The die was cast, and the US war on Saddam’s regime has been set in motion. The transfer of the Central Command from Florida to the Gulf area, the completion of US military installations in Qatar and Northern Iraq (no-fly zone) suggest determination rather than indecisiveness. The lease, by the Pentagon, of Danish boats, specializing in the transport of tanks and armed personnel carriers indicate intent to employ ground forces, rather than just air force and navy bombings. Accompanied by joint exercises between the US Marines and the Jordanian military not far from the Iraqi border, such developments send a lucid signal of purpose to destroy the Saddam regime.
The die was cast upon the election of President Bush #43 – and the debate within the administration has been limited to the timing and the scope of force employed – since the balance of power has increasingly tilted toward VP Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, rather than toward Secretary of State Powell and CIA Director Tenet. The opposition to the war, expressed by Brent Scowcroft and other Bush #41 Republicans, has not affected the position of Bush #43. Scowcroft was national security advisor to Bush #41, but he has not shined in the administration of Bush #43. Scowcroft dismissed the 1990 intelligence reports on the pending Iraq invasion of Kuwait, opposed US power projection in order to deter Saddam before the invasion, failed to sway Bush #41 against the 1991 Gulf War, but succeeded to convince Bush #41 to prematurely conclude that war, thus planting the seeds of the current predicament.
The die was cast – in spite of opposition by the UN, most of Europe and doves and isolationists in the US – since Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld subscribe to unilateral military actions if necessary. They subscribe to offensive rather than defensive and deterring tactics against terrorist regimes, and they oppose negotiation and compromise with regimes which violate agreements systematically. They consider the Saddam regime a critical element in the Axis of Terror, Ballistic, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats. Contrary to Powell, they do not attribute much utility to multinational coalitions. Unlike Bush #4,1 who went ballistic following the 1981 Israeli bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor, Bush #43, Cheney and Rumsfeld have praised the 1981 Israeli initiative as a role-model of justifiable unilateral military actions, in defiance of global public opinion.
The die was cast due to the world view of the Bush Administration, which has believed that there is an inherent conflict – of values and strategic interests – between Western democracies, led by the US, and rogue regimes which threaten global stability. In contrast to the cynical/”pragmatic” stance by Europe, the US administration believes in the need to shed blood, sweat and tears, in order to secure the triumph of Good over Evil. As a typical Texan, Bush #43 is not seeking fights, but is not intimidated by bullies. The current administration insists that the US should not tolerate the Iraqi bully, who attempted to murder a former US president (Bush #41) in 1993. The current administration is proliferated with veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, who wish to conclude the “Unfinished Symphony.” They do not seek a “smoking gun” in the hands of Saddam. Rather, they attempt to deny Saddam access to a “smoking gun.” They adhere to the Texan colloquialism: “When threatened by a rattle snake, don’t wait until it bites; preempt by hitting the snake, and preferably on its head.”
Casting the Iraqi die has been facilitated by the nature of President Bush’s political power base (conservatives, the intellectual Right and Christian Right), which has been a steady proponent of the War on Saddam’s Regime and Islamic terrorism, driven by values and security considerations. Such has been the position of most of the US public and Congress. The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, National Review and The Weekly Standard have urged the President to eradicate the Saddam regime. They, more than the New York Times, CNN, Newsweek and Time Magazine, constitute an authentic reflection of most Americans. The closer is the November 2002 election day, the more sensitive is the President to the positions of his power base, lest he becomes a Lame Duck President on his way to a defeat in 2004. A swift and an overwhelming victory by the US military, over Iraq, would upstage the domestic US economic and legal issues, which have dominated the headlines.
The die was cast since the only superpower in the world cannot afford to project indecisiveness in face of imminent threat: To fight of not to fight?! Saddam’s arsenal of terrorism, ballistic missiles, near-nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities constitute a clear and present threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf, the Mideast and the entire globe. Each day of a delayed US War on Saddam’s Regime is enhancing Saddam’s deadly capabilities, expanding Saddam’s power of extortion from the Mideast, to Europe and then to the US (“I’ve got two nuclear bombs targeting Paris and New York; I am willing to absorb twenty nuclear bombs – are you willing to absorb two?!”). The cost of the delayed war exceeds significantly the cost of an immediate war. Delay works in favor of Saddam, threatening freedom of decision by Western democracies, horrifically escalating the cost of the inevitable war (in terms of blood and dollars). Ignoring Iraq’s track record of yesterday, and therefore avoiding/delaying the war on Saddam’s regime, may smother the globe with an illusion of a pacified Iraq today. However, it would doom the globe tomorrow.