In My Opinion…

January 1, 2007

Preventative Maintenance

Filed under: History,Military History,Politics — Thomas Hagen @ 8:53 am

Throughout the duration of Saddam Hussein’s reign as the supreme leader of Iraq, he has been responsible for mass executions, unprovoked attacks on neighboring countries, ecological terrorism, and the use of conventional and chemical weapons against his own people. The question is not if he would strike again, but when. By deposing an evil dictator before he can do more harm, the United States is justified in its war with Iraq.

The atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein would begin almost immediately after he came into power. Saddam took control of Iraq in a bloodless coup on July 16, 1979. Less than a week later he called for a conference of senior Party officials, in which one of his close associates announced that a plot against the Party had been discovered. An alleged conspirator was produced who proceeded to tell the audience details of the plot. Saddam then took the podium armed with a list of names, which he began to read aloud. As the names were read, the men were escorted out. Sixty-six names were on that list, including a close friend of Saddam’s. A mock trial was held and fifty-five men were found guilty. Twenty-two were sentenced to death, while the rest were sent to prison (Karsh 109-16).

Approximately a year later, Saddam Hussein took Iraq to war. On September 22, 1980 Iraq launched attacks on airfields in the neighboring country of Iran (Al-Khalil 258). Iran often sent human waves into battle during the war, which were driven back many times by the use of chemical weapons (Butler 18). During the eight-year struggle, Iran accused Iraq of the use of chemical weapons on at least 40 occasions, but Iran’s lack of international credibility caused most of the claims to be ignored (Sciolino 149). Saddam has never personally admitted to using chemical weapons against Iran, but one of his generals is said to have compared the atrocity to using insecticide on insects. Iraq later claimed the right to use any weapons it had, regardless of international opinion (Butler 18).

Atrocities were not limited to Iraq’s neighbors. The Kurds of northern Iraq began to rebel against Saddam during the Iran-Iraq War, causing him to begin their systematic persecution. 8,000 Kurds that had been previously imprisoned were executed, as well as hundreds more who openly opposed Saddam (Karsh 169). In March 1988, the Kurdish town of Halabjah was attacked with hydrogen cyanide, leaving 15,000 men, women, and children dead or wounded (Keegan 69-70). In the following months, a further sixty-five villages were attacked with mustard gas, cyanide, and nerve agents (Karsh 169), bringing hundreds of casualties and forcing 250,000 refugees to flee to Iran and Turkey (Keegan 70). Another 500,000 Kurds were placed in concentration camps or controlled areas in northern and southern Iraq. Several Kurdish villages in Iran were also gassed (Karsh 169).

After the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq’s military was stronger than ever, but its economy was struggling (Karsh 194). Saddam declared the oil prices set by the Persian Gulf states were costing Iraq $1 billion a year, and failure to disregard his demands on oil quotas would be seen as a declaration of war on Iraq (Karsh 206). Saddam determined the nation of Kuwait was continuing to flood the market with oil, costing Iraq $89 billion. There was also a dispute over oil fields set up by Kuwait in an area known as Rumaila. While Kuwait saw these demands as attempts at a bargaining agreement, Saddam intended them as ultimatums. When it was apparent that Kuwait was not going to comply, Iraq began moving troops toward the border (Karsh 211-13). On the morning of August 2, 1990 Iraq sent 100,000 troops and 300 tanks across the border into Kuwait to face an army of 16,000 Kuwaitis. The world quickly protested the invasion. The United Nations Security Counsel met and imposed sanctions and resolutions against Iraq calling for its immediate withdrawal from Kuwait (Karsh 218). When the proposed date was not met, military action was taken. Coalition bombs began to fall on Iraq on January 17, 1991 (Sciolino 300).

One of the weapons in Iraq’s arsenal is the SCUD surface-to-surface missile. This medium-ranged weapon has a range of 150 miles with poor accuracy. During the Gulf War, many SCUD missiles were launched by Iraq at Israel in order to lure them into the war in an attempt to break up the western and Arab coalition against it (Keegan 79). The unprovoked attacks on Israel did not have the desired affect. Israel remained a bystander and the coalition held firm (Butler 38).

Saddam soon resorted to a scorched earth policy—setting fire to several oil wells in Kuwait. While this tactic did have partial strategic value by creating a smoke screen that could inhibit Coalition operations, its main goal was simply to devastate the oil field, as well as cause an ecological crisis. This was compounded when Iraq began pumping Kuwaiti oil into the Persian Gulf. Approximately 200,000 barrels of oil a day was pumped into the Gulf, creating an oil slick over 240 square miles (Karsh 251).

