Wednesday, 8 March 2023 — The Dissenter
Former President Jimmy Carter, who had won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, shakes hands with President George W. Bush (Bush Archives)
March 8, 2003: In an op-ed for the New York Times, former President Jimmy Carter opposes going to war in Iraq.
“As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards,” Carter declares. “This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.”
“[W]ith our own national security not directly threatened and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations.”
Carter adds, “The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.”
In spite of opposition to the case for war, President George W. Bush’s administration and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration escalate their effort to secure a March 17 deadline for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to disarm.
Their plan is stiffly rejected by France, Russia, and China, with the Associated Press reporting that French President Jacques Chirac has proposed a “summit of world leaders at the [United Nations] Security Council to develop a compromise.
Iraq continues to destroy Al Samoud 2 missiles, and with U.N. weapons inspectors praising cooperation from Iraq, the government “calls for the lifting of sanctions imposed since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait” and “for the Security Council to take action against Israeli and American weapons of mass destruction.”
Agence France-Presse reports that Bush believes that Iraq is engaged in a “willful charade” to thwart U.N. inspectors.
Even as chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix insists “lethal weapons are being destroyed” and “we are not watching the breaking of toothpicks,” Secretary of State Colin Powell contends that “we don’t know how many missiles there are, how many toothpicks there are.”
As a CBS News correspondent puts it, “In the U.S. view, any disarmament by Saddam is piecemeal and performed grudgingly, because tens of thousands of US troops are at Iraq’s border.”
Bush officials feel emboldened in their push for war when they recognize that Blix’s report on Iraqi weapons mentions a drone that has a much wider wingspan than previously admitted. They are frustrated with Blix because he did not mention the drone when presenting the report to the U.N. Security Council.
“Iraq had, and still has, literally tens of thousands of delivery systems, including increasingly capable and dangerous unmanned aerial vehicles,” Powell declares.
Officials are still promoting claims that Iraq may “possess 10,000 liters of anthrax and scud missile warheads with biological and chemical agents,” even though U.N. weapons inspectors have not found such weapons.
At this time, claims that Iraq tried to obtain uranium from Niger have been thoroughly debunked. There are State Department officials who increasingly recognize how they were misled. That does not stop Powell from publicly claiming that Iraq remains committed to obtaining nuclear weapons components, such as “aluminum tubes.”