Jewish World Review April 14, 2003/ 12 Nissan, 5763
Movers and shakers have moved on to the next 'disaster'
1) "Iraq's slide into violent anarchy" (Guardian, April 11). Say what you like about Saddam, but he ran a tight ship and you didn't have to nail down your nest of tables: since the Brits took over, Basra's property crime is heading in an alarmingly Cheltenhamesque direction. MBITRW (Meanwhile Back In The Real World): A year from now, Basra will have a lower crime rate than most London boroughs.
2) "The head of the World Food Programme has warned that Iraq could spiral into a massive humanitarian disaster" (Australian, April 11). MBITRW: No such disaster will occur, any more than it did during the mythical "brutal Afghan winter" and its attendant humanitarian scaremongering. ("The UN Children's Fund has estimated that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die of cold, disease and hunger." They didn't.)
3) "Iraqis Now Waiting for Americans to Leave" (AP, April 10). MBITRW: There will be terrible acts of suicide-bomber depravity in the months ahead, but no widespread resentment at or resistance of the Western military presence.
4) "If Saddam is not found dead, or caught alive, it will be the worst of all possible closures for the war against Iraq. Bin Laden himself continues to elude capture" (Roland Flamini, UPI) MBITRW: Obviously, it would be preferable if the late Saddam's future media appearances were confined to guest-hosting Good Morning, Hell! with Osama. But if he's reduced to bin Laden's current schedule - mailing in bi-monthly audio cassettes of Islamist boilerplate - what's the difference? Even if he'd escaped to Syria, he'd be spending the rest of his days as a Bedouin goat-herd. Right now, Boy Assad is doing his best not to attract Rummy's attention.
5) "Iraq was a new country cobbled together from several former Ottoman provinces, its lines drawn by the Europeans" (Mark Mazower, Independent, April 7). It's a phony state, you can never make a go of it. MBITRW: There's nothing in the least bit "cobbled" about it. The three Ottoman vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra have been bound together by geography and trade for millennia. As a coherent jurisdiction, it makes more sense than, say, Belgium. As long as you respect its inherently confederal nature, it'll work fine: think St Kitts and Nevis writ large.
6) "Turkey is concerned that a Kurdish capture of Kirkuk could help bankroll moves to establish an independent Kurdistan" (AFP, April 9). MBITRW: Nothing to worry about. The Kurds are the only part of the indigenous population that were part of the liberation force from the start. They're not going anywhere now. They'll settle for being Scotland or Quebec rather than Pakistan.
7) "Rather than reforming the Muslim world, the conquest of Iraq will inflame it" (Jeffrey Simpson, Toronto Globe and Mail, April 10). MBITRW: Effective immediately, Palestinian suicide bombers are no longer subsidised by Baghdad; in Jordan, the Saddamite boot is off the Hashemite windpipe; Syria is under notice to behave. Despite the best efforts of Western doom-mongers to rouse the Arab street, its attitude will remain: start the jihad without me.
8) "Looting is always unsavoury. Let's hope the Americans don't pilfer the oil" (Brenda Linane, Age of Melbourne, April 11). MBITRW: The pilfering of Iraq's oil has just ended. Saddam parcelled his country's wealth out to those companies willing to cosy up to him. The oil business will now be opened up to competitive tender. The only North American politician with a personal stake in any of this is not Bush, Cheney or any of their Texan oilpatch pals, but the Prime Minister of Canada, whose daughter is married to TotalFinaElf's biggest shareholder. The liberation of Iraq is a victory for real markets over French cronyism.
9) "Weapons of Mass Destruction. Remember them? Not a single one has yet been found" (Bill Neely, ITV, April 10). MBITRW: Actually, I almost wish this one were true. Anything that turns up now will be assumed to have been planted. If I were Washington, I'd consider burying anything I found. After all, an America that feels no need to bother faking justifications for invasion would be far more alarming to most Europeans. Instead, horrible things will turn up, but will never be "conclusive" enough for the French, who've got all the receipts anyway.
10) America is already losing the peace. MBITRW: In a year's time, Iraq will be, at a bare minimum, the least badly governed state in the Arab world and, at best, pleasant, civilised and thriving. In short: not a bad three weeks' work.
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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is North American Editor of The (London) Spectator and the author, most recently, of "The Face of the Tiger," a new book on the world post-Sept. 11. (Sales help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.
03/25/03: Give Saddam credit