Twelve years of diplomacy. More than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions. Hundreds of U-N weapons inspectors. Even strikes against selected military targets in Iraq. All of these measures were tried to compel Saddam Hussein’s regime to comply with the terms of the 1991 Persian Gulf War cease-fire agreement. All these measures failed.
In November 2002, the U-N Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution finding Iraq in material breach of its obligations to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. The U-N vowed serious consequences in the event Saddam Hussein did not fully and immediately comply. The Iraqi dictator refused. And on March 17th, President George W. Bush gave Saddam and his sons Uday and Qusay forty-eight hours to leave Iraq.
Saddam’s decision to remain was one of the last he made as dictator of that country. Now the regime of Saddam Hussein is gone forever. Now, said Vice President Dick Cheney, “the Iraqi people, the people of the Middle East, and the American people have a safer future because Saddam Hussein’s regime is history”:
“If we had not acted, Saddam Hussein and his sons would still be in power. If we had not acted, the torture chambers would still be in operation; the prison cells for children would still be filled; the mass graves would still be undiscovered; the terror network would still enjoy the support and protection of the regime.... And Saddam Hussein would still control vast wealth to spend on his chemical, biological, and nuclear ambitions.”
Twenty-nine countries have joined the U.S. and Britain to help stabilize Iraq. Vice President Cheney says that basic services are being restored:
“Coalition authorities are training Iraqi police forces to help patrol Iraqi cities and villages, and will soon establish a new civilian police force... A governing council of Iraqis, recognized by the United Nations, is now operating, naming ministers, and drawing up a budget for the country.”
Many dangers remain in Iraq. There are still holdouts from Saddam’s regime, joined by terrorists from outside the country. “Our ongoing mission is not easy,” said Vice President Cheney. But, “We will help the Iraqi people to build a free, sovereign, and democratic nation.”