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(August 2004) The Chalabi saga Few people have been so instrumental
in terminating Saddam Hussein's dictatorship as Ahmed Chalabi. He
spent most of his life fighting Saddam's regime, risking his life and
committing his fortune. He looked for allies wherever he could find
them, and was intelligent enough to realize that only the USA has the
power and the will to put its army where its words are. He found the
right man in George W Bush, a USA president eager to finish the job
in Iraq. Chalabi took advantage of anyone who was willing or naive to
listen to him, and eventually achieved what many considered
impossible: Saddam was out after just three weeks of fighting, and
Chalabi himself was installed in Baghdad as the most influential USA
Since then things have turned sour on all fronts. The USA (mainly
Paul Bremer) have distanced themselves from Chalabi. The CIA has
implicated Chalabi in spying operations by arch-enemy Iran. And now
an Iraqi judge has issued arrest warrants against him and against his
nephem Salem (who was in charge of the trial against Saddam Hussein).
Since Chalabi is Saddam's main nemesis, this all sounds like Saddam's
revenge. Saddam must be delighted to hear this.
But Saddam and his followers are unlikely to be relevant anymore
(even the guerrilla actions appear to be carried out by Islamic
fundamentalist, foreign fighters, anti-American nationalists and
assorted criminals, rather than from the old Baath party).
Chalabi seems to be the victim of new priorities. His biggest
political mistake may have been to start and head the investigation
into a scandal that involves the United Nations: the "oil for food
program". In theory, Saddam Hussein was allowed to sell oil to buy
food and medicines for the Iraqi people. In practice, most of that
money may have disappeared with the complicity of corrupt United
Nations officials and shady foreign organizations. That investigation
has been largely delayed and is being carefully silenced. Initially,
it sounded like a good idea to embarrass the United Nations and, most
likely, France. The oil for food program of the United Nations was a
case of massive corruption that involved the very same people and
countries that opposed the removal of Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately
for Chalabi, the continuing unrest in Iraq has led the president of
the USA to rethink his strategy and decide that he does need, after
all, the United Nations and the Europeans. The investigation in the
"oil for food" scandal is now an embarrassment to the USA, because
the USA is trying to win over the United Nations not to offend it.
The USA needs the United Nations to legitimize the new Iraqi
government and needs the United Nations to run the first democratic
elections. Both goals are so important that the USA has no more use
for the investigation into the scandal. Chalabi found himself with no
friends: the people who opposed the war hate him, and the people whom
he convinced to start the war have no more use for him.
As for the accusations themselves, it is hard to take them seriously
because Moqtada al Sadr, the leader of the rebellious Islamic
militia, is wanted on charges of murder and noone has ever tried to
arrest him. Why be so zealous with Chalabi when Sadr, a suspected
murdered, is left free to run an entire army and to preach openly in

(June 2004) Islam is still the real enemy. There is no question that
an unwanted consequence of the removal of Saddam Hussein by the USA
was to draw jihadists from all over the Arab world to Iraq.
But it is unfair to claim that the removal of Saddam Hussein was
wrong because it caused Islamic terrorism to move to Iraq: Islamic
terrorism will react to anything (anything) the USA does or doesn't
do. Saying that the removal of Saddam Hussein caused Islamic
terrorism is like saying that walking into a certain room caused
someone to catch the flue: she would have caught the flue anyway, in
another room or in a bus. The flue is not caused by this person
walking into a certain room. The flue is caused by a virus that is
determined to attack humans, here or there, today or tomorrow.
Removing Saddam Hussein was an excellent idea (the implementation was
far from perfect, but that's another story). It would be an equally
excellent idea to remove the other Arab dictators, who routinely
oppress, torture and exterminate their own people. Just like it would
be a great idea to provide jobs for the indios of the Andes or
eradicate polio from India. These are simply good deeds, and they
have nothing to do with religion.
But the Islamic terrorists are out to fight whatever the USA does,
right or wrong. Their cause is not about judging the USA. Their cause
is about destroying the USA. In fact, the Islamic terrorists are
likely to be more upset by the good deeds of the USA than by its
mistakes. The Islamic terrorists do not want democracy, prosperity
and peace in Iraq: that would be a disaster for Islam. It would prove
that the USA is superior to Islam. It would turn millions of Iraqis
into decadent westerners.
Let us not kid ourselves: the wrath of the Islamic terrorists will
always be greater when we try to help the Muslim people, because the
biggest danger of all for Islam is that the west proves to be a
better system than Islam. That is precisely the reason why the West
must be destroyed: because its very existence is proof that Islam has
created terrible systems. Remove the West (and its influence on other
continents) from the planet, and Islam will look like a passable
Islamic terrorists will attack the USA no matter what it does, but
especially when it tries to improve the lives of Muslims. Islamic
terrorists want to create hell on Earth, just like they did in
Afghanistan, not paradise on Earth. The USA is a paradise that the
Islamic terrorists need to cripple and destroy. In a sense, the
Islamic terrorists are simply the personification of the Biblical
The complicity of the Arab regimes and the Arab media should not be
neglected. The Arab regimes are still condoning the countless madrasa
that brainwash children to fight the infidels. The Arab media (such
as Al Jazeera) routinely justify terrorism as the inevitable
consequence of western oppression of the Muslims (without mentioning
that billions of people equally "oppressed" by the West in South
America, black Africa, China, India, etc etc do not resort to
terrorism. In fact, many of them have developed rich and dynamic
societies that compete with the old western oppressors).
The removal of Saddam Hussein has nothing to do with the fact that
the Islamic terrorists want to fight the USA everywhere and all the
time, just like catching a flue has nothing to do with walking into a
certain room. It's the virus, not the room.
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(May 2004) The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an
opportunity, or how the Iraqi people betrayed the USA... The average
American has no interest in invading other countries. In fact, from
World War II to Vietnam, the president of the USA has always
struggled to convince the nation to go to war. Unlike the old
European powers, who were proud whenever they managed to expand their
borders, the Americans do not want to expand their borders: they want
to stay home. The USA is fundamentally an isolationist country. (That
might be its biggest problem: it acts only when it is forced to act,
as opposed to Rome, Mongols, Arabs, France and Britain, which invaded
everything they could invade just for the sake of invading).
The American people accepted to invade Iraq because a) the president
convinced a few of them (very few) that Saddam was a danger to the
USA, and b) they were aware that Saddam was a psychopath who killed
hundreds of thousands of his own people. Then the same American
people accepted to pay billions of dollars to reconstruct Iraq:
Americans, like all people of the world, are not terribly happy to
pay taxes so that their government can spend it in another country,
but, again, they accepted the moral principle that something had to
be done for the Iraqi people. Basically, the American people accepted
to give blood and money to help the Iraqi people. There was good will
towards the Iraqi people. This was supposed to be a brother helping
another brother, bypassing religious and ethnic divisions.
Instead, the Iraqi people did not fight side by side with the
Americans. That was already strange: if you want to get rid of your
dictator, how can you simply watch someone else do it for you? We
excuse them because in 1991 we betrayed them: we withdrew, and we let
Saddam kill all the ones who rose up against him. So, in a sense, it
was our fault that this time the Iraqi people did not do anything: we
assumed that they were afraid of being betrayed again (that we may
withdraw and leave Saddam in power again). But now it is fairly clear
that Saddam is not coming back. Ever. Nonetheless, the Iraqi people
are still absolutely nothing to help the Americans. The Americans are
giving blood and money to the Iraqis, but the Iraqis are giving
nothing back. Not even a "thank you". The most visible mood in Iraq
is one of indifference. A growing number of Iraqis calls for an
immediate USA pull-out (as if they, the Iraqi people, had deserved
the right to rule their own country, had proven the ability to do it,
and knew how to do it).