As the conflict began to end, Iraq was in disorder. Many Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq began to revolt. A number of Ba’ath Party buildings were destroyed and several state and party officials were killed (Keegan 83). The Iraqi military used napalm, cluster bombs, and SCUD missiles to quell the uprising. The estimated Shiite death toll from the rebellion is 30,000 killed; with many thousands more seeking refuge in Iran. Scores of Shiite mosques, schools, and other religious buildings were also destroyed (Embry).

Since the end of the Gulf War, many claims have surfaced concerning Iraq’s arsenal of WMDs—Weapons of Mass Destruction. A United Nations commission known as UNSCOM was formed and worked inside Iraq for years inspecting sites and destroying a large portion of Saddam’s WMD arsenal (Keegan 105). The attacks on America on September 11, 2001 gave cause for concern that any undiscovered WMDs could be used by Iraq, or end up in the hands of terrorist organizations. Periodic refusals by Iraq to allow UN inspections, before and after 9/11, did much to further that concern.

History shows that it would have only been a matter of time before Saddam Hussein committed more atrocious acts upon his own people, his neighbors, or the world. By deposing an evil dictator, the US has made the region, and our own country, safe from his future treachery.

Works Cited

Al-Khalil, Samir. Republic of Fear: The Inside Story of Saddam’s Iraq. New York: Pantheon Books, 1989.

Butler, Richard. The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Growing Crisis of Global Security. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000.

Embry, Jason. “Uprising in Iraq may be slow because of US inaction in 1991.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer. April 5, 2003. <;.

Karsh, Efraim and Rautsi, Inari. Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
Keegan, John. The Iraq War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

Sciolino, Elaine. The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein’s Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1991.


Condoleezza Rice: American Woman

Filed under: Politics — Thomas Hagen @ 7:33 am

As an African-American woman born in the segregated south, Condoleezza Rice has overcome many adversities on her way to becoming the most powerful and influential female in the history of the United States. First, her religious upbringing instilled in her very positive values. Second, her education has given her the knowledge to succeed in her many endeavors. Finally, her experiences in political and organizational leadership have taken her to the heights of an often male-dominated world. Dr. Rice has combined these characteristics to become an individual of which Americans can be proud. She is, without a doubt, an asset to the U.S. Based on all of her accomplishments, Condoleezza Rice is a shining example for the American people.

Condoleezza was born in Birmingham, Alabama on November 14, 1954. Her father was the minister of a local Presbyterian church. Her mother was the church piano and organ player, as well as a teacher at an elementary school. Both parents gave her the belief that by maintaining focus and discipline, a person can achieve any possibility in life. Condi, as she is often referred to as, was sheltered from the segregation of Birmingham by a close-knit, middle-class black community. They managed to ignore the racism around them. (Felix 36-7).

Condi’s education would begin at home. She learned to read at a very young age, and as a result, her mother wanted her to begin school early. When the principal of the local elementary school said she was too young to begin her education, her mother took a leave of absence from teaching and gave Condi home schooling. She became so advanced that she was allowed to skip the first grade. Later, she would be allowed to skip the seventh grade, as well (Felix 39).

By age ten, Condoleezza was on her way to becoming a piano prodigy. She had already been playing for seven years, and it was time to take her music to the next level. She was enrolled in the Birmingham Southern Conservatory of Music as its first black student. The school had been recently integrated, and Condi’s enrollment would be its first test of that system. There, Condi was able to refine her piano skills, and was also exposed to the basics of the flute and violin. Music appreciation continues to be a large focus of her life (Felix 42-3).

In 1969, the Rice family moved to Denver, Colorado. The racism and segregation of the South was replaced by acceptance in Denver. Condi attended St. Mary’s Academy, a private Catholic school, where she graduated in 1971. At that time, she was simultaneously attending the University of Denver, working on a Bachelor’s Degree in an undecided major. Condi also found the time to enter, and win, a young artist’s competition, allowing her to perform Mozart with the Denver Symphony Orchestra (Felix 60-9).

Condi continued to search for a major course of study in Denver, until the day she walked into a course named “Introduction to International Politics.” Her interest was instantly sparked, and she found herself wanting to know all she could about Russian and Soviet affairs. Her professor, a former European diplomat, was impressed by Condi’s passion of the subject and encouraged her to join the university’s school of international relations that he had founded. Condoleezza Rice now knew what she wanted to do with her life. She graduated with honors from the University of Denver with a B.A. in Political Science, and was named Outstanding Senior Woman by the university (Felix 74-84).

