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Jewish World Review Sept. 10, 2002 / 4 Tishrei, 5763

Barbara Amiel

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Never mind the dossier, just leaf through 'Iraq for Dummies' | For the past few weeks it has been impossible to escape some glum pundit demanding that the President of the United States "explain" why the United States needs to make war on Saddam Hussein.

Nor can the soul rest, faced with the serried ranks of Pax Christi, the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, all furrowed brows over the need for enlightenment and a temporal blessing from the United Nations and the EU. If this were genuine, one could make a fortune on a quick edition of Iraq for Dummies.

But whether it is the Financial Times, Jon Snow or Radio 4 and Tam Dalyell together with all other pleading pundits, politicians and professors in search of the illuminating "dossier" of Saddam's evil-doings, this craving for knowledge fails to convince.

These voices never floundered before. They have never let information alone stand in the way of telling Prime Ministers and Presidents what to do about the Cold War, the Gulf war, the Panama invasion, the Falklands, Global Warming, Poverty, Hunger and Dirt.

One suspects that they really want to put their collective heads in the sand or, less generously, side with a coalition of anti-Americans, muddled Marxists and confused admirers of Islamism all intent on seeing capitalism, Israel and America crippled. But as this agenda is not quite respectable, so it must be masked by a feigned thirst for knowledge.

Still, let us take them at face value. Let's pretend that President Bush has explained nothing and no dossier is forthcoming. Let's further assume that those who ask for an explanation are all earthlings and not from Mars. What would they see?

Iraq is ruled by Saddam Hussein, a tyrant who maintains a completely repressive state. You do his bidding or are murdered. He's bumped off several in his inner circle including two sons-in-law. If you are a Shi'ite or a Kurd, you will be decimated with poison gas.

Non-Martians would observe that the same tyrant has ambitions beyond his own frontiers, namely to subjugate his neighbours. Whether his neighbours are nasty or nice is another matter to be addressed in another chapter.

In this chapter, it is enough to note that he fought a war with Iran (1980-88) causing approximately one million-plus casualties, then attempted to take over Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

This same tyrant who wants to put up his portrait on every street corner and patch of desert happens also to be enamoured of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. This is par for the course. All tyrants want weapons of mass destruction.

Earthlings do not need to read the entrails of birds to discover any of the above. Iraq's nuclear facilities were bombed by the Israelis 15 years ago. The world grumbled but by the time of the Gulf war, they were very relieved. If we had any doubts about Saddam's nuclear ambitions, Khidir Hamza, the nuclear physicist who headed his nuclear weapons programme, defected in 1994 and testified in great detail to the US Congress as well as writing the book Saddam's Bombmaker.

Our commentators must also know, if they watch their own programmes and read their briefs, that Saddam has developed chemical weapons including CS, mustard gas, and possibly tabun and sarin nerve gas.

He has used them on his own subjects and in the Iraq-Iran war. A UN investigation (March 1986) confirmed this. Photos of his victims, many of whom were flown to European hospitals for treatment, were shown by the very media outlets that today demand that President Bush "explain" why we need to go to war with Iraq.

Saddam has defied every UN resolution aimed at monitoring his weapons programmes, has fired on Unscom inspectors, admitted having a full-scale biological weapons programme and, according to Unscom, hidden at least 17 tons of biological weapons material.

Earthlings also know that tyrants such as Saddam do not voluntarily relinquish power. This is as true of Saddam as of a Mugabe, Idi Amin, Castro or Kim Il-sung. He has withstood defeat in the Gulf war, economic sanctions, a low-grade war against him with no-fly zones and missile attacks. That leaves only an external force with the ability to remove him, namely war.

The question then becomes, is it necessary to remove him before the inevitable happens and he is removed by God, who ultimately deals with everyone? Not all tyrants are the same. Castro is a wretch to his own people but no longer a threat to anyone else.

Ditto Mugabe. Saddam already has modest stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons and needs only fissionable material for a nuclear device. We live in a world where this material exists and is not sufficiently secure. Expert estimates of when he will have up to three nuclear weapons range from six months to 2010. All agree he will get them.

If we leave this tyrant alone, he will continue consolidating his power. He will get more nightmarish weapons of mass destruction. Saddam himself may be a secularist, with his Ba'athist movement having the same Marxist-socialist roots as Nasser, but his eye is on power.