This is not only stupid (it only helps the Osamas and the Al Jazeeras
of the world, the enemies of democracy and peace), but also
ungrateful. The Americans gave their blood and money to the Iraqis,
and the Iraqis are spitting in their face. The Iraqis had the
historical opportunity to become friends of the USA: as the adage
goes, the Arabs never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
They are missing the historical opportunity to bridge the cultural
gap and become brothers of the Americans.
It will take a long time before the USA will help another country, no
matter how cruel its dictator. Many Americans are concluding that it
is just not worth it. The USA did not do anything to save the lives
of 900,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994: nobody complained. Now it has
done something (something big) to rescue the Iraqis from Saddam, and
everybody is complaining. Unfortunately, both ordinary Americans and
their leaders will draw the obvious conclusion.

(April 2004) The battle of Falluja is not necessarily bad news.
Contrary to what Al Jazeera and the other fascist-leaning media
initially reported, there was no popular rebellion in Falluja. There
are only a thousand people fighting against the USA. The vast
majority of the population wants no part in it. In fact, there are
more and more frequent reports that the civilians of Falluja wants
the USA to dislodge the fighters as soon as possible.
The best news, though, is what is not happening: there has been no
rebellion in Tikrit (Saddam's home town), in Mosul, in Baghdad
itself. The Sunnis are mostly quiet. They mostly welcomed the regime
change, and they mostly feel that life is better now. They have no
motivation to fight against the USA.
Another good news, from a military viewpoint, is that the people
cornered in Falluja probably represent the creme de la creme of the
Baathists and of the terrorists. Kill or arrest them, and the USA
will have removed a major obstacle towards democracy.
The bad news, on the other hand, begin with the attitude of ordinary
Iraqis. Whether because they are afraid the USA will abandon them or
because they are confused as to what is going on, ordinary Iraqis are
not helping at all. They carry on their lives, mostly indifferent
towards the battle. It should be pretty obvious to them that, should
the USA lose the battle, a new ruthless dictatorship would take
Saddam's place. How is it possible that they are not rooting for the
USA and they are not helping the USA? Do they really want these thugs
of Falluja to prevail and rule their country?
The second bad news is more of the same. The average Iraqi is very
good at complaining about just everything (from jobs to electricity
to security) but has done and is doing very little to deserve any of
those things. Shouldn't the Iraqi people be in the front line to
defend and rebuild their country? Instead, they seem mostly
interested in criticizing whatever the USA does or does not do. This
is an old Arab attitude: criticize both X and the opposite of X, and
do absolutely nothing, so you can criticize the others without
criticizing yourself. One would hope that the first Arab country to
enjoy freedom of speech, movement and action would free itself also
of this childish attitude.
But the worst news is definitely the way that these 25 million of
Iraqis seem incapable to defend themselves from the first thugs
(whether the Falluja rebels or the Islamic militias) that grab some
arms and start shooting. In the rest of the world, a group of
dangerous people intimidating the population is considered a gang of
criminals. The police arrest them. In the Arab world, they have a
good chance to become the new leaders. That is precisely how all the
Arab leaders, from Qaddafi to Saddam, from the various kings to the
various sheiks, became the rulers of their countries.
One would hope that the Iraqis would seize the opportunity they have
to be ruled by peaceful politicians, not by murderous thugs.
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(March 2004) Problems we didn't foresee before the war in Iraq:
A lightning victory is not necessarily good news, because it doesn't
give the victors enough time to organize the peace, nor to bond with
the people who are being liberated.
The USA convinced thousands of Iraqi soldiers to abandon their
uniforms and stop fighting, and thus won the war very quickly, but
this strategy left behind thousands of potential anti-American
Iraq shares with Vietnam the fact that bordering countries sympathize
with the ousted regime. Either one takes on all the "sympathetic"
countries at the same time (in this case, Syria and Iran) or one
makes sure the border is immediately sealed. In this case, the USA
let Syria and Iran free to create what is now a gigantic problem: the
infiltration of hundreds of foreign fighters.
The tendency of Arabs to blame others for their problems can only
increase when they are being occupied by a non-Arab power. Even if
the USA restores order, even if the economy booms, even if democracy
succeeds, the Iraqis will keep blaming the USA for whatever problems
occur in the next years and decades.
A rapid transition to democracy is much easier when a strong man
gains strong popular support. The USA were lucky to find such a man,
Karzai, in Afghanistan. In Iraq, so far, there is no Karzai in sight.
The transition to democracy feels like a lottery.
The tendency of Arabs to believe rumours, any rumours. Whenevere
something happens in the world, and particularly in the Middle East,
rumours start spreading and they spread very quickly, even if the
media don't help. Many Arabs are still convinced that it was Jews,
not Arabs, who blew up the World Trade Center. Many Arabs are still
convinced that all the videos and messages from Osam Bin Laden were
manufactured in Hollywood. Many Arabs are so confused by all the
rumours that they simply don't believe anything anymore. The way to
win the hearts and minds of an Arab country is to control the
rumours. It is taking too long for the USA to channel its version of
the facts to reliable media and to educate Iraqis not to believe
rumours for the sake of believing in rumours. Rumours are the main
anti-American propaganda in Iraq. There is, basically, no other
anti-American propaganda (Al Jazeera has been widely discredited
during the war).
Basically, we didn't foresee that, for a number of reasons, the
Iraqis will not help build their own democracy. The Arabs are very
good at complaining against anything that the USA does, but are
absolutely useless to defend their own country from those (old fans
of Saddam Hussein or Islamic terrorists) who would like to create
another dictatorship or would like to start a civil war. The Iraqi
population is, in fact, more a problem than a solution: its
continuous complaints is simply hampering the USA's fight against the
remnants of the regime. While they all say that they are happy that
Saddam Hussein is gone, the Iraqis have not done anything and are
still not doing anything to destroy his organization. The Iraqis are
very good at marching against anything the USA does, but they never
marched once against Saddam, against the foreign terrorists, against
their own Islamic fundamentalists. Of course, one of the reasons is
that they would be killed if they marched against those violent
groups, whereas the USA does not kill them if they march and shout
"death to America". But then makes it an even worse kind of cowardice.
Israel remains the single most important factors that determines
anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world. Even in the face of
overwhelming evidence that Saddam Hussein was a cruel tyrant (and a
coward) and that the Iraqi people were happy to be liberated, the
Islamic world is still strongly opposed to the deposition of Saddam
Hussein. The main reason is Israel: as long as the USA does not
demand from Israel what it demands from Islamic countries (for
example, the surrender of all weapons of mass destruction),
anti-American sentiment will be so pervasive that any USA action will
be condemned, no matter what it is. Eventually the USA has to decide
whether to take a stand against Israel or to attack the entire
Islamic world. As Bush said, "you're either with us or against us".
That's precisely the way one billion Muslims feel about Israel.
Competence matters. People like Bush, Cheney and Rumslefd proved to
be spectacularly incompetent in managing the diplomacy, the military
campaign and the reconstruction of Iraq. They all sounded rather
improvised and lacking basic knowledge of both international affairs
and specific Iraqi conditions. Their predictions were almost entirely
wrong, from the existence of weapons of mass destruction to the
millions of oppressed Iraqis who were supposed to join the
liberation. The problems that arose, from the lack of water and
electricity to the generalized looting to the massive increase in
crime to the anti-American insurgency, were mostly unforeseen by the
USA "experts". This generalize incompetence of the American leaders
has cost hundreds of American lives, thousands of Iraqi lives and
severely jeopardized the post-war scenario.

