Though the President has decided upon a war to liberate Iraq, congressional Dems and our allies — both real and Saudi — remain steadfast for indecision. Some of the reasons behind the continued drone of Eurowhining were explained in two reports. The BBC reported that the Belgian army — about which even the French make jokes — was marching in parades carrying toy guns. A redundant clarification was provided in the London Times report that, after having been “attacked for feeble attempts to deal with spiraling costs and dwindling accountability, and denounced across Europe as woefully impotent,” the European Union’s civil servants will now be given free Viagra under their health insurance plan. This can only worsen the situation, because blood that could otherwise be going to the brain to fuel thought will be headed elsewhere.
Our homegrown antiwar crowd took heart when two Republican senior statesmen — former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger — appeared to take strong positions against an attack. Actually, Kissinger only argued to delay, and did not, like Scowcroft, argue to leave Saddam alone. Media Mentionables quickly seized the Wall Street Journal op-ed by Scowcroft — a close confidant of Bush 41 — and labeled it proof of a sharp disagreement between Dad and Dubya, Scowcroft serving as a messenger. That is clearly wrong, given the relationship between them, and Dad’s character. George Senior is neither so insecure nor so jealous of his son to resort to something like that. If he thought Dubya was screwing up, he’d tell him face to face, in private. For the record, Scowcroft’s reasoning was precisely wrong. His advice is based on an assumption that we need to avoid pressuring Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Arab “moderates.” Scowcroft refuses to understand that because the threat we’re dealing with goes far beyond Saddam, the solution must as well.
The cacophony of debate about our plans has drowned out any public discussion about what the Iraqis are planning and doing. Back in Baghdad, Saddam is a very busy bad guy. He will do anything to stay in power, regardless of the cost to his nation. Unfortunately, his military options are many in number, and some are potentially quite serious for us.
Saddam knows he can’t beat us in a stand-up fight. But he believes that we are still playing by the Clinton rules. He thinks if he can make the fight too costly for us, we’ll stop short of knocking him out, just like we did in 1991. Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarks to the Iraqi opposition notwithstanding, Saddam and most Arab leaders won’t believe we’ll go all the way until we do. And while we talk, Saddam is pursuing his military options. Some are obvious, some are not, but all are serious.
Topping the “obvious” list, as I wrote a few weeks ago, Saddam has had all the major bridges across the Euphrates River prepared for demolition. He intends to stop heavy ground forces advancing from Kuwait to give time for diplomatic games to do real harm. (He wants to block our tank force for the same reason Tommy Franks wants to use it. In the 1991 war, our M-1 tanks had a shot-to-hit ratio of 98% against Iraqi tanks and other vehicles. The guys are just as good, or better, today.) Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction — the chemical and biological ones — are also on the obvious list. Whether he fires missiles at Israel or at our troops, the threat of massive civilian casualties, and of sparking the wider war he wants, is very real.
The greater danger of a wider war comes from the terrorists supported by Iraq and Iran. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and others are quite dangerous, and will attack when war appears imminent. If we — or Israel — strike at their bases in Lebanon, Syria and Iran, those nations may join the fight. (Lebanon, a Syrian puppet, is no significant threat.) Saddam wants this to be a war between America and the Arab world. If we act indecisively, or too slowly, it may well become one.
The answer to both the WMD and terrorist threats is preemptive strikes by stealth aircraft and American and Israeli special forces. This campaign must be begun with exceptional speed and violence in attacks on Saddam’s missile forces and the terrorist camps. Assad of Syria and Abdullah of Jordan don’t want to share Saddam’s fate. Iran is another matter. Though old enemies of Iraq, Iran’s mullahs are so blinded by their hatred of us and by religious zeal, they may precipitate their own downfall by sending forces into battle. Most Iranians want to be rid of the mullahs, but the timing of a revolt could be bad. We should be prepared to help the Iranian opposition with money, equipment and covert action if needed.
Saddam has some less obvious military options. A small unit of Saddam’s Republican Guard has been trained for special operations, and my sources say they’re pretty good. Saddam will use them outside the main area of operations — in Europe or against American assets elsewhere in the Middle East — and he could get lucky. They might be able to destroy a couple of hundred million dollars’ worth of aircraft at our base in Qatar, or assassinate one of our generals, or blow up one of our embassies in Europe. If any attack like that succeeded, the political strength of the appeasement crowd here and abroad would be increased tremendously.
Iraq may even have some cruise missiles in its arsenal. Your car’s GPS, coupled to a laptop, could guide a drone aircraft to a target. It won’t have the speed or “pick a window pane” accuracy of our Tomahawks, but it doesn’t have to. Put a chemical or biological weapon in a small trainer aircraft, couple it to the crude guidance system, and you have a weapon that could strike an American city. Even with only a few hundred pounds of explosives, a drone attack could have a significant psychological effect.
Saddam also wants to trap us in urban warfare on the streets of Baghdad, or to trick us into killing masses of Iraqi civilians. We accidentally did kill many civilians in 1991 when we bombed a bunker we thought Saddam was in. The best way to avoid both of these traps is to join with the Iraqi opposition forces to take a major city such as Basra and declare a free Iraq. All but a few die-hards will come over to a new government. The new government can then — with our help — both mop up what’s left of the Saddamites and dispose of him once and for all. If there is any street fighting, we won’t do it.
The longer we wait to do this, the greater the danger from Saddam’s military options. Even the naysayers admit that. Our objective is to liberate Iraq, not conquer it. A free, modern Iraq will be worth ten times any of its neighbors in the war against Islamist terrorism everywhere. By its example, and by making its oil available in the free market, it can provide enormous leverage against the repression of the Islamists. Iraq will be free, sooner or later. Sooner is better.