How about that Saddam guy anyway? If ever there was an evil bastard in need of a quick dispatch, he must be it. But, is it really our business as a nation to do the job the Iraqi people ought to be doing and kill him? Talk about a complex issue! Well, anyway, my short answer to that question is: Yes, I'm afraid we must. I know, I know, interfering with the internal business of another sovereign nation, putting American lives at risk, destabilizing the region, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, let's take a look at the possibilities. By the way, I don't really know any more about this topic than anyone else that can read a newspaper or browse MSN. But, I've given it a little thought, and tried to weed out the bullshit and politics as best I can to arrive at what I believe is a reasoned position.
Of course, the easiest thing that we (and our allies) could do about Saddam is (drum roll please....) NOTHING. Yep, sitting on our asses and waiting to see what might happen is definitely an option. That's pretty much what we've been doing the last several years anyway. This policy has a lot of plusses going for it: it's really cheap, it's doesn't put American soldiers (read: kids my son's age) in the way of flying bullets, it doesn't piss off the other Arab nations (not as much anyway), it doesn't involve killing a lot of "collaterals", and it seems to be a policy favored (or at least well accepted) by almost all American citizens. At least, I don't remember too many rallies over the last few years with activists chanting "bomb Iraq now." So, why not continue this policy? It has to do with the negatives.
What we have in Iraq is a situation that has a lot of elements working to product some sort of change. Saddam ain't gettin' any younger. The sanctions imposed by the UN after the Gulf War aren't getting any easier to live with. The Iraqi people are getting sicker and hungrier. Saddam needs more and more money coming in to build/rebuild his army and weapons reserves. Which he needs because of the Kurds and the Shiites -- and of course, The Infidels (that's us). This increasing tension is kind of like the San Andreas fault; there are occasional little rumbles, but it's only a matter of time until the Big One. In Saddam's case, the Big One is likely to mean chemical, biological or nuclear weapon usage. Yeah, sure, there are other countries that already have plenty of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons (including, well, actually, predominately, the United States..) but most of those countries (I'd say all, except I'm not too sure about George W.) are run either by multilevel governments that have some collective sensibility, or by more-or-less monarchies that also have some sensibility. The main sensibility required, of course, is the sense to know that if anyone starts using chemical, bio, or nuclear weapons -- everyone is going to want to try out their toys. Even if Saddam only uses a little VX gas on the Kurds for example, the Russians are liable to start thinking "hummmm, if Saddam thinks it's OK to spray nerve gas around Iraq and kill off the citizens, it must be OK if we do it to kill off more citizens and take the damn place over. We could sure use the oil." President George W. might think the same thing. Hell, I might think the same thing. I know I could sure use a few million barrels of oil every day. Well, not personally, but you know what I mean. The thing that the crystal ball just refuses to tell us though, is just exactly how likely is Saddam to use any of these Weapons of Mass Destruction, on exactly whom would he use them, and when and under exactly what circumstances would he use them. So far, the answers to these questions are PFS (That's Pure Fucking Speculation for anyone under the age of 12 who doesn't already know that...). |All we have to go on is our history lessons.
Because of our history lessons (pretty recent history at that) we already know that Saddam is pretty much an evil bastard. Probably a sociopath, or pretty close to it (A sociopath, for those not completing freshman psychology, is someone who pretty much doesn't have a conscience as contrasted with a psychopath who has lost touch with reality) and apparently without compunction when it comes to doing whatever is required to maintain his own power. Or, sense of power. I'll stop right there. I'm not a psychiatrist and can't shrink Saddams head. I'm just going by what I read. At any rate, the evidence seems pretty clear from his previous behavior, from using nerve gas on his own citizens (even if they are just some damn nasty Kurds...[that's sarcasm if you don't recognize it]) to lighting up all the oil wells in Kuwait when we kicked his ass out of there, that Saddam is very willing indeed to use nasty weapons, and is familiar with the "scorched earth" retreat. Again, if you can't figure it out, that pretty much means "If I can't have it, you can't have it either -- I'll just destroy it." In some situations this is a legitimate, viable battle tactic. Or was at one time. If a retreating army is able to deny the advancing army the use of the resources needed to continue the advance, it works. In the case of Saddam lighting up the oil wells in Kuwait, he might have thought he was doing a scorched earth retreat, but in fact all he did was waste a few million barrels of crude and enrich a few Texas oil well firefighters. The effect on the prosecution of the war was nill. It was actually over by then anyway. He may believe that the burning oil wells kept the US from coming to Baghdad to get him, but that was actually the result of a bad decision -- not the obstacle of burning oil. The point of this apparent ramble is to illustrate that Saddam is not just dangerous, he is stupid dangerous. It is also to illustrate that although he is stupid dangerous, he has done enough stupid dangerous things in the past to give us some clues as to what he might do in the future.
Those unsavory possibilities include: using chemical weapons to take care of the "Kurdish problem" and/or the "Shiite problem", using those same chemical weapons to take care of the "Israel problem", making another try at Kuwait after killing a big percentage of the population with chemical weapons, using one or more nuclear weapons to accomplish these same things, or - and this is the really, really bad one: using a biological weapon to accomplish these same things. Why is this one the really bad one? After all, getting dead one way is much the same as getting dead another way when all is said and done. This is the really bad one because Saddam almost certainly doesn't have a good way to control disease vectors. No one does. The population of the world has become too mobile. It's too common, and mostly too easy for people to go from one place in the world to another. Imagine Saddam unleashing smallpox (which he is suspected of having samples of) into the Kurdish population. A few infected Kurds have a meeting with a few CIA guys to discuss strategy. The CIA guys become infected. They have more meetings. A couple of them fly back to Washington for some R&R, or meetings. Or they fly to London to confer with our allies. You get the picture. Within a couple months, thousands (maybe millions) around the world are infected. People are lining up around the block to get their smallpox vaccine. Which, depending on where you are you may or may not receive. The death toll could be extreme. And can't you just picture the news programs showing Saddam and/or his hired revelers celebrating the death of so many infidels? This is a possibility to be avoided at any reasonable cost.
There is a new word floating around in the buzz word ether these last few years: proactive. This, of course, is intended to mean the antithesis of reactive, and that instead of reacting to a stimulus or change in situation, that someone is going to anticipate that stimulus or change and act before it occurs. Mostly it's a term used by sales weasels to convince suck...ah, customers that only their company will anticipate problems before they occur and move to correct them prior to the actual problem event. Mostly it's a bunch of crap, and the proactive behavior any company I've ever dealt with that has promised it, has failed miserably to produce any of it after the sale has been made. Anyway. What President Bush is proposing when he talks (in somewhat veiled terms) about marching into Baghdad and shooting Saddam (and his close male relatives, I assume) in the head is a proactive response to what various military analysts have decided Saddam is likely to do if he isn't prevented, which is: use the W.M.D. he is presumed to have hidden, or will likely soon acquire. I suspect that those analysts have access to more and better information than I do (I sure hope so...), and even I am pretty sure Saddam has weapons hidden over there somewhere that he isn't supposed to have. And should never be allowed to have - suspected sociopath, remember. This is an awkward position to take as everyone in the world is used to the "self-defense" banner being flown only after an attack has actually been made. In this case I am pretty sure that another phrase, "the best defense is a good offense," is the one we have to go by. It could be way too expensive to wait until Saddam is actually holding a smoking gun. It could be way too expensive to wait until Saddam has the ability to start the world on fire as he leaves it. So yes, I'm afraid we have to do it, and we have to do it soon.