The president was permitted to launch the Iraq war without further advance notice to Congress under Public Law 107-243, with two very important conditions:
1. The administration must demonstrate that all diplomatic means had been exhausted and that continuing a diplomatic course would endanger the security of the United States.
2. Invading Iraq must be part of the effort to find and prosecute those responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
These two central conditions were never met.
Using outdated and faulty intelligence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed an immediate and serious threat to the United States, the administration ended inspections and diplomatic efforts, violating condition No. 1.
Condition No. 2 was violated because there was no link between Iraq and the 9-11 attacks. By invading Iraq, precious military resources were withdrawn early from Afghanistan and redeployed in Iraq, allowing Osama Bin Laden and many of those responsible for the 9-11 attacks to escape.
Today, much of Afghanistan is under control of warlords, President Hamid Karzai controls little more than Kabul itself, and the Taliban is re-emerging.
Billions of dollars are being spent on the Iraq war, depriving our Homeland Security Department of money needed to fight terrorism at home and inflating the national debt. And the real tragedy is the high price our brave fighting men and women are paying. Our military is being stretched to the limit; requiring call-up of reserves and extending their tours of duty.
There are arguments that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and needed to be dealt with anyway, but there are others who have committed worse atrocities in Africa and Asia, and have gone unchallenged. North Korea and Iran pose far greater threats to us than Iraq.
Further, there were ignored intelligent reports that Saddam's regime was already near collapse and that he had to put up a defiant front to sustain his rule. Our invasion of Iraq has given the Taliban, al-Qaida, Iranian Hezbollah and other radical groups a renewed cause for recruiting terrorists, making anti-terrorist campaigns far more difficult throughout the world.
What the war on terrorism needs most is collective world leadership, and in that we have failed miserably.
Virgil Jones of Hamilton is the author of two books with a Middle East focus, and has worked and traveled extensively in that region.
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