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the real saddam hussein

  1. FallGuy

    2,070 Posts.


    Posted September 28, 2002

    It is a time of terrible risk and great opportunity. A shattering attack claims thousands of lives and places the nation's security, prosperity, and way of life in jeopardy. A dynamic and tenacious leader rallies his people and a laboriously forged international coalition in a life-and-death struggle with a terrifying and fanatical enemy. Victory will reshape the entire world but his grand design is undermined by greed, cowardice, and the cynical duplicity of two members of the U.N. Security Council. Nevertheless, he vows to persevere and employ any and all means necessary, including war, to protect his country and assure its future.

    George W. Bush? Of course not. Saddam Hussein!

    Hussein, of course, is the most effectively demonized leader since Idi Amin. Even the most hardcore antiwar activists who get any face time in the American media couch their opposition to the invasion with the caveat "Saddam is a monster but…". Things have gotten so bad for the Butcher of Baghdad that people are happy to accuse him of things that he has nothing to do with. In a recent CBS poll 51% of respondents indicated their belief that Saddam was personally involved in the 9/11 attack, even though no evidence has emerged and not even the White House has made the allegation.

    Why would anyone embark on the seemingly ludicrous and thankless task of trying to rehabilitate Saddam's utterly blackened reputation? Because it cuts to the heart of the questions: Why is the Bush administration frantically pursuing a military invasion of Iraq? Why is Bush squandering immense amounts of political capital internationally and domestically to promote a war no one is enthusiastic about?

    Let's look at the perfidy Saddam Hussein has been up to in Iraq:

    He has disarmed.

    Not willingly or cheerfully, of course. His chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons capabilities are largely gone. The Iraqi army is a shadow of its former strength, the country is criss-crossed with no-fly zones, American and British planes bomb his air defense and command-and-control network at will.

    He has fostered internal unity.

    A journalistic expedition to Iraq by the Washington Post found little evidence of a popular desire to parade Saddam's head through Baghdad on a pike. The southern Shi'ites, normally an alienated, contentious, pro-Iranian group, seem to have been successfully placated by several years of assiduous stroking. There were even murmurings of respect for the mustachio'd godfather who had stood up to the U.S. of A. for so long. Nicholas Kristof came back from Basra and reported that the dominant mood was resentment of the United States, not anger at Saddam.

    He has built bridges to neighboring states.

    Saddam has been painstaking cultivating his Middle Eastern neighbors instead of invading them. Cheap oil for Jordan, dictator in good standing with other members of the club in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. Even the Kuwaitis don't have much of a problem with him. Arab opposition to the whack-Iraq campaign is well-known.

    He has strengthened diplomatic and economic links with key Western powers.

    Saddam's reaching out to Russia and, to a lesser extent, France has been well-reported. Russia is doing a lot of business there. France has been promised rights to develop the immense Majnoon oil field when sanctions are lifted.

    Saddam is no Mr. Rogers, but he's done a lot better job of making friends in his neighborhood in the last few years than George Bush has.

    Let's think about sanctions a little bit.

    "France has been promised rights to develop the immense Majnoon oil field when sanctions are lifted." Same proviso applies to the reported $40 billion deal with the Russians.

    We hear a lot about inspectors. But we hear very little about the sanctions, those onerous sanctions that were supposed to be lifted after the inspectors gave Iraq a clean bill of health, the sanctions Iraq is continually and futilely bleating about whenever the subject of inspectors come up.

    Of course, as the United States sees it, the only use of inspections is to provide a pretext of war. If the inspectors don't find anything, the United States will simply invade on another pretext, or maybe no pretext at all.

    Whenever Iraq raises the subject of sanctions, the U.S. huffs and blusters that the Iraqis don't get it. It's about unconditional inspections. Talking about sanctions is a condition, a piece of crawfish skeedaddling meant to draw out and defuse the debate.

    The United States want the focus to remain on the inspectors, and as far away from sanctions as possible.

    Because sanctions are at the heart of the Iraq war.

    What's more important to Saddam Hussein? Getting the sanctions lifted so he can start making billions of dollars from his undeveloped oil reserves, or screwing around with some half-assed WMD program that gets him an Israeli nuke in his morning corn flakes?

    I think we know the answer. Saddam has been desperate to get the sanctions lifted so he can start making money. He's been doing everything in his power to restore his respectability and Iraq's international standing.

    Even as the White House rhetoric escalates, the hard evidence of Saddam's psychotic lethality dwindles and the case for the war looks weaker and weaker. If the war can't be justified, how long can sanctions be justified?

    The question we will want to answer, presumably at some remote date long after Saddam's corpse has been dragged from some bunker, when Cheney and Rumsfeld's heavily redacted and self-serving files finally come to light, is…

    How close did Saddam Hussein get to having the sanctions lifted before George W. Bush and company moved heaven and earth to drop the hammer on him?

    Maybe we had a hint at the beginning of the crisis, when Bush and Blair plaintively told us that containment wasn't working, and the problem had to be solved instead of managed.

    Maybe there's a clue when James Lilley says we have to go to war with Iraq because Iraq is bribing our allies.

    Maybe the real problem was that the international pro-sanctions consensus was about to crack, thanks to a combination of practicality, greed, humanitarian concerns, and Saddam's stellar performance as the responsible 21st century Middle Eastern satrap.

    Why does Bush have to go to war with Iraq? Because the only alternative is not Saddamaggedon-it is peace.

    Peace, the eventual lifting of sanctions, all that oil slipping out of America's grasp and into the undeserving hands of the French and the Russians, the unraveling of George Bush's grand strategy to make the Middle East America's sandbox. And eventually the collapse of the political fortunes and regime of a duplicitous, violent, dangerous thug.

    Saddam Hussein? Of course not. George Bush!

    Copyright 2002 Peter Lee

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