No evidence of WMDs required
It would have been convenient for the sake of the so-called "Bush
Doctrine" for David Kay and his team of American inspectors - or
Hans Blix and his team from the United Nations - to have found
evidence of an active weapons of mass destruction program in
It would have been convenient if the president and his team could
point to huge stockpiles of weapons in Iraq as proof they were
right to topple the government of Saddam Hussein before he could
unleash these weapons on the free world - or sell them to
terrorists with equally evil intentions.
It would have been convenient . . . but not necessary.
The Bush Doctrine - part of which acknowledges that pre-emptive
military strikes are sometimes necessary - never depended on the
discovery of a cache of weapons for validation. It never depended
on Saddam's willful snubbing of U.N. resolutions. It never
depended, in fact, on a pre-emptive attack against Iraq.
Which is good, since the cache of weapons never materialized, the
United Nations demonstrated it was completely unwilling to put
teeth into its myriad resolutions, and the attack on Iraq wasn't
That's right. The attack of last March marked a turning point in a
struggle that dated to 1990, when Saddam chose to defy the U.N.
Security Council's calls to remove his troops from Kuwait. The 17
resolutions he defied thereafter flowed from this conflict and his
refusal to abide by the terms of his surrender. Failure to enforce
the resolutions would have signaled to leaders everywhere that the
United Nations and, more importantly, even the United States had
lost the will to enforce their resolutions.
Some claim we had Saddam "in a box" - that sanctions were working
and war was unnecessary. How were sanctions working? Saddam kept a
team of scientists on hand to resume WMD programs the minute the
West looked the other way. His oppression and mass murder continued
unchecked. The United States spent billions on its "no-fly zones"
in the north and south, which ensured the Iraqi people would
continue to starve even as their leader continued to build palaces
and other monuments to himself.
This seeming unwillingness to truly enforce the will of the
American or international community could only have encouraged
Osama bin Laden and the leaders of the Taliban before the attacks
of 9/11. The United States had offered little or no response to a
series of less-spectacular attacks on its interests in recent years
- the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Khobar Towers bombing in
Saudi Arabia, the attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden,
Yemen. On Sept. 11, 2001, we paid for this unwillingness to
In response, President Bush unveiled the Bush Doctrine, which holds
that the United States would engage - militarily, and pre-emptively
if necessary - rogue nations that support terrorists and develop
weapons of mass destruction. He put the world on alert with his
"Axis of Evil" speech, then ordered American forces to target
terrorists in Afghanistan, Africa, the Philippines and
Today, WMDs or no WMDs, no one in the world doubts our resolve to
defend our interests. No one doubts that when Bush says that states
- with their territory, access to the diplomatic community and
resources - that assist non-state-actors, such as al-Qaida, in the
formation, training and basing of terrorist networks or in the
development, transport or sale of WMDs, will face the most severe
of consequences. Ask those who led Afghanistan and Iraq on Sept.
11, 2001. If you can find them.
Besides, as foreign-policy expert Max Boot points out in a recent
article in The Weekly Standard, there is much more to the Bush
Doctrine than attacking countries we fear might harm us in the
future. "Just look at the chapter headings of the [Bush] strategy,"
he writes. "Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity," "Strengthen
Alliances to Defeat Global Terrorism" and "Expand the Circle of
Development by Opening Societies and Building the Infrastructure of
Democracy" are just a few.
The idea is to not only oppose terrorists and the states that
support them, but to change societies in ways that make it harder
to recruit terrorists. That means more democracy and less
oppression; more freedom and less poverty; more education and less
Bomb 1st, ask questions later
There is nothing new about this. Pre-emption has a long and
generally respectable history, and it is the right of every
responsible world leader who senses danger to his people. The
Israelis bombed a key nuclear power plant in Iraq in 1981 - an
attack that probably prevented Saddam from having a nuke or two
ready when our soldiers arrived in 1991. We pre-emptively invaded
Grenada in the 1980s and blockaded Cuba during the missile crisis
of the early 1960s.
And given the technology that will drive wars in the future, Boot
is probably right about another thing: Pre-emptive warfare didn't
become part of the past in Iraq. More likely, it's part of the
First appeared in the Arizona Republic.