Condi went on to do her graduate work at Notre Dame University, and her interest in Russian and Soviet affairs followed her there. While at Notre Dame she studied Russian and Soviet history, as well as further studies in the Russian language. Their Department of Government and International Studies eventually created a specialized program for Condi that combined her regular courses with independent studies. She left Notre Dame with an M.A. in government in 1975 (Felix 89-97).

After graduating from Notre Dame, Condi returned to Denver. She enrolled in the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies in hopes of pinpointing a direction to take her career. Condi remained focused. She soon realized that political science continued to be her field of interest, and enrolled in their Ph.D. program. Condoleezza Rice became Dr. Rice on August 14, 1981, receiving a Ph.D. in international studies from the University of Denver (Felix 97-111).

At the age of twenty-six, Condoleezza was awarded a post-doctorate fellowship at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Arms Control. As a Soviet researcher, she was associated with policymakers, business people, security specialists, and other experts to study issues of international security. Condi made such a strong impression that she was asked to join the faculty. She began the following semester as an assistant professor of political science. At that time, she was the only African-American on the faculty at Stanford (Felix 115-6).

Condi found much success at Stanford. In 1984 she was awarded the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1993, she received the School of Humanities and Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. While at Stanford, she also became a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Fellow of the Hoover Institution. She was eventually asked to be the Provost at Stanford, putting her in charge of the academic programs, and a $1.5 billion budget (White House). She was the youngest person, and first woman, black or white, to hold that position (Source Watch).

In 1986, Ms. Rice went to Washington. First, she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Then, from 1989 to 1991, she served in the Bush Administration as Director, then Senior Director of Soviet and East Europe Affairs, in the National Security Council. By 2001, Condi was appointed Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the position commonly referred to as National Security Advisor. She is the only woman, of any race, to have held that office. In 2005, Condoleezza Rice was named the United States Secretary of State (Department of State).

Condi has served on the boards of several companies and organizations. She has sat on the board of the Chevron Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the University of Notre Dame, the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan, and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors. She is the founder of the Center for a New Generation, and has been the Vice President of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. Her other board seats have included the Transamerica Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Carnegie Corporation, the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, the Rand Corporation, the National Council for Soviet and East European Studies, and public broadcasting for the city of San Francisco (Department of State).

Dr. Rice has written and edited several books and articles. Her experience and education have made her words invaluable in the area of Soviet and Eastern Europe affairs. Condi’s published works include Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft, The Gorbachev Era, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army. Many of her articles have appeared in the Washington Post and Foreign Affairs magazine (Source Watch). Her words carry weight, and many important and powerful people care what she has to say.

Condoleezza Rice has worked her way to the top of international politics, and has reached that pinnacle on her own terms. The style, and intelligence, and experience she brings to the field are invaluable to the United States. Forbes magazine has named her the 2005 World’s Most Powerful Woman (Serafin). We should be proud to have such an individual representing our country in today’s world. This American woman is truly an example for all Americans.

Works Cited

Department of State. “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice” U.S. Department of State. <;.

Felix, Antonia. Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story. New York: Newmarket Press, 2002.

Serafin, Tatiana. “Condoleezza Rice, The Most Powerful Women.” <;.

Source Watch. “Condoleezza Rice” Source Watch. <;.

White House. “Biography of Condoleezza Rice” The White House. <;.

Border Insecurity

Filed under: Politics — Thomas Hagen @ 3:33 am

The United States of America is being invaded by millions of people who enter the country illegally. The question of how to handle this national security crisis is on the minds of many Americans. Several civil liberty groups and labor unions are demanding amnesty and full citizenship for illegal immigrants. Some supporters of illegal immigration have gone so far as to suggest that the borders be opened to allow all people in any time they want. Various bills on how to address the issue are being furiously debated in Congress. However, the true answer to the problems of illegal immigration and the threat to America’s sovereignty is simply enforcing border security.

First, the invasion has numbers on its side. While there is no way of accurately assessing the illegal alien population in the U.S., the March 2005 Current Population Survey accounted for approximately 9.8 million illegal immigrants in their study. However, the survey does not account for those illegal immigrants that did not take part. Likewise, the Current Population Survey estimates that about one half the 5.2 million foreign born in the United States between 2000 and 2005 were due to the illegal population, and that one half of all new arrivals are illegal immigrants (Camarota).

