TCS Daily

Into Iraq? Yes

By Pejman Yousefzadeh - June 4, 2002 12:00 AM

The possibility that President Bush will push for international action against Saddam Hussein and his regime is welcome news to anyone who wants to see the Middle East made more stable and peaceful. It is also welcome news in the war against terrorism, and in the attempt to deny weapons of mass destruction to rogue states.

There are some who doubt that the President will move against Iraq anytime soon. These doubts stem from the President's declaration that "there are no war plans" on his desk. These fears are likely unfounded. For one thing, it is in the interest of the United States to use certain amounts of disinformation to keep the Iraqis off guard. Additionally, it should be noted that military "plans" are extremely detailed outlines of operations. The President may not have seen such a detailed plan, but that does not mean one is not in the works. Moreover, the President likely has seen a general outline of how a military operation to oust Saddam Hussein would be conducted, and may very well have ordered the military to breathe life into the plan.

It is clear that in going after Saddam, the United States will not have the vast coalition behind it that it did in 1991 during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Most of the European countries are more interested in trading with Iraq than with making war against it. Britain, America's traditional ally, may also be skittish due to the internal pressures on Prime Minister Tony Blair by leftist members of his Labour Party, who do not want a war with Iraq. This is not to say that the United States shall be without allies. Turkey is an unsung hero of the war against terrorism, and may be of assistance, especially in terms of allowing American personnel to use Turkish bases to stage operations from. The United States may also receive at least tacit cooperation from Russia, especially if it promises to assist Moscow in recovering back debts from Iraq under a new regime. However, even if the United States were to go it alone in a war against Iraq, this fact should not deter the military action the President contemplates. The stakes are just too high to let Saddam Hussein remain in power any longer.

Saddam Hussein has a long and troubling history of sponsoring terrorism. As Kenneth Adelman rightly points out, there is indeed a great deal of evidence to suggest that Saddam had a role in helping to plan and support the September 11th terrorist attacks. We certainly know that Saddam is helping to further the murderous genocide bombing campaign against Israelis by offering a cash reward to Palestinian families for every "martyr" they give up to the cause of terrorism. Nine years ago, Saddam also planned an assassination attempt against President Bush the Elder. Saddam has clearly cemented his role as an international terrorist thug beyond dispute.

Saddam is also heavily involved in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. He is well known for having used chemical weapons against the Iranians in his eight-year war against Iran. Saddam even gassed Iraqi Kurds in order to put down a revolt against his regime. No current world leader has stooped to engage in such horrible acts in waging war. There is little doubt that Saddam is actively seeking a more advanced bioweapons and chemical weapons capability, and it is equally clear that Saddam wishes a nuclear weapons capability. He has made no secret of the fact that he will use the current weapons in the Iraqi arsenal to strike at Israel should the United States make war against Iraq. One cannot help but shudder at the possibility that Saddam might someday carry out that threat with weapons of mass destruction either against Israel, or against American interests.

American military action against Iraq is, and should be, a no-brainer. Removing Saddam Hussein from power will deal a severe blow to the cause of international terrorism, and will help ensure that Iraq does not gain possession of weapons of mass destruction. The safety and security of the United States, and the international community at large will be significantly enhanced when Saddam Hussein is forced from power.

Another significant advantage to regime change in Iraq is the salutary effect it would have on America's ability to frustrate the ambitions of other rogue states. As I have pointed out, one of the key benefits of military action in Iraq is that it could help bring about revolution in Iran. Iran has a vibrant dissident political movement, and a substantial number of Iranians desire regime change, as one of the senior hardline ayatollahs in Iran recently admitted. Military action that helps overthrow Saddam's authoritarian regime, can only serve to encourage the Iranian people to demand a change in regime of their own. Once the Iranian people see that a Middle Eastern strongman has been overthrown in a neighboring country, they will likely be encouraged to rise up against their own repressive regime, which like Saddam's, has a habit of sponsoring terrorism, seeking weapons of mass destruction, and engaging in horribly repressive tactics on the domestic front. There already exists a strong and vibrant alternative leadership movement that is poised to take over from the mullahs if a popular revolution takes place against the Islamic Republic of Iran. If the United States helps serve as the catalyst for this movement by displacing the dictatorial regime in Iraq, and tangibly manifesting the possibility of regime change elsewhere, the Islamic Republic's days in Iran may very well be numbered.

Finally, ending Saddam Hussein's reign in Iraq can help the United States deal from a position of greater strength with other suspect states and institutions, even if those states and institutions do not themselves experience an immediate leadership change. Decisive and successful action against Saddam could very well encourage recalcitrant leaders like Syria's Bashar Assad to be more cooperative with American security interests in the Middle East, given that Assad himself would likely be given cause to fear for the durability of his own regime. If the United States defeats and destroys Saddam Hussein's regime, it would also serve as an unmistakable reminder to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that their best interests are served by engaging in a close, cooperative alliance with the United States. Currently, the Saudis do not offer the United States the kind of public support and assistance that the United States would receive under ideal circumstances. A clear demonstration of American power may cause the Saudis, and their neighbors, to rethink any lack of cooperation with American interests. The successful manifestation of American power would also not go unnoticed by the Palestinian Authority, and its leader, Yasser Arafat. Arafat knows that American patience with his leadership is wearing thin, and he would be hard pressed to provide tangible proof of his commitment to a permanent Middle East peace plan, and to eradicating Islamo-fascist terrorism, lest American ire and firepower is ultimately turned upon him like it should be-and will be-against Saddam Hussein.

By ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein, the United States will remove from power a key sponsor of international terrorism, and a potential threat to global security armed with weapons of mass destruction. In removing Saddam, the United States would also encourage regime change in rogue states like Iran, and would be better placed to deal successfully with suspect states and institutions who have caused problems in the past through their policies and behavior. American power and purpose are uniquely poised to effect a positive global change of momentous proportions. The time to bring that change about is now.

The author, a frequent TCS contributor, is the editor and publisher of the PejmanPundit blog.

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