Alexander's Column

Saddam — not Iraq

Mark Alexander · Aug. 30, 2002

As the war front with Jihadistan closed in on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein this week, an executive Pentagon briefing released to senior officials and select allies defines Iraq as an imminent nuclear, chemical and biological WMD threat. Military analysts are also preparing a brief documenting connections between al-Qa'ida and Iraq’s military and government-operated businesses. The Iraqi WMD brief confirms that Saddam has the capability to employ chemical weapons in battle, and emphasizes the Iraqi dictator’s commitment to obtaining a nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon document is likely to appear in some form in public if – or when – the administration commits openly to military action against Iraq.

President George Bush reiterated this week, “We must not allow the world’s worst leaders to develop and harbor the world’s worst weapons. I’ve got a lot of tools at my disposal and I’m a patient man.”

Vice President Richard B. Cheney challenged those seeking to erode our national will to force “regime change” (read “kill Saddam”), saying: “Some concede that Saddam is evil, power hungry and a menace, but that until he crosses the threshold of actually possessing nuclear weapons we should rule out any preemptive action. …[Their] argument comes down to this: Yes, Saddam is as dangerous as we say he is. We just need to let him get stronger before we do anything about it.” Mr. Cheney added, “At bottom, that argument counsels a course of inaction that itself could have devastating consequences for many countries, including our own.”

We suggest that “devastating” is an understatement. Though the Pentagon briefing mention above did not explicitly state Saddam already has a small nuclear arsenal at his disposal, our reliable analytical sources in the intelligence community have confirmed what The Federalist has speculated since mid-July – a critical body of highly corroborated intelligence estimates entered the “regime change” equation in June, and have considerably altered our military options. Ironically, while the U.S. strategic objective has been to protect our national interests from Jihadis supplied by Saddam’s WMD programs, it is precisely that threat – new intelligence that strongly suggests Saddam already has completed operational nuclear devices, possibly suitable to be deployed as short-range warheads – that has the administration doing precisely what President George Bush declared last week – being “very patient and deliberate” and “considering all technologies…and intelligence.”

The question now guiding debate on how to effect regime change in Iraq is not how to kill Saddam, but how to do so before he can launch a nuclear attack against one of his neighbors. On the other hand, as Mr. Cheney explicated in his rebuttal to the Left, the U.S. can’t allow Saddam to remain in power long enough to have contractors deliver one of his nukes to a theater near you. (If you live in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta or Miami, we suggest you take this threat very personally.)

Leftist Sociocrats and their cadre of Leftmedia bed-wetters have raised a larger objection in our national dialogue regarding the continued pursuit of Saddam and Jihadis around the world. Their protest reads something like this: “To engage in warfare we must know our enemy, but we have no identifiable ideological/geographical opponent – thus, our war against terrorism can’t be justified.” (Apparently this crowd of objectors was on Mars 9-11 of last.)

Let us disabuse these Leftists of their courage-deficient delusions. First, the “Islamic world” recognizes no borders. Second, while orthodox Muslims, those conforming to the teachings of the “pre-Medina” Quran, do not support acts of terrorism or mass murder, large sects within the Islamic world are indoctrinated with the “post-Mecca” Quran and Hadith (Mohammed’s teachings), which call for “Jihad” or “Holy War” against all “the enemies of God.” “We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. … Unbelievers are those who declare: ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary’.” Hence why The Federalist terms this enemy without borders “Jihadistan,” or “nation of holy war.”

Saddam used the occasion of Mr. Cheney’s speech to appeal to his pan-Arab Ba'athist Party views, saying an attack on Iraq would be tantamount to an attack on “all the Arab nation.” (Note, Saddam did not specify plural “nations.”) And Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, also voiced reservations: “We are, of course, against any military action.”

The Saudis, having already forbidden the U.S. from using its Saudi Arabian bases in an attack on Iraq, instead favor pursuing a resolution of the conflict by restoring U.N. weapons inspectors to the region. “There are negotiations under way between the U.N. and the Iraqis on letting the inspectors back,” said Mr. Adel al-Jubeir, foreign policy advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. “If we can achieve the objective of having the inspectors on the ground and dismantling his weapons of mass destruction program, we will have done so without firing a single bullet or losing one single life.”

However, Mr. Cheney also disposed of the notion that renewed inspections would resolve our “problem” with Saddam. “Saddam has perfected the game of shoot and retreat, and he is very skilled in the art of denial and deception.” The vice president went on to add, “A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with U.N. resolutions. On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam is somehow back in his box. Meanwhile, he would continue to plot.”

Of course, the Saudis want Saddam gone as much as we do, but view themselves – and their oil fields – as a more accessible target for retribution. Saudi opposition is tantamount to an admission of knowledge of an Iraqi WMD program; a cause for still greater concern. Furthermore, the moderate (by regional standards) Saudi state is experiencing internal pressures from Islamic extremists who would use Saudi support for a war against Iraq as the opportunity for insurrection against the royal family in favor of a militant Islamic state. In other words, the Prince is remembering the Shah, and is thinking twice about appearing too friendly with the U.S. – a difficult proposition, to say the least.

Clearly, when Congress reconvenes next week, their first order of business should be to pass a resolution authorizing President Bush to use of force against Iraq, and dispose of the Constitutional questions being raised about the president’s authority to attack Iraq. However, we are still convinced that Mr. Bush’s plan is to attack Saddam – not Iraq!

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