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 18:17The 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 In 5 years I believe that they would have essentially been irrelevant or even repealed and Saddam would be making missiles and possibly a nuke or two.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.
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