Bush Fires a Warning ShotThe United States and Britain launched a large-scale air attack on a location close to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad Friday. The Bush administration explains that the air strikes were a routine response to the recent drastic increase in Iraqi attacks against allied planes patrolling the no-fly zone and an improvement in the accuracy of Iraqi radar control systems.
This is the first time in two years that the United States has attacked a military facility outside the no-fly zone close to Baghdad. Furthermore, the blitzkrieg attacks come barely a month after George W. Bush took office. It is questionable whether the situation was urgent enough to warrant the air strikes, which took place during Mr. Bush's first overseas trip as president. It is for this reason that the mission is being interpreted as a harsh warning to Saddam Hussein from the new U.S. administration that espouses a "diplomacy of power." By attacking first, the Bush administration seems to have wanted to send a message to Saddam Hussein, who, for his part, seems to be trying to work out the stance of the Bush White House and what the new rules are.
Although 10 years have passed since the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein is still alive and well. But the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqi citizens as a result of the ongoing economic sanctions have worsened. A number of major countries have expressed their strong opposition to the attack. The strikes have been fiercely protested not only by the surrounding Arab nations, but also by Russia, France, China and other members of the United Nations Security Council.
Such attacks without clear and imminent justification could have adverse effects. They may also give rise to arguments that diplomacy of power just means an increase in innocent human casualties without producing any fundamental solutions to the problems at hand.
The air raid could also be seen as a warning not only to Iraq but to all rogue states, including North Korea, Libya, Iran and Syria. How the Bush administration's diplomacy of power takes shape on the Korean Peninsula is something the Seoul government should watch closely as it looks to fine-tune its North Korea policy with the United States in the near future.