(August 2003) What is happening in Iraq. Anti-Americans, particularly
in Europe and in the Arab world (an ideological alliance that
Europeans should NOT be proud of) tend to characterize USA foreign
policy as a greedy search for oil. Besides insulting the intelligence
of the American public, these anti-Americans forget that the USA has
no need for additional oil (it already controls the vast majority of
oil reserves in the world and, unlike oil-less continental Europe, it
extracts domestically more than 50% of the oil it needs).
The invasion of Iraq has far more important reasons than oil. The USA
policy in Iraq is, mainly, one of "educational imperialism". The USA
wants to create a bastion of western-style democracy and capitalism
right in the heart of the most anti-American region in the world, the
Middle East. Iran did not work as such a bastion: it was not
democratic at all, and it was eventually overthrown in an Islamic
revolution that created an even bigger problem than the shah of Iran
was supposed to solve. Israel has not worked as a bastion for
western-style values for the simple reason that Israel is a Jewish
state and the Muslims of the Middle East refuse to be inspired by a
non-Muslim state. Iraq could be the long-sought solution: an Arab,
Muslim state that becomes a role model for the entire region:
wealthy, democratic, progressive, educated.
This is a scary prospect for both the Arab regimes and the oil-less
European "powers". The Arab regimes have nothing to gain from a
wealthy, democratic Iraq, that would expose the mismanagement and
tyranny of all the existing Arab regimes. Basically, a democratic
Iraq would be a death sentence for the rest of the Arab dictators.
Why should they help the USA carry out this plan? That is precisely
the reason that not a single Arab state has helped remove Saddam
Hussein (all Arab states still recognize Saddam Hussein as the
legitimate ruler of Iraq). That is precisely the reason why no Arab
state is helping reconstruct or police Iraq. That is precisely the
reason why Arab states and Iran are indirectly helping foreign
fighters to destabilize Iraq. Arab states have a vested interest in
the failure of the USA policy of democratizing Iraq.
The European "powers" that have no oil of their own (mainly France
and Germany) have no interest either in a democratic Iraq: what are
the odds that a democratic government would favor France and Germany
the same way that Saddam Hussein used to? What are the odds that a
democratic Iraqi government would forget that Chirac was a "dear,
close friend" (Chirac's own words) of Saddam Hussein? France and
Germany are willing to help police and rebuild Iraq only if the USA
accepts that the new government of Iraq will NOT be democratic, but
will be controlled by the old powers. But this would run counter to
the very goal of "educational imperialism", would turn Iraq into a
puppet state despised by the entire Middle East.
The United Nations has become the only place in the world where
France can voice its concerns. Nobody in the world would listen to
France's opinion if France did not have veto power at the United
Nations. Unfortunately, the unwanted consequence is the entire world
is held hostage by the whims of the French president. The USA should
avoid recognizing the authority of such an organization over any
matter of the world. First, let's restructure the United Nations (see
What is wrong with the United Nations), removing veto privileges or
assigning veto priviliges to the new large powers (India, Brazil,
Japan, Nigeria) not to the old small ones (France, Britain). This is
no longer a European world, but the United Nations are still very
much biased towards Europe (3 out of 5 veto privileges are for
European countries, only one for the entire Asia, only one for the
entire America and none at all for Africa).
There is a de-facto aliance between Chirac's France, the Arab
totalitarian regimes, Islamic fundamentalists and Saddam loyalists:
they are all afraid (very afraid) that Iraq will become a democracy,
because this would have a dramatic effect on the entire Middle East
and possibly the entire world. France, Arab dictators, Islamic
fundamentalists and Saddam loyalists stand to lose a lot from the
democratization of Iraq.
People who draw parallels between post-war Iraq and post-war Europe
of 1946 forget one important factor: in 1946, the Anglosaxon
coalition was controlling the whole of Western Europe, and it was
easy for them to root out terrorism (especially in Germany) and to
impose democracy. Today, the coalition controls only Iraq within the
Middle East, and Iraq is surrounded by regimes that have no interest
in cooperating. It is, by definition, a much more difficult task. If
the USA invaded the whole of the Middle East, then it would be in the
same situation it was in Western Europe in 1946. Right now, it is in
a fundamentally different situation.
Of course, it is not true what the anti-Americans are saying: that
the USA has turned Iraq into a haven for terrorists, that Islamic
fighters are flocking from all over the world, etc (these are the
same anti-Americans who warned about one million refugees, who warned
about an Islamic world-war, who claimed 170thousand items had been
stolen from the museum, and so forth). This is a wild exaggeration:
mostly, it is Saddam loyalists who are fighting the coalition forces.
But it is true that both the Arabs and Chirac's regime have a vested
interest in creating as much trouble as possible, and then presenting
the trouble as "the USA's invasion backfired against the civilized
The USA should stay the course and continue its policy of
"educational imperialism": eradicate Saddam's regime, fight foreign
terrorism that is tacitly sponsored by other tyrannical regimes, and
keep the oil-less Europeans (France and Germany) out of Iraq. This
might imply another military intervention (against one or more of the
countries that are trying to destabilize Iraq) and more tensions with
France (as long as imperial Chirac remains in power). It is a price
worth paying. The 21st century should leave behind the remnants of
the old European imperialism (the new centers of power are China,
India, the Far East, Russia, and the fastest developing areas are
Eastern Europe, Africa and parts of South America) and the USA should
not accept the old logic that the Islamic world is for dictators only
(and Muslim dictators only).
The USA should focus on what is good for the Iraqi people: removing
Saddam was good for the Iraqi people; providing security and basic
services (water, electricity) is good for the Iraqi people; moving
towards democracy is good for the Iraqi people. These should be the
USA goals in Iraq.
If the goal is a more peaceful world, the USA is doing the right
thing in Iraq.
That said, it would certainly be better (for the Iraqi people in the
first place) that the occupation force be multinational (which was
Bush's own goal at the beginning when he begged even France to join)
and, ultimately, not under USA command (otherwise the world would
keep suspecting that the USA wants to steal the oil). Paul Bremer is
not an appealing alternative to Saddam for the Iraqis. A United
Nations official would be a much more appealing alternative. So
Chirac is finally right about something, although it would have been
easier if he had been on the right side from the beginning, not only
at the end.
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(July 2003) Iraq: a farce of lies. Europacifists and assorted
anti-Americans predicted a number of consequences of the war in Iraq:
A lengthy battle that would kill up to 500,000 civilians. The truth:
Iraq was liberated in less than a month. The battle of Baghdad, that
was supposed to last months if not years, lasted three days. Amnesty
International estimates 20,000 people died, including militias,
Baathists and soldiers.
One million refugees. The United Nations was urged to build a huge
refugee camp in Jordan to avoid a humanitarian disaster. The
humanitarian disaster never happened. In fact, only a few hundred
Iraqis left the country. They returned to their homes after a few
days abroad.
A United Nations document ("Integrated Humanitarian Contingency Plan
for Iraq and Neighbouring Countries", Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs, 7 January 2003) predicted that 30% of children under 5 in
Iraq, or 1.26 million children, "would be at risk of death from
malnutrition" during an American invasion of Iraq.
The disintegration of the country. The various Iraqi factions were
supposed to begin a Lebanese-style civil war and lead to the
breakdown of Iraq. The truth: not even the Kurds have asked for a
separate state.
