On Wednesday morning, US Secretary of State Colin Powell outlined the United States’ case against Iraq to the United Nations Security Council. Long before that day arrived, pundits everywhere began comparing Powell’s address to UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson’s presentation to the UN in 1962, which laid out the case for President Kennedy’s response to Soviet nuclear missile deployments in Cuba. Even a far more eloquent writer than myself could not have written a more accurate comparison. Among many detailed pieces of evidence, including intercepted military communiquEs, satellite photos, as well as reports of defectors and other intelligence sources, the presentation focused on four areas: obstruction of UN inspectors, continued production of banned weapons systems, links to terrorism, and human rights violations.
Particularly striking were the intercepted communiquEs between military officials, in which the deliberate deception of the UN inspectors was openly discussed. Next, satellite photos were presented showing Iraqi vehicles removing materials from the Al-Musayyid chemical production facility just two days before the UN inspectors arrived in Iraq as well as detailed diagrams showing the configuration of mobile chemical laboratories that are moved around on trucks and Iraq’s extensive rail network. Additional evidence was also provided revealing that Iraq possesses two of the three key components necessary to produce nuclear weapons, now only lacking enriched uranium. The most compelling evidence to me, however, was the proof establishing a clear link between the Iraqi government and Al-Qaeda. Over the last eight months, senior Al-Qaeda operative Abu Zaraqawi has set up a base of operations in Baghdad with the full consent and assistance of the Iraqi government.
Does this evidence constitute a justification for war? I think so, but many would disagree, either because they don’t believe this proves the case, or because they don’t trust the evidence. The responses of the rest of the Security Council immediately following Powell’s speech are a prime example of this, insofar as they merely reiterated their already established positions. In the end those nations that do change their position were already looking for a reason to do so. Whether or not this convinces the American people is another question. Sadly, I expect no major change of opinion from the majority of the students and faculty of UM, any more than I expect it from Iraq.
Scott Wacholtz is a Senior majoring in Political Science, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.