- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2002

Iraq is on the minds of many Bush administration officials including that of the president himself. The Pentagon is reportedly plotting its case for an attack on Iraq, and even Secretary of State Colin Powell last week made clear that his department is on board. So are some notable Democrats, including Sens. Joseph Biden and Joseph Lieberman and former vice president and presidential contender Al Gore. Even Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle decided to eat his own words criticizing President Bush's "axis of evil" declaration. The winds of war are decidedly shifting in Washington. Unsurprisingly, this new focus in the war against terrorism is causing unhappiness among our European allies, who are having another fit of the vapors at the thought of more military action. And no one even asked them for permission.
Many people would like to see a regime change in Iraq, among them the Iraqi people, who have suffered grievously under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule. Saddam's neighbors in the region would applaud as well, if only they could be sure that the United States was serious this time about getting rid of their neighborhood bully. A Middle East without Saddam would be far more secure, and would allow the United States to deepen ties with Muslim nations by eliminating a point of contention: sanctions on Iraq. While the strategic reasons for getting rid of the Iraqi dictator remain clear, viable plans of action are more elusive. In many respects, a U.S.-supported Iraqi opposition strike against Saddam, backed by U.S. air power, would have great advantages. Such an approach would bolster U.S. prestige in the region and probably leave Iraq in a better position to establish democracy.
The most likely scenario today involves a confrontation over U.N. arms inspections in Iraq, which are scheduled for May. Much like the period before the 1991 Gulf War, however, casualty projections vary wildly. In a commentary in The Washington Post, the former head of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Ken Adelman, recently observed that the celebrated Iraqi Republican Guard never actually made it into battle, and that the Iraqi army regulars were so pathetic that some of them tried to surrender to an Italian camera crew. Those hundreds of thousands of body bags never actually materialized on the U.S. side, and doomsayers ended up with egg on their faces. There is a lot to be said for these arguments.
On the other hand, Anthony Cordesman, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a recent report, "If we go to Iraq, we will go to war with forces that are the military equivalent of a wounded poisonous snake. They are weakened, but still dangerous, and they may lash out in ways that are truly dangerous." A battle in which Saddam would be fighting for survival could be quite different quite different from the Gulf War, he argues. The Iraqi despot could well resort to "asymmetrical warfare," in which he could draw on a formidable arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. All of these contingencies would have to be part of U.S. preparations if the administration does decide in favor of military action. Nevertheless, the risk of leaving Saddam in power is too great to be ignored. It would be a nightmare if weapons of mass destruction fell into the hands of terrorists, and Saddam would be a highly likely supplier. It is clear he has to go. The question now remains, how?

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide