As the United States looms closer to another possible war with Iraq, professors at SHSU offer their insight about the potential confrontation.
President George W. Bush, backed by a United Nations resolution, is currently considering deploying American troops into Iraq following a U.N. weapons inspection that suggested Saddam Hussein’s nation was illegally developing weapons of mass destruction.
Questions are circulating nationwide concerning the possible war. Why is President Bush is seeking such a serious response to Hussein? Why is he, at the same time, only seeking moderate reaction to North Korea, another country currently viewed as a threat to the Unites States?
Glenn Sanford, an assistant professor of philosophy at SHSU, said there is a major difference between Iraq and North Korea in terms of security.
“Bush has a political wedge where he is selling North Korea as a threat, but he’s selling Iraq as both a threat and having violated the terms of surrender,” Sanford said. “There’s also a major gap in that the last time we engaged in a war with Korea, we ended up fighting the Chinese.”
Sanford said Bush is also using the possibility of war to generate political capital and redirect attention away from the economy.
“Recently, our economic record has not been doing very well, and he’s trying to focus attention elsewhere,” Sanford said.
Sanford said the reason the United States is still dealing with a possible threat from Iraq is because the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War did not have a well-thought-out plan for dealing with Hussein.
“We clearly won the Persian Gulf War; we lost the peace effort,” said Sanford. “The problem was we didn’t emphasize removing Saddam as one of the criteria for victory. During the post-Gulf War era, we failed to bring that about. At this point with all the talk about removing Saddam, there’s very little talk about what comes next.”
Another issue brought up is whether or not the United States has the right to stop another nation from developing weapons of mass destruction when America itself is in possession of such weapons.
“On a cynical note, you might say ‘might makes right,'” Sanford said. “On a more optimistic view, the United States is a democracy that is supposed to protect civil and human rights.”
Susannah Bruce, assistant professor of history said that compared with the previous war in the Persian Gulf, the current conflict differs due to a new threat Iraq is posing on the world.
“The differences relate to the details of why we are going to war,” Bruce said. “In the early 1990s it was tied to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the threat (Hussein) posed in claiming hold of much of the world’s oil resources.”
Bruce added that America, being dependent on oil for various functions in society, could not afford to let Hussein have that much control over such a necessary resource.
“Today Saddam Hussein poses a new threat, though it relates to Desert Storm,” Bruce said. “After that war, the victorious allies settled on a treaty with Saddam Hussein which included Iraq’s agreement to stop all work on producing or acquiring nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
“U.N. weapons inspectors were placed in that country to ensure that Iraq was abiding by their promise,” she said. “Saddam Hussein expelled those inspectors from the country in 1998 and since then our intelligence sources, as well as those of our allies, have acquired evidence that Iraq has these weapons and is continuing to acquire or produce them.”
Bruce also said a new war in the Persian Gulf would have little in common with previous wars like Vietnam or Korea, because rather than intervening in a civil war during the middle of the Cold War, a battle against Iraq today would be one of America versus a fascist state led by a man determined to see American power destroyed.
University military programs such as the ROTC have not made any alterations since the possibility of war has come across.
Major Rosanna Dolphin, executive officer of finance for the SHSU ROTC said the possibility of war has not affected the program.
“So far the potential war with Iraq hasn’t shown a strong effect, either positively or negatively, on our recruiting numbers,” Dolphin said. “Several of our non-contracted freshman and sophomore cadets have been mobilized though, and we wish them well in their deployments and hope to stay in contact with them.
“We’ve been sending second lieutenants who graduate from our program on to various conflicts and peace-keeping missions for many years now, so for the most part it is business as usual here,” she added. “Our contracted cadets fully understand that they may be joining their future units in the fight when they graduate and complete their basic officer training, some potentially by the end of the year.”