January 30, 2003
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Signs of war grow stronger

President Bush in his State of the Union address Tuesday talked about social issues and a war with Iraq. He talked about reviving the economy and fighting terrorism. His economic message was more of the same: big tax cuts for the wealthy are coming. But what he failed to do once again Tuesday was make the case for attacking Iraq.

Mr. Bush essentially made it clear that he intends to attack Iraq, with or without the support of the United Nations. The president said, “The course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others.” This position was also evident on Monday, when Secretary of State Colin Powell said that time was running out, alluding to the U.N. weapons inspections and Saddam Hussein.

That Saddam Hussein is evil is not in doubt. The world, and the Iraqi people, would certainly be better off without Saddam. It is still not clear, however, that the dictator and his country are an immediate threat to the U.S. and the rest of the world. It is also not clear why the Bush administration is hinting that its patience with or support of the inspection program is waning. It seems that a war with Iraq is imminent.

Since 9/11, the president has at times argued successfully for increasing security at home and the globe; he used our allies’ support after the terrorist attacks to launch a war on terrorism; and he helped unify the U.N. to call for Iraq to disarm its weapons programs.

Lately, however, the support the U.S. painfully gained has faded. Many of our allies continue to question the administration’s motives and tactics in the Iraq debate. Instead of providing answers, the administration dismisses its critics. This is no way to build coalitions. And the bigger and stronger the coalition, the better chance the U.S. will have of finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in Iraq.


—Robert Mihalek