The EU is holding another summit, and Tony Blair will meet with Jacques Chirac for the first time since the war in Iraq began. It’s being billed as a “kiss and make up” summit. I can’t wait to see this. Maybe we’ll see the reappearance of “Baghdad Bob” — former “Information Minister” Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf — as Chirac’s new public affairs man. He’s no Ari Fleischer, but as mouthpieces go, al-Sahhaf had quite a pedigree.
After surviving a tour as Saddam’s foreign minister, al-Sahhaf reappeared on international television as the darling of everyone who wasn’t watching Fox. He told more lies on television than anyone since Lil’ Billy. By the second week of the war, his daily pronouncements of thousands of dead coalition troops strewn across Iraq — and the firm hold the Saddamites had on the airport — should have been played for laughs. Wars teach the most horrible and important of lessons. The lesson for the Arab nations is learned only by studying the number of coalition soldiers killed to the number of Iraqis and imported “fedayeen” killed. The kill ratio is so lopsided — maybe two or three hundred to one — that it should sink in even for the Syrians and their ilk.
Syria — member in good standing of the U.N. Security Council — is nose-deep in terrorism. Hezbollah — the terrorists who killed 241 Americans in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing — are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ba’athist Syrian government. Every time Oliver North calls in to his radio show (which I’m privileged to host while he’s in Iraq) I hear again about the “Saddam Fedayeen.” These falsely-labeled “Saddam loyalists” are thousands of imported terrorists fighting to prevent Iraq from becoming free and democratic. Hundreds of them — or more — are Syrians. Many more are armed with Syrian-provided weapons. And among them are many Hezbollah members.
Since 1983 we have done little more than remonstrate with one Assad after the other. The younger — Bashar, the current “president” — is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he is as ruthless and bloody-handed as his old man was. Terrorism is the only game in Syria, and it has to be stopped one way or the other.
Israeli intelligence said early last week that many of the missing top-ranking Saddamites have fled to Syria, taking the millions they stole to Syrian banks. There is a thousand-to-one chance that Assad will look at the pictures of Saddam’s statue being toppled, and learn. It is a shame there are no pictures of the trail of dead Iraqis our ground and air forces have left from Basra to Tikrit. They would tell a tale even Assad couldn’t misunderstand. There is a lesson in the destruction of the Iraqi “elite” Republican Guard for Assad, Khameni, OBL, and the rest of those whose power relies on the fighting ability and courage of the Arab armies.
The Iraqi army proved smarter than its leaders. Most of the regular soldiers either surrendered or fled. Those who chose to fight were killed. Think about it. In any well-matched tough fight, one side might kill two or three of the enemy for every soldier it lost. So far, slightly more than one hundred Americans have died in this conflict, and about thirty Brits. (I mean no insult to any others of our allies who fight — the Aussies, the Poles, and others — but I am unaware that they have suffered fatalities in this war. If they have, I should welcome a correction.) But though we have paid a price in blood it is so disproportionate to the losses we have inflicted on the Iraqis that those who want to continue their terrorist war against us should think very hard. We probably have killed two or three hundred Iraqis for each soldier we lost. No Arab armies — individually or in combination — have any serious chance to beat us in any standup fight.
Only Mohammed al-Sahhaf (or his CNN vassals) could say otherwise. It matters not whether we are liked or loved on the “Arab street,” wherever that is. It is essential, as Ralph Peters said, that we be feared. But what can we do to get the point across other than what we have already done? The sad fact is that those such as Bashar Assad and those like him cannot admit the fecklessness of the Arab armies any more than they can admit the corruption and despotism of their own governments.
A faithful reader asks whether Saddam’s WMD have been spirited off to Syria, if the Turks’ cooperation would have prevented this, and if Syria should be our next campaign rather than North Korea. I think it’s very possible that some of Saddam’s WMD are in Syria, and more than possible that many of the WMD scientists and engineers are as well. Some may have gone to Russia, but Syria is the most likely place. I think this would have happened with or without the Turks’ double-cross. The Turks would not have been able to seal the border any more than we could. And if Saddam’s WMD went to Syria, it would have happened before the war kicked off.
Syria is, well, a nation we will have to deal with one way or the other. Better to do it now while we have the forces there to do it. Never mind that two of the five carrier battle groups are rotating home, or that the B-2s and F-117s are also being moved back. Syria is not Iraq. It took us three weeks to deal with the substance of the Iraqi army. If the president chose, Syria could be resolved in a third of that time.
Syria should be presented with an ultimatum: turn over the members of Saddam’s regime, their papers and their stolen money by the end of the week, or face the consequences. Syria’s response to the ultimatum would be a good measure of the learning capacity of the terrorist governments. If Syria can learn, there is hope for them all. But Syria won’t, because to do so would require it to admit what it cannot, that its power in the world is an illusion. With that realization — forced or learned — governments will fall, and the world evolve.
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