Trouble With Iraq

The location of Iraq makes it an important country to the U.S. Iraq lies at the northwestern tip of the Persian Gulf--the oil rich region that allows the world to interact economically. The U.S. and other industrialized countries rely on oil imported from the Persian Gulf. Saddam Hussein rose to be president of Iraq 29 years ago through violence and inflicting fear and pain on his people. Now he is affecting the world by not allowing U.N. inspectors to investigate his "classified" sites--the presidential palaces. President Clinton began preparing our nation for a showdown but called all preparations to a sudden halt on February 23, 1998. He announced that he would go along with a last-minute deal negotiated by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The agreement will grant UN weapons inspectors unconditional access to suspected Iraqi weapons locations. Iraq's denial of access to those locations is what spurred the countdown to war in the first place.

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Other Web Sites on the Crisis in Iraq:

Pentagon News on Iraq
Alternative Military Analysis
The Iraqi Version

More will be added as time goes on...

1) The showdown in Iraq may possibly be a conflict between democracy and an authoritarian regime. Do you think the U.S. should enter this crisis because of principles when American lives may not be at stake?

2) Considering Saddam Hussein's track record in use of violence and his stubbornness to conform to the appropriate actions, do you think the U.S. should trust this man if he signs an agreement with Kofi Annan? If this agreement fails, would you favor or not favor military action?

3) Is it time for the U.S. to aide in a coup d'etat of the Saddam Hussein regime? Why do you think that the U.S. stopped Operation Desert Storm before Saddam Hussein was totally defeated? What do you think the pros and cons were at the time?

4) Do you think President Clinton is giving this issue more hype than needed? Why would he be doing this? Is he using this crisis to avert attention from his own personal scandals at home?

5) Should each country be informed of the mass destruction weapons the other countries of our world possess? Is the U.S. being wary because they feel that the superiority of their nation is at stake?

Your responses will go here....

Here's one now!

Kofi Annan: The Neville Chamberlain of 1998?

The fact that the Secretary General of the United Nations has returned from  Iraq with an "agreement" with Saddam Hussein conjures up ghosts of the 1938   Munich agreement between Britain's Neville Chamberlain and the Axis dictators, namely Adolph Hitler. The parallels are quite striking, and the fact that the international community has not exposed the UN-brokered
agreement for what it is reflects both desperation to avoid a military strike by the U.S. and a refusal to learn the crucial lessons of history.

The Munich agreement was widely seen as the last chance to avoid war with Hitler, who had remilitarized the Rhineland and who was threatening annexation of the German area of Czechoslovakia known as Sudetenland. Hitler claimed that remilitarization of the Rhineland was a question of German sovereignty over its own territory, even though the issue was originally  that of German aggression. Such militaristic expansionism had manifested   itself in the development of the Western Front during World War I. In 1998,   we see a defeated aggressor, Iraq, use the claim of sovereignty to spoil the
efforts of UN weapons inspectors, who are accused of violating the national security of the Iraqi state.

Once the agreement was concluded, Chamberlain returned to Britain with a  piece of paper in his hand which he waved it at a welcoming crowd. He then stated that he and the other leaders had concluded "peace in our time."  Little did he and the world know that in just a little under one year,  Germany would attack Poland and Britain found itself at war for the second
time in twenty years. The Secretary General's return from Baghdad with "an agreement" smacks of the same kind of appeasement that Chamberlain engaged in when he returned from Munich with Hitler's "word."

The pace of events with Iraq is much more accelerated than the events earlier this century in Europe. The issue is not so much about territory (as long as one does not bring the issue of Iraqi claims over Kuwait into the discussion) but about the ability to wage war with weapons of mass destruction. At least the UN seems to have learned the lesson of the 1930s
where the League of Nations watched the Nazi state engage in a rapid rearmament program that could only be stopped after it was too late. Today, the UN attempts, albeit feebly, to enforce its anti-weapons resolutions
against Iraq while the Iraqi leadership carries out every possible maneuver to foil their operations. The recently concluded UN-Iraq agreement creates the appearance that the major UN powers and NATO allies are playing into the
hands of the Iraqis, who wrap themselves in claims of sovereignty.

  The lessons of Versailles showed that merciless imposition of war reparations would severely damage the economy of the defeated nation, thereby giving rise to a dictator who would perpetrate a Holocaust on the
world. This lesson demonstrates the wisdom of loosening the economic sanctions against Iraq so its populace may benefit from increased trade. Even if those steps are taken, Saddam will continue to appear victorious to the Iraqi people. At the same time, the Saddam's equivocations still raise the specter of Hitler's expansionism. While it may be unpopular to admit and
terrible to consider, a full-scale military strike may be the only way to avoid the inevitable conflict, one that may be more deadly and wider in  scope than the surgical strike needed to "put Saddam back in his box."

George Cassutto
Teacher of Social Studies (Personal page)

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