Alexander's Column

Regime change

Mark Alexander · Sep. 6, 2002

On the eve of next week’s anniversary of the murderous 9-11 attacks on our countrymen by Jihadistan terrorists, President George Bush met Wednesday with key congressional leaders to make his case for regime change in Iraq. The president intends to seek approval for such an action from Congress, and it has been suggested that authorization may come even before Mr. Bush lodges his formal request. Last week, The Federalist 02-35 stressed that, “When Congress reconvenes next week, their first order of business should be to pass a resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq, and dispose of the Constitutional questions being raised about the president’s authority to attack Iraq.”

Indeed, Senate Joint Resolution 23 and Public Law 107-40 states, “[The President is authorized to] use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” But the argument being raised by the Left is, “Was Iraq involved?” That case has been made, but it would eliminate Leftist ranting about “constitutional authority” if Congress would affirm the targeting of Iraq specifically.

Even as Mr. Bush prepares to address the United Nations on the subject of Iraq next Thursday, September 12, he voiced the heart of his message to the world’s leaders in the strongest terms, “Doing nothing about this serious threat is not an option for the United States. … I believe it’s important for the world to deal with this man.”

To that end, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said almost a year ago, “Surrender terrorism, or surrender power,” is supporting the Bush administration’s position on Iraq, in spite of strong opposition from his own Labour Party. That Blair would dare tread such contentious political ground bespeaks the deadliness of the Iraqi threat. Even now British military commitments around the world are being downsized in preparation for a possible U.S.-British joint attack.

As the frequency of joint U.S./U.K. sorties against Iraqi air-defense installations increased this week, Mr. Blair is scheduled to meet with Mr. Bush at Camp David this weekend, and the president plans to telephone France’s Jacques Chirac, Red China’s Jiang Zemin, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and other world leaders opposing a military solution to Iraq. It is critical to note, however, though there is much public discontent with U.S. plans to kill Saddam, most of that discontent, as we have noted in the case of Saudi Arabia, is theatrical. The EU-niks fear that their financial centers are ripe targets for al-Qa'ida and other Jihadi terrorists already well established in Western European cells.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirmed what The Federalist has repeatedly voiced on the subject of invasion, saying, “…[W]e know some other things [beyond what has been made public], but those are the kinds of things that would come out if and when the president decides that he thinks it’s appropriate.”

And one thing The Federalist confirmed two weeks ago from reliable Pentagon sources is that Saddam already possesses a viable nuclear weapons capability, and possibly a compatible mid-range missile platform, making the rogue state a regional nuclear threat. Far more seriously, however, is the possibility of Iraq providing a nuclear device to terrorists infiltrating the United States. Also, as previously mentioned, Saddam is actively ginning up disruptions, conflicts and terrorist acts where he can, as a way of delaying and possibly averting a U.S. move to supplant him. His most fertile ground for growing trouble is in the Israeli-Palestinian exchanges of fire. And, of course, al-Qa'ida Jihadis will be all too happy to oblige with terror support where they retain deadly capabilities.

Amid the cloud of confusion surrounding the whole issue of Iraq, one aspect of U.S. policy has been consistently overlooked – a piece of the puzzle that makes sense of much of the ambiguity surrounding the Iraq question. Simply this: The U.S. would not hesitate to eliminate Saddam Hussein now, if strategists knew who would fill the power vacuum created by his demise. The most obvious successor of the Saddamite regime, the Iraqi National Congress, is an association in disarray – a cumbersome umbrella organization composed of dissident groups with a broad range of incompatible and contradictory visions for Iraq. Before Saddam is removed, the Bush administration must be confident that a moderate, U.S.-friendly regime can be established in his place, to supplant – not continue – instability in the region.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss the return of UN weapons inspectors in an effort to stave off a U.S. offensive. “We are ready to cooperate with the United Nations,” said Mr. Aziz. “If the question of so-called weapons of mass destruction is a genuine concern by the U.S., then the matter could be dealt with.” Indeed, the matter could be dealt with.

Keeping Saddam off balance, Secretary of State Colin Powell has strongly urged the continuation of weapons inspections in Iraq, while Vice President Cheney has argued persuasively that such inspections are of limited use inasmuch as they cannot meet the standard demanded for U.S. national security. (The old “good-cop – bad-cop” routine.)So long as the ouster of Saddam remains a standing policy apart from the presence or absence of weapons inspections, the promotion of such inspections can pose no threat to security interests. Rather, weapons inspections would throw a bone to the Europeans and globalist-multilateralists, the better to enlist support after such inspections – necessarily, given Saddam’s modus operandi – fail. The U.S. most likely will find smoother sailing by pacifying the multilateralists internationally, much as Mr. Bush – if not legally, strategically – must persuade Congress of his position.

Secretary Rumsfeld has insisted that the U.S. does indeed want weapons inspectors back inside Iraq – unconditionally, though the presence of inspectors would not preclude military action against Saddam Hussein. Regardless of weapons inspectors, U.S. policy is dedicated to regime change in Iraq. The fact remains, however, that Iraq has used such bait and switch tactics in the past to delay a U.S. reaction. “And I haven’t seen any inclination on their part to agree to anything except as a ploy from time to time,” observed Mr. Rumsfeld, noting that Iraq seeks to “kind of play the international community and the UN process like a guitar, plucking the right string at the right moment to delay something.” Of course, Saddam will use inspections as fodder for additional delay of the inevitable – his demise.

And a final note… As the first anniversary of 9-11 approaches, better calculations have been tallied of the financial losses sustained. Estimates from New York City of the devastation from the World Trade Center attacks place the total reaching as high as $95 billion in costs, and 83,000 jobs lost. A total of 13 million square feet of prime downtown office space was obliterated, more than all the office space in Atlanta or Miami. But all that is assuredly as nothing, stacked against the 3,000 non-combatant lives purposely taken that day – and many more at risk now, should U.S. resolve to contain Jihadistan and its state sponsors wane.