Thursday, January 30, 2003

Averting War?

The question of what it would take to avert war yet still constitute a victory is in the air. I'm not talking about what those who think we are a greater evil than Saddam would think is winning. These ANSWER types think Saddam's regime should be preserved intact, and of course would lift the current sanctions, containment and inspections. Victory would consist of imposing those things on America.

I am talking about those who think Saddam's regime is evil, but … cannot imagine actually doing something more strenuous than wishing. Of course, many of those who support various alternatives to American soldiers hoisting our flag over the Ministry of Pain in downtown Baghdad have relaxed opinions of what constitute 'victory.' Mostly they seem to think the mere avoidance of war is good no matter what is needed to achieve that end.

Take for example, the exile option. What if Saddam and his chosen family members (those he hasn't shot already) go into exile? Do we really trust whoever emerges and proclaims they will really disarm? And what does this say to other would-be-nuclear aspirants/nutcase dictators? It tells them that you can pursue nukes in secret, sign contracts with the French, and then if you get caught, call your French attorneys to bail you out. If the U.S. still persists in massing the force necessary to nail you, call "uncle" and take your stashed looted billions and go into cushy exile. Who knows, you or your son might return when the attention drifts. That isn't deterrence, that's an invitation to proliferation!

Or there is the single bullet option. What if a general whacks Saddam? Other than the satisfaction of knowing Saddam is swimming with the fishies, what do we get? This is not personal as some anti-war types froth. This is about our security. If any of Saddam's buddies take over, we have the same problem we have now, but with a lesser known whackjob. Would we start the whole process of inspections over again with the new dictator and give that guy a chance to prove himself over twelve years?

Or there is the full cooperation option. What if Saddam caves and says, you are right, we have everything you say we have—here it is, come and destroy it. Even if he destroys it all, what if he has more than we think? And what happens after he is certified weapons--free and we go home? With his wealth, scientists, and technical expertise, he begins again. And not from scratch since the knowledge is the key ingredient. All else can be purchased with his wealth and hidden even better, with the knowledge of what we can do. And who in Iraq will dare tell us anything knowing we let the thug escape—yet again.

There is also the partial cooperation option. This is a disturbing option too. It assumes that Saddam gives up just enough to get the anti-war types to claim success for inspections. Saddam gets to keep some of his assets unlike the full cooperation mode; yet must suffer through inspections for years. But he knows how to win that game. In a few years, he will neuter the already weak inspections and finally get them out completely.

There is also the old standby of continued containment and inspections until the cows come home. I won't go into why this won't work yet again. Search the archives if you are that interested. Suffice it to say that I have not changed my mind.

No, the only option is complete American and allied occupation of Iraq whether we must fight our way to Baghdad or just march in as in Kosovo. Even in the event that Saddam leaves the scene, we would need to occupy the country. My hope is that by granting Saddam one more chance—really, this time for sure, we are not kidding here, that Saddam will conclude that (yawn) he's been there and done that. He will give nothing and think he will win again.

Not this time. We intend to go to Baghdad. We've tempted fate long enough by delaying. Six months ago, attacking us at home might have been a dream of his. Now it might be a reality. If it isn't an option of his, yet more delay might grant him that time. Let's go, already.