Jewish World Review Nov. 25, 2002 / 20 Kislev, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Why war with
Iraq can be averted | Iraqi and Libyan spokesmen have denied a report in the London Times that Saddam Hussein has offered to pay Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy $3.5 billion to provide a safe haven for himself, his family, and a few top officials.

The Times said unnamed diplomats in Tripoli told them the offer to Khadafy had been made by General Ali Hasan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam. Al-Majid is known as "Chemical Ali" by Iraqi Kurds because it was he who was in charge of Iraqi forces which used nerve gas against the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988.

Western intelligence services expect Saddam to fight to the bitter end if war comes, and that's still the way to bet. But the Times story is one reason why I think war with Iraq can be averted - though not for the reason many liberals hope for, and many conservatives fear.

One of the least publicized triumphs of American foreign policy occurred on the night of Feb. 25, 1986, when, in the black of night, two U.S. Air Force helicopters landed on a golf course adjacent to Malacanang Palace and spirited away Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and as many of her shoes as they could carry. Filipinos got rid of a corrupt dictator without a bloody civil war. Ever since then I've thought it would be good if there were a small country in a pleasant place - Costa Rica, perhaps, or maybe Fiji - to which dictators could repair with some portion of their ill-gotten gains when their time is running out. Hell, for $3.5 billion, we could offer him sanctuary in Berkeley or Ann Arbor. He'd likely get along with his neighbors.

The happiest outcome would be for Saddam to choose voluntary exile. But there are two other possibilities which also would be satisfactory:

Saddam might actually comply with the UN resolution. Everyone expects him to cheat, dissemble, delay. But though the odds against compliance are steep, this possibility shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Genuine disarmament unquestionably would be a bad choice for Saddam. It would deprive his regime of a raison d'etre, and could signal that his days are numbered. But it is one thing to have one's days numbered, and another to have them ended. Bad doesn't seem so bad when the only alternative is worse.

An arrangement which left Saddam in power would be a tragedy for the longsuffering Iraqi people. But if we could be reasonably confident that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed, an arrangement that left him in power could be more acceptable than the risks and expense of a war to remove him, and an occupation afterwards, would entail.

Then there is the nine millimeter solution. The one thing Saddam Hussein has done very well is to protect himself and his regime from internal threats. A year ago, I'd have put the odds on a successful coup at about one tenth of one percent. But the calculus is changing rapidly, as Iraqi generals weigh the risks of what Saddam could do to them versus the risks of what the United States could do to them, and the benefits of sticking with Saddam's regime versus the benefits of being on America's good side.

There is one other way in which war might be averted. It is the way preferred by the French, the Russians, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and many American liberals, and it would have tragic consequences for the United States. This is that Saddam will again successfully play the game of rope a dope with weapons inspectors that he has played for lo these many years, with the compliance of UN weenies who would just as soon see no evil. War would be delayed past the season for campaigning. The international coalition against Iraq would fizzle. Support for military action against Iraq in America would decline.

A number of conservative commentators have warned of this possibility, and it can't be ruled out. But I think the odds on it happening are infinitesimally small. Pundits Left and Right continue to underestimate the will and the wisdom of George W. Bush. Among those who have done so in the past, to their sorrow, are former Texas governor Ann Richards, former Vice President Al Gore, former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. Those who think Bush will cede control over Iraq policy to Hans Blix or Kofi Annan are destined for yet another surprise.

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11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly