PI Original Adam Doster Wednesday March 19th, 2008, 12:51pm

FLASHBACK: Chicago Editorial Boards On Invading Iraq

Today, the editorial boards of Chicago's two major newspapers chose to ignore the five-year anniversary of our invasion into Iraq. Considering the cover their pages offered the Bush Administration in the run-up to the war, we at Progress Illinois find that silence discouraging...

Today, the editorial boards of Chicago's two major newspapers chose to ignore the five-year anniversary of our invasion into Iraq. Considering the cover their pages offered the Bush Administration in the run-up to the war, we at Progress Illinois find that silence discouraging. As a public service, we dug up an editorial published by each paper as the White House was preparing to invade Iraq. While we can't provide links, the pieces are available on LexisNexis, and the portions we've highlighted speak for themselves.

Chicago Sun-Times, March 20, 2003:

The Gulf War never ended, but was suspended on the understanding that Saddam would disarm. He did not. Just the opposite, he continued to seek and acquire weapons of mass destruction, thumbing his nose at the United Nations and its 17 resolutions. [...]

President Bush has come under enormous pressure from those who would have had him wait until one of Saddam's weapons was smuggled into New York or Chicago. First disaster, then response. Give them the first swing.

That was the old way. This war is a declaration that America will no longer wait to be attacked. The prospect of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists makes the stakes too high. Those who want to be counted as our enemies, who enhance their positions at home by becoming a threat to America, will find themselves instead threatened, in their homes. [...]

This war will end when the Iraqis are defeated or decide they have had enough. We predict that most will want to live to see a new Iraq, freed from the tyrant Saddam. We pray they will, because either way the outcome will be the same--a new day in Iraq ... America's bold decision is a victory over terror.

Chicago Tribune, "The Case for the War", March 2, 2003:

Proponents say Iraq broadly foments international terrorism. They predict that eliminating Hussein's regime would open the way for both resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the spread of democracy to neighboring lands.

Opponents say war is an expression of U.S. hubris that will further destabilize the region, prompt more terror attacks and ultimately fail to unify Iraq's rival factions. Many suspect that this is all about oil, or settling old scores.

The problem here is not with the dueling assertions but with what they betray: a yearning to resolve ambiguities in one direction, pro or con.

That yearning is as understandable as it is impossible for either side to fulfill. A case this complex is the wrong place to find moral purity of argument. And the problem with each side's predictions is that nobody knows for certain what war, or the absence of war, will catalyze.

But the core issue, on which there's considerable agreement, is clear: Saddam Hussein must disarm. The most divisive questions are whether to force him to do so, and if so, when. [...]

More after the jump ...

Last summer, critics at home and abroad railed against the Bush administration's rush to war. Many said Washington would plunge blindly into combat without making its case to the American people, to Congress or to the UN.

Instead the administration obtained congressional permission to launch a war, and a unanimous Security Council vote threatening it. Secretary of State Colin Powell has demonstrated that while Iraq is happy to cooperate minimally if that will stall a war, Hussein continues to hoard the bulk of his long-banned weaponry.

Those who oppose war, particularly on the Security Council but also in the streets of many cities, have not met similar burdens.

They cannot seriously argue that Hussein has complied with the UN's repeated demands. Nor do they point to brighter days if only the U.S. and other nations hold their fire. To their credit, the opponents don't even try to argue that Hussein miraculously will comply if our armed forces withdraw, leaving his dangerous regime intact.

The gauzy vision that proponents of war offer for a post-Hussein Iraq is, to be frank, unconvincing. But at least that will be post-Hussein Iraq, with his destructive capability gone.

The lack of virtually any rival forward vision from opponents of war is no less disturbing. What happens if Hussein survives and thrives?

For 12 years, the world's solution to Iraq's lethal menace has been to kick the can down the road and hope nothing bad happens. This ostrich act has protected a thug who aspires to intimidate his neighbors--our allies, such as Israel and Turkey, included--and mock the rest of the world. His butchery and ourcollective inaction also have cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqis their lives.

Year upon year, every earnest tool of diplomacy with Iraq has failed to improve the world's security, stop the butchery--or rationalize our inaction. The Tribune's reluctant but unavoidable conclusion today echoes the final two sentences of the editorial that appeared here in 1990: "If there is a war, the U.S. and its allies will pay a heavy price. But the price of stopping Saddam Hussein isn't going to get any smaller."

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