November 8, 2002

Iraq invasion not to America's benefit

It's been a while since I've done this, so I may be a bit rusty. Writing for the consumption of the general population takes a certain amount of finesse. Writing for a population made up of intellectuals and would-be intellectuals takes as much prudence as it does finesse. I have neither. The best I can do for you is to call it like I see it. That will have to do for all you big-brained college folk, so here goes. . .

The bottom line is simple—the United States should not invade Iraq unilaterally. This is primarily a strategic assessment. I don't have much use for touchy-feely liberal issues like human rights, self-determination, and sovereignty. Truth be told, neither does the rest of the world. The U.S. should not invade Iraq because to do so is not in our strategic interests. Nothing else really matters at this level of international politics.

Iraq is not a significant threat to the United States, its allies, or its interests. Oh, it's a threat in the abstract sense—like Canada is a threat in the abstract sense. Iraq has some offensive capability that could be used against the U.S., it's full of people that don't like the U.S., and it's a competitor for scarce resources. Yes, Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction of the chemical and biological flavor, but the simple fact is that we've got the bombs, and Iraq knows it.

The Bush administration claims that Saddam Hussein (who is interchangeable with the Iraqi government) is a threat because he has weapons of mass destruction. Supposedly, Saddam will either attack the U.S., our allies, or our interests with nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) weapons, or give them to terrorists who will.

Even if we leave aside the simple fact that Iraq does not yet have nuclear weapons or a viable delivery system for an effective NBC attack, Saddam would be suicidal to try it. He may be a bit unstable, a tyrant, and a butcher, but he wants to stay in power. All heads of state do. Saddam knows that if he were to launch an NBC attack against the United States, our allies, or our interests, we would turn Iraq into a big glass parking lot (sand melts into glass in the heat of a nuclear detonation). For those of you worried about Israel, Saddam also knows that if he even thinks about attacking Israel with the handful of Scuds he has, the Mossad will find out and the Israelis will make Iraq pay in the radioactive dust-bowl sense of the word.

Also keep in mind that if NBC weapons suddenly show up in the hands of terrorists and are used against the U.S. or Israel, we're both going to blame Iraq, whether we have evidence or not. Saddam would find himself with the same "Hot as the Surface of the Sun" weather forecast as if he had attacked himself. Not to mention the fact that terrorist groups aren't exactly fond of him anyway—they might attack Iraq themselves. Again, Hussein is a scumbag and we all wish he were dead, but he's not stupid or suicidal—so he's not going to do anything to incur the terrible wrath of the United States.

Some of you may remember Dr. John Mearsheimer speaking a couple weeks back about al Qaeda being a threat to the U.S. while Iraq is not. He could not be more right. Saddam has a compelling interest in keeping NBC weapons away from terrorists because they just might use them against him, and he knows if they use them against us we will probably blame him. It's a lose-lose situation.

On the other hand, al Qaeda and its friends would like nothing more than to get their grubby fingers on NBC weapons and use them against the U.S. Here's something to keep in mind—if a terrorist organization has the knowledge and resources to effectively employ weapons of mass destruction, it also has the knowledge and resources to get them—from Iraq or somewhere else.

Invading Iraq will divert resources from the War on Terrorism. We should be focusing on hunting down Osama bin Laden and his group-thinking cronies instead of worrying about Iraq. There are lots of places to get nasty stuff like VX, anthrax, and small pox-Ebola hybrids. Most are in the former Soviet Union—some are even in the U.S. Just be glad bin Laden made millions from American investment in construction and not genetics.

While we're talking about people who benefit from American wealth and power, let's talk about U.S. allies. Invading Iraq is going to piss a lot of people off, many of them U.S. allies. Some, like those in the European Union, aren't really a concern. They are too dependent on the U.S. to stay angry for long.

The allies we have to worry about alienating by invading Iraq are those in the Middle East. Why? Because they have lots and lots of oil. Access to Middle Eastern oil is a compelling strategic concern that the U.S. must consider before taking action. Now, Kuwait will love the U.S. no matter what we do. We saved their asses and they have not forgotten. Other allies are not so steadfast. They might break down under public pressure over U.S. imperialism and other B.S. like that, so we have to tread lightly.

Some folks think we should leave Iraq up to the U.N. Yeah, right. They're great at solving problems like this. Ask the Bosnians, Rwandans, and anybody else who's had the U.N. try to solve their problems. Heck, ask the Iraqis themselves. The U.N. imposed sanctions on Iraq and sent peacekeepers to Bosnia and Rwanda. Fat lot of good that did. An invasion would be better than leaving things up to the U.N.

The best course of action is to maintain the status quo. Saddam will eventually fall on his own and we'll be in a position to pick up the pieces. If he manages to stick around or pass control onto one of his henchmen, so what? We can contain Iraq as long as we have to. We've got the bombs.

Anyone who's broken up about the loss of innocent life in Iraq due to sanctions or the potential for "collateral damage" from an invasion ought to be writing all sorts of letters to U.S. allies in the Middle East and elsewhere trying to convince them to get on board with the U.S. (U.S.—not U.N.) led multilateral action would alleviate most of the strategic concerns I've brought up, and probably save lives.

I've said a lot. I think it's time for me to stop. I'm going to leave you with one final thought. If the U.S. invades Iraq, a lot of American soldiers will die. No matter how good our military is—and it is the best—we can't expect Saddam to roll over and cry uncle like he did in 1991. He will use every means at his disposal to try to stay in power, including weapons of mass destruction. Why aren't people as worried about the loss of American lives as they are about "collateral damage?"