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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, February 27, 2003
1:53 PM

The Post has an unusual full-column editorial defending its positions on the war against Iraq.
we might begin with that phrase "rush to war." In fact there is nothing sudden or precipitous about our view that Saddam Hussein poses a grave danger. In 1990 and 1991 we supported many months of diplomacy and pressure to persuade the Iraqi dictator to withdraw his troops from Kuwait, the neighboring country he had invaded. When he failed to do so, we supported the use of force to restore Kuwait's independence. While many of the same Democrats who oppose force now opposed it then also, we believe war was the correct option -- though it was certainly not, at the time, the only choice. When the war ended, we supported -- in hindsight too unquestioningly -- a cease-fire agreement that left Saddam Hussein in power. But it was an agreement, imposed by the U.N. Security Council, that demanded that he give up his dangerous weapons.

In 1997 and 1998, we strongly backed President Clinton when he vowed that Iraq must finally honor its commitments to the United Nations to give up its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons -- and we strongly criticized him when he retreated from those vows. Mr. Clinton understood the stakes. Iraq, he said, was a "rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers or organized criminals who travel the world among us unnoticed."...

After Sept. 11, 2001, many people of both parties said -- and we certainly hoped -- that the country had moved beyond such failures of will and politicization of deadly foreign threats. An outlaw dictator, in open defiance of U.N. resolutions, unquestionably possessing and pursuing biological and chemical weapons, expressing support for the Sept. 11 attacks: Surely the nation would no longer dither in the face of such a menace. Now it seems again an open question. To us, risks that were clear before seem even clearer now.

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