President Bush moved the United States one step closer to war
with Iraq last night in his primetime address to the nation
demanding Saddam Hussein leave Iraq in two days – or face military
“All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end.
Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their
refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a
time of our choosing,” Bush said.
The president cited intelligence indicating Saddam’s possession
of weapons of mass destruction, his history of inciting violent
conflict in the Middle East and his hatred of America as
justifications for military action against Iraq.
Bush also addressed the failure of the U.N. Security Council to
reach a resolution authorizing a global military strike against
Iraq, and stated that the United States and its allies were capable
of disposing of Saddam without U.N. support.
“For the last four-and-a-half months, the United States and our
allies have worked within the Security Council to enforce that
council’s longstanding demands. Yet some permanent members of the
Security Council have publicly announced that they will veto any
resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq,” Bush said. “The
United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its
responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.”
Bush also used the address to warn U.S. citizens of a potential
terrorist response to the war as Saddam and other enemies of the
United States might use terror as a desperate reaction. But Bush
optimistically added, “The terrorist threat to America and the
world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is
The American public, by a 2-1 margin, generally supports
military action against Iraq to remove Saddam, a slight increase
from recent weeks, according to a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll out
yesterday. Opinion was evenly divided when people were asked about
an attack without an attempt to gain U.N. backing.
In spite of this public support, experts at the University were
critical of Bush’s address and of his failure to achieve a
diplomatic approach to the conflict within the Security Council.
Political science Prof. J. David Singer harshly criticized the Bush
administration for its handling of the situation, saying that the
United States has no legal legitimacy for launching an invasion on
“Despite the fact that there are some incentives for having this
war, it is a serious mistake morally, legally and pragmatically,”
Singer said. “The fact that Iraq is treating its people badly or
possesses weapons of mass destruction – neither of those are a
legal basis for starting a war.”
Singer added that the Bush administration’s reasoning
establishes a potentially dangerous precedent for international
relations, as many countries currently pursuing nuclear arms
programs might be compelled to increase their efforts to protect
against American aggression.
“I don’t think it’s wise to say a preemptive war, even against
(Saddam’s) regime is legally permissible. Current American behavior
will probably just hasten nuclear proliferation,” Singer said.
Political science Prof. Kenneth Lieberthal said that Bush has a
legitimate complaint against Iraq for failing to comply with U.N.
standards, but he added that the president used inaccurate
information last night in his assessments of Saddam’s current
military capabilities and his ties with the Al-Qaida terrorist
The president urged journalists and weapons inspectors to leave
the country immediately and requested that Iraqi citizens and
military comply with the United States’ requests by not seeking
combat or burning oil wells. Bush assured the Iraqi people that by
cooperating with U.S. forces, they would avoid facing the
repercussions of war.
-The Associated Press contributed to this article.