Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof’s, published his editorial “War & Wisdom” in the New York Times (February 7, 2003), argues that invading Iraq isn’t necessary because war and violence is the very last resort. Kristof supports his implication by contradicting President Bush’s justification for war, by illustrating that even if Saddam hides existing weapons form inspection, he wouldn’t be able to develop nuclear weapons, due to the vast detectible electrical hookups. His central purpose is to express the concern about rushing into war in order to emphasize the mass destruction that would be taken place, along with a massive increase in spending money. Kristof creates an informal and conversational tone, gearing towards the general public in order to connect emotionally to his audience.
"There never was a good war or a bad peace."
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George W. Bush
"No, I know all the war rhetoric, but it's all aimed at achieving peace."
"War And Wisdom"
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: February 07, 2003
President Bush and Colin Powell have adroitly shown that Iraq is hiding weapons, that Saddam Hussein is a lying scoundrel and that Iraqi officials should be less chatty on the telephone.
But they did not demonstrate that the solution is to invade Iraq.
If you've seen kids torn apart by machine-gun fire, you know that war should be only a last resort. And we're not there yet. We still have a better option: containment.
That's why in the Pentagon, civilian leaders are gung-ho but many in uniform are leery. Former generals like Norman Schwarzkopf, Anthony Zinni and Wesley Clark have all expressed concern about the rush to war.
''Candidly, I have gotten somewhat nervous at some of the pronouncements Rumsfeld has made,'' General Schwarzkopf told The Washington Post, adding: ''I think it is very important for us to wait and see what the inspectors come up with.'' (The White House has apparently launched a post-emptive strike on General Schwarzkopf, for he now refuses interviews.)
As for General Zinni, he said of the hawks: ''I'm not sure which planet they live on, because it isn't the one that I travel.'' In an October speech to the Middle East Institute in Washington, he added: ''[If] we intend to solve this through violent action, we're on the wrong course. First of all, I don't see that that's necessary. Second of all, I think that war and violence are a very last resort.''
Hawks often compare Saddam to Hitler, suggesting that if we don't stand up to him today in Baghdad we'll face him tomorrow in the Mediterranean. The same was said of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom the West saw as the Hitler of the 1950's and 1960's. But as with Nasser the analogy is faulty: Saddam may be as nasty as Hitler, but he is unable to invade his neighbors. His army has degraded even since the days when Iran fought him to a standstill, and he won't be a threat to us tomorrow; more likely, he'll be dead.
A better analogy is Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, who used to be denounced as the Hitler of the 1980's. Saddam and Colonel Qaddafi are little changed since those days, but back then we reviled Mr. Qaddafi -- while Don Rumsfeld was charming our man in Baghdad.
In the 1980's Libya was aggressively intervening abroad, trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, losing air battles with American warplanes and dabbling in terrorism. Its terrorists bombed a Berlin nightclub patronized by American soldiers and blew up a Pan Am airliner over Scotland. Libya was never a military power on the scale of Iraq but was more involved in terror; indeed, one could have made as good a case for invading Libya in the 1980's as for invading Iraq today.
But President Ronald Reagan wisely chose to contain Libya, not invade it -- and this worked. Does anybody think we would be better off today if we had invaded Libya and occupied it, spending the last two decades with our troops being shot at by Bedouins in the desert?
It's true, as President Bush suggested last night, that Saddam is trying to play games with us. But the inspectors proved in the 1990's that they are no dummies; they made headway and destroyed much more weaponry than the U.S. had hit during the gulf war.
Even if Saddam manages to hide existing weapons from inspectors, he won't be able to refine them. And he won't be able to develop nuclear weapons.
Nuclear programs are relatively easily detected, partly because they require large plants with vast electrical hookups. Inspections have real shortcomings, but they can keep Saddam from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Then there's the question of resources. Aside from lives, the war and reconstruction will cost $100 billion to $200 billion. That bill comes to $750 to $1,500 per American taxpayer, and there are real trade-offs in spending that money.
We could do more for our national security by spending the money on education, or by financing a major campaign to promote hybrid cars and hydrogen-powered vehicles, and taking other steps toward energy independence.
So while President Bush has eloquently made the case that we are justified in invading Iraq, are we wise to do so? Is this really the best way to spend thousands of lives and at least $100 billion?