- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2003

The president recognizes that the Middle East is the lathe of anti-Western hatred and spreading Islamist obscurantism that threatens international peace and stability. The goal of the Bush doctrine is to bring stability to the region, raise the standard of living of its inhabitants, and encourage it to become a productive part of the community of nations. What can we expect if the opponents of American military action against Iraq have their way?
American forces are withdrawn. With broad international agreement the United Nations lifts sanctions. France and Russia immediately profit from their diplomatic victory and resume their traditional roles as Iraq's primary trading partners and arms suppliers. Elf-Aquitaine and Lukoil garner lavish contracts for the development of Iraq's oil fields. In short order, without the threat of military force or even international admonishment, Saddam re-equips his military with new French fighters and naval elements, and signs profitable deals with the Russians to supply modern tanks and artillery pieces. He not only continues to perfect his chemical and biological weapons capabilities, but with the help of France and Russia, also reinvigorates his nuclear program. To speed ramping up his military capacity, Saddam also purchases nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems from North Korea.
The United States loses considerable prestige, and Americans lose the will to play a forceful role in the world's thornier areas. The enemies of freedom and democracy rejoice. The European Union, led by a puffed-up France, enjoys a brief moment of hubris, having succeeded in shattering the alliance that gave it birth.
Saddam learns he can act with impunity. Eventually, under pressure from a renascent Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and other regional "friends" of the US rescind basing rights for US forces. Saddam's Iraq becomes the preeminent military power in the region, permitting him to impose his will on his neighbors and directly threaten the continued existence of Israel. At the same time, Islamist terrorists, further emboldened and assured of a safe haven, freely mount operations against the US and its allies all over the world.
Faced with an Iraqi colossus on their border, the Saudis no longer can control world oil prices, and Saddam becomes the de facto dictator of the price of energy to the West. Iran must carefully consider its position.
The Israelis, under the threat of imminent destruction from Iraqi weapons, facing re-energized internal resistance from terrorists now supplied with a deadlier arsenal, might decide their final defense is a massive nuclear strike against Baghdad. This ignites a regional conflagration, and eventually a world war.
No member of the European Union, least of all France, possesses the military capacity to make a difference. The burden falls by default on the US. Is this the world desired by the shortsighted opponents of U.S. policy?
President Bush envisions the greatest US foreign policy initiative since the Marshall Plan. That gargantuan undertaking guaranteed the economic revitalization of Europe and the ensuing military alliance that shielded Europe's recovery from a menacing Soviet Union. The Marshall Plan was born of the devastation of a world war. This time, with luck, the US is gambling that a similar transformation can be brought to the Middle East by eliminating the potential for Iraqi aggression before millions of lives are lost and the world is plunged into a true "clash of civilizations."

Michael Davidson is president of MRD Enterprises Inc.

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