View Full Version : Iraq – Not as Simple as it Sounds

03-08-03, 07:41 AM
"The Voice of the Grunt"

Iraq – Not as Simple as it Sounds

By Patrick Hayes

War with Iraq: It sounds easy, but it’s not.

When reduced to the simplistic logic of “good versus evil” as portrayed by the Bush administration, war with Iraq is readily identifiable as something we should do – something we need to do. However, when we consider a potential war with Iraq in terms of geopolitics, economics or even history, many eyes glaze over.

Any point of view other than total “pro-war” is difficult to argue coherently because the Left has staked out the anti-war sentiment as its rallying cry – yet again. Worse, the Left is incoherent, without logic, without reason, and certainly without any decision-making on its part. Leftists can only attack what the president says or the actions he takes – action being something liberals seem incapable of undertaking with any fortitude.

However, as difficult and distasteful as it is to echo some of the fears and points currently being screamed loudly by Hollywood liberals and others from across the country who are part of the anti-America crowd, the fact is, some of those concerns are valid – but not for the same reasons.

To put the latest howling from the Left in perspective, many seem to have forgotten about the fiasco into which the Clinton administration got the U.S. mired in Bosnia – a quagmire where American troops are still bogged down and take fire from the people they were supposed to protect – Muslims.

But, in regards to Bosnia, other than protesting a few ill-conceived bombing missions, the Left was absent from any anti-war protests and surprisingly quiet in the news media, because their messiah Clinton had ordered the actions. Today, arguing against a potential war with Iraq seems to be the only political platform the Democratic Party and other members of the indecisive and head-burying Left have to stand on.

Nevertheless, we are at the brink of a war that opens a very real and very dangerous unknown, in a part of the world that is, by definition, unstable.

There is no doubt American forces will take out Saddam, destroy his ability to fight and be able to set up a new government in short order. But then what? How stable will such an obvious puppet regime be in a region that is as changing and unpredictable as the shifting sands of the Arabian desert? What will the cost be to Americans? And how long will American troops have to stay in Iraq to maintain any semblance of order and stability in a sea of Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish fanatics?

The answers to these questions have not been forthcoming from the Bush administration. What we continue to hear is how dangerous Saddam is to the region – and to us.

Dangerous? Not counting the attack on Kuwait, the last time he tried to be “dangerous” (in June 1981), the Israelis simply blew up his Osirak nuclear weapons production plant. Maybe we need to consider similar alternatives. The Iraqi targets have been hardened, camouflaged and buried but, if the evidence exists of such threatening facilities, we have the technology to seek them out and destroy them – one way or another.

Of course, by making such stealth attacks on specific targets rather than sending in ground troops we would be condemned by the French, the Germans and their allies – but so what? In the end, it would be cheaper (we wouldn’t have to try to buy allies like Turkey) and we would not leave thousands of troops on the ground without an exit strategy.

As I pointed out in DefenseWatch about three months after the 9/11 attacks (“Iraq: A Decade of Appeasement Must End,” Dec. 5, 2001), Saddam Hussein for most of the 1980s was our boy in a region of fanatic anti-western Muslim clerics and hypocritical oil princes. Rather than the volatile and hate-filled Muslim fanatics, of Iran, Palestine, Syria and elsewhere, Saddam’s government is secular, although closely resembling a Stalinist regime more than anything else (see “Regime Change Means Eradicating the Ba’ath Party,” by Jim Simpson, DefenseWatch, Feb. 19, 2003).

That said, Saddam certainly must be contained and we have the means to do so. Maybe he should even be hit. We certainly have the means to do that, too. But in real geopolitical terms, Saddam is not the primary threat to the United States and the West that he has been portrayed to be. For whatever reason, the United States has pushed a former usable ally into becoming a rabid dog in a corner and now it must be dealt with.

The last time we played with Saddam’s emotions, following a wink and a nod from then American Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, Saddam attacked Kuwait a little more than a week later in August 1990. Maybe he went further than Washington had expected him to do, by going past the oil fields into Kuwait City and scaring the oil princes off their silk cushions.

Then, following Glaspie’s cozy chat with Saddam, we turned on him.

That was then, this is now, and one way or another, we are going to go to war. It’s just a matter of time. After all the rhetoric and saber rattling, to do anything else would be a sign of weakness in the region that plays on signs and symbols. Moreover, given our other war – against Muslim terrorists – we cannot be perceived as weak or indecisive. However, we will be damned if we do and damned if we don’t, because once U.S. troops enter Iraq, the rallying cry will go out from every mosque from Riyadh and Cairo, to London and Detroit for a “holy war.”

Once the shooting starts, even if the Iraqis do give up again in droves as they did the last time, it will be another opportunity for al Qaeda and other Muslim fanatics from around the world to go to war against the “infidel”, as did American Muslim convert, Johnny Lindh Walker.

Even if most of that part of the war is quickly extinguished as we did in Afghanistan, what is the exit plan? How do we extricate ourselves from an even more unstable environment – one of our own making? Are we going to turn leadership over to the Shi’ites in the south – the same Shi’ites who blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut and are virtually kin to the mullahs ruling Iran?

We don’t seem to have learned much from our involvement with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, when the enemy of our enemy was our “friend” and we helped the Mujahideen fight against the Soviet Union. We gave bin Laden and his Mujahideen rabble Stinger missiles, but now wonder where those missiles might be pointed.

What most Americans don’t seem to understand is that dealing with the mindset that exists in the Middle East is not like dealing with a defeated Germany or Japan following World War II, or the East Bloc states after the fall of the Soviet Union. Throw logic completely out the window. We are dealing with a 13th century feudal mindset. As one person who spent five years in Saudi Arabia recently noted, “They (meaning the Arabs) are too arrogant to realize how ignorant they are and too ignorant to realize how arrogant they are.”

Other comments from experts I know who have lived in the Middle East (but wish to remain anonymous) include, “They missed the ‘Age of Reason,’ the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. It shows in their medieval behavior.”

“For me,” another source said, “the most amazing of all was the ability for them to form unshakeable opinions without the slightest bit of evidence, especially when forming opinions of non-Muslims, a.k.a. infidels. Science, as we know it in the western world, is completely dismissed.”

Moreover, of course, there are the dictates of Islamic Shari’a law to be confronted in a postwar Iraq – the centuries-old law that, for instance, dictates, “The life of a non-Muslim is worth less than the life of a Muslim.”

The British found out over a century ago that, up until 1948, the Middle East is as complex a political puzzle as was ever dreamed up by the French in the Elysees Palace, who are past masters of political intrigue and subterfuge.

In the end, whether or not we stay in Iraq after Saddam’s ouster, a “democratic” state in the middle of the Muslim world will not be tolerated for long.

And it forces this question: What happens next? Do we turn our guns on Iran or Syria? While keeping the peace and protecting whatever government sits in Baghdad (much as the Soviets did in Afghanistan), how do we continue to fight the war against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network? Or do we just turn and go home, leaving the shifting sands of the Middle East to do what it has always done. And by then, how many fair weather “allies” have we lost?

Iraq can be contained. Fighting the terrorism of al Qaeda is both dangerous and expensive enough, and should command our highest priority.

Patrick Hayes is a Senior Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at gyrene@sftt.org.