Prior to World War II America maintained an isolationist policy towards the rest of the world. In spite of this policy, America was drawn into two world wars. Both wars were fought on foreign soil. World War II cost America about 298,000 military and civilian dead. Russia fought both wars on its own soil. World War II cost Russia about 18 million military and civilian dead.
After World War II the United States maintained Pax Americana by engaging in limited wars on foreign soil. With the exception of Vietnam this policy has been highly successful.
Sept. 11 has changed the equation. The United States is faced with a deadly adversary that has used biological weapons against American citizens on U.S. soil, while Iraq has used chemical weapons against its own citizens.
As a consequence of its invasion of Kuwait, Iraq is forbidden from developing weapons of mass destruction. Without oversight, Iraq will eventually develop a contagious biological agent that will be resistant to the immunization vaccines that the United States has available. Released through subways and the ventilation systems of buildings, this agent will quickly spread through an unprotected population with catastrophic consequences.
President Bush is within his rights to demand that United Nations weapons inspectors be allowed into Iraq and that Iraq should cooperate in the inspection process. To date Iraq has frustrated the inspection process.
If Iraq continues to inhibit the inspection process then Bush should take whatever actions he deems appropriate to ensure that Iraq complies with the U.N. prohibition against developing weapons of mass destruction.
Sheila L. Richardson