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Bush has not justified an attack on Iraq

If Tom West (Jan. 26 issue) or anyone else has evidence that links Iraq with al Qaeda, weapons of mass destruction or 9/11, then they should contact the American government, because that is what Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice have been searching...

If Tom West (Jan. 26 issue) or anyone else has evidence that links Iraq with al Qaeda, weapons of mass destruction or 9/11, then they should contact the American government, because that is what Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice have been searching for without success. Even the strongest evidence the United States has been able to produce -- that Iraq has tried to buy thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes, has now been questioned by arms experts, since their precise specifications supports their use in making ordinary artillery rockets rather than weapons of mass destruction.

This discovery has thereby considerably weakened the administration's credibility.

That the alleged reasons do not appear to be the real reasons for a U.S. attack upon Iraq has caused consternation around the world. Many of us were astonished at Bush's use of the phrase, "Axis of Evil," to combine three such different states with three such different attitudes as Iran, Iraq and North Korea. It is rather puzzling on its face that North Korea, which has acknowledged possessing weapons of mass destruction, should be given diplomatic negotiations, while Iraq, which has not yet been shown to have them, is subject to military attack. But the situations differ in two other crucial respects: North Korea has a formidable, highly-trained military force of more than 1 million under arms, while Iraq is militarily weak but oil rich.

Bush's tendency to sort the world into black and white -- "You are either with us or against us!" -- has profoundly troubled our allies in Europe, who had hoped that we had long outgrown such adolescent attitudes. "Terrorists are a hundred times more likely to obtain a weapon of mass destruction from Pakistan than from Iraq," one senior European official has now observed. "North Korea is far more likely to sell whatever it's got. But can we say this in public? Can we have a real debate about priorities? Not with George Bush." He appears to have already made up his mind.

The United Nations is a collective security arrangement to promote international cooperation and world peace whereby sovereign states relinquish certain rights. No one believes the U.S. is threatened by an imminent attack from Iraq, yet under the U.N. Charter, a member state may attack another member state only with Security Council approval if that is not the case. Since we are bound to the U.N. by a treaty, which has the same status as the Constitution itself as the supreme law of the land, were Bush to attack Iraq without U.N. sanction, he would be violating his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and subject to impeachment, articles for which exist in draft form.

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Ironically, since Iraq is about to be attacked by the United States it might justifiably attack us.

During his most recent visit to Duluth, Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., known as a man of integrity, confirmed that America could be at war in Iraq by late February but that North Korea actually presents more of a threat. As the Budgeteer (Jan. 19 edition) has reported, "Clearly the president is bent on moving toward a war with Iraq", Oberstar said. "The cost will be enormous. It's estimated in the range of $270-plus billion. (And) the cost of staying in Iraq will probably be a trillion dollars." When this expenditure for a war with no apparent justification is factored into present budget projections, moreover, its effects are truly staggering.

"New government data show that the federal government's budget shortfall has grown sharply in the past few months," according to The New York Times . With revenues shrinking and expenditures for homeland security and for the military growing, the budget deficit for 2003 is now expected to run anywhere from $200 billion to $300 billion, even before taking into account the cost of the war. Democrats predict that, if Bush's new tax cuts -- which will reduce revenues by another $670 billion over 10 years -- are passed, the government should expect to run deficits up to $1.7 trillion by 2011. Add another trillion for Iraq and we can kiss Social Security, prescription drug and health care reforms goodbye -- possibly forever.

Lawyers know very well that, when the facts are on your side but the law is not, you argue the facts. When the law is on your side but the facts are not, you argue the law. In the case of Iraq, neither the facts nor the law are on the side of the U.S. government. If those of us who oppose war with Iraq believed what Tom West believes, our attitudes undoubtedly would be closer to his. But the administration has simply not made its case.

Even if new evidence were to disclose the existence of weapons of mass destruction, that would justify destroying those weapons, but not invading a sovereign state. And those who are willing to disregard the evidence and violate international law should pause to consider the devastating economic consequences here at home in America. We need regime change here at least as much as in Iraq.

Jim Fetzer, a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and served as an artillery officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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