The benefit is real—the removal of a dangerous dictator and the risk that he'd someday use chemical and biological weapons (the nuclear link being unproven). Here are the costs: the provocation of retaliatory terrorist attacks in the U.S.; an inflamed Muslim world motivated to continue their civilizational Hatfields & McCoys; more dead Americans (servicemen and -women) than we lost on 9/11, as an invasion provokes Hussein to use or lose any weapons of mass destruction; tens of thousands of civilian casualties; an economic cost of $100 billion to a trillion dollars over a decade; an occupation and nation-building effort of the exact sort that candidate Bush denounced; the precedent that a fretful, stronger power can pre-emptively invade a weaker one; and the elevation of Iraq far above more urgent problems like al-Qaida and North Korea.
Conclusion: It's smarter to continue expanded inspections since Saddam is contained and can't do anything aggressive anyway. While an imperfect option, it's a lot less costly to keep 500 inspectors in Iraq than 150,000 troops.
Arianna Huffington is the author of Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption Are Undermining America.
I'm against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The administration has not proven how Iraq constitutes a clear and present danger or why it presents a graver threat than al-Qaida or indeed North Korea. It's particularly ironic that as we ratchet up the war preparations, the nation's security alert went from yellow to orange, but it's not Iraq that is threatening us.
Ben Karlin is co-executive producer of TheDaily Show With Jon Stewart.
Do I favor a U.S. invasion of Iraq? I am only in favor of war with Iraq if the entire affair takes place between the morning of February 21st and the evening of Sunday March 2nd. This is because TheDaily Show will be on hiatus during this period, and, historically, massive loss of life has proven not conducive to producing a comedy news program. I would remind the president as he and his generals go about their plan that in a war, the first casualty is the ease of my job.
Tony Kushner is the author of Angels in America and Homebody/Kabul.
Rumsfeld has promised hundreds of aerial bombings on the first day of the war. Many, many thousands of Iraqi civilians will be killed, along with Iraqi soldiers and (in far smaller numbers) American soldiers. In the current, intensely fraught, intensely dangerous geopolitical climate, a rapid expansion of Bush's war and the eventual use of nuclear weapons (which no one including the Bush administration is ruling out) are also real, albeit less likely, possibilities. We have neither an ethical nor a legal right to attack Iraq, which has not attacked us and which poses no verifiable immediate threat to the United States. Powell's evidence is simply inadequate, certainly for the purpose of condemning thousands of people to death.
We should pursue the path of inspections and diplomacy, strenuously and for an extensive period. The risks are worth taking; again many lives hang in the balance. The world's political will, which the US can help sharpen, could help the people of Iraq and disarm Saddam Hussein. Mountains of corpses, the hatred of much of the rest of the planet, the dissolving of important alliances, and increased terror and economic hardship here and abroad are all likely results of this unilateral attack. War is not the solution.
The solution to the threat of further terrorist violence here and abroad, the solution to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons (and don't forget land mines) around the planet, is international cooperation: the signing of meaningful, binding treaties; the strengthening of the United Nations; the creation and support of a real International Criminal Court.
I do not trust George W. Bush to prosecute a war. He holds his office under the most dubious of circumstances; many Americans, myself included, think he is not a legitimate occupant of the White House. He was not, at any rate, popularly elected. Congress, appallingly, has ceded its war powers to Bush, making war against Iraq an executive action. I exercise my right as a citizen to say that I don't trust this executive and unless we are attacked by a foreign power, I don't want my country to be led into war by him. And even if we are attacked, Congress has no business surrendering its constitutional mandate to maintain control of its share of the decision to go to war.
Robert Kuttner is co-editor of the American Prospect.
America's national interest and the world's security are better served by keeping Saddam Hussein bottled up via the current strategy of inspection and containment. I supported the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida. But the risks of invading Iraq—wider destabilization, a double standard for North Korea, global resentment of the Bush administration's swagger, and the arousal of militantly anti-American feelings—far outweigh the benefits. Bush has backed into a sensible policy of tough multilateral containment. He's about to abandon it for a reckless war.
Spike Lee is the director most recently of 25th Hour.
Not in favor of war on Iraq. Bush is hoodwinking and bamboozling the American public.
Heather Mac Donald is a fellow at the ManhattanInstitute and the author of Are Cops Racist? How theWar on the Police Harms Black Americans.
The war on Iraq is a dangerous diversion from the war on al-Qaida. Indeed, an Iraq invasion is likely to inspire retaliatory terrorism from Islamists everywhere. I would prefer to see America's resources—money, manpower, intelligence services, military might—devoted to crushing the al-Qaida infrastructure, tracking down its operatives and protecting the American homeland from terror assault. Our current anti-terror efforts are pathetically inadequate, as I fear we shall soon see.
John H. McWhorter is an associate professor of linguistics at Berkeley and the author most recently of Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority.
The question of invading Iraq is a tough one, but I have come to feel that it is urgent for various reasons. One is that it's clear that Saddam has lethal weapons, and presumably either wants to or could use them for some purpose. Obviously he would not attack the U.S. directly, but there is no reason that he would not sell weapons to people intending to use them against us. The ties to al-Qaida that Powell's speech made clear only underscore this point. Second, with Saddam's regime out of the way, there would be less reason for the U.S. to maintain a military presence in Saudi Arabia, which would then obviate our need to curry favor with that regime, which also supports terrorism against us; this would also remove one of Bin Laden's motivations for calling his minions to arms against us. Third, Saddam obviously has the capability to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth; humanitarian concerns alone motivate removing him. Finally, if the Bush administration can by chance follow through and rebuild Iraq as a peaceable, modern democracy, then Iraq could serve as a model for other Arab countries and lessen the chance of their breeding or tolerating future cells of anti-Western terrorists.
Certainly there are other countries that pose a danger to the United States, but Iraq would seem to be an especially dangerous case, and our chances of suffering another catastrophe like 9/11 would be significantly lessened by our eliminating this threat.
Charles Murray is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
I'm in favor, for the reasons that the administration argues.