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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Raid on Iraq Won't Lead To Change

The U. S. missile attack on the Iraqi intelligence headquarters over the weekend in retaliation for Saddam Hussein's alleged plot to assassinate former President George Bush raises some fundamental questions about the role of armed might in international diplomacy.


The facts are relatively simple. Washington says Iraq mounted a plot to kill Bush in Kuwait, which was thwarted one day before his visit began in April. Iraq denies the allegation. A Kuwait court is currently trying 11 Iraqis and three Kuwaitis in the case.


Twenty-three cruise missiles launched Saturday severely damaged the Iraqi headquarters, but three went awry, killing at least six Iraqis in what the Pentagon calls "collateral damage". President Bill Clinton, who ordered the attack, said he regretted civilian deaths but called the raid a "success" and said "I think the American people should feel good about it".


The rest of the world, however, also has a vested interest. Washington acted as prosecutor, judge and executioner in the case without waiting for a verdict in Kuwait or going before the court of world opinion at the United Nations.


What gives the United States-or any other nation - the right to present the evidence, make the judgment and carry out such an attack?


It is difficult to draw an exact parallel, but imagine the outcry if Russia had carried out a similar attack against a government that tried to assassinate Mikhail Gorbachev.


The United States has the power to carry out such actions and Saddam is an international pariah who few, except for the politically committed, would rush to defend. But does might make right?


Little, if anything, is likely to change as a result of the attack which probably will go down in history as a blip. If eight years of the Iran-Iraq war and a dreadful drubbing in the Gulf War did not unseat or change Saddam, 23 missiles are not going to do the job.


The word coming out of Washington last weekend was that Clinton, who has gotten off to a weak start as president, would have looked like a wimp if he did not act soon, and now that he has done so, he has proved his manhood and probably will gain in the polls. Does this mean that every four or eight years the world must be prepared for a new American president to prove himself by unleashing missiles? Any such war-based popularity is likely to be fleeting for Clinton as it proved to be for Bush.


Sadly, the only lasting effect will probably be that six innocent civilians are dead.