In today's world, the route to power isn't Ba'athist but Islamist. Saddam has made it clear that he intends in his madness to be the leader of the Arab world. This requires him to be the leader of the Islamist movement whose goal, clearly stated and hideously demonstrated, among other incidents, in New York City last September 11, is the eradication of the West and its values.

The first target of Saddam would be the Wahhabi sheiks in Saudi Arabia. The first endangered outpost of the West would be Israel, which Saddam threatened to "burn half of" with chemical weapons in 1990.

Critics ask, disingenuously, if the United States should force a "regime change" (also known as "war") before America gives us all a clear idea of what it will cost and what will come afterwards. Jonathan Swift could not devise a satire to compete with this question.

Our parliamentarians and pundits have turned into accountants. Yes, they say, we will support you but we do need to know how much it will cost, how long it will take and what will come afterwards. This must be the most insane approach to war the world has ever seen. Who knows what it will cost? It is war. The question to ask is what will it cost if we do nothing?

As for the matter of what will be in place after Saddam, this is a legitimate query if you are planning a campaign against Franois Mitterrand or even the Greek Colonels, but when it comes to Idi Amin, Pol Pot, the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, it is nonsensical. We have an Amin-like tyrant developing weapons of mass destruction with the added charm of having demonstrated a thirst for expansion. The only legitimate questions are tactical.

If all else fails, the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC and their flocks bring up faux-legalisms. They object that the connection between Iraq and the bombing of the World Trade Centre last year has not been proved. But by just raising this point, they assume that we may fight only those people we know are directly linked to September 11.

Everything else done to us and to disturb the world's peace is beyond our response. Saddam was clearly involved with the 1993 attempt to blow up the World Trade Centre. Saddam was involved in the attempted assassination of President George Bush Snr in 1993 in Kuwait. Saddam is presently offering $25,000 to families of suicide bombers.

Would people who demand proof oblige us to wait until the man who committed such offences has nuclear weapons just because we cannot prove he was involved with one particular terrorist act? Let us assume that September 11 was the one act of terrorism Saddam had nothing to do with. Is Septe mber 11 now to become a safe house? Unless you were definitely part of the 2001 World Trade Centre bombing, you're safe?

If we could turn the clock back to the 1991 Gulf war, we might have played the game differently. Knowing that Saddam wanted only to enrich himself and had no strong pan-Islamist notions, at that time we might have made a temporary deal with him.

If we had turned a blind eye to his invasion of Kuwait and his chemical warfare and thought only of our short-term material interests - if we had done in fact what Saddam thought that the American Ambassador April Glaspie meant when she told him in July 25, 1990 that America "had no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts like your border dispute with Kuwait" - we might have made a good oil deal for ourselves.

And after Iraq had finished off the sheikhs and possibly the ayatollahs, we could have finished him off. But although we did half-heartedly support Saddam against Iran, our western scruples stopped us from being full-fledged Machiavellians. We couldn't betray Kuwait or the Wahhabi sheiks of Saudi Arabia who have betrayed us at every turn.

Now we cannot turn the clock back. We must pull ourselves together - and do what is needed before it is too late.

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JWR contributor Barbara Amiel is a columnist with London's Daily Telegraph, where this column originated. Comment by clicking here.

08/27/02: How Kissinger the hawk was twisted into a fake dove: Lessons in liberal journalistic integrity
05/15/02: Why protecting the peace will make a mockery of justice
05/01/02: Why has it taken Le Pen to ask the awkward questions?
04/17/02: Truth about Israeli casualties is being ignored in this war
02/18/02: America's war on terrorism is a fight for all democracies: What the European elite are clueless about
01/29/02: Pity the al-Qa'eda detainees? Why is liberal 'torture' kosher?
12/18/01: What those in the London salons don't -- or won't -- see
12/04/01: We are not risking world war so women can show their ankles
11/20/01:"Anti-terrorism" has become the Western world's equivalent of the Arabian Nights' "open sesame"
11/06/01: We must rediscover a war mentality that persists through vicissitudes
10/31/01: The West is fighting to rescue Islam, not destroy it

© 2001, Barbara Amiel