Early victories in the War Against Iraq
February 15, 2003
An effective foreign policy is like a multi-warhead missile—an acceptable percentage of warheads reach their target. America’s current policy towards Iraq has had such a solid success ratio -- demonstrable results from the very threat of war, which leads to a corollary: Significant military power deters war, thus achieves results without its exercise. This observer concludes this has been the basis of the current policy towards Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Inspectors Here, There, Everywhere. Since December 16, 1998, not one United Nations arms inspector inhabited Iraq. Not one. It’s been five years.
"Weapons inspectors packed up their personal belongings and loaded up equipment at U.N. headquarters after a predawn evacuation order. In a matter of hours, they were gone, more than 120 of them headed for a flight to Bahrain." --CNN, December16, 1998.
Then on December 6, 2002, in a speech marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein reluctantly allowed inspectors back in.
For Saddam, this was humiliating and demeaning. Through his defiance he had regained all important stature among fellow Arab leaders. Now he had capitulated in face of the growing U.S. military threat. He remains confident he can withstand the close scrutiny of the U.N. inspectors. But the U.S. achieved a major objective. His rearmament plans have been severely hampered, for the time being.
Trouble in the King’s Court. Even prior to the return of the inspectors, Saddam Hussein’s domestic support had badly eroded. Today, he must rely on a much smaller group of supporters than ever before to keep himself in power. By late 1996, a series of betrayals, failures, and disappointments had left him in a more precarious domestic position than at any time since March 1991.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi armed forces had grown steadily disenchanted with Saddam's leadership. Five years after the Gulf War, the standard of living of regular army personnel remained dismal, and the level of logistical supplies was woeful. This had even begun to affect the Republican Guards, who previously had been protected from the effects of sanctions.
The earlier weapons inspections were considered a humiliation and the continued sanctions a serious detriment to the national economy and security. Desertions forced Baghdad to demobilize divisions. These problems had spawned repeated coup attempts from the ranks of the military and the Guard.
The current military intimidation by United States and the return of weapons inspections has only intensified the internal conflict.
Objective Achieved: Creating an hostile environment of distrust and fear within the Iraqi leadership, making exile for the first time a real best opportunity for Saddam. Unthinkable months ago.
Bin Laden, Minus Stealth and Cunning.
Then comes a taped message from Osama Bin Laden, joining arms with a detested secular Arab leader, and a socialist to boot. Keep in mind bin Laden has seen his lead military planner, Mohammed Atef, killed, Abu Zubaydah, his operations chief taken into US custody. So were Ramzi Binalshibh, considered to be the instrumental planner of the 9/11 terror attacks against the US, and Omar al-Farouq, considered Al Qaeda's key facilitator for terror operations in Southeast Asia. In addition, hundreds of detainees have been rounded up in more than 90 countries cooperating with the US. Three alleged terror support cells have been broken up in the US.
Bin Laden’s message sounds like a pep talk for his followers. "If you were distressed by the deaths of your men and the men of your allies in Tunisia, Karachi, Failaka, Bali, and Amman, remember our children who are killed in Palestine and Iraq everyday." Remember the fear and terror instilled by Al Qaeda has based on spectacular surprise attack. But here is bin Laden giving warnings, threatening, vowing revenge and for the sake of Saddam Hussein, a man who he detests.
Rather than appearing invincible and near immortal, bin Laden laments his own end, hinting he won’t survive the year. "In this final year I hurl myself and my steed with my soul at the enemy. Indeed on my demise I will become a martyr." Not the words of a terrorist master mind destined to terrorize America for years to come.
America has achieved a major objective: Bin Laden shed his stealth, and seems ready to die in suicide rather than to watch America crumble to the ground.
Learning Who Are Your Real Friends. The European alliance including NATO have entered a new era. Only one member has suffered a major attack by Islamic-fascists. Fortunately another, Great Britain, stands firmly by America. But France, Germany and even Canada remain unconvinced about a preemptive attack on Iraq.
On November 6, 2001, President Bush said "a coalition partner must do more than just express sympathy; a coalition partner must perform.. Over time it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity," he said. "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."
Ironically, Bush’s statement was made during a joint news conference with French President Jacques Chirac.
Another major has been achieved: Despite our European allies’ threat to block any U.N. Security Council authorization to use force, the current crisis has forced most European leaders to focus on Iraq. If Saddam Hussein were to eject U.N. inspectors, the Security Council, including France, Russia and China would have no choice but to authorize force.
Anti-War Protesters, Not in Solidarity with Saddam. In a democratic society like America, foreign policy decisions must account for protest and opposition. The Bush Administration surely expected anti-war protests, especially in Europe
For example, in 1983, following the initial deployment by United States of the first Pershing II intermediate missiles in Germany, millions protested in a European capitals. As today, the anti-war protests warned of nuclear Armageddon. President Reagan’s strategy of deployment to induce negotiations was criticized as insane brinkmanship. The other side had already hundreds of SS-4, SS-5, and SS-20 missiles in place. But the rage of the millions of protesters was directed at the United States. Four years later, on December 8, 1987 President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev sign the "Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles."
Current anti-war protests all at least include token condemnation of Saddam Hussein. Unlike Vietnam War protests, there are no calls for ‘solidarity’ with the liberation fighters of the enemy.
This is another major objective achieved: The world, including war protesters, recognize Saddam as a brutal dictator.
We are observing a classic case of negotiations from strength. This is bold foreign policy based on military strength. Despite the non-stop war coverage (a war where not a shot has been fired,) there have already been significant foreign policy successes. There have been two stated aims of this policy; to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and to remove Saddam Hussein as Iraq’s despot leader. It remains to be seen if President Bush will be satisfied to achieving the first objective only, or whether Saddam will relinquish power as the U.S. ratchets up the military threat.
President Reagan proved that resolute military effort, and a clear message to use all the power available, can in the end achieve foreign policy goals without firing a shot. We would prefer a similar outcome from our current Iraq offensive.