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The elephant in the room to the south....

Reader comment on item: Iraq's Weapons & The Road to War

Submitted by Matthew Kennel (United States), Jun 5, 2003 at 18:17

The essential problem, and in my opinion, the best reason for ousting Saddam is to the south. I will explain in a bit.

One ought to fast-forward 5 years in time the scenarios of war versus no-war.

Better reasons to favor war which the administration did not mention.

A) The "glide slope"

Pre Iraq-war, the sanctions were successively being lifted and broken by Saddam. In 5 years I believe that they would have essentially been irrelevant or even repealed and Saddam would be making missiles and possibly a nuke or two. At that point, Saddam really would be as dangerous as the administration recently pretended it was.

It is difficult to argue against "future threats" like this when they can point to DPRK and Iran, and many are indeed wary of "preemptive war".

B) Iraq and palestinians. Saddam was a big benefactor of the terrorist activities of Arafat and the other non-Islamist groups. Lots of hardcore palestinians loved Saddam Hussein. Somewhat surprisingly despite Iran's continued support of Hezbollah, palestinians don't have pictures of Ayatollah Khomeini. And just like how the PLO finally negotiated the first time they bet on Saddam and Saddam lost, Bush calculated that it may happen the same way again. He appears to be right. Fixing the Israeli-Palestinian issue directly is important to U.S. security. It is questionable whether the present negotiations will actually serve to do it, but it was pretty likely that pre-Iraq-war there was almost no chance.

But, again, the U.S. couldn't admit this because it would make it obviously "seem" like that it was going to war against Iraq for Israel's benefit. Indeed the war was in Israel's interests---as it is in Kuwait's interests, and in the interests of the palestinians who aren't fanatical. Unfortunately in that part of the world doing anything which may benefit Israel is anathema no matter how much other good comes along.

C) The really big issue. Everybody is talking about the CIA's belief in WMD in Iraq. What about the CIA's opinion of Saudi Arabia?

That is: I believe that in 5-10 years there is a very good chance of a Iranian-style Islamic revolution in the formerly "Saudi" Arabia, lead by the future Caliph Osama bin Laden. And there is absolutely nothing the US can do to stop it. In such a circumstance obviously the gulf states would have half-lives of about a week against the bin Laden jihad.

The CIA blew the call in 1979. They don't want to be caught like that again.

The future prospect of Saddam and Osama sitting on most of the world's oil was very frightening. Not because they would cut off the oil in an embargo---that's what the Saudis did when they were annoyed in 1974.

They don't want to send us a message, they want to kill us.

They would sell us all the oil we wanted and then use the money to make Real WMD. (chemical weapons are not weapons of mass destruction without major artillery or an air force. radiological dispersal weapons, dirty bombs, are only weapons of economic damage. real biological agents may be weapons of mass killing; fissile nuclear weapons certainly are.)

I think that in that case bin Laden and Saddam really would make the unholy alliance of the century. bin Laden would have all the money for nukes, and Saddam would have the technology, and they would indeed make a deal. Saddam would pretend to be newly pious, and bin Laden would pretend to believe him. They would spread out the nukes between Iraq and Arabia so that when the inevitable happened in Tel Aviv it wouldn't be clear who to retaliate against.

Again, the USA couldn't really admit this as a good reason because it would very much annoy and terrify the Saudis, and we need their government's help, as meager as it may be, in tracking down al-Qaida terrorists and their money.

And the USA couldn't really admit that in fact a big part of the war really was about oil, though not in the crude way the protesters believe.

D) Saddam really was a genocidal lunatic.


Reasons against the war

E) "It is imperialism, and it is a bad precedent for the US to be an imperial conqueror and occupier."

Yes, it was certainly imperialism, and the US is going to have a pretty lousy time in the occupation. The war may eventually turn out to have been a wise decision in the brutal calculus of reality, but the danger and risk is severe. There will be no gratitude in other Arab states for the liberation of their brethren and muslim gratitude will wear out very quickly in Iraq, just as it did in Afghanistan 1989, Somalia 1993, and Kosovo

F) Saddam was contained

He was. Sometimes its better to finally kill a tumor.

G) Korea and Iran are more imminent dangers.

But there is no mass following outside the DPRK supporting the dwarf dicator.

Iran may indeed be a big problem, and they will get nukes. But they are not (yet) run by as psychotic and totalitarian regime as Saddam.

