Deal with Saddam now

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I have mixed feelings about the current push to invade Iraq. The reasons given for this war appear to mask a hidden agenda. Bush wants to eliminate Saddam and the risk he represents in supplying terrorists with the means to attack either through chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Yet behind all of these claims lies the politics of oil. Can this war really be seen as the fall-back position for the Bush-Cheney energy plan? Push the war if we don't drill in ANWR? Recall that Iraq is the second biggest oil producer in the world.

A major piece in the concern over Saddam is that he gassed the Kurds, his own people, in 1988. However, U.S. policy at the time, under Bush senior, virtually ignored his doing so in order to continue to sell the products of American agribusiness and technology to the Iraqis. Only when it seems convenient to other aims does Bush junior bring out the human rights issue. It seems to me further evidence that U.S. foreign policy is driven more my corporate interests than the ideals of American democracy.

There is evidence that Saddam has attempted to stockpile biological weapons and is trying to develop the means to deliver them. I have no doubt that if he had nuclear capability he could easily provide that capability to terrorists if it served his purposes. Imagine a nuclear explosion in lower Manhattan. Would we wring our hands and ask how someone could do this, just as we did about 9-11. Would we still ask for direct evidence between Saddam and this catastrophe? Does anyone think our military would stand idly by? And suppose the bomb went off in Washington D.C., destroying the Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and all the rest? If you think security is annoying now, can you imagine what it would be like after something like that happened?

The question comes down, for me, to whether there is any reliable way to predict whether Saddam would or would not set such events in motion. Many want direct evidence he is building and amassing such weapons. How would such evidence be obtained? Is it reasonable, given his tight security, to expect that such evidence can be obtained? Given the risks involved, can we afford to wait? If 19 men can organize themselves over several years to plan and then execute the hijackings of 9-11 is there anyone who doubts there are people right now who would set off a nuclear device in one of our cities? Can we afford to wait until some senior Iraqi officer defects and confirms such activity?

Though I have no sympathy and little trust of those who are currently setting U.S. foreign policy, I don't think so.

Steve Wolf


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