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Justification for Iraq war remains scant
Special to the Daily Courier
According to syndicated columnist Donald Lambro, “Getting rid of Saddam was (the) right thing to do.”

Then he followed the usual procedure that you hear on TV and radio talk shows, in which supporters of the Iraq war start the discussion with “Are we better off because Saddam is no longer the leader of Iraq?” Then they make the following points:

• Saddam was a ruthless leader who brutalized his own people;

Even if Saddam didn’t have WMDs, he was planning to have them;

The Iraqi people are better off without Saddam;

The U.S. is safer because Saddam is gone, and

We have neutralized one more source of world terrorism.

Even if one is willing to grant the validity of each of these points, it still doesn’t mean that we should have gone to war with Iraq. As any management consultant will tell you, proactive leadership is not just coming up with the right answer to a specific question – it’s far more important to identify and ask the right question to begin with.

The question we should be discussing is: What is the best use of our human and financial resources for fighting terrorism, and providing for our homeland security? Phrased that way, the question becomes a slam-dunk for those opposed to the war in Iraq.

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-Qaeda was not active in Iraq until we “won” the war there. Now Iraq is a magnet for terrorists.

Since the first Iraq war, Iraq has not been an imminent threat to the U.S., or even to its immediate neighbors.

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 such as Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Colombia, and on and on, throughout our troubled world.

From all accounts, we’ve under-financed 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 over-extended ourselves financially to the point where we are endangering our future ability to meet the real terrorist threats when they emerge elsewhere – or right here at home.

The most important part of any discussion is to make sure you pose the right question. If the question is biased from the beginning, and all of those discussing it accept it, there’s no way to arrive at good conclusions.

So, the next time someone wants to discuss whether invading Iraq got some good results – 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 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.

(Chuck Kelly is a retired management consultant living in Prescott, and is author of “The Destructive Achiever; Power and Ethics in the American Corporation.” E-mail him

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