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Iraq Is Not the Threat It Was in the '80s

April 08, 2002

In "Safety Is Still On Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction" (Commentary, April 4), Avigdor Haselkorn suggests that Saddam Hussein might use Palestinian suicide bombers to deliver his weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq is surrounded by tremendous U.S. military power, and Baghdad's use of weapons of mass destruction (if it has any) against any other country would be suicide. That was not always the case. The United States did little to deter Baghdad's use of weapons of mass destruction against neighboring Iran and Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s. And when Iraqi forces massed on Kuwait's border in preparation to invade, the U.S. was ambivalent. On July 25, 1990, days before the invasion, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie told Hussein, "We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait."

Today the equation is far different. No one doubts that the U.S. response to any Iraqi attack would be decisive and overwhelming. Baghdad is in check. Thus, it is time to put Iraq into perspective. Even Iraq's neighbors are unconvinced that Baghdad poses a threat. With Iraq effectively deterred, the Bush administration should work through the U.N. Security Council to verifiably disarm Iraq and lift the economic sanctions.

Erik K. Gustafson

Washington

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