US polling indicates that only a third of the American public would support a war against Iraq without United Nations approval, while a large majority would support such a war with UN backing.
Most likely on the basis of these polls, the Bush administration has now gone back to the UN Security Council with another resolution seeking war against Iraq. The resolution, co-sponsored by the UK and Spain, is a call to war under Chapter VII, which contains the use of force provisions of the United Nations Charter.
In essence, the resolution is an attempt to turn some details of the reporting requirements under Resolution 1441, and a dispute over the actual range of a short-range Iraqi missile, into an authorization to bomb the Iraqis, remove Saddam Hussein from power and occupy Iraq. The resolution concludes that “Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441 (2002).”
An alternative proposal has been submitted to the Security Council by France, Germany and Russia, which calls for more in-depth and reinforced inspections. It finds that “the conditions for using force against Iraq are not fulfilled,” and that “inspections have just reached their full pace…are functioning without hindrance…[and] have already produced results.”
The two proposals offer vastly different alternative outcomes. The US/UK/Spain resolution is an authorization for US military action against Iraq. The French/German/Russian proposal seeks to maintain the peace and achieve “the verifiable disarmament of Iraq.”
The world awaits the result of the Security Council’s decision, which is likely to come in the next two weeks. If nine of the fifteen members of the Security Council vote for the US resolution and none of the permanent members of the Council exercises its veto power, the United States will set loose the dogs of war on Iraq.
Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney all seem so eager to get on with the war they have been anticipating and working toward for years. They will undoubtedly be doing everything within their power, and probably much that is beyond their actual authority, to coerce other members of the Security Council to vote for their resolution.
Not since Vietnam have US leaders been so eager to prosecute a war where someone else’s children will die and be used to kill the children of another nation. If they “succeed” in getting the votes in the Security Council, we will again witness the awesome power of the US military machine that consumes half the money Congress votes to spend each year.
Even if the Bush administration fails to get the necessary votes in the Security Council, it is still possible that it will follow through with its threats to proceed to war with a “coalition of the willing.” This would dramatically divide the US population, wreak havoc on the system of international law that has existed since World War II, and undoubtedly increase the hatred and violence directed against the United States and its citizens.
A US-led war against Iraq would be a tragedy not only for the people of Iraq, but for the world. The greatest tragedy, however, may be that at this pivotal moment in world history, the US should have leadership that is so militaristic and myopic, missing an extraordinary opportunity to fight for justice and democracy by working with the international community instead of against it.
It has never been more important for the American people to wake up, stand up and act to exercise their combined “veto power” on the threatened actions of this war-hungry and dangerous administration by stating an unequivocal and resounding No to the proposed war.
*David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the editor of Hope in a Dark Time, Reflections on Humanity’s Future (Capra Press, 2003).