Did Saddam Hussein and his regime pose a threat to the United States and its allies?

PRO (yes)

The US House of Representatives and the US Senate signed on Oct. 2, 2002 the "Joint Resolution to authorize the use of military action towards Iraq," which stated:

"Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in 'material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President 'to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations' (Public Law 105-235);

Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations."

Oct. 2, 2002 - Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq (36 KB)  
US Senate 
US House of Representatives 

The United Nations Security Council on Nov. 8, 2002 passed "Resolution 1441," which stated:

"The Security Council...
Recognizing the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security..."

Nov. 8, 2002 - United Nations (UN) 

Jack Straw, former United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, on Feb. 11, 2003 stated the following in remarks to the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

"The fact is that Iraq's weapons do pose a grave threat to international peace and security. It was in recognition of their singular menace, that the United Nations security council unanimously passed Security Council Resolution 1441 last November... We also have to differentiate between the threat posed by Iraq and other would-be proliferators. No other country shares Iraq's history of deploying chemical weapons in a war of aggression against a neighbor, or against innocent civilians as part of a genocidal campaign."

Feb. 11, 2003 - Jack Straw 

Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, on Sep. 18, 2002 stated in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee:

"No living dictator has shown the murderous combination of intent and capability -- of aggression against his neighbors; oppression of his own people; genocide; support of terrorism; pursuit of weapons of mass destruction; the use of weapons of mass destruction; and the most threatening hostility to its neighbors and to the United States, than Saddam Hussein and his regime."

Sep. 18, 2002 - Donald Rumsfeld 

Kenneth Pollack, PhD, Director of Research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, in a Jan. 4, 2003 PBS Frontline program titled "The War Behind Closed Doors," stated:

"Saddam Hussein's Iraq does pose a threat to the vital interests of the United States, and of the entire world. And that means that Iraq is, in some ways, a unique threat that does require an extraordinary response, a preemptive response by the United States and its allies to prevent Saddam Hussein from ever acquiring the weapons of mass destruction, in particular the nuclear weapons that would make him perhaps an insurmountable threat."

Jan. 4, 2003 - Kenneth M. Pollack, PhD 

George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd US President, on June 17, 2004 stated to reporters after a cabinet meeting at the White House:

"He (Saddam Hussein) was a threat because he had used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. He was a threat because he was a sworn enemy of the United States of America, just like al- Qaeda. He was a threat because he had terrorist connections."

June 17, 2004 - George W. Bush, MBA 

CON (no)

Colin Powell, MBA, US Secretary of State at the time of the quote, in his Feb. 24, 2001 remarks to Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Houssa, stated:

"Sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."

Feb. 24, 2001 - Colin Powell, MBA 

W. Scott Thompson, PhD, Adjunct Professor of International Politics at Tufts University, wrote in his Mar. 18, 2003 article in The Nation titled "Iraq - It's the Right War, But at the Wrong Time":

"An additional good reason is that Iraq, however nasty a regime it has, hardly poses a threat to Europe or the United States. Some of us recall how Nasser, dictator/leader of Egypt, was built up in Europe and America as a 'new Hitler' on the Nile, who must not be appeased. This laid the popular basis for Israel, Britian and France's failed 'tri-partite aggression' against Egypt in late 1956. But Nasser had no Ruhr, no industrial base to threaten the West. It was a silly analogy. We have the same case today - Saddam Hussein also is no Hitler. He may have weapons of mass destruction but these days anybody can have those if they have enough anger and a willingness to risk the wrath of the West."

Mar. 18, 2003 - W. Scott Thompson, PhD 

Robin Cook, MA, former Foreign Minister of Britain, stated in his June 6, 2003 op/ed article "Shoulder to Shoulder and Stabbed in the Back", published in the Los Angeles Times:

"There was no hard intelligence of a current weapons program that would represent a new and compelling threat to our interests. Nor did the dossier at any stage admit the basic scientific fact the biological and chemical agents have a finite shelf life — a principle understood by every pharmacist...

Even if Hussein had destroyed none of his arsenal from 1991, it would long ago have become useless."

June 6, 2003 - Robin Cook , MA 

Thomas Friedman, MA, Foreign Affairs columnist for the New York Times, in a Jan. 12, 2004 e-mail published by Slate magazine, wrote:

"The stated reason for the war was that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction that posed a long-term threat to America. I never bought this argument. I didn't have any inside information. I simply assumed that whatever WMD Saddam possessed had to be, after a decade of sanctions, so limited that it was easily deterrable. There was absolutely nothing in Saddam's history to suggest that he was suicidal—that he had the capability or will to attack the United States directly and pay the price.

He was always deterrable and containable. This was always a war of choice."

Jan. 12, 2004 - Thomas L. Friedman, MA 

Charles Peña, MA, Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, wrote in a Dec. 15, 2003 essay titled "Iraq: The Wrong War":

"Not only was Iraq not a direct military threat to the United States (even if it possessed WMD, which was a fair assumption), but there is no good evidence to support the claim that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda and would have given the group WMD to be used against the United States. In fact, all the evidence suggests the contrary. Hussein was a secular Muslim ruler, and bin Laden is a radical Muslim fundamentalist—their ideological views are hardly compatible."

Dec. 15, 2003 - Charles Peña, MA 

Gareth Evans, LLB, MA, President of the International Crisis Group, on Mar. 10, 2003 stated the following to the Council on Foreign Relations:

"It's not, I think, thoroughly established to everybody's satisfaction that Iraq is, in fact, a threat. Threat requires capability, and I think that's pretty well established, at least on the chemical and biological front. But it also requires intent. And here, I think, reporting, the international consensus on this and a large measure of domestic commentary as well, I just don't think that case has been made. Certainly the Al-Qaeda link argument has been very, very fragile indeed, in the way that that's been articulated for, and the evidence that's been produced for it. So you've got a problem in establishing a threat itself, either to the neighborhood or to the wider U.S. and Western community."

Mar. 10, 2003 - Gareth Evans, LLB, MA