U.S. needs to present stronger case to allies before targeting Iraq

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2002

If the United States next targets Iraq in its war on terrorism, the government needs to lay out a stronger, more specific case to its allies and its own citizens than it has thus far.

Despite some mixed signals -- for example, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said President Bush told him the United States wouldn't attack Iraq -- the signs are that Iraq is next on the list. Secretary of State Colin Powell has told congressional panels that President Bush is considering ''the most serious set of options that one might imagine'' for confronting Iraq and its president, Saddam Hussein. He even said the United States might have to oust Saddam on its own.

But before the United States delivers an ultimatum to Iraq, with an obligation to follow through with military action, the world needs to know more. As always, this will chafe intelligence agencies, which always strive to conceal any hints of the sources and methods they use in spying.

There's always reason to be concerned about Iraq. More than 20 years of evidence proves that Saddam doesn't flinch from astonishing brutality in governing his own country and waging war against others.

But if we can't convince a single government to support us in a fight with Iraq, Americans ought to wonder whether the case against Iraq is too weak to merit their support.

-- The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Feb. 12

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