October 5, 2003 | Op-ed

U.S. Actions in Iraq are Necessary

By Claire Cary

When you first saw that the U.S. was actually entering Iraq, did you think the war would only last a week? Perhaps less than a week? It very well could have if defeating Iraq was all we wanted to do. The United States certainly has the capacity to fight solely from the air, dropping bombs left and right taking out as many cities (and as many people) as possible. This would reduce the number of soldiers on the ground, and the risk of them being wounded or killed. An operation like that would only last a few days, not much longer.

Do keep in mind how much time has passed to reach this point: war is truly our last resort, not our first effort. However, the nature of this conflict is completely different. The United States (unlike terrorists) recognizes the difference between soldiers and noncombatants. We fight to accomplish certain goals, and those goals do not include killing innocent civilians who have already suffered greatly under Saddam's tyrannous regime. Our mission to remove Saddam from power is just because of those civilians who have endured needless pain, imprisonment and death. Humanitarian aid plays a great part in our actions, and in order to reach those who need such aid, we must be able to operate in the area without the threat of being attacked. This has required coalition forces to be there, on the ground trying to remove Saddam's secret police, military officials, and guards which terrorize individual neighborhoods, families, and people.

Our mission is necessary because Saddam does not only exist as a threat to his own people, but to the entire region with his weapons of mass destruction. If we were to appease and permit his actions, that would not only encourage him to increase his violence, but also essentially give permission for others (including terrorists) to develop and use such weapons. If we did not act and carry out our threats that would also send a message to terrorists that the United States is nothing more than a tough-talking but weak-acting bully.

Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies put it this way; “We simply cannot allow ourselves to change our policies based on threats and blackmail. Once you start down that road, there's no stopping.” Furthermore, if you think that our troops are under danger now, imagine what weapons (chemical, biological, etc) they would be up against if the United States had allowed more time to pass; time Saddam needed to develop and prepare weapons.

Yes, we will win this war, but not in the time period most people expected. We are committed, strong, and resolute. Rather than simply destroying a country and leaving, this war appears more strategic, more precise and complicated, similar to surgery. We must remove the tumor without damaging other parts of the body. It takes time to heal.

Claire Cary is an Undergraduate Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.