The U.S.’s stated plan to take out Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is deeply troubling. To begin with, the American people, including the leaders of Congress, have not been offered convincing evidence that Hussein is an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. or of Israel or of Iraq’s other neighbors. Further, it is not clear what would happen if Hussein were removed. Would another military dictatorship take his place? Would the U.S. be committing itself to propping up a puppet regime indefinitely and maintaining a military presence there? Would a weaker Iraq lead to even further destabilization of the region, tempting nations like Iran to adventurous mischief?
George Lopez and several colleagues at the University of Notre Dame have noted that there are two separate yet related empirical questions in the debate over Iraq that haven’t been answered: What are Iraq’s capabilities for using nuclear or biological weapons? And what are Hussein’s intentions?