August 16, 2002

What Arabs? :

Don't Attack Saddam : It would undermine our antiterror efforts. (BRENT SCOWCROFT, August 15, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
The United States could certainly defeat the Iraqi military and destroy Saddam's regime. But it would not be a cakewalk. On the contrary, it undoubtedly would be very expensive--with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy--and could as well be bloody. In fact, Saddam would be likely to conclude he had nothing left to lose, leading him to unleash whatever weapons of mass destruction he possesses.

Israel would have to expect to be the first casualty, as in 1991 when Saddam sought to bring Israel into the Gulf conflict. This time, using weapons of mass destruction, he might succeed, provoking Israel to respond, perhaps with nuclear weapons, unleashing an Armageddon in the Middle East. Finally, if we are to achieve our strategic objectives in Iraq, a military campaign very likely would have to be followed by a large-scale, long-term military occupation. [...]

Possibly the most dire consequences would be the effect in the region. The shared view in the region is that Iraq is principally an obsession of the U.S. The obsession of the region, however, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict--which the region, rightly or wrongly, perceives to be clearly within our power to resolve--in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us. We would be seen as ignoring a key interest of the Muslim world in order to satisfy what is seen to be a narrow American interest.

Not sure how I missed this in the first place, but reading Patrick Ruffini's comments made it stand out. Having already theorized that Israel will nuke Iraq after Saddam's "likely" use of WMD--neither of which is a possibility that should be dismissed--and that this will unleash "Armageddon", why would the war be expensive, what exactly are we going to occupy for years, and what Muslim world is Mr. Scowcroft speaking of in later paragraphs? It's perfectly legitimate to worry about this becoming a generalized war of the West (America and Israel) against Islam and about our side resorting to nuclear weapons rather than trying to invade and subdue the entire region, but realistically if this does come to pass, what will remain of the Arab Middle East when the smoke clears? One doubts there will be much, which makes the rest of General Scowcroft's essay rather pointless. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 16, 2002 7:36 PM
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