Peggy Noonan is the author of When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan.
Yes. Ultimately it's all a big gut call. We probably have as much information and data as we're going to get, and after more than a year of thought and argument and pondering and judging, it's decision time, and a lot of us will go with our guts. Because I do not trust Saddam, because I believe he is keeping and developing weapons of mass destruction for a reason, because I feel they will ultimately be used in a way that expresses Saddam's nihilism and sadism, I have come to the conclusion that we must move. I do not imagine an invasion will be swift and produce minimal losses. But I believe not stepping in is, at this point, more dangerous than stepping in.
Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly.
No. This country has been conned by Karl Rove and the superhawks. They've succeeded in changing the subject from George W. Bush's failures and embarrassments, making Iraq number one on the national agenda for nearly six months at the expense of more important matters—like finding Osama Bin Laden, securing peace between Israel and Palestine, drastically improving the FBI's and CIA's ability to deal with terrorism, keeping nuclear weapons from being used by the nations that already have them, including North Korea, and engineering economic recovery here at home. If we end up paying practically all the bill for the war with Iraq and the subsequent military occupation, that money won't be there for badly needed health and education programs.
Thinking about Iraq alone—which is what the administration has tried to get us to do—it's not hard to get fired up about teaching Saddam a lesson. But once you think about these other higher priorities, the danger from Iraq just isn't imminent enough to justify war. War, however, does offer the probability of a quick and dramatic victory, and that, I fear, is why it has such enormous appeal for Bush and his colleagues.
Steven Rattner is a founder of the Quadrangle Group.
President Bush has done a terrible job working with our European allies—just the opposite of the "humble" foreign policy that he promised us. But if the question is whether we should attack Saddam now or never, I say now. Colin Powell convinced me that we cannot allow tyrants like Saddam to flaunt international rules and United Nations mandates. If we deal with Saddam effectively—which I believe is possible—it will send an important message to Saddam wannabes.
Robert Reich is university professor of social and economic policy at Brandeis University and a national editor of the American Prospect. He was secretary of labor during the Clinton administration from 1993-97. He is also the author of several books, including, most recently, The Future of Success.
No. The costs are much higher than the benefits. On the cost side, an invasion will further radicalize the Arab world, thereby playing into the hands of Islamic extremists. It will divert American attention from two more important goals—achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians and reducing the likelihood that North Korea will make and then sell nuclear bombs. And an invasion of Iraq will result in a long, expensive, difficult occupation. The benefits of invading Iraq are far smaller; Saddam Hussein is a vicious tyrant but has shown himself to be a rational one, and his tyranny could otherwise be contained and his aggression deterred. Given that he is a secular head of state who has spent much of his tenure warring against Islamic extremists, he has less interest selling or giving weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaida than, say, extremists in Pakistan or even North Korea.
Sarah Vowell is a contributing editor for public radio'sThis American Life and the author of The Partly Cloudy Patriot.
I reminded myself to answer this question by writing it in my to-do list, just below "buy duct tape and plastic sheeting." The reason I would rather not rush off to war in Iraq is also a to-do list issue. The first thing on my foreign affairs post-it note is obliterating Bin Laden and the rest of al-Qaida, followed by giving North Korea the attention they apparently crave. Then, the U.S. might consider Colombia and/or Zimbabwe, after which it could indulge in a wistful moment pondering the legacy of Havel and how he was the only world leader who knew who Moe Tucker is. Finally, America could polish off the list by ganging up with the U.N. and deciding what we are all going to do about Saddam and how France is getting on our nerves.
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