Stalling For Saddam

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has said that the entire Arab world stands against an attack on Iraq by the United States. It’s not a terrifically surprising statement, but it is worth looking into the issue of why the Arab world is so opposed to such actions.

It isn’t out of any particular love for Saddam Hussein. He’s more of a meglomaniac than a pius Muslim, and his brand of ultra-nationalism makes him at best a caged tiger. The only thing that keeps him from re-invading Kuwait or lunging for Saudi Arabia is the threat of the US smacking him down again, and this time we wouldn’t turn around before Baghdad.

So if not that, then why?

The answer is one word:


As much as the Arab world distrusts Saddam Hussein, the hatred of Israel is the one thing that unites most of the Arab world. If Saddam Hussein gets his hands on a nuclear device, that gives them greater leverage over Israel than they have now. A single nuclear-equipped suicide bomber in Tel Aviv could turn the tide of a war between Israel and the Arab states, something that they have never been able to do before. It’s has little to do with some kind of pan-Arab unity and everything to do about getting leverage over Israel.

That’s why it is imperative that we do not allow Saddam to get his hands on weapons of mass destruction. At best it would leave the Middle East as Kashmir writ large, with a long-lasting cold war that would take decades to resolve. At worst it would lead to a nuclear exhange that would kill millions, destroy the world’s oil wells, and throw the entire world into a global depression. Neither of those scenarios are acceptable to the interests of world peace.

The Arab world knows that the only tools at their disposal are diplomacy and obstruction. If we want to depose Hussein and remove his ability to develop these weapons, we can do it with or without the support of the world. That’s why they’re lobbying Europe so hard, and trying to do whatever they can to prevent this attack. They can’t use oil as a weapon, they need the revenue more than we need the oil. They can’t use their military forces, because they would quickly be crushed. This is there only option.

The risks of inaction are far less than the risks of action. We must move against Saddam and defuse this situation before it blows up in our face once more.

2 thoughts on “Stalling For Saddam

  1. Attacking Iraq could also be the spark that could ignite a Kurdish/Turkish war- and both enflaming the middle east and turning a NATO ally against us could be the final straw that breaks the back of the broken-down camel of American foreign relations. Are we ready to do what it takes to rebuild and reestablish Iraq? Or, with our typical policy of Political Attention Deficit Disorder, will we abandon them after six months of making a pathetic show of trying to reestablish rule of law?

    This may just be a sleeper we don’t want to awaken.

  2. My guess is that the first stage of the war will see attacks on Baghdad and the setup of airbases in Northern Iraq. That will mean that there will be enough US military presence to keep the more radical Kurds from doing anything in Turkey. Once Iraq is stabilized, then the situation can be dealt with more effectively.

    As for rebuilding Iraq, that will be much easier than rebuilding Afghanistan. The reason is oil. Whoever replaces Saddam has a source of revenue that could easily pay for reconstruction and development. Remember, in the mid 70’s before the Ba’ath Party takeover, Iraq was to have been one of the Middle East’s future sucess stories – and that potential is still there, provided there’s a more stable government to make it happen.

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