War is never necessary, inevitable, or anything of the sort. Attacking Iraq would be a preventative measure. It worked for Elizabeth I in 1578 against the Spanish Armada, in 1758 for Prussia, in 1967 for Israel and again in 1981 when they took out the French supplied nuclear facility in Iraq.
When it comes to Saddam Hussein, he can avoid any conflict with amazing ease. Saddam could decide that life would be easier if he gave up his bioweapons and chemical weapons and let the U.N. inspectors come in free and clear to have a look at everything.
Then he could stop killing his own subjects, stuff the rebellious ones into a corner of the country, give them their own state and tell them to do something obscene with it. War avoided, case closed.
Maybe the threat of an all-out U.S. attack will even make him roll over and play dead, stop pulling a Milosevic on his own people, and stop gathering enough gasses to make new epidemics of plague, but what are the odds of that happening?
There is no one on the planet who should want to blow away Saddam just for the fun of it. But honestly, who thinks that after 10 years and God knows how much cash blown on his weapons programs, Saddam is just going to let it all go? Who thinks that after so much effort wiping out Kurds he’s just going to take the easy way out? My major problem with the current attitude is that it’s too much of the Hollywood Wild West ethic of “the good guys don’t draw first.” Since when did American foreign policy involve a shootout at high noon, mixed with a little touch of poker-style bluffing?
This isn’t the 19th century anymore. When the Congress of Vienna tried to carve up a post-Napoleonic world, the world fell apart in about 50-60 years. After World War I, Europe created Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Nineteenth century rules barely worked in the 19th century, and when we applied them to the Middle East, we got burned: OPEC in the 1970s, Iran in the 1980s, then Iraq and Afghanistan. Europe played 19th century politics waiting for Hitler to strike first; the United States waited for bin Laden to give us an actual attack (as though blowing up U.S. barracks wasn’t enough).
Welcome to the 21st century. We’re in a war now; it’s just that the rules have changed. We didn’t start it, but we should definitely finish it.
No one should want a war simply for the sake of having one. No one wants our soldiers to die. There were 98 civilians on board Flight 93 who didn’t want a fight either, and they didn’t want to die. But a war came to them, and they didn’t wait for a suicide dive. Their response was, “Let’s roll.”
Let’s hope that, when the time comes, our response won’t be any less.