Wednesday, September 18, 1996
Notes on Iraq
Saddam Hussein, since his assumption of power in Iraq in 1979, has been at the root of continuous death and suffering, both in his country, through purges, and abroad. In 1980 he caused a bloody eight-year war with Iran, resulting in over 2 million deaths in both countries. In 1988 he dropped mustard gas and cyanide on rebellious Kurds, killing thousands. In August 1990 he invaded and looted Kuwait, threatening Saudi Arabia and forcing the US, under the umbrella of the UN, to form an unusual alliance that included such countries as Israel, Syria and Egypt, for the purpose of liberating Kuwait. The coalition, with airplane and missile attacks, caused the Iraquis to withdraw, with a loss of 85,000 Iraqui lives. But the coalition did not invade Iraq, and Hussein remained in power. Not daunted, he attacked and killed thousands of rebellious Iraqui Kurds, forcing the UN and the coalition to establish a protected no-flight zone over the Kurdish triangle in north Iraq, which borders on Turkey and Iran and now houses 3 million refugees. The US has had to spend some $1 billion in Kurdish refugee relief to date.
While attempting to conquer Iran, he also used Iraq's oil revenue (Iraq has 1/10 of the world's oil reserves) to finance the building of atomic weapons. In June 1981 Israel launched an unexpected preemptive air strike, bombing his atomic plant near Baghdad out of existence; but the clandestine research and attempts to buy bomb materials in the world market appear to continue.
Yet, a total evil though he may be, destroying Sadam Hussein is not in the best interests of the USA, This was perfectly evident at the end of the Gulf War in 1990, wwhen Pesident George Bush and his advisor Colin Powell left him in power, and is equally so in 1996, when the US is minimally retaliating against his attack on the Kurds by blowing up Hussein's air intelligence stations in South Iraq. Why is it so?
Well, in 1990 as well as now, Saddam Hussein and his 16 million Iraquis are the only military bastion against the powerful 65 million Muslim fundamentalist wave from Iran that could engulf and unify the Middle East against Israel and the West. If it were not for Saddam, the Saudis, the Gulf emirates, Kuwait and even Jordan might be overrun by nationalistic militant Muslims, fed by the aggressive terrorist Iranian regime. The devil has to be used to keep the terrorists away. Sadaam had to be kept subdued enough not to engage in new conquests, and powerful enough to hold off the Iran-backed fundamentalists. And if Saddam were to be overthrown, a democratic Iraq would go through its own Yugoslavia period and probably divide into a Shiite middle, Sunni south and a Kurdistan north. It would certainly be no defense against the Iranian militants, and the royal rulers in our client states - the Saudis, Bahrein, Kuwait and the Sultanates, and even Jordan - would topple one by one. Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, already under a considerable threat by the militant religionists, would follow suit. The Middle East, under more uniform anti-Western Muslim fundamentalist rule, would be a destructive threat to Israel, and to the world powers that have kept it afloat with the aid of some of our client nations. World economy would be under a threat because the 350 billion barrels of oil in the ground of the theratened monarchies constitute 1/3 of the world's oil reserve (260 in Saudi, 100 each in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirate) and with the 200 bb in in Iran and Iraq combined, a Middle East consortium can dictate energy prices and supply for the entire world. In 1973 the same countries did just that, utilizing their 1960 OPEC (Organization of Oil Producing Countries) structure, when irked by a monopolistic cut in oil royalties promulgated by the muscle-flexing Big Seven oil companies. The resultant OPEC embargo of exports to the West and eight-times increase in oil prices disrupted the world economy, resulting in an international short-term effort to curb oil consumption. If it had not been for the needy OPEC members, such as Nigeria, dumping oil at reduced prices and breaking the cartel, OPEC might still be ruling the international fuel supply.
Presently, the US, as the protector of Saudi Arabia and the other monarchs, can regulate oil supply and keep the flow uniform and reasonably priced. A successful revolution in Saudi Arabia alone, today the most internally threatened of the Mideast coutries, could shift the world's economic picture. If OPEC were to be resuscitated and prices were to go up, in a 1973 pattern, the West and the Pacific Rim countries would go into a major depression.
The threat that Saddam Hussein presented to the Arab nations and the economy of the world was recognized by the rulers, hence the ease with which President George Bush in 1990 was able to organize the alliance of Mideastern and Western powers, which could easily have resulted in the destruction of Hussein's empire. But Bush and his military advisor Colin Powell were aware of the dangers that would ensue, and let Hussein continue in power, albeit under severe restrictions of his economic power. Thus, the embargo on his sales of oil assured the West that no price manipulations from Iraq would upset the marrketplace.
Likewise, Hussein's access to the rebellious Kurds in the corner where Iraq, Turkey and Iranmeet was restricted by the no-fly zone. This area presented a direct threat to Hussein's rule. Fortunately for him, Kurds are unable to unite, and when one faction looked to him for help, he took the opportunity to invade - in his own country - to destroy the leadership of the hostile Kurd faction that had allied itself with Iran, the age old enemies.
[As to why the iran-Iraq enemity - Iranians are Persians, and their 2500-year empire had often conquered the nearby Arabs of Iraq.....................
Why did President Clinton take the unilateral action against Hussein, destroying $60,000 worth of radar equipment in the south of Iraq, at the cost of 44 million-dollar cruise missiles, as charged by Speaker Gingrich? Why are all the Arab nations against this action, with Kuwait even denying Clinton's request to accomodate 5,000 American soldiers who presumably would defend Kuwait from an invasion. The ansewr is that Hussein in power is more to their advantage than out of power, and their concern is that the headstrong Americans with their military power will upset the balance. But doesn't Clinton know all htis? yes, but the lection is near, and he could not leave himself vulnerable to the Republicans' accusations of ineptitude and inactivity in the face of Hussein's attack.
What about the Republicans, heirs of Bush and Powell's thinking processes? Yes, they knew, but in a life-and-death election campaign everything goes. So