Clear and present danger?
Saddam Hussein in was born in a city of thugs into a family of thugs and has been a thug all of his life, and has certainly gassed his own people and tried to assassinate Bush One. Let us get it settled once and for all that he is an evil man devoid of conscience.
But is he the threat that Bush Two envisions? Or should we look to more imminently dangerous countries of his designated Axis of Evil. North Korea has nuclear warheads and missile launchers, apparently purchased from China or Russia, which can today strike the Northwestern United States; and China has both, which may or may not be capable of striking the United States, but it has a much easier way of setting off a nuclear strike virtually anywhere in the U.S. by simply shipping a warhead in a container to a West Coast port destined to go across the country to be discharged by a cell phone wherever China desires to strike.
These are clear and current dangers to the United States, not remote ones.
What is the real threat of Saddam in his use of nuclear weapons? Israel, his sworn enemy, is one possibility. He fought a war of about 10 years with Iran in which we aided him, because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Another real possibility would be Syria.
And why hasn’t Saddam attacked Israel? For exactly the same reason that for 30 years of Cold War, with the United States and the Soviet Union armed to the hilt many times over with nuclear war heads, neither launched a first strike ? for each knew that to do so would result in instant retaliation and mutual assured destruction ? “MAD.” Man of evil that Saddam is, he certainly would want to save his own hide, just as other leaders do.
We should also think of the consequence to us if an attack is launched against Iraq with or without UN approval. Not only will we lose our friends in Europe but, more importantly, the entire Muslim world for generations and generations to come.
Would the Muslim world receive a Peace Corps type organization? We are not in position to send any kind of effective aid. How many volunteers do we have who can speak and understand the various languages of the Muslim world?
We should remember that when we supported the tyrant Shah of Iran that there was not a single member of the CIA who could speak Farsi, hence we never did know what the Shah was up to in his own country. Thus we helped bring the Ayatollah to power.
As to biological and chemical warfare, almost all countries of any consequence today have such. There is no reason to think that Saddam is the only one possessing such horrors.
However, they also represent a clear and present danger to the user of such weapons, for just as with a nuclear attack, any other country could counter attack. But, more importantly, George Tenet, the head of our CIA, testified recently before the Senate Intelligence Committee: “Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or chemical or biological weapons.”
But he went on to say that “should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could not be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist action.”
Any attack on Iraq will result in not only some loss of human life of members of our own armed forces, but also of many innocent Iraqi children and adults, even those who are our friends.
John D. Lawyer
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Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the historic Gaden Shartse Monastery will return to the Aspen area this summer with public events running June 30 to July 14.