Jewish World Review Sept. 25, 2002 / 19 Tishrei, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | One of the least heralded triumphs in American foreign policy occurred on the night of Feb. 25, 1986, when two U.S. Air Force helicopters landed on a golf course adjacent to Malacanang Palace in the Philippines and spirited away Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, and as many of her shoes as they could carry. Filipinos were rid of a corrupt dictator without a bloody civil war. I've thought often since the world would benefit if there were a small country in a pleasant place to which dictators could retire with some portion of their ill-gotten gains when it was clear their time was running out.
The Chinese sage Sun Tzu, who after several thousand years is still the greatest strategic thinker who ever lived, said the highest form of warfare is to win without fighting. We should remember his advice as we ponder what to do about Iraq.
The optimal result would be if Saddam Hussein, like Marcos, would trade in his uniform and pistols for a floral-patterned shirt and golf clubs. Then a new, at least sort of democratic government in Iraq could destroy his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, and cease Iraq's support of international terror groups.
Less than optimal - especially for Iraq's longsuffering peoples - would be an arrangement in which Saddam retained power, but would be defanged. He would open up his country to robust inspections, which would destroy his nuclear, biological and chemical warfare facilities. Though less beneficial to us than Saddam's departure or his demise, this would, for us, be a satisfactory outcome, preferable to the enormous expense and risks that war would entail.
"Jaw Jaw is better than War War," said Winston Churchill, one of the greatest warriors of the 20th Century. There is no question that a diplomatic solution is preferable to a military one...if diplomacy actually will lead to a solution. Unfortunately, most of those who natter on about "diplomatic solutions" are more interested in providing Saddam with a fig leaf for continued deceit and obfuscation than in removing from the world the specter of nuclear terror.
>From Sun Tzu's time to ours, history has demonstrated repeatedly that the only effective means of obtaining a diplomatic solution to a crisis is a credible threat of military action. It must be clear we are determined to fight if diplomacy fails. And it must be clear that if we fight, Saddam will not survive the war.
Saddam probably won't change his spots under any circumstances. But the only circumstances under which Saddam might decide discretion is the better part of valor is if he is convinced the alternative is bloody death, very soon. If the United Nations really wants a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis, it must pass a resolution demanding Saddam admit, within no more than 60 days, hundreds of UN weapons inspectors accompanied by thousands of troops to protect them, who would be authorized to inspect any site they choose to inspect whenever they choose to inspect it, and to destroy immediately whatever contraband they find. The inspectors must also have the authority to interview any Iraqi they choose to interview without any other Iraqis (especially members of the secret police) present when the interviews are being conducted. The resolution must leave no ambiguity, no room for Saddam to quibble about details, and it must make clear what the "or else" is.
The United Nations is an animal with a large jawbone and a small backbone. The UN has never confronted a dictator when he was in power. But it has persecuted one after he voluntarily relinquished power (Chile's Augusto Pinochet), and another after the U.S. threw him from power (Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic). If the Iraq crisis is to be settled without war, the UN as well as Saddam must change its ways.
We've got to corner the rat. But it would be prudent also to leave a hole through which he - but not his regime - can escape. If Saddam is convinced we'll kill him no matter what, he'll choose to go down fighting, in the nastiest way possible. But if as the shadow of death falls upon him, the alternative of departure is held out to him, his resolve may crumble.
Ferdinand Marcos had pledged to die fighting in Malacanang Palace. But as the hour approached, a shameful (but comfortable) life in exile seemed more appealing.
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09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends