Two columns in The Observer Oct. 17 demonstrated what's wrong
with our national debate about Iraq.
Billy Wireman ("Others should help in Iraq") correctly stated
that other countries owed the United States for our past
contributions to their security and prosperity. He also noted that
our purpose in Iraq was commendable. The world and the Iraqi people
are better off without Saddam Hussein. Our goals are noble.
Charles Krauthammer ("What was Iraq's intent? Case closed")
correctly argued that Iraq had violated the U.N. resolution that
required its full cooperation with inspectors, and that, if Iraq did
not have weapons of mass destruction, it was at least planning to
All this is true, and if Iraq existed in isolation and was our
No. 1 priority, we might have been justified in risking national
bankruptcy and attacking Iraq. And we might truly deserve the
support of other countries in our efforts. But that's not the
National security is our No. 1 priority and it should by now be
clear to everyone that Iraq is far down the list of concerns when it
comes to fighting terrorism. Consider:
• The reason the U.S. supported
Hussein in the first place was that he was the only one we felt was
ruthless enough to pacify all the warring factions in that region.
Now who are we going to put in charge?
• Al-Qaida was not active in Iraq
until we "won" the war there. Now it's a magnet for terrorists.
• For all practical purposes,
we've abandoned Afghanistan and chosen to ignore the problems in
Pakistan -- the real centers for harboring and encouraging
terrorists. And this doesn't include other obvious problems like
Korea, the Philippines, Colombia, and on and on, throughout our
• From all accounts, we've
under-funded our obvious first line of homeland security: local
police, fire departments, border patrols, accident and emergency
units, and so on.
• Last, but not least, we've
overextended ourselves financially to the point where we are
endangering our future ability to meet the real terrorist threats
when they emerge -- right here at home.
The next time someone wants to debate whether or not invading
Iraq was morally right -- or what will happen to Iraq if we get out
as soon as possible -- I wish someone would point out that that's
not the issue.
The issue is: What is the best use of our human and financial
resources for our homeland security? It's definitely not to bankrupt
ourselves in a low priority cause. Even if it were possible to make
Iraq a model of the ideal democratic secular/Moslem country, we
don't have enough resources to do it, and still meet our obligations
to our own citizens.
And we shouldn't blame our friends in other countries who have
tried to warn us of our hubris and our folly.