US Prepares To Turn Sights On Iraq
CBC News
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WASHINGTON - There is growing debate in the United States over whether Iraq's Saddam Hussein should be the next target of the war on terrorism.
So far U.S. President George W. Bush has stopped short of promising to topple Saddam. But this week he said Afghanistan is just the beginning of a wider war on terrorism.
"There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends," he said, "and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all these threats are defeated."
Evidence of an Iraqi link to the terrorist attacks in the U.S is slender. It's based on just one meeting between Mohammed Atta, a leader of the suicide hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague last spring.
But at an arms control conference in Geneva, a top U.S. official suggested Iraq may be targeted because of its weapons of mass destruction.
John Bolton
"Beyond al-Qaeda, the most serious concern is Iraq. Iraq's biological weapons program remains a serious threat to international security," said U.S. under-secretary of state, John Bolton.
Iraqi delegate Samir al Nina said the statement shows the Americans want to attack Iraq and they are using this as a pretext.
Thomas Donnelly, director of a conservative think tank, says the huge deployment of U.S. troops in the Gulf War won't be needed this time. He and others are promoting an Afghan style campaign: heavy bombing, extensive use of commandos on the ground and an effort to get the country's Kurdish and Shiite minorities to rebel against Saddam.
Thomas Donnolly
"It will take a very rapid and violent campaign and we should be prepared for much worse that we have seen in Afghanistan," he said.
But Phyllis Bennis, an expert on the Middle East, says a U.S. attack designed to overthrow Saddam would infuriate Arab allies and destabilize the region.
"Street demonstrations, other kinds of street heat would dramatically increase. And some of those regimes who already face a crisis of legitimacy would face an even greater crisis and some of them might even be in danger of being overthrown."
Bush and his advisers are mindful of those concerns, but are doing nothing to discourage talk of a phase-two attack on Iraq.
One reason may be that the talk alone is serving a useful purpose: Saddam Hussein has been very quiet over the past few months.
Written by CBC News Online staff


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