Giving al-Qaida what they want


A Republican senator once said that the first casualty of war is truth.


While preparing for the first Iraq war in 1990, we all remember the horrific stories about Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait throwing babies out of incubators. The story turned out to be a complete fabrication, but by the time the truth was known, as bombs were raining down over Iraq, no one really cared. A few months later, over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians were dead. Given that many Iraqi hospitals were destroyed, one can presume that many babies in incubators were among them.


Thirteen years later, we once again have a Bush administration hell-bent upon going to war with Iraq, and willing to say anything, true or false, to sway public opinion. Colin Powell gave a very impassioned speech before the United Nations, trying desperately to link Saddam Hussein with the al-Qaida terrorist network, which committed the atrocities of 9-11. But the only real evidence presented was of a different group called Ansar Al-Islam, which is based in Kurdish-controlled sections of northern Iraq -- a region with no loyalties to Hussein whatsoever.


Now we have yet another audio recording of Osama bin Laden. Despite having denied the authenticity of previous bin Laden tapes (and thus avoiding the discomforting question of why he's still at large), the administration now points to this one as evidence that bin Laden is in cahoots with Saddam. But the tape says nothing of the sort. Granted, bin Laden expresses solidarity with the Iraqi people and urges them to rise up against U.S. aggression, but he has no love for Saddam's secular government and refers to him on the tape as an "infidel." By reacting to bin Laden's efforts to play the Iraqis against us, we are only giving al-Qaida exactly what they want -- a holy Armageddon the likes of which this world has never seen.


Yes, Saddam Hussein is a despot, but he has never committed any act of war against the United States. The world is full of other evil men, including bin Laden and Kim Jong II, who may pose an immediate threat to our security and yet are foolishly ignored. Saddam, on the other hand, is contained and is slowly cooperating. Inspections are working. Nothing will be gained by cutting short peaceful efforts in favor of reckless military action that will cause countless deaths, destabilize the entire region, and ensure that terrorist groups will continue to lash out in anger against us indefinitely.


Geoff Trowbridge The Elkhart Truth, 2/14/2003