- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2002

Monarchies and dictatorships often go to war to conquer, but democracies do so in self-defense. When President Bush said we would strike pre-emptively at terrorist nations, he adapted the way America chooses between peace and war to the new threat posed by enemies who refuse to be bound by the law of war.
The cause for war in Afghanistan was simple. We retaliated for the September 11 attacks by striking al Qaeda's home base. Iraq, however, falls squarely into the president's new preemption paradigm. Mr. Bush placed his conclusions, but not all the evidence, before the world. His opponents have demanded what he could not share the detailed intelligence information showing why Iraq was a threat, why action was needed and why it should be done now, not after more U.N. inspections and attempts to contain Saddam's regime.
Tuesday's release of the British government dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs is a summation of both the intelligence and analysis of it that defines the threat. This dossier is the first attempt by Western democracies to justify pre-emptive war. It is the first casus belli file.
The president's opponents argue that Saddam can be contained. That Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, and may soon get nuclear weapons is not, they argue, proof that he will use them offensively. But, as the British dossier says, Saddam regards weapons of mass destruction as "the basis for regional Iraqi power." Saddam's expansionist ambitions led him to attack Iran and Kuwait. Those ambitions have not been dulled by defeat.
Containment cannot work, because in Saddam's mind, and in the minds of his neighbors, his power depends upon the possession and ability to use these weapons. Without them, he's just another thug firing a rifle into the air.
Containment also won't work because of Saddam's relationship with Islamist terrorists. Khidir Hamza, who headed the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, told me that Saddam will share his chemical and biological weapons with terrorists in two circumstances. When Saddam believes those weapons cannot be traced to him, he will sell or give them to terrorists to attack American targets. Even where he believes the weapons can be traced back to him, he will give them to terrorists if he believes the retaliation will be insufficient to remove him from power.
The threat to the United States is both direct and immediate. But the casus belli arises from capability, not just intent.
Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter insists that Saddam is no danger, and that the weapons inspections rid Iraq of more than 90 percent of its weapons. While that was manifestly untrue Mr. Ritter and the other U.N. inspectors were never allowed access to the most important weapons sites the British have filled in the details. For example, the British dossier says that when the U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, they had not accounted for more than 30,000 chemical and biological munitions, and 360 tons of chemical weapons, including more than a ton of the nerve agent VX. Much more chemical and biological weaponry is being produced. Iraq can deliver these weapons by artillery, by aircraft and by ballistic missile. U.N. resolutions limit Iraq to missiles of a range of 150 kilometers or less but the British report says that Iraq has about 20 al-Hussein missiles with a range of 650 kilometers, enough to reach Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Analysis of new intelligence reveals that Iraq's military has extensive operational plans to use the chemical and biological weapons, and keeps them at a level of combat readiness that allows them to be used on 45 minutes notice. This high state of readiness proves Saddam's intent to use the weapons.
Saddam's nuclear weapons program is so far less successful. The dossier says that, since at least mid-2001, Iraq has continued its nuclear weapons program aggressively, scouring Africa for sources of forbidden materials. Saddam wants nuclear weapons to intimidate his neighbors and deter us from interfering in his actions. If Iraq gets the materials it needs, it could produce nuclear weapons in only one or two years.
Tony Blair's speech to a special session of the British Parliament was met with support, catcalls and one very thoughtful statement. Barry Gardiner is a junior member of Parliament, but is someone worth watching. After Mr. Blair's speech, Mr. Gardiner rose to demand that those who believe military action would be justified if taken collectively with U.N. sanction explain why it is unjust if we meaning America and the U.K. take the same action unilaterally. Mr. Gardiner was booed by members of his own party. But his question should be asked over and over again in Congress, and in the U.N.

Jed Babbin was a deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration.


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