Second, the invasion has its allies. Labor organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, have called for amnesty for all illegal immigrants, as well as eliminating sanctions on employers who hire them. The United States Chamber of Commerce has also voiced support for amnesty (Reyes). In fact, even the government of Mexico has gone so far as to support those who demand amnesty for illegal immigrants (Cevallos). But the Mexican government does not stop there. Mexican President Vicente Fox, and the Mexican Foreign Ministry’s institutional liaison for northern border affairs, Arturo Gonzalez Cruz, have spoken out in favor of opening the U.S.-Mexican border to everyone. Mr. Fox has long been a proponent of open borders throughout North America (Seper). Yet, Mr. Fox is not interested in opening the southern border of Mexico to immigrants from Central America and South America (Grayson). This is absolute hypocracy.

America needs to defend itself from this invasion. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security was established as a response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. As a result, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was formed under the DHS. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for securing our nation’s borders by uniting customs, immigration and naturalization, and agricultural inspection officials under the same agency. Technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, are intended to aid in the task of patrolling the borders (National Border Patrol Strategy).

Sadly, there are not enough border patrol agents to do the job properly. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner has stated that without the use of new technologies, up to 50,000 Border Patrol agents would be required to secure the United States’s borders. As of May 2005, there were a mere 10,800 Border Patrol agents charged with securing our northern and southern borders. In a token attempt to increase the number of agents, the Bush administration’s 2006 fiscal budget called for an increase of a meager 210 agents (Strohm). To further complicate the personnel problem, the Border Patrol’s sole unmanned aerial vehicle was destroyed in a 2006 crash (Border Patrol’s… …vehicle crashes).

Unfortunately, the U.S. military is unable to offer much assistance. After the American Civil War, federal troops were used to restore order, and enforce reconstruction laws in the south. The Army was occasionally stationed near polling places and political events, which brought great concern to many members of Congress. They feared that the military was drifting away from its intended role of national defense. As a result, the Posse Comitatus Act was passed to exclude the military from the role of civilian law enforcement (Trebilcock).

At this time, Congress is debating numerous bills relating to immigration and border security. On the subject of Points of Entry, Congress is interested in expanding the biometric system used to screen prospective entrants. Congress is also debating the success of the “one face at the border” initiative, which combines customs and immigration inspections. Concerning areas between Points of Entry, Congress is debating whether or not the Department of Homeland Security has a practical border security strategy. Congress also wants to know if the United States Border Patrol has enough resources to achieve and maintain operational control of our borders. Other legislation being debated include the expansion of fences along the U.S.-Mexican border, military patrols and surveillance along the border, “catch and release” practices (Nunez-Neto,) and the Posse Comitatus Act (Pentagon exploring…border security).

None of the proposed answers to the question of illegal immigration can hope to be effective until America has a firm grasp of its borders. The Customs and Border Patrol agency is operating with nearly one-fifth of its intended capacity of agents (Strohm). Technologies that have been promised have been acquired in inadequate quantities (Border Patrol’s… …vehicle crashes). Federal troops are limited by law in the types of functions they may perform in defending the America’s borders (Trebilcock). Until we bring a change to these issues, America’s border security, national security, and basic sovereignty will be at risk.

Works Cited

“Border Patrol’s unmanned aerial vehicle crashes.” 25 April 2006. <;.

Camarota, Steven A. “Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America’s Foreign-Born Population in 2005.” Center for Immigration Studies. December 2005. <;.

Cevallos, Diego. “INT’L LABOUR DAY: Mexico Backs ‘Day Without Immigrants’.” Inter Press Service News Agency. 28 April 2006. <;.

Grayson, George W. “Mexico’s Forgotten Southern Border: Does Mexico practice at home what it preaches abroad?” Center for Immigration Studies. July 2002. <;.

“National Border Patrol Strategy.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection. September 2004. < strategy.ctt/national_bp_strategy.pdf>.

Nunez-Neto, Blas and Beaver, Cheryl. “Immigration Related Border Security Legislation in the 109th Congress.” U.S. Department of State. 3 April 2006. <;.

“Pentagon exploring ways to use military for border security.” 12 May 2006. <;.

Reyes, Teofilo. “AFL-CIO, in Dramatic Turnaround, Endorses Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants.” Labor Notes. <;.

Seper, Jerry. “Mexican Official Seeks Open Border.” The Washington Times. <;.

Strohm, Chris. “Border Patrol seeks more personnel, might enlist citizen patrols.” 13 May 2005. <;.

Trebilcock, Craig T. “The Myth of Posse Comitatus.” Homeland Security Institute. October 2000 <;.

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