A world-wide Islamic war. This was the real specter: USA intervention
in the holy land would cause a billion Muslims to rise up in a holy
war against the infidels. The truth: the rest of the Islamic world is
now demanding more democracy for their leaders, because they see Iraq
becoming more democratic. Students are marching in the streets of
Iran. Jordan has allowed for parliamentary elections. Palestinians
and Israelis are talking peace. Syria is collaborating with the USA.
Saudi Arabia has fired one thousands fundamentalists. The main cleric
of Islam (the Islamic equivalent of the Pope) has condemned suicide
bombing. The Middle East has never had a better chance for progress
and democracy.
A race to build weapons of mass destruction. Instead, in a matter of
a few months all Arab countries have publicly renounced weapons of
mass destruction. (In december 2003, Libya even accepted to destroy
its entire arsenal).
Terrorist attacks in the USA. Not a single terrorist attack has
occurred in the USA or against USA targets around the world.
Add the widely reported looting of the Baghdad museum: European media
reported that 170,000 artifacts had been stolen from the Baghdad
museum. Well, the CIA must have done a good job of reproducing them
very quickly with accurate fakes, because the museum reopened with
all 170,000 artifacts intact. In fact, for the first time some rare
exhibits were shown (Saddam had hidden them in a bank, possibly to
steal them). About 30 small pieces are missing, true, but most likely
they were destroyed by the mob after the fall of Saddam. No major
piece is missing.
Even the optimistic forecasts did not come true: the anti-Americans
said that the USA had invaded Iraq to get cheap oil, and, instead,
the price of oil has been climbing steadily to record levels. The
Anti-Americans accused the USA of wanting to push the dollar up, and
instead the dollar has collapsed to record lows.
It would be nice if the politicians who made those predictions
(mostly in Europe), which obviously turned out to be completely
inaccurate, resigned or, at least, stopped making predictions.
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(June 2003) Why the ayatollah is right and Bush is wrong. On june 30,
ayatollah Ali Sistani has called for general elections in the country
to choose representatives of the Iraqi people. The plan advanced by
ayatollah Sistani is quite simple: the Iraqi people should elect
their own representatives to a council that would draw the new Iraqi
constitution, and then the Iraqi people should approve the new
constitution in a referendum. Does it sound like USA-style democracy?
Of course.
Did Bush oppose it? Of course. Bush, a president who was not elected
by the people (52% of American voters cast their vote against him),
does not seem to desire any USA-style democracy in Iraq, just like he
has not allowed for democratic elections (or women's rights) in
Afghanistan, and just like he has weakened the democracy of the USA
itself. (In July 2003, USA-controlled Kuwait allowed "free"
parliamentary elections, but only 15% of the country's male citizens
and 0% of the female citizens were eligible to vote, and the result
was a devastating blow to the democratic movement).
Paul Bremer, the little dictator appointed by Bush to transform Iraq
from an Arab dictatorship into a banana republic, wants to create a
hand-picked political council that would name "key advisors" to
government ministries. Does it sound like China's communist system?
You shouldn't be surprised: China's communist system is Bush's dream:
a one-party system in which the most powerful man makes all the
decisions, his friends pocket all the money and dissidents
"disappear" in prison.

March 2003) Reasons not to go to war. There is an obvious reason why
Saddam must go (he is a dictator). There is an obvious reason why
France does not want to remove that dictator ( the real problem is
Chirac, not Saddam), which is not too different from the reason of
the Europacifists at large ( The Europacifists' desperate struggle to
save Saddam Hussein). But there are also reasons why the USA should
think twice before invading Iraq, that have little to do with
Chirac's prescription for a "peaceful" (i.e., tyrannical) world:
Saddam Hussein may be tempted to use his weapons of mass destruction
against his own people, if (as likely) the Iraqis will rise up
against him.
Saddam Hussein may be tempted to use his weapons of mass destruction
against Israel.
The real enemy of the USA is not this or that dictator: the real
enemy was and remains Islam. Islam has declared a holy war against
the USA. Islamic fundamentalists around the world will interpret a
war against Iraq as a stage in this holy war between the USA and
Islam. This will certainly help Islamic fundamentalists promote the
notion that the holy war was not started by Islam but by the USA, and
this notion may recruit even moderate Muslims.
Nothing hurts more the reputation of the USA than its double
standards. The USA claims that it is legitimate to invade Iraq
because Iraq is in breach of several United Nations resolutions.
True. But so is Israel, which has never complied with 85 resolutions
of the United Nations, for example resolutions 181 (establishment of
a Palestinian state), 237 (return of the 1967 Palestinian refugees),
252 (renounce Jerusalem as capital of Israel), 452 (halt Jewish
settlements in Palestinian areas), 497 (return the Golan Heights to
Syria). Is the USA planning to invade Israel too? Why does the same
law apply to Iraq and not to Israel?
The enemy of your enemy is your friend. Despite Powell's accusations
that Saddam may some day help Osama bin Laden, the truth is exactly
the opposite: Saddam Hussein is the kind of secular, socialist
traitor that Osama fights against. Given a choice, Osama would kill
Saddam before Bush. Osama's goal is to create a universal Islamic
state, and Saddam Hussein (who would persecute any Islamic
fundamentalist) is a bigger obstacle than George Bush (who will do
business with anyone) to Osama's dream. By attacking Saddam now, we
are removing an enemy of our enemy, i.e. we are helping the real
enemy that has declared war on the USA (Islam).
North Korea and Al Qaeda may take advantage of the war in Iraq to
stage a spectacular attack (against South Korea and against the USA
itself). Any military expert knows that first you remove the
potential obstacles to your military campaign, and then you launch
your troops. North Korea and Al Qaeda have not been removed at all.
There is no serious plan for the future of Iraq. What happens after
Saddam Hussein is removed? The idea that an American general can run
an Arab country is simply ridiculous. On the other hand, there is no
credible Iraqi leader to lead a new Iraqi government.
The USA has a military presence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan,
that border on Iran. Turkey (northeastern border of Iran) has always
been a USA ally. If the USA wins the war against Saddam, it will also
gain Iraq, i.e. the eastern border of Iran. Iran will be surrounded
by the USA. There is a serious chance that Iran will help Iraq, not
because it likes Saddam Hussein but because they don't want to get
surrounded by the enemy.
The Bush administration has not explained how it plans to cope with
either of these very likely scenarios. As much as we enjoy the idea
of Saddam arrested and tried for crimes against humankind, the Bush
administration had not provided a rationale for dealing with those
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(February 2003) The facts about Iraq.
Whatever the intention, the effect of what France and the "pacifists"
are doing is to keep Saddam in power. Every argument against the war
has the effect of keeping him in power. If the whole world told
Saddam that there is going to be war, most likely Saddam would have
already left the country.
Whatever the declarations, it is self-evident that France and the
"pacifists" do not care for the Iraqi people. First of all, they
never even dreamed of asking the Iraqi people what they want:
millions of pacifists marched against the war, but how many marched
to demand democratic elections in Iraq? Second, what the "pacifists"
prescribe for the immediate future (and probably till the death of
Saddam) is the same old dictatorship. Third, the "pacifists" are very
worried about the American bombs (that will kill very few innocents)
but are not worried at all about Saddam's weapons of mass
destruction, which could kill a lot more civilians if, as it is very
likely, the Iraqi people rise up against him and join the marines
(the same way they did during the first invasion, in 1991).
