Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Attack on Iraq? 02-09-06

Is this the right time for attack on Iraq?

Birmingham Post Herald

Friday September 6, 2002

There is hardly anybody who would shed a tear and not heave a sigh of relief if Saddam Hussein disappeared from the face of the Earth. His defeat may or may not help the rest of the world; it will certainly be a boon to the hapless Iraqis. They will have an opportunity to breathe an air if not as free as in the West, at least considerably less noxious. The United States could have, should have done it a long time ago. But we did not.

Why are we so anxious to do it now in such a hurry? President Bush has been chafing at the collar to invade Iraq. Now that he seems to have gone beyond the stage of bluster, even his Republican supporters are getting nervous and are getting vocal in their criticism of the ill-advised policy. All the three reasons from the administration fall well short of convincing: He is amassing the weapons of mass destruction; Iraqis want and need democracy; he was involved in the 9/11 attack.

The first two reasons have been valid for more than 25 years. The third reason has not been proven in spite of zealous efforts by this administration.

The story is finally out that we helped Saddam Hussein use chemical attack against Iran in the mid-'80's and we remember our government's "deafening silence" to his use of deadly gas against Iraqi Kurds. We danced with the worst of the devils when it suited our purpose. The admonition at his use of chemical weapons, as if Bush appears to have learned it yesterday, is self-righteous hypocrisy, unless he condemns Ronald Reagan's and George Bush the elder's administrations for inhuman callousness.

Be that as it may, Saddam is an evil person. He is evil, but stupid he is not. He knows that in the changed circumstances after 9/11, he dare not look at America with so much as an evil glance. He knows it. We know it. So what is the urgency to attack Iraq right now? When we are still bogged down in a very unstable Afghanistan and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has spiraled into an abyss from which we do not seem to want to rescue them.

Israel is pressurizing the administration to attack Iraq now. Bush says the democracy in Iraq will start a positive trend in the Arab world.

The problem is the complete identification of this administration with the Likud Party line in Israel. The most important and longest festering problem in the Middle East is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Bush, who has never been accused of intellectual heft, ignored the problem at the most crucial time after taking office, then after 9/11 threw his weight completely behind Ariel Sharon, whom he called a man of peace. (One suspects Sharon may have almost died of shock). Nobody, even in Israel has ever accused him, of being a man of peace.

The criticism at home about the mission creep in the war on terrorism, American isolation due to untenable policy in the Palestine-Israel conflict, pressure from Israel and illegitimate accounting practices on stock market dictate a major diversion. The sane advise of Colin Powell is being completely ignored and the proponents of Israeli lobby have completely taken over and isolated the State Department.

The best route to propagation of democracy in the Middle East is the creation of a Palestinian state. Palestinians have practiced a better democracy even without a state in the most difficult circumstances for more than 20 years. They have the only true, albeit limited democratic experience and tradition in the whole of Arab world. Iraq has no tradition of democracy at all.

The creation of a Palestinian state is only a matter of time and is achievable without more bloodshed. It will be conducive to stopping the current spiral of violence, and start the Middle East on a road to democracy. This will truly isolate Saddam.

Saddam Hussein is evil, but attack on Iraq for spurious reason at this time will result in much civilian Iraqi blood, and Americans will also pay a heavy price in blood. It has the potential to completely de-stabilize the region. Though it is a very desirable goal to get rid of Saddam Hussein, it's the wrong time and a wrong set of reasons to do it before solving the Palestinian problem and the Afghan stabilization.

Mirza A. Beg can be

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