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Guest Columnist

Nitemare The Paranoid Pessimist

Finding the worst in a bad situation!

How bad could the war really be?

By Miguel R. Corazao

So what really is everybody worried about as far as attacking Iraq? Obviously Sadam Hussein is a real problem. What is the worst that could happen? Let us think about that for a moment.

It seems likely at this point that the United Nations will not be supportive of such a strike in any substantial way. Sure they may toughen some of the rules on Iraq a bit but it is unlikely that the U. N. would ever support an attack without Iraq's doing something overtly new (and Hussein is good at his actions and intentions). So realistically if the U.S. is going to war in the foreseeable future the only partners the U. S. is likely to have are the United Kingdom and Israel. The obvious immediate effect of that is that the Arab and Islamic nations will oppose the war. If Israel is involved that might in and of itself bring some of these nations into the war against us. More significantly, though, many of these nations (Saudi Arabia) are in an awkward position in that their governments do not want to be at odds with the U. S. but large numbers of their people do.  What is a very real possibility is that some of these governments could be overthrown by their own people if a war between the U. S. and Iraq begins. That is, the people could feel that their governments have allowed this to happen. Granted most of these nations are not in a position to mount a major military offensive at this point. But the oil rich nations could easily create a tremendous fuel shortage in the West. Moreover, state sponsored terrorism could become much more real in such a scenario. Such a situation could devastate the U. S. economy for years to come.

Well, at least we would not have problems in the rest of the world, right? If you think that you have not been paying attention since Mr. Bush took office. The U. S. has in one way or another angered most of the economic and military powers of the world in the last two years. Certainly it is clear that Europe, with the exception of the U. K., is very uncomfortable with U. S. action in Iraq not to mention a lot of other U.S. policies. Right or wrong this sentiment could lead to major diplomatic and eventually economic problems with Europe. The problem the U. S. could face is that this time around the nation might find itself in a war that is much worse than Vietnam in terms of the U.S. not being to extricate itself. The U. S. could find itself the target of sanctions by other nations and yet unable to get out of the war it started. This combined with fuel shortages could create unimaginable difficulties in the ecomony.

The point is that launching an offensive against Iraq, particularly one aimed at actually removing Sadam Hussein, has the potential of having more far reaching consequences than the first war with Iraq. It is simplistic to think for certain that we can launch a surgical strike against Iraq and simply sweet talk the rest of the world after the fact.

Does this mean that war with Iraq should not be considered? That is a difficult question to answer. Virtually everyone agrees today that Bush Sr. should have removed Hussein when he had the chance. But that is 20-20 hindsight. The problem that exists right now is that there is little formal justification for taking new actions against Hussein given that he is basically doing what he has been and there have been no new actions on his part to clearly justify new actions on our part. The reality, though, is that Hussein is dangerous to the world economy as well as to its people. Besides that since September 11, many of the other anti-American groups in the Islamic world have become braver. Whereas before terrorism was seen as a way to hurt those that have wronged you now some of these groups see terrorism as a way to actually wage a successful war campaign. Taking down Sadam Hussein would be a way to demonstrate to these groups that opposing the U. S. is ultimately self-defeating. Is that a case of the ends justifying the means? That is a hard one to answer. But truthfully it is hard to have much sympathy for Hussein.

If the U. S. is going to attack Iraq we need to be much pragmatic about trying to win friendships if not alliances with other nations. Launching the missile defense systems program, backing out of the Kyoto Accords, etc. at the same time as we are launching a severely unpopular war is just asking for trouble. If this war is that important then we should take steps to give in to some our trading partners and allies on other issues and in a public way, not behind the scenes payoffs like we are doing with Pakistan. The current approach seems to be that if we are going to p--- off somebody we might as well p--- off everybody. Interestingly Sadam seems to have learned the fallacies of that logic better than we have. Hopefully we can learn the lesson before it is too late.

Copyright © 2002 by Miguel R. Corazao.
All Rights Reserved.

  Corazao On-Line

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