What’s the worst that could happen?

That’s what hawks ask about invading Iraq. They want to make it appear as though people who oppose the war are just getting hung up with petty concerns.

Ultimately, we’re being selfish. But it’s only responsible to ask what could go wrong, as Steve Chapman does in his latest column.

Among the possibilities he cites: bloody urban warfare in Baghdad, radical takeovers of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, smallpox, poison gas, an Israeli nuclear response to Iraqi attack, and nukes getting into the hands of terrorists (you know, actually, not as alleged by Dubya & Co.). He concludes:

Americans are looking forward to a brief, easy conflict that will make the world a safer place, and they may very well get it. But they should also realize that more than any war we’ve fought in the past half-century, this one carries the real risk of catastrophe.

And to those who say, “Well, every war has its risks,” I’d say, “You’re right, but not every war must be fought.” And this one doesn’t need to be fought. We’ve effectively contained Saddam for more than a decade. Moreover, we’ve got a real, live enemy that wants to kill as many American civilians as it can. It’s called Al Qaeda, and they’re still alive and kicking in spite of having been “smoked out” of Afghanistan.