Iraq: August 1, 2002

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Congress held hearings on a possible Iraqi invasion. Testimony covered the direct cost of the war (less than the $60 billion for the 1991 war), the indirect cost (temporary increase in oil prices, angry Arabs) and the benefits of invading at all (removing threat of aggression by Iraq and a potential supplier or user of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.) That last point is the main reason for considering an invasion. Saddam Hussein has a track record of aggressive behavior and eagerness to build these weapons, and use them. The debate turns on whether you believe Saddam has mellowed, or will act in the future as he has in the past. Many nations, and most Arabs, either don't care, or believe Iraq will behave. The US government does not trust Saddam and is willing to act. Iraq's neighbors also fear retaliation from Iraq (even if Saddam is removed) after an invasion. The Gulf Arabs also want to keep Iraq strong to protect them from the Iranians. But with the great, and long lasting unpopularity of the Saddam in Iraq, an invasion would cause his police state to quickly collapse. The new government, using democratic methods, would see the nation dominated by the half of the population that is Shia Moslem. This bothers the Gulf Arabs, especially Saudi Arabia, which are Sunni Moslems and have long persecuted Shias. 

 

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