December 20, 2002

Why We Fight

Stories about why we should go to war versus stories of why we shouldn't.


Host Ira Glass tells the story of a report by the U.S. intelligence community back in October 2002 that declared that the likelihood of Saddam Hussein using weapons of massive destruction was very low for the "foreseeable future"...unless the U.S. were to launch a military attack on Iraq. In other words, the war to stop him from using weapons of mass destruction would probably cause the thing it was designed to prevent. Ira talks with Senator Bob Graham, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who asked the intelligence community to do this risk assessment, and who was surprised it didn't have more effect on the public debate over the war. Before he and Ira get off the phone, the Senator asks Ira to please pose a few questions about the intelligence report to the Administration for him. (7 minutes)
Act Two

When Firas Comes Marching Home Again

For an Iraqi perspective on the war, we hear from Iraqis who've just crossed over the border into Jordan. It's the only open border with Iraq and 150,000 Iraqis live in Amman. Reporter Adam Davidson talks with a soldier who'll probably fight in the war against the United States, a man who claims he was one of Saddam Hussein's bodyguards and knows locations of hidden chemical weapons in Iraq. (18 minutes)
Act Three

Realism 101

It's possible that the most compelling arguments against the war with Iraq, and the most compelling arguments for the war with Iraq, are arguments you've never heard. Ira talks with journalist Nicholas Lemann from The New Yorker magazine about two ways of seeing the war: The so-called Hawks' view, and the so-called Realists' view. His article about all this is called "The War on What?" Two of the Realists, Stephen Van Evera from M.I.T. and Stephen Walt of Harvard, lay out their surprising case against the war. Arguing a very persuasive case against them is Kenneth Pollack, of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, who was a Persian Gulf military analyst for seven years at the CIA (including during the Persian Gulf War) and after that for the National Security Council under President Clinton. He wrote a book called The Threatening Storm: the Case for Invading Iraq. (19 minutes)
Act Four

Who Cares?

While we all may have nagging fears about the war against terror or the war against Iraq, we all have a lot of other things on our minds. We hear 19 eighth-graders' letters to the President, as collected by their teacher, Britt Honeycutt, in rural North Carolina. They come from a website where people post letters to the President for the world to see. Hudson is the author of a book of short stories called Dear Mr. President. (7 minutes)