Mark Bowden is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and the author of Black Hawk Down.
I believe we should attack Saddam Hussein as soon as possible. I think we should have done so already. So long as an outlaw regime like his possesses weapons of mass destruction, and terrorist groups like al-Qaida seek to use them, the danger of even more horrendous terrorist attacks is real and present. Many people around the world feel comfortable that Saddam's differences with Muslim fanatics would prevent him from supplying them with such weapons, even though the United States is the sworn enemy of both. Others want to believe that after a decade of defiance, Saddam has suddenly, secretly, complied with U.N. demands that he destroy his arsenals. I don't.
Alan Brinkley is the Allan Nevins professor of history at Columbia University and the author most recently ofLiberalism and Its Discontents.
I oppose an American invasion of Iraq at this time a) because a compelling case has not, to my mind, been made that Iraq is an immediate danger to us or to the world; b) because we have not persuaded the international community to cooperate in this effort and thus risk isolating ourselves from the rest of the world and greatly intensifying anti-American sentiment, which is already dangerously high; and c) because we have seen no credible plan for how the United States—which is currently failing miserably in its efforts to rebuild Afghanistan—will create a stable post-Hussein Iraq once the war is over.
William Broyles is former editor of Texas Monthly and Newsweek, a screenwriter (Apollo 13, Cast Away), and a Marine combat veteran of Vietnam.
An immediate attack on Iraq will not make us safer, will divert us from the real work of rooting out terrorism and its causes, and may have terrible unintended consequences. The idea of pre-emptive war is utterly against every tradition and moral value of our nation. We should never wage war unprovoked or simply because we can. As a combat veteran I know war is never as clean and simple as confident civilian planners in Washington would like to think it is. We have not been prepared for the costs in blood and money of this war or been told convincingly why it is absolutely necessary absolutely now. We could better spend the hundreds of billions of dollars and the dedication of hundreds of thousands of young Americans on preparing our localities for emergencies, protecting our borders, and making us energy independent. We are in a grave period in our history. It requires leadership, humility, and cooperation, not posturing and arrogance. It requires a long struggle against our real enemies in the shadows, not a distracting conventional war against a convenient enemy with no proven ties to Sept. 11.
Gregg Easterbrook is a senior editor of the New Republic, a contributing editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. His latest book is The Here and Now.
Unless Saddam leaves Iraq, I vote for attack. Between dramatic improvements in U.S. bombing accuracy and tactics since the Gulf War and the disrepair of Iraqi ground forces, fighting should be relatively brief. I realize people have said that on the eves of wars before and been ruinously wrong.
I see the possibilities of a U.S. attack this way:
- A 25 percent chance of fiasco.
- A 25 percent chance of inconclusive result—say, Saddam is deposed just as U.S. units cross the border, we withdraw, and the new guy is just as bad.
- A 25 percent chance of a better world—Iraq disarmed, regional tensions lowered, Iraqi-terrorist connections ended, and a better life for the people of Iraq.
- A 25 percent chance of a magnificent result—Iraq becomes a democracy and leads the Arab world into freedom, history ultimately viewing this American action as the third great United States liberation after the liberations of Germany and Japan.
That's two positive prospects, one neutral, and one negative, so I think we should try. But of course this is easy for me to say because I will not get shot at, nor run any risk that my family will be hit by a malfunctioning U.S. bomb.
Jason Epstein is former editorial director of Random House, the author of Book Business,and a contributor to the New York Review of Books.
We don't know enough to decide on war now. The risks are vast and unknowable, and the threat to American interests is not yet plain as it was after Pearl Harbor or 9/11. The White House argument for war now is as yet little more convincing than Iraq's claims of innocence. If Blix asks for more time, he should have it. Perhaps the Security Council will decide to install in Iraq a thousand or even two thousand inspectors—entire regiments of them if necessary—more or less permanently or until this abridgement of his sovereignty wears Saddam down. Their presence would be far less costly and damaging than an invasion and likely to immobilize whatever weapons Iraq may have, whereas a war might result in their use. Saddam would of course understand that if he tried as before to remove these inspectors, the result would be war, this time with the full support of the United Nations.
Tom Geoghegan is a labor attorney and the author most recently of In America's Court: How a Civil Lawyer Who Likes To Settle Stumbled Into a Criminal Trial.
I'm against invasion. As Doctor Johnson might say of so rash an act—the expense, damnable (up to $200 billion or more); our strategic posture, ridiculous (as our allies flee us, and North Korea goes nuclear); and any pleasure, even for a hawk, fleeting (since we may be in Iraq a very long time). So count me in with Robert Byrd, the pope, James Baker, and Joschka Fischer. As to the blow-back? Maybe a movement for international law. Bad for the Bush crowd, but good for our country. In the long run, if we're going to survive as a superpower, as I hope we do, we'll need a smidgeon of such law to check and balance us. (I'm cribbing this last point from Stephen Holmes' book Passions and Constraint.)
Paul Glastris is editor in chief of theWashington Monthly.
The case for invading Iraq grows stronger with every day that Saddam defies the U.N., and with each new ally that signs up to challenge him. Presuming that present trends continue—that Saddam does not back down, that Dick Cheney's unilateralist urgings are ignored, and that Colin Powell is allowed to continue to build as much international support as is possible—I favor an invasion sooner rather than later.
Mark Green is president of the New Democracy Project and was the elected citywide public advocate of New York City from 1994-2001 and the Democratic nominee for mayor in 2001.
If conservatives always push for a "cost-benefit" analysis before any regulation is enacted, let's do one before a largely unilateral war is begun, especially as President Bush exaggerates one side of the ledger while ignoring the other.