation from attack--and some folks will still call for Americaís destruction.

In the end, it doesnít matter how many Muslims are alienated--what matters is that we do whatís best for the United States and its citizens. The United States military exists to protect America and its citizens, not improve our image and make everyone around us happy and contented.

No one argues that Saddam is a good guy who is just misunderstood; no one argues against the idea that, given the opportunity, he would launch an attack against the Kurds, Israel, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United States using every and any weapon available to him. Yes, we used Saddam for our own geopolitical purposes back in the 1980s to counter the Iranian threat; yes, we hoped Iran and Iraq would kill each other off in their nearly ten-year war; yes, maybe we didnít invade Baghdad because by eliminating Saddam weíd eliminate a major counterbalance to the growing regional threat by a resurgent, powerful, and wealthy Iran. Yes, we want and need Middle Eastern oil so much that we ally ourselves with unsavory characters and do a lot of things that, in hindsight, seem stupid and reckless.

Geopolitics are tough. No one has the right answer. But one thing is clear: we cannot afford to sit idly by while our enemies move about freely and plot another wanton act of mindless murder and mayhem.

Will you as a passenger on any airliner in the world today sit idly by while a group of nasty-looking men with unusual packages, containers, or backpacks march towards the cockpit? I donít think so. Even though they havenít actually done anything wrong yet; even though they are innocent until proven guilty; even though they have a right to examine the evidence against them and not be a witness against themselves, I would expect a lot of us passengers would still get up and confront these guys or assist the crewmembers in defending the plane. No crewmember or passenger aboard any airliner in the world today will sit by while a group of terrorists try to seize their plane.

Neither should the United States sit idly by and watch as our enemies grow more powerful.

Donít try to speculate on when weíll hit Iraq, or what tactics weíll use. Understand this: itís necessary for the United States to stop any regime and any organization that threatens us. The objective is the security of the United States, not nation-building or peace and freedom for the rest of the world.

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