No Alternative

The most common thing I hear from people opposed to the war is the notion that there are better alternatives to armed conflict. I’m often asked, "why can’t we send in UN peacekeepers" or "institute tougher inspections"

As attractive as those options may sound on the surface, they will not necessarily be any better than the status quo.

All the other alternative scenarios hinge on the cooperation of Saddam Hussein. Without Saddam agreeing to allow a large peacekeeping force or cooperating with inspectors, in essence nothing gets done. If Saddam can hardly stand to have a small amount of inspectors, what grounds is there to suggest that he’ll allow more. Moreover, placing a large amount of poorly trained UN troops in the middle of Iraq makes it more likely that those troops will be in harms way should they stumble onto something Saddam wants hidden.

Even if we had UN troops in Iraq, that would not guarantee the safety of the Iraqi people. All one has to do is recall the massacre at Srebrenica where a contingent of UN troops created a "safe zone" for Muslim refugees. The UN contingent was unable to prevent over 7,000 Muslims from being systamatically executed by the Serbs. It was the worst act of genocide in Europe since World War II.

It is clear that a UN force doesn’t solve the problems at hand. Inspectors have not been able to disarm Saddam Hussein in the past 12 years, and appear to still be unable to do so. The UN can’t protect Muslims in Europe, no less Muslims in a state as large as Iraq. Finally, if such a force were assembled, it would be tantamount to an invasion force in the eyes of Iraq, and would likely never be allowed.

In the end, the only alternatives are war or sanctions. Either way, many Iraqi civilians will die. The only question is, do we want their deaths to be in service of liberating their nation from Baathist oppression, or do we want them to die at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s death squads. Given the choice, the best option for all of Iraq is to free them from Saddam Hussein’s grasp. The US military will try to avoid killing civilians to the best of their ability – Saddam Hussein will not.

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