Last weeks Foothill College debate over the impending war with Iraq inspired mostly opposing views to the United States taking military action. Arguments for and against are strong: those for it see war as a must to prevent dictator Saddam Hussein from producing weapons of mass destruction that could kill millions, if not now, then later.
Those against it say there is not enough proof that such weapons exist, and war would incite even more terrorist activities.
Give peace a chance, they say.
Some say peace has been given a chance. President Bush says Saddam has had plenty of opportunities to reveal and surrender his most dangerous weapons. Peace promoters say United Nations weapons inspectors need more time.
There are cynics among us who feel Bush is pushing for war because Saddam can be had. Bush can continue to ride the war on terror that has helped his popularity since Sept. 11, and he can finish up what his dad, George Sr., failed to do during the Persian Gulf War.
War also serves as a deterrent to our failure to find the chief culprit of the terrorist attacks, Osama bin Laden, despite his taunting video messages that are surfacing with increasing regularity.
However, we're mostly in agreement that Saddam is a dangerous dictator. He's freed criminals at the drop of a hat while torturing and killing his own innocent people. Such an unstable person, combined with deadly weapons, is a recipe for disaster.
War should always be the last resort. But history is replete with examples of countries reacting too late to dictators bent on conquest. Europeans tried to look the other way while Adolf Hitler strengthened Germany's military might throughout the 1930s. The result was an invasion of Poland and the start of World War II. Would the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor have taken place if the United States had entered the war earlier?
Yes, a war with Iraq will result in American casualties. However, many, many more are likely to perish if Saddam is left alone. A man of Saddam's nature does not stockpile weapons for purely defensive purposes.
The best option for the United States is to take out Iraqi forces quickly, using precision air strikes, as was done in the Gulf War. The worst scenario would be a ground war in the streets of Baghdad that would result in many more casualties.
Beyond Iraq, North Korea, with its dubious leadership and nuclear weapons allegedly capable of reaching the West Coast, poses another threat. We would love peace. But in the face of such leaders, the best defense is a good offense.