Putting Iraq in context: What's Up?

Posted: Jul 18, 2002 12:00 AM
What's the deal with Iraq? President Bush is determined to remove Saddam Hussein from power. But, in many quarters, resistance persists, and the Middle East flare-up has clouded the issue. What's up? Some headlines and quotes.... - March 9: "Firm Stand on Inspections Seems Likely to Keep U.S. on Collision Course With Iraq." - March 12: "Bush Says Anti-Terrorism Fight Will Expand, Issuing Pointed Warning Directed at Iraq." - March 14: "U.S. Will Take Action Against Iraq, Bush Says." - March 18: "Report: Iraq, al-Qaeda Run Extremist Group in Kurdish Territory; Guerrillas Linked to Bin Laden Camps." And the lead paragraph: "A new report in the New Yorker magazine suggests that Iraqi intelligence has been in close touch with top officials in Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group for years, and that the two organizations jointly run a terrorist organization that operates in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq." - April 7: From a news report on a Crawford, Texas, press conference with President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "Bush also said in the bluntest way possible that he sought to oust Saddam Hussein of Iraq from power, saying that in conversations since Blair arrived Friday night he explained 'that the policy of my government is the removal of Saddam and that all options are on the table.'" - April 18: "Bush Resumes Case Against Iraq"; "Democratic Nations Must Confront 'Axis of Evil,' President Tells VMI Cadets." And from the news story: "President Bush today resumed building a case for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and said it is the duty of democratic countries to confront rogue states. ... Bush cited the threat of a nuclear attack from the 'axis of evil' - which he did not name today, but has previously identified as Iraq, Iran and North Korea - as justification for building a missile defense system." - May 13: "Talks With Iraqi Opposition Intensify"; "U.S. Seeks Wider Role for More Groups to Help Oust Saddam Hussein." Add Libya and Syria to the axis group of rogue nations. Include Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's frequent observation that the axis nations are working jointly to develop nuclear and biochemical weapons that could kill "potentially hundreds of thousands of people." Blend the axis denunciations of the Bush administration (January 31: "Angry Denials from the 'Axis'"; "Iran, Iraq and North Korea Slam Bush Charges on Arms, Terror Support"). And mix in resistance to Bush warnings from the predictable quarters - e.g.: - "Europe Adamantly Opposed to Any U.S. Attack on Iraq." - "Blair Backing of Bush on Iraq Is Criticized in His Own Party"; "British Polls Show a Lack of Support for Military Action Against the Iraqis." - "Mideast Allies Warn U.S. Not to Attack Iraq"; the subsequent news story emphasizes the negative feelings of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. - "Jordan Advises U.S. Against a Military Offensive in Iraq." And don't overlook the confrontation in the Middle East.... So here's what's up. 9/11 sensitized the Bush administration on terror generally and, by extension, the evil of which Saddam is capable. It knows what he is up to and - on behalf of mankind - wants him gone. The president has formalized a policy of "pre-emption" - hitting first. Driven by its left, Europe is chicken, routinely deplores U.S. unilateralism, lacks both the money to equip its own forces and the will to put them into the field, and is held hostage to oily Arab sheiks with their hands on the spigots. It worries not about Iraq but the Indian subcontinent. The Middle East is but a front in the global terror war - and Arafat an Osama clone. Yet anti-Semitic Arabs and Islamists, blinded by their hate for Israel, insist they will not abide an attack on Iraq before Israel is rubbed out. President Bush, so successful in Afghanistan and resolute in support of Israel (as previous American presidents have been), periodically hammers Israel rhetorically in the hope of winning, for instance, British and Turkish support in going after Saddam, et al. And he deals to Yemen, the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (in all of which we now have troops) - and Russia. Russia hungers for clout in the West, fears terror entities along its soft southern underbelly, and will (it says) keep the oil flowing. Stay tuned. Even the Democrats seem to support going after Saddam. Before this game is over, things could get interesting....