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Muqtedar Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College in
Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. in International Relations, Political Philosophy, and
Islamic Political Thought, from Georgetown University in May 2000.
Dr. Khan's column has
appeared in The Daily Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, Detroit
News, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Muslim Democrat,
Iviews.com,ptimes.com, Theglobalist.com, Freerepublic.com, MiddleEast Online,
Beliefnet.com, Arabies Trends, Al-Mustaqbal, and many other periodicals world wide.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Islam in America
2. American Muslims and American Politics
3. American Muslims and American Foreign Policy
4. American Muslims and American Society
5. American Muslim Perspective
6. Reflections on Islam and Democracy
7. The Attack on America ands its Aftermath
8. An American Muslim Perspective of the Muslim World
FOR MORE DETAILS CLICK BOOK
For a comprehensive resume click here: Resume
Laden is an Enemy of Islam
Develop an Intolerance for Intolerance
Foreign Policy a Barrier to Democracy in the Muslim World?
A Memo to
Memo to American Muslims
War Against Iraq: Illogical and Unethical
Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.
Detroit News, August 18, 2002.
The drum beats for the war against Iraq are getting louder everyday. It is becoming
apparent that Washington is getting ready to take some kind of military
action against Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein from power. President Bushs
desire for a change of regime in Baghdad and its tenuous connection with the war on terror
raise several questions that are yet to be discussed and debated in the public sphere. The
last time I checked we were still a democracy.
The Bush administration has failed to establish any
plausible connection between the attacks on America on September 11 and Saddam Hussein. Even American
allies such as Great Britain are not convinced that attacking Iraq is the best thing to do in order to reduce the
threat that Saddam poses to America and its allies in the region. The Saudis and the
Kuwaitis, who should most fear any military (mis) adventure by the Butcher from Baghdad, are not convinced that at the moment Iraq threatens them.
In the absence of any imminent danger to allies in
the region and any connection between Baghdad and Bin Ladin, the only reason why the US may attack Iraq is to preempt
Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
against the US and its allies.
There are two grounds on which I disagree with the
conservatives hawks. They are on the premises and the logic of their argument and on
The hawks, such as Richard Pearl a member of the
defense planning board, and the administration argue that Saddam is very close to
developing WMD and once he succeeds he will pass them on to terrorists who will then use
them against the US or Israel. Therefore rather than wait for another 9/11 with
potentially far more devastating consequences, America must act now and remove Saddam from
power even if it means that America has to got to war alone without the
participation of its European allies and the without the logistical support of its Middle
The problem with this argument is that it is not
consistent with the facts. We know that Saddam already has biological and chemical weapons
he has used them against Kurds and Iranians. He has had them for over 15 years now.
But in the fifteen years that he has had access to chemical weapons, Saddam Hussein has
not passed them on to either the Al Qaeda or to
Hamas, or Islamic Jihad. It would have been very easy to
hand them over to Hezbollah in Lebanon to use against the Israelis who were for sometime
occupying Southern Lebanon. But this did not happen then, why should it
happen now or in the future? The hawks and
the administration have not answered this question convincingly.
The Ethics of Preemption
The second problem with the proposed war against Iraq is the logic of preemption. America is threatening to attack Iraq because Iraq seeks WMD capability. Ironically threats of
invasion and attack by powerful states like the US and Israel who already possesses nuclear and other WMD in
hundreds and thousands is itself a justification for these regimes to acquire weapons that
they can use to deter US and Israel. Thus in a perverse fashion threats of war from Washington provides a justification for states like Iraq to hasten their WMD projects. While this important
ethical conundrum has escaped serious discussion in American media, it is obvious to rest
of the world, including American allies in Europe.
If the US would make a preemptive strike against Iraq it will set a dangerous precedent. Consider for
example the fact that Israel too has an illegal, an unlike Iraq a more successful WMD program. On several
occasions Israeli leaders have identified Iran as an arch enemy.
Does that mean, using the American logic of preemptive strikes, Iran would be justified to attack a hostile state with
illegal WMD programs? Does it also mean that India can wage a preemptive war against Pakistan? Does it also mean that China will be justified in making a preemptive strike
against the US?
These are serious questions. The US cannot subvert the international order and its
ethical norms when it suits its interests and then demand that other nations abide by
Saddam Hussein has never attacked America directly nor has he threatened to attack the US. Yes, he is a despot and is responsible perhaps
for the deaths of millions of people. He deserved to be removed from power and tried for
the crimes he has committed. But a war against Iraq will cause unimaginable pain suffering to innocent
Iraqis who have already suffered tremendously at the hands of Saddam and the US sponsored sanctions.
While most of the Muslim and Arab world is opposed
to a war on Iraq that will punish innocent Iraqis, It is in total
agreement with Washington on the need to oust Saddam from power. Washington must make a serious effort to work with its
regional allies and find a less bellicose solution to the problem.
Perhaps a ten billion dollar bounty and guaranteed
amnesty for past crimes to individuals or groups who can dislodge Saddam may be a way to
go. The war is expected to cost $100 billion upfront and about $20 billion every year.
While extremely abhorrent even attempts to assassinate him would be preferable to an all
A war is always a serious affair. We must explore
every possible alternative, debate every aspect before taking this drastic step.