( – If President Bush’s prime time speech Oct. 7 was like a prosecutor making a case for action, the argument was not compelling enough to merit unilateral attacks on Iraq by America.

In addition, any closing argument by prosecutors would have been balanced by a closing argument from defense lawyers, who in this case would not argue for Saddam Hussein, but in the interest of peace and negotiations.

Though the lighting was excellent, the setting well done, the chief executive nattily dressed and the Cincinnati audience limited to obvious supporters, the substance of the message didn’t bring anything new to the war debate.


There was again talk of the evils of Saddam Hussein, the threat of his weapons of mass destruction, his poison gas attacks on his own people, his invasion of Kuwait and war with Iran. There was talk of how UN resolutions have been flouted, his lack of respect for international law and the threat that Iraq remains to its neighbors.

If Saddam Hussein is evil, than little has changed over the past 11 years in the eyes of U.S. presidents, so moral flaws alone cannot mandate pre-emptive strikes.

The poison gas attacks on his people and Iranians occurred during the 1980s war and U.S. military planners knew about potential misuse of information given to Iraq’s leader during the war with Iraq to help gas people. The U.S. didn’t say much when President Hussein used poison gas on Iranians because U.S. officials didn’t like the revolutionary Islamic regime that replaced the brutal shah of Iran, their longtime client.

Nor did a State Department official who met with President Hussein before the Kuwait invasion warn that the international community would not accept such an act. Iraq’s biological weapons were also acquired thanks to friends in the good ole U.S.A. Moral arguments diminish when the prosecutor has ties to the accused and subsequent dirty deeds.

Support for any U.S. action by Iraq’s neighbors hasn’t been based on threats from Iraq, but came from U.S. media bashing and accusations that Saudi Arabia was a hotbed of terrorism, that Kuwait was ungrateful for the U.S. bailout 11-years-ago and other behind the scenes arm-twisting. Saudi Arabia’s support came with a caveat that the UN should sanction any military action and was followed by a Saudi plea to Iraq to allow weapons inspectors to return.

Polls are showing Americans are increasingly worried about war and anti-war groups are marshalling their forces to oppose an imperial U.S. presidency. In a legal case, perhaps these polls numbers would be similar to friend of the court briefs. A USA Today/CNN poll found 49 percent of Americans felt all diplomatic means to resolve the conflict with Iraq were not exhausted. An Oct. 7 New York Times poll found 57 percent of respondents would rather have lawmakers focus on the economy than foreign affairs.  A whooping 70 percent of the people in the Times poll would rather have congressional candidates talk about the economy than war with Iraq.

Loyal members of Congress, who actually fought in the Vietnam War and visited Iraq, returned to say unilateral military action would be a mistake and the impact of 11 years of sanctions on the Iraqi people has been devastating. Perhaps in a trial, they would be witnesses for the defense.

In the end, evidence doesn’t add up to justification for a war with Iraq and nothing has been presented to prove otherwise.