The USA certainly does not need the Iraqi oil. The USA can already
count on oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Gulf emirates and, soon,
on the oil from Central Asia that will flow through the pipeline that
is being built through Afghanistan. Russia, Britain and China have
their own oil. There is only one world power that does not have any
oil: France. That is also the one country that has already signed
huge contracts with Saddam Hussein. That is also the one country that
is strongly opposed to removing Saddam Hussein from power. It is
about oil, as the pacifists claim, but not for the USA.
Iraq's air force is made of Mirage (French) and MIG (Soviet). Iraq's
missiles are SCUDS (Soviet). Iraq's radars are Chinese. Iraq's tanks
are Russian. Iraq's nuclear technology is French and Russian. There
is not a single gun that is made in the USA. Contrary to what many
pacifists claim, the USA has not armed Saddam Hussein. France and
Russia did.
Every inspector knows that Saddam had manufactured huge amounts of
biological and chemical weapons that have never been found. Millions
of Iraqi civilians could be killed by these weapons that the
pacifists claim "do not exist" or "do not constitute a threat" (two
of the most frequent claims in pacifist rallies). These weapons do
not constitute a threat for the pacifists, but they do constitute a
serious threat for the Iraqi people and neighboring peoples.
The other Arab regimes are relatively indifferent. Most Arab leaders
take the public view that war is inevitable (Mubarak went as far as
to blame Saddam for it, Qaddafi suggested an exile for Saddam). The
fact is that the Arab regimes are not doing anything to prevent it.
Of course, they blame it on the USA. But the truth is that they are
not doing 1/10th of what France is doing to stop the war. Unlike
France, that can only talk, the Arab regimes could blackmail the USA
with the oil. Being the neighbors of Saddam, they could stage massive
protests at the United Nations. The truth is that they are not doing
anything to stop the USA. This front of "indifferent" regimes even
includes Iran, which, in theory, is an enemy of the USA, and which
has been unusually silent about this war. Again, France has been more
outspoken in its opposition to the USA than Iran itself. It is a fact
that all of Iraq's neighbors seem to prefer a USA invasion of Iraq to
a prolonged Saddam Hussein dictatorship.
Saudi Arabia has already announced that, once Iraq is liberated, it
will request that the USA withdraw their troops from Saudi Arabia.
Those troops were stationed there in 1991, and are the very reason
that Osama bin Laden started his anti-American terrorist campaign.
Those American troops on Saudi land are an embarrassment for the
Saudi regime and a prime motive for anti-American terrorism. It is in
the interest of both Saudi Arabia and the USA that they are removed
as soon as possible. While the USA would never publicly admit that is
giving in to Osama's requests, it is possible that one serious reason
to remove Saddam Hussein is the urgency to withdraw the troops from
Saudi Arabia. Those troops are there only because of Saddam Hussein:
there is no other enemy in the area.
Bush's plan is to remove Saddam and install a U.S. military governor,
leaving the ruling Baath party largely intact and granting an amnesty
to all the ministers and generals who helped Saddam over the years.
The "pacifists" are completely missing the point when they focus
their energies on stopping the war (i.e., keeping Saddam in power)
instead of focusing on what should replace Saddam. Installing an
American governor and leaving the same ruthless party in power does
not justify war. Installing, for example, a United Nations governor
and introducing multi-party democracy does justify a war. But
"pacifists" do not care for the Iraqi people, so it is not surprising
that they argue on everything except the future of the Iraqi people.
The real issue should be what to do next with Iraq. Once we remove
Saddam Hussein (who has been dictator 24 years too many), who rules
over Iraq? The last thing that the world, Iraq or even the USA needs
is an American general ruling over Iraq. On the other hand, Iraq is
not Timor or Afghanistan (where the opposition had powerful,
charismatic leaders and even an army). Iraq has no opposition
government on the ground (the one in exile is totally unknown to the
Iraqi people and has not even been inside Iraq for years) and no
opposition army. The United Nations could provide a transitional
government and an international police force, like it did in Kosovo,
and gradually introduce multi-party democracy. It would be an insult
to the Iraqi people if we left the Baath party in power, and simply
replaced a dictator with another dictator.
However, there are at least two problems. The Kurds have now formed
their own government, and, in fact, are doing quite well, better than
ever in modern history. It is not clear what we will do with them: do
we hand them over again to the Arabs that will inevitably rule over
Iraq? The Kurds are not too keen to be ruled again from Baghdad.
Also, it is not clear how well the Sunnis will accept a democratic
Iraq, that is likely to become a Shiite country (Saddam and all
previous rulers were Sunnis, but the majority of Iraqis are Shiites).
The largest Shiite country is its neighbor, Iran, which is not a
friend to the Arab regimes of the Gulf. Will the Iraqi Sunnis accept
a Shiite majority, and will the neighboring Sunni regimes (Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan) accept it?
Restoring the Iraqi economy will be easier than making sense of a
country that is one more irrational legacy from the era of European

(October 2002) Why Bush would never allow for democracy in Iraq. In
1991 the USA led a coalition to free Kuwait of the Iraqi invaders.
The USA then wanted to prove that it was worth defending Kuwait from
Iraq and ordered the Kuwaiti dictator to introduce democracy. Ten
years later, women still cannot vote, and the Kuwaiti parliament can
vote only on negligible issues. Power is still held by the ruling
family, and no election has ever been scheduled to let the people
decide if they like that family or not.
In nearby Saudi Arabia, a country that the USA protects with
thousands of soldiers, it is not only women who cannot vote: men also
cannot vote. If nothing else, the royal Saudi family does not pretend
to have democracy. Saudi Arabia was only one of the few countries to
fund and recognize the Taliban. Saudi Arabia is, of course, also the
homeland of Osama Bin Laden and most of the September 11 terrorists.
Neither the king of Kuwait nor the royal Saudi family (nor any other
Arab dictator) would welcome an Arab democracy in Iraq. It would set
a dangerous example throughout the Arab world. The Arab world has
never had any democracy. Arab people grow up thinking that democracy
is a fiction of the West, a meaningless word, an excuse for America
to fight Islam. If one Arab country became a democracy, it would
contradict centuries of Arab history.
Furthermore, Iraq is now ruled by Sunni Arabs (like Saddam) but
Sunnis constitute only 16% of the population. The vast majority of
Iraqis (about 60%) are Shiites. Most of the Arab world is Sunni. The
only major Shiite country is Iran, whose supreme ayatollah Khameini
is a sworn enemy of the USA. Thus, the USA itself has no interest in
installing a democratic regime in Iraq that would most likely be
friendly to its arch-enemy Iran.
Bush is interested in a regime change, but not necessarily a
democratic one. It takes a different kind of president to promote
democracy in Iraq: it takes a president who is willing to admit
America's guilt towards the Iranian people (Iran's shah was supported
by America before it was deposed by a popular revolution) and it
takes a president who is willing to remove brutal dictatorships (that
support international terrorism) from all the Arab states (including
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco) and not only from Iraq.
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(October 2002) Did the USA give Saddam the bacteriological weapons?
Alas, for many decades, everybody gave everybody else biological
material that should have been kept guarded. The USA and every other
democracy in the world did not have a national policy on what to do
with germs. Research centers were free to sent germs to other
research centers, anywhere in the world. Companies were free to sell
germs to other companies, anywhere in the world. The only countries
that tightly controlled the export of germs were the totalitarian
regimes of the Soviet Union, Eastern Germany and Cuba. The USA did
not have a national policy. Each USA research center was dealing with
whichever research centers in the world it deemed appropriate for
medical research. There were very few exceptions (for example,
smallpox, see below).
