Iraq's Role in the War on Terrorism
By Amy Miller

President George H.W. Bush participates in a briefing on the progress of the ground war with Iraq in his residence office in 1991. General Colin Powell points out areas on two maps of the Middle East. Also present are: Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. (Photo: Courtsey of George Bush Presidential Library.)

As the war on terrorism continues in Afghanistan, many government and military officials say that now is the time to topple Iraq's President Saddam Hussein (sah-DAHM hoo-SANE).

For more than 10 years, the United States government and its allies, or friends, have wanted to overthrow Hussein because they believe he is dangerous. He is a dictator, or a leader who rules by military force. Anyone who criticizes Hussein in public is either jailed or executed.

"It has long been—for several years now—a policy of the United States government that regime [government] change would be in the best interests of the region, the best interests of the Iraqi people," says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In early July, the public learned that the Pentagon had outlined a plan to attack Iraq from land, sea, and air. Thousands of soldiers would target airfields, roadways, and television and radio stations, according to the plan. They would destroy factories where government officials suspect Hussein makes nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

History of Conflict
Hussein's troops invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990, hoping to control its immense oil wealth. The United Nations (UN) ordered Iraq out of Kuwait. When Hussein refused, President George H.W. Bush (the current President's father) and U.S. allies launched an attack called Operation Desert Storm in 1991. They drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in less than two months, but Saddam Hussein stayed in power.

The allies hoped Hussein would fall from power on his own after his defeat in Kuwait. The UN tried to weaken Hussein's government by imposing sanctions, or penalties, preventing all trade with Iraq. Only medical supplies and food could be imported to Iraq. The UN also set up areas called no-fly zones to keep Iraq's military in check. Iraq's military cannot operate in these areas.

Despite growing support for overthrowing Hussein, some members of Congress are critical. They say the Bush administration has not included them in any current plans to attack Iraq. Plans for an attack have been outlined in major U.S. newspapers.

"We need a national dialogue," said Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska. "If the United States decides to take action against Iraq, Americans need to understand the risks and objectives."

Also, the U.S. has yet to win support from the UN for any military action against Iraq. China, Russia, and several European allies have warned the U.S. not to attack Iraq without international support from the UN.