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A pedestrian walks past a video screen in downtown Tokyo as U.S. State Secretary Colin Powell addresses the UN Security Council in New York, February 5, 2003. Itsuo Inouye

Powell's Battle Cry — or Whine?

by Kelly Cogswell

JANUARY 6, 2003. Colin Powell spent almost all of his speech to the U.N. Security Council Wednesday presenting evidence that Iraq violated UN resolution 1441 with likely possession of chemical and biological weapons, nuclear aspirations, and a devious intent to protect them all from U.N. inspectors. Even if all of his information is correct, and inspectors are able to confirm it, the question remains why this justifies a war now.

Iraq may have the weapons unlawfully, but so do others nations like North Korea who are not threatened with attack. Iraq may have limited ties to Al Qaeda, but the U.S. was as thick as thieves with them prior to September 11, 2001. Israel regularly scoffs at UN resolutions yet has not been invaded by anyone.

Particularly lacking in Powell's speech was a reason for the United States to treat Iraq as a personal and immediate threat. His assertions that Iraq has the capacity to deliver weapons of mass destruction to the United States were almost entirely theoretical.

Spray tanks are "intended" to be mounted onto unmanned aerial vehicles. "Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb." Notice the verb tense in the sentence, "Let me talk now about the systems Iraq is developing to deliver weapons of mass destruction, in particular Iraq's ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs." Before the Gulf War, "Hussein's goal was ... to strike not only his neighbors, but also nations far beyond his borders."

Since when are intentions, possibilities, eventualities, and fantasies justifications for war?

Related Links

For a transcript of Powell's speech Part 1: includes hiding equipment, thwarting inspections, and sequestering scientists.

For a transcript of Powell's speech Part 2: includes proof of biological and chemical weapons, programs for nuclear and prohibited arms systems, ties to al Qaeda, and rousing conclusion.

For Complete Coverage Iraq

For Complete Coverage Middle East

For Complete Coverage Asia

For Complete Coverage 9/11 and Aftermath

Middle East
From a US-Iraq showdown, to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Includes original features, headlines, and web resources.

9/11 and Aftermath
Guide to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and aftermath. Includes headlines, analysis and background.

From global warming to gay- trendsetting. Includes headlines, politics, and news from beyond.

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