Records show that in 1986, the University of Baghdad requested and
obtained anthrax and botulinum, besides more innocuous germs
(probably used to prove that the germs were needed for legitimate
medical research). In 1988, the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence
Center at Fort Detrick reported that Iraq was building a
bacteriological arsenal (particularly, botulinum and anthrax)
disguised as medical research. The report deatailed how Iraqi
scientists were purchasing germs from the American Type Culture
Collection, which served scientists of all over the world. Getting
the authorization to export those germs was a mere formality. Sale of
those germs was legal not only to Iraqi research centers but to
research centers of any country in the world that was not under USA
sanctions (basically, anybody except Iran, Libya and CUba).
It was later discovered that, between 1985 and 1989, there was a
stream of purchases by Iraqi research centers from USA-based
companies, purchases that included, again, anthrax and botulinum. At
the same time, Iraq was purchasing material for weapons of mass
destruction from many other countries. A study published on the
German magazine "Die Tageszeitung" revealed that German companies
sold more of such material to Iraq than to any other country in the
Unfortunately, in the 1980s authorization for such transactions was
easy to obtain. It was much more difficult to export a microchip than
a germ. Companies based in the USA, Germany, France and Britain
supplied Iraqi organizations (and every other research center in the
world) with germs. It was normal procedure, just like exchanging
astronomical pictures or geological data. (So did the Soviet Union,
Eastern Germany and Cuba, but in their case it was explicitly
approved by the regime).
In the 1980s any research facility in the world could have obtained
USA germs, simply by asking.
Some of the Iraqi research centers that obtained germs from the USA
were recognized by the UNESCO (a United Nations department) as
legitimate medical research centers.
Iraq was not the only country to take advantage of western naivete
and pursue such a program. In 1971, Syria created the Scientific
Studies and Research Center (SSRC). That center has acquired nuclear,
chemical and biological technologies from all over the world. In
1992, the German government ordered German research centers and
companies to suspend any cooperation with the SSRC because it was
discovered that it reports directly to the Syrian military. Israeli
and CIa intelligence agree that the SSRC has stockpiled chemical and
biological weapons and is actively trying to build a nuclear bomb.
Export of germs to Iraq became illegal in the USA on 23 february
1989, when the Commerce Department was ordered by the Bush
administration to ban sales of bacteriological material to Iraq,
Iran, Libya and Syria.
While USA companies and universities helped Iraq in good faith, the
Soviet Union (and possibly France) deliberately helped Iraq develop
bacteriological weapons. Iraq probably obtained a strain of smallpox
from Nelja Maltseva, a Russian virologist who worked at the Research
Institute for Viral Preparations in Moscow (the institute that used
to house the largest collection of smallpox in the world, now housed
in Vector). She is known to have traveled to Iraq frequently in the
1970s. Russia denies that she ever was in Iraq, but records by the
World Health Organization show that she was in Iraq at least in 1972
and 1973 (besides, of all places, Iran and Syria). Iraq has admitted
that its biological weapons program started in 1974.
The Iraqi bio-weapon program is tightly related to the secret Soviet
program. In 1971, an outbreak of smallpox in Aralsk (Kazakstan),
caused by an experiment of biological weapons, killed dozens of
Soviet citizens. Interviews with survivors of that incident seem to
indicate that the Soviet Union conducted open-air tests on
Vozrozhdeniye Island in the Aral Sea. That island is still infested
with anthrax and other dangerous germs. Apparently, that incident
convinced the Soviet authorities to invest more resources into
biological warfare. It also convinced nearby countries that
biological weapons were easier, cheaper and "better" than nuclear
weapons. The Soviet Union signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons
Convention in 1972, but Russia now admits that it continued the
world's most ambitious germ-weapons program (the USA had already
halted its program in 1969). In 1973, the Soviet Politburo created
"Biopreparat", a secret research project for biological weapons that
employed between 50,000 and 100,000 people. By 1988, the Soviet Union
had produced a few hundred tons of plague, anthrax, smallpox, and
other germs, enough to exterminate the entire population of the USA.
Ironically, when it collapsed, the Soviet Union "was" the real
super-power in the world, because the USA could never have competed
in terms of biological weapons. The defections in 1989 of Vladimir
Pasechnik, director of one of the main laboratories, and in 1992 of
Kanadjan Alibekov, deputy director of Biopreparat, provided the most
vivid account of the bio-weapon research undertaken by the Soviet
Union after 1972. To this day, Russia has opposed any suggestion to
allow international inspectors into its laboratories.
There is no evidence of continued cooperation between Russia and Iraq
during the 1980s, but Iraq's bio-weapon program certainly picked up
speed after 1987, when the Al-Muthanna research center was
transferred to the Al-Salman facility, and 1988, when the Al-Hakam
Factory was inaugurated. By 1990, Iraq was capable of weaponizing the
biological agents (on SCUD missiles provided by the Soviet Union).
The United Nations inspectors believe that 380,000 liters of
Botulinum toxin and 84,250 liters of anthrax spores were manufactured
during these years. Iraq denied having produced any smallpox, but in
1995 the inspectors found a container labeled "smallpox". In 1997,
the inspectors also found a document about the vaccines that were
prescribed for the Iraqi army, and the third on the list was
smallpox. The speed at which these projects were carried out makes it
unlikely that Iraq worked on them alone.

(October 2002) The Iraqi nuclear program. In 1971 Saddam Hussein
created the Iraqi program to build a nuclear weapon, which will
remain to this day under his personal control. Iraqi scientist
Khidhir Abdul Abas Hamza defected to the United States in 1994, and
described the details of Iraq's nuclear program. The program was a
grotesque failure: by 1987 all that Iraq had built was the gas
centrifuge designed in the 1940s by Jessie Beams, a classic of
nuclear engineering but so inefficient that the USA has made them
public (the designs can be found on the Internet).
The breakthrough came in 1989, when German scientist Karl-Heinz
Schaab sold German uranium-enrichment technology to Iraq. Schaab used
to work for MAN Technologien AG, a subcontractor of Urenco, which
specializes in nuclear technology. Schaab sold Saddam the design of
the TC-11, a gas centrifuge, for about $350,000. This was a
clandestine operation, for which Schaab will be convicted in a German
tribunal in 1992, captured in 1996 and finally jailed in 1999. But
Schaab has told a different story. He has declared to Der Spiegel:
"In such difficult times, our company needed a rich customer." Which
implies that he was working for his company, not on his own. Another
former Urenco employee, Bruno Stemmler, helped Iraqi engineers on the
design of the centrifuge. Again, Germany claims it was the action of
an individual acting on his own, outside the law. Ditto for Walter
Busse, the third Urenco employee arrested for this crime. They all
spent weeks in Rashdiya (north of Baghdad), the center of Iraq's
nuclear-weapons research.
But at the same time (throughout the year 1989) the German company
Interatom GmbH (which belongs to the Siemens group, the largest
industrial group in Germany) sold Iraq equipment and training.
Interatom was the supplier of MAN and Urenco. By its own admission,
Iraq acquired more know-how legally from Interatom than illegally
from Schaab. Siemens always denied that this dealings ever occurred
until United Nations inspectors found Siemens (Interatom) material
all over the Iraqi nuclear research facilities in 1995. Siemens now
claims that it did not know the Iraqis were nuclear engineers:
Siemens thought they were welders.
At the same time, Iraq and Libya were offering huge amounts of money
to India for its nuclear technology (as revealed by Jasjit Singh on
30 August 1998). India never accepted a penny, and never sold any
technology, showing a much higher moral standard than Germany.
