- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

The law of unintended consequences that governs all wars has kicked in before this one has even started. What President Bush called "the war that will bring peace to the Middle East" has already triggered what France's President Jacques Chirac calls his "war on war." It was an "axis of peace," the likes of which the world had not seen since the Cold War when the Soviet-front World Peace Council could mobilize tens of millions worldwide against American "warmongers." This time, the peaceniks have discombobulated the Western alliance beyond the former Soviet Union's fondest dreams.
Mr. Chirac has anointed himself commander in chief of a Europewide anti-war movement that rejects what George Soros described as Mr. Bush's "exaggerated view of his own righteousness which has led to an imperialist vision in which the U.S. leads and the rest of the world follows." The new "peace" movement has already attracted some 30 million people in 600 cities in 25 countries. Interestingly enough, there were no "peace" demonstrations when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.
French magazines are filled with admiring profiles of an embattled French president in his command post at the Elysee Palace, almost round the clock, with an open line to his former chief of staff Dominique de Villepin, now the foreign minister, and talking directly to his "diplomatic generals." These are the French ambassadors in the frontlines of France's war on America's war. Their mission is to undermine Mr. Bush's European support from the Italian and Spanish governments. Public opinion in Italy and Spain is overwhelmingly against war on Iraq, as it is in Britain, where Tony Blair has gambled his political future on a quick, decisive regime-change victory in Iraq.
Mr. Chirac, re-elected president last year with an 82 percent majority, has held top elected political office the longest among all Western democracies. He has used his lofty perch to tap into Europewide fears of what the Bush administration's war against Iraq may unleash. From oil at $80 a barrel to global depression and a recrudescence of transnational terrorism, European media are filled with premonitory harbingers of doom and gloom.
By feigning cooperation with U.N. arms inspectors, Saddam has watched a redrawing of the geopolitical map that could only be harmful to U.S. interests. The draft constitution for the future of Europe suggested four names for the nascent Continental power United Europe, United States of Europe, European Union or European Community. Divided Europe is closer to the mark.
France and Germany were to supply the cornerstones for a European "defense identity." Their two jockeys Jacques Chirac of France and Tony Blair of Britain are now galloping in diametrically opposite directions.
NATO was torn asunder as reprobates France and Germany were displaced in America's geopolitical affections by what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the "new" Europe.
"New" Europeans Bulgaria, whose president is a former communist, and Romania, whose president rose to prominence as head of the Communist Youth before becoming a member of the party's Central Committee, along with such democratic stalwarts as Albania, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Slovakia and Slovenia, were poor substitutes for the Continent's two biggest players. Poland and the Czech Republic were the exceptions, but still no proxies for the economic strength of Germany and France.
How Saddam reacted to Turkey's parliamentary vote against allowing some 62,000 troops to traverse the country on their way to open a northern front against Iraq is not known. But this came only days after the United States had found a way to bypass the French and get NATO to supply Turkey with additional means to defend itself in case of an Iraqi counterattack after a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Saddam presumably concluded the hand of Providence was upon him.
The battle of diplomatic wits prior to the fighting has favored Saddam. But his military comeuppance is now only days away. His role model and the key to understanding his modus operandi is Josef Stalin, the Soviet dictator who once said, "One death is a tragedy; 1 million deaths, a statistic." Stalin also devised a "scorched earth" policy as his armies reeled before the Nazi onslaught.
Denials to Dan Rather notwithstanding, Saddam would think nothing of setting Iraq's oil fields ablaze and sacrificing tens of thousands of his own people in a siege of Baghdad designed to deprive Mr. Bush of a quick victory.
The sycophant-prone Iraqi dictator has convinced himself he is the heir to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon who captured Jerusalem in 586 B.C., and to Saladin, who evicted the Crusaders from Jerusalem in A.D. 1187. Saddam's strategic options are limited. A siege of the Iraqi capital is his only option. He is convinced the Vietnam syndrome is still alive in America.
Back in June 2002, Saddam, according to an Iraqi story leaked to a Kuwaiti newspaper, instructed his two sons and other close advisers, that when America throws the first punch, "we shall retaliate on all fronts with all weapons."
If the Pentagon's 3,000 precision-guided bombs in the first 48 hours coupled with e-weapons simulated lightning bolts that fry all communications devices, including pagers and cell phones don't stun the Special Republican Guard divisions assigned to defend Baghdad, Saddam is counting on the chemical and germ weapons of mass destruction he says he doesn't have to inflict maximum casualties on encircling U.S. troops. Iraqi and other terrorist sleeper cells abroad won't need instructions to attack U.S. and British targets, either at home or overseas.
This week, Saddam paraded his volunteers for human bomb martyrdom. Allowing for Arab hyperbole, it still isn't all bluff and bravado. Ask the Israelis.

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