Monday, November 24, 1997

Week of 11/24/1997

Target: Iraq
Iraq takes advantage of US weaknesses
- by David Matthews 2

This past week, we once again rattled sabers and exchanged words of war with Baghdad. The struggle began with Saddam Hussein barring US weapons inspectors from taking part with the joint United Nations inspection of all chemical and weapons installations. Inspecting those installations was one of the conditions of the Gulf War cease-fire, and the rest of the inspectors naturally believed that if the US contingent was being barred, then the others wouldn’t continue. When Iraq expelled all US inspectors from the country, the others inspectors followed.

The United States reacted harshly, and President Clinton sent warships to the Persian Gulf. The reaction of the UN, however, seemed to be one of frustration. Rightly so, since here was the leader of Iraq making trouble in a no-win situation.

By the end of the week, though, it was over. A deal negotiated by the Russians averted possible economic or military action and allowed the full UN inspection team to return to Iraq to continue with their mission of discovering and destroying weapons of mass destruction.

Let’s be brutally honest here. Saddam Hussein was looking for trouble, and he knew it. What did he have to lose? Nothing! Get into an armed conflict and some of his citizens die? So what? He doesn’t care about them. That’s so fewer people he has to worry about overthrowing him. Lose some of his weapons? So what? How many of his weapons were lost in the Gulf War?

On the other hand, he had everything to gain by this action. For starters, he challenged the resolve of the UN, and it faltered. The major nations such as China and Russia didn’t have to guts to support even economic actions. He embarrassed the United States by agreeing to a deal negotiated by Russia instead of kowtowing to the demands of the Clinton Administration. And in a best-case scenario, he could have removed some of the economic hindrances imposed from the Gulf War or neutralized the effectiveness of the UN weapons inspectors.

One would think that Hussein NEEDS to cause trouble with the rest of the world, because that’s the only way to get his people scared of someone besides him. The old Arabic saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is truly put to the test in Iraq.

What’s worse is that Hussein knows America’s weaknesses and takes advantage of them whenever possible! It’s not like we keep it a secret. We have a paranoid obsession with protecting women and children, and it’s something Hussein has played on even during the onset of the Gulf War. Consider the number of anti-American protests that feature women or children. Our obsession is our Achilles heel, and one that any tyrant, foreign or domestic, play on regularly.

The major problem the world has in dealing with a tyrant is that the tyrant can care less about his people as he does with his own self-preservation. The normal rules of diplomacy don’t apply here. The whole premise of economic sanctions is to create such a drain on the economy that the people of that country will demand change. It’s hard to create change, though, when you have a public that is scared into compliance. Just look at Cuba and how long we’ve had economic sanctions against that country. Hasn’t really worked, has it?

The sooner the more "socialized" nations realize that little fact, the closer we can get to understanding why leaders like Saddam Hussein are they way they are. Why should he change? No matter what we do, if he still lives and his people aren’t trying to throw him out of office, there’s no loss as far as he’s concerned.

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