United Nations inspector Scott Ritter, who eventually resigned in
disgust, has repeatedly stated that Iraq has manufactured and is
hiding at least three 20-kiloton nuclear bombs. The bombs only lack
the uranium cores. Ritter claims that in 1998 the United Nations knew
exactly where the bombs were kept by Iraq, but refused to order an
inspection of the site. Therefore Saddam had time to move the bombs
At the same time that Ritter was discovering the three nuclear bombs
in Iraq, two countries, Russia and France, were repeatedly asking the
United Nations to suspend any further investigation of Iraq's nuclear
program. It is not known if Russia's and France's insistence was due
to complicity with Saddam or to sheer stupidity. We can speculate
that Russia had something to hide and France simply wanted the oil
that Saddam was willing to pay in return for the favor, which case
one was a criminal and the other one was a prostitute.
By this time, Saddam had changed his focus. He had come to realize
that nuclear weapons are difficult to build, protect and use.
Chemical and biological weapons are much easier to build, store and
use. Again, Saddam approached Germany, namely the Water Engineering
Trading Company. This German company claims that it only helped build
a factory for pesticides. This led to the investigation of 56 German
companies, directly or indirectly involved in the business of selling
dangerous materials to Saddam. All of them were probably aware of
what the purpose was, but only six have been eventually sent to jail.
In most cases it was impossible to prove the case, although it was
obvious to an idiot that Saddam was try to make huge quantities of
"pesticides". As a German official said, "Judging by the flow of
materials, Iraq must have a huge problem with insects".
Last but not least, Germany supplied Saddam with his own bunker. It
was built by a Dusseldorf company and furnished by a Munich firm. It
was provided with all the comforts in case the temperature above
ground reaches deadly levels (in other words, in case the USA drops a
nuclear bomb on Baghdad).
If well-paid German engineers were so willing to sell Saddam these
dangerous secrets, can you imagine how tempted the poorly-paid
Russian engineers must be to do the same? What are the odds that at
least one Russian or Kazak or Ukraine engineer has sold Saddam the
nuclear core that he needed? Very high.
And, yet, in october 2002 a familiar pattern is repeating itself:
France and Russia are slowing down the United Nations resolution that
would send inspectors into Iraq. What are they hiding in Iraq?
See a timeline of the Middle East
German exports of nuclear technology to Iraq
German cooperation with Iraq on weapons of mass destruction
Iraq's nuclear programme
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(October 2002) Why Saddam must go. Saddam must go not because he is a
threat to other countries, but because he has been, is and will
always be a threat to his own people. He has been dictator of Iraq
for a quarter of a century. He has obviously never contemplated
retiring, even after losing two wars (Iran and Kuwait).
It is a shame that the international community has agreed to disarm
Iraq, but not to remove Saddam. Disarming Iraq is plainly unfair: why
should the Iraqi people be left with no weapons, when their neighbors
are allowed to keep their arms? Why should the Iraqis destroy weapons
that they have legally purchased with their oil? Those weapons belong
to the Iraqi people, and the Iraqi people should be allowed to decide
what to do with them. Is anyone telling Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran,
or, for that matter, France which weapons it is allowed to keep?
Disarming Iraq is just unfair.
Removing Saddam, on the other hand, and dissolving the Baath party,
is a humanitarian act. The Iraqi people deserve a better government.
Hopefully, an American invasion of Iraq will remove Saddam and let
the Iraqi people rebuild their country. Hopefully, this will result
in the first Arab democracy in history. Hopefully, this will be the
beginning of a new era for the entire Arab world and the entire
Middle East.
The people who don't want an American invasion of Iraq are simply
hypocritical. They know exactly what Saddam has done, and they know
exactly what he would do again. They simply want to avoid another
American triumph, and they are willing to sacrifice the entire
population of Iraq, if necessary, to keep America from annihilating
another dictatorship.
The war in Afghanistan has been a terrible blow to anti-Americans
world-wide. They expected the Afghani population to rise against the
Americans like they did against the Soviet Union twenty years ago.
Surprise: the Afghanis actually welcomed the British and the
Americans who were liberating Kabul, and they actually shaved their
beards and they started watching tv and listening to the radio. In
other words, they very much enjoy the freedom given to them by the
Americans and the British. Karzai, the US-appointed new leader of
Afghanistan, is by far the most popular leader in Asia, the only one
who is supported by a huge popular consensus. After opposing the
invasion of Afghanistan and screaming "jihad jihad" against America,
the European Pacifists and the Arabs (the main anti-American groups
in the world) are changing the subject. It is fairly obvious that the
Afghani people are happier now than they ever were over the last 30
years. One thing that is now fairly obvious is that Afghanis hate
Arabs and Pakistanis, considering them the invaders (not America). It
was the Arab countries (led by Saudi Arabia) and Pakistan that
engineered the invasion of Afghanistan by the Taliban. Even the
Russians have been forgiven. The Arabs and the Pakistanis have not
been forgiven yet. They are seen as ready to destabilize the country
again at the first opportunity.
The horror for Euro-pacifists and Arabs is that an invasion of Iraq
could end up the same way: millions of Iraqis celebrating the fall of
Saddam, a very popular US-appointed leader, and Iraqi hatred for the
other Arab countries that helped Saddam stay in power. That is the
main reason to oppose an American invasion of Iraq.
The other reasons that Euro-pacifists (Saddam's strongest friends)
and Arabs mention are obviously false: an invasion would kill fewer
people than Saddam would kill in a year. The Euro-pacifists can
hardly pretend to care for the Iraqi people, since they never said a
word against Saddam's atrocities and they did not complain when the
USA shamelessly fled Iraq in 1992 leaving Saddam free to massacre
shiites and kurds. The Euro-pacifists care for many things (mainly
gasoline) but certainly not for the Iraqi people. And, yes, the Iraqi
people do want an invasion: there are about one million Iraqis who
managed to escape, and who now live in other countries, and the vast
majority is in favor of an invasion even if their own relatives could
be harmed. The Kurds who live in the north of Iraq have formed their
own parliament and are living a very civilized life, afraid only that
the USA may pull out and Saddam may return. The Euro-pacifists never
ask the people what they want, because the goal of the Euro-pacifists
is not to give the people what the people want but to give them what
they, the Euro-pacifists, want. The people of Iraq (shiites, kurds
and ordinary sunnis) want a regime change, and they will get help
from anyone who offers to help. Alas, only the USA and Britain are
offering that kind of help.
So it's only the Euro-pacifists and the other Arab dictators who
don't want an American invasion of Iraq. And the reason is that they
don't want another American triumph. Period.
We, on the other hand, think that there can be only one end to the
Iraqi problem: 1. removal of Saddam Hussein from power, and 2. trial
of Saddam Hussein by an Iraqi court. Period. Anything else is a
disgusting compromise for the sake of oil. This is a serial killer
who has personally assassinated relatives and dissidents. This is a
demented tyrant who tried to exterminate entire towns. This is a
megalomaniac bent on invading the entire world. He must be removed,
and he must be tried. No, it is not enough to disarm Iraq: we do care
for the safety of the people of Iraq, not just for our own safety. We
want Saddam removed. And we want Saddam tried, so that other Arab
dictators will think twice about repeating those horrors.
(Ideally we would also love to see the Euro-pacifists pay a price for
defending Saddam, and maybe condemned to visit the families of all
the innocents massacred by Saddam over the years).
No doubt that Bush has done a lot to boost the case of the
Euro-pacifists. He is a most unpleasant solution to the problem of
removing Saddam. But you don't look at the teeth of the horse when
the horse is a gift. We swallow our pride and put the interest of the
Iraqi people first: if Bush is the way that Saddam can be removed,
let Bush be. (It would help, though, if Bush shut up and let Powell
deal with the world's public opinion).
