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(IRAQ to SEPTEMBER 2003 – continued)

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IRAQ to SEPTEMBER 2003 (4 of 7)

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Congressional Approval and Demonstrations, October to December 2002

The Bush administration went to Congress in early October to lobby for permission to make war on Iraq should Iraq fail to comply with UN resolutions. He told Congress: "The Iraqi regime possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons." He spoke of the 1998 resolution by Congress and said he did not want a resolution that was weaker or that tied his hands.

A few days later the resolution that Bush was seeking passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, giving Bush the right to go to war against Iraq provided that he "declare to Congress either before or within 48 hours after beginning military action that diplomatic efforts to enforce the UN resolutions have failed." According to the resolution, Bush had to certify that action against Iraq would not hinder efforts to pursue the al Qaeda terrorist network.

On October 26 were massive anti-war demonstrations in Europe, Latin America, Australia, Japan and the United States. Organizers of the march in Washington DC described the march as having "... filled the broad boulevards and streets surrounding the White House for 20 blocks."

The CIA had been under pressure from the Bush administration because of its past failures at intelligence gathering. The CIA director wanted to please the Bush administration. The National Intelligence Estimate that Senator Graham asked for was produced, a document that justified the position of those working in the Bush administration who wanted war against Iraq.  

In the mid-term Congressional elections of 5 November the party occupying the White House for the first time in many years gained seats in the House and Senate, suggesting support for President Bush.

On 8 November, US and British influence contributed to a new resolution by the UN Security Council – Resolution 1441. It deplored Iraq's failures to live up to previous resolutions. The resolution recalled that the Security Council had repeatedly warned Iraq "that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations."

Saddam Hussein had been presenting himself as a man of peace. On 1 August 2002 his administration had announced that the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, was welcome in Baghdad for "technical talks." On 16 September, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that he had received a letter from the Iraqi Government offering to allow the unconditional return of weapons inspectors. On 18November 2002, UN weapons inspectors returned to Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iraq was getting ready to defend itself militarily. According to Hussein's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, the morale of Hussein's military plummeted after senior officers learned that they faced fighting the United States without the weapons of mass destruction.

The Hussein regime was playing to world opinion against war as best it could. Speaking to an Arab journalist and looking forward to support from people opposed to war, Hussein said, "No one wants this aggressive military action against Iraq. Everyone is afraid of the consequences that will result from it." Hussein's Deputy Prime Minister Aziz (a Christian, by the way) spoke to what was believed to be a reluctance by the US to put its ground forces at risk. He said that if war does come "...we will fight them in the cities.... They can damage buildings and installations, but they can't topple the regime with airplanes and missiles."

On 7 December, Iraq submitted a 12,000-page declaration on its chemical, biological and nuclear activities, claiming it had none of the weapons banned by the United Nations.

On 21 December, President Bush approved the deployment of US troops to the Gulf region.

On 22 December in Baghdad an advisor to Hussein, Amir al-Saadi, announced to journalists from around the world that Hussein's government was "ready to answer any questions raised by the United States and Britain on its arms declaration, and would allow the CIA to come and identify suspect sites for weapons inspectors." Said al-Saadi, "We do not even have any objections if the CIA sent somebody with the inspectors to show them the suspected sites."

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