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (48) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
Why do people forget the truth? [145 words]Sonja G LarkinNov 18, 2005 19:0728603
I'm right [39 words]Paul M. NevilleJun 11, 2003 21:309519
The War's Critics Should Stop Trying to Rewrite History..... [284 words]JJun 11, 2003 18:199509
Iraq's Weapons and the Road to War [523 words]Dick SartainJun 10, 2003 23:099480
Comprehension Failure [203 words]Robert ArsenaultJun 10, 2003 13:299443
They (Purposefully?) Don't Get [121 words]TerryJun 9, 2003 13:559426
unilateral promise keeping [68 words]daniel coshnearJun 9, 2003 12:209424
looking for a reason to justify this war... [41 words]ElsJun 9, 2003 06:249422
you surpass your commenters [78 words]William KinneyJun 8, 2003 20:569420
cat/mouse game [40 words]Nomi KaplanJun 7, 2003 15:509415
Kudos [21 words]Charles BartlesonJun 7, 2003 01:419412
Excellent analysis [119 words]Gene AmerineJun 6, 2003 12:249408
The elephant in the room to the south.... [833 words]Matthew KennelJun 5, 2003 18:179402
Why the recent war took place. [296 words]Steve TJun 5, 2003 06:549398
Saddam's Game [19 words]Elizabeth MarksJun 4, 2003 18:209393
Good Words, But... [48 words]Gene BehlJun 4, 2003 18:099392
Liberal leaps of logic [601 words]David WolfJun 4, 2003 16:089389
Nah! [291 words]Robert B. ArbetmanJun 4, 2003 14:219386
No sense [133 words]Glenn KlotzJun 4, 2003 14:089385
Credibility Mr. Pipes [37 words]George TanakisJun 4, 2003 13:449384
The Ultimate Sum of Fears, the Path not Taken. [1977 words]tom watsonJun 4, 2003 13:349383
North Korea comes next. [53 words]Alan SullivanJun 4, 2003 12:279379
Thanks for helping me understand [93 words]Thomas ArthurJun 4, 2003 11:329378
Chemical WMD [43 words]Alan GerlachJun 4, 2003 10:299376
You are correct [76 words]YoniJun 4, 2003 09:589375
That's not the Justification Bush and Blair Used [75 words]Matt PackJun 4, 2003 05:109371
Sorry for the rudimentary parallel and language but... [149 words]A LenceskiJun 4, 2003 02:469370
Response to Kevin lee: Big failure in elementary logic [167 words]Philippe StephensonJun 3, 2003 22:489364
Double standard [94 words]Larry RogulJun 3, 2003 19:479358
Good Chronology [21 words]Stan CharlesJun 3, 2003 18:259356
Lack of Intellectual Honesty [77 words]Larry KletterJun 3, 2003 17:409355
OBSTRUCTION [54 words]GRAHAM RAEL-BROOKJun 3, 2003 17:209354
WMD [18 words]Bernard C. BarthJun 3, 2003 16:579353
The reasons and rationales [558 words]SheerahkahnJun 3, 2003 16:179351
Don't change the topic [114 words]Eric WeitzmanJun 3, 2003 15:289350
Invasion of Iraq and Elusive WMD [111 words]Carol MizrahiJun 3, 2003 15:249349
Finding Weapons of Mass destruction does count [104 words]Anne ClouseJun 3, 2003 15:249348
Exactly right [48 words]David C. StolinskyJun 3, 2003 15:149347
Not true, Dr. Pipes. [122 words]Tyson ValeJun 3, 2003 14:229344
What a Wonderful War [148 words]T. A. CallaghanJun 3, 2003 14:109343
Moslem Countries Should Let Palestinians Become Nationals [137 words]Marc WeisburgJun 3, 2003 13:319341
WMDs were the decisive reason [82 words]Lawrence AusterJun 3, 2003 11:509340
To do one's duty is always a good thing... [80 words]Alain Jean-MairetJun 3, 2003 10:239339
Failure of elementary logic [158 words]Kevin LeeJun 3, 2003 10:019337
With all due respect... [125 words]PlatosearwaxJun 3, 2003 09:509336
Mistaken Reasoning [363 words]Project2012Jun 3, 2003 09:199334
You're moving the goalposts [206 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
David MikesellJun 3, 2003 09:049333
The inspectors were withdrawn, not kicked out. [109 words]Marc PienaarJun 3, 2003 04:569331

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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