"It's the oil", as the Euro-pacifists say; but it's "their" oil that
they are talking about. It's the Euro-pacifists who want to keep
Saddam in power so that he can sell his oil to their countries, and
they can keep driving to the discos while he slaughters the Iraqi
population. That is what the Euro-pacifists have been doing since
Saddam came to power: enjoy the ride and ignore the crimes that make
that ride possible. "It's the oil" that, for example, keeps France
and Russia from agreeing to an invasion.
"It's the oil" that keeps us from doing what we have done in Serbia
and Afghanistan.
And please dismantle the United Nations if that institution exists
only to defend the interests of mad dictators.
See a timeline of the Middle East

(October 2002) The world on the war against Iraq
Most Americans are in favor of military intervention against Iraq but
only want to disarm Iraq so that Iraq cannot pose a threat to America
George W Bush also wants to remove Saddam, not only disarm Iraq
The only other world leader who wants to remove Saddam is Tony Blair
of Britain
Most British are opposed to the war, although by a narrow margin
Most Europeans are opposed to any military action, no matter what, by
a large margin
Most nations are opposed to military action unless Iraq provokes the
United Nations.
All Arab countries are opposed to a war against Iraq.
Most Arabs are strongly opposed to a war against Iraq (not because
they love Saddam, but because they perceive a double standard in
America's behavior towards Iraq and towards Israel).
The Iraqis hate the USA more than they hate Saddam (the sanctions
have punished the Iraqi people but obviously not Saddam Hussein, who
is still in power)
The Kurds in the north of Iraq do not want to be part of Iraq and
have assembled their own parliament
The Iraqi government in exile (in London) has plans to grant autonomy
to ethnic minorities
Nobody seems too worried about the 4,000-year old monuments of
Mesopotamia (the oldest in the world), which happen to be in today's

See a timeline of the Middle East
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(March 2002) What it takes to take on Saddam. As the American
build-up in the Gulf continues day and night (whether acknowledged or
not by the Bush administration) and it appears ever more likely that
a strike will happen before the November elections (the only thing
that really drives US foreign policy), a number of factor has to fall
in place for the operation to be successful:
Some sort of peace agreement must have been reached in Palestine.
That is the purpose of the sudden American determination in stopping
Sharon's bloody massacres of Palestinians. Those massacres have
further deteriorated the mood in the Arab world, where America is
largely seen as the defender of an injustice: Israel's occupation of
Palestine. America has never done a good job of explaining why Israel
has entitled to occupy those territories (has any Arab country ever
surrendered what it conquered in a war?) and has never done any
effort to explain to the Arab masses that life is much better under
Israel than under any of the dictators of the Arab world (millions of
Arabs have been killed by their dictators, relatively few have been
killed by Israel). America now pays those decades of indifference:
the Arab world is convinced that an injustice has been committed,
that America is biased towards Israel (hard to deny) and that America
lies all the time. Without peace between Israel and Palestine, nobody
in the Arab world will support a war against Saddam Hussein: hatred
for Israel is far stronger than despise for Saddam.
There must be an alternative to Saddam. Nobody (not Turkey, not
Israel, not Saudi Arabia) wants the disintegration of Iraq in a
number of smaller states (as in Yugoslavia). This is probably the
biggest problem, as there is no single person in Iraq or outside who
has the charisma to take over the country.
Last but not least, a pretext must be found. Saddam is dumb enough to
keep challenging the United Nations inspectors: the United Nations
has had a valid excuse to attack Iraq since 1991. However, Saddam
could get smart and allow the inspectors in. At that point, a US
strike would become impossible. Bush has to fabricate an
international incident (as Johnson did in Vietnam) or find a link
between Saddam and Osama (but they have been trying for six months
and could not come up with anything).
Bush needs this war and a victory. He has obviously lost the war
against Osama: Osama achieved what he wanted (terror in the USA,
destruction of the World Trade Center) and is still alive. Only a
couple of his most dangerous associates have been arrested: the
others are still free, address unknown, ready to strike. This would
be hardly reassuring for the American people, if only American people
read the news. Sooner or later they will. Bush needs to win one, a
big one, before Americans begin wondering what has truly been won in
Afghanistan. Saddam is the obvious target. He is hated by everybody,
even by those who defend him. He has his hands tied behind his back.
Nobody will go to war to help him.
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(October 2001) Saddam's biological weapons Richard Butler, the chief
United Nations arms inspector, has pointed out some interesting facts
about Iraq's opposition to inspections of its military facilities
(see UNSCOM's reports). Iraq won a psychological and propaganda war
against the USA and Britain: while the winning countries wanted to
continue United Nations inspections of weapons of mass destruction,
Iraq wanted them to stop, claiming there was nothing more to inspect.
First Russia and then France agreed that enough was enough, and the
inspectors were sent home without having finished their job.
Therefore, Saddam Hussein is free to continue building weapons of
mass destruction undisturbed.
Butler points out that Iraq opposed all kinds of inspections and did
everything it could to hamper the work of the inspectors, but Butler
points out that there was relatively little opposition to inspections
of nuclear facilities compared with chemical and especially
biological facilities.
We know that Israel bombed a nuclear facility in Iraq in 1981 and
Israel's intelligence is usually very reliable. So we know that
Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weapons. Israel may have
stopped him just in time and the US bombing of 1991 may have finished
that job. Besides, let's face it: nuclear weapons are too complicated
to manufacture, complicated to store and complicated to shoot. The
enemy knows who sent them and may retaliate massively (Israel
certainly would). What are they good for? Only for Saddam Hussein's
image (he was dreaming of becoming the first Arab leader with a
nuclear weapon).
Iraq used chemical weapons both during the 1980s in the war against
Iran and in 1988 against its own rebellious Kurdish population. So we
know Iraq had chemical weapons. There is no doubt that Iraq has
produced huge amounts of VX nerve gas. Iraq itself has admitted
producing 4 tons of VX nerve gas, but United Nations inspectors
estimate that at least 200 tons of VX nerve gas could have been
produced before the war (one kg of VX is enough to kill thousands of
people, one ton is enough to kill everybody in a city as big as New
York). Iraq tried to hid its missile warheads, but the United Nations
inspectors found a few of them and they tested positive for VX nerve
gas: Iraq was busy arming its missiles with chemical weapons
(something that Israel had claimed all along but nobody listened).
During his "experiments" with the Iranians and the Kurds, Saddam
Hussein came to appreciate the power of chemical weapons but he also
realized that you can't win a war with chemical weapons (in fact, he
lost against Iran). Again, the main problem is that it is not very
easy to kill with chemical weapons without being noticed: the enemy
gets really mad at you and can easily defend itself from your
chemical weapons.
Biological weapons are, instead, beautiful, because the enemy does
not realize it has been struck until it's too late; and it may not
even know who struck it. If your population starts dying of anthrax,
how can you tell if the anthrax came from Iraq or Iran or Korea?
Nuclear weapons are the weapons of choice for any world power because
they cause immediate and direct destruction. They are the most
effective deterrent. But biological weapons are actually the weapon
of choice for any kind of guerrilla-like or terroristic activity:
they don't require a missile (any human being can be a carrier of a
biological weapon, as long as s/he is willing to die with it), they
are hard to detect, they are easy to carry.
Iraq's suspicious resistance to any inspection of its biological
facilities is coupled with a chronic level of lying that would look
pathetic if it wasn't so blatant. At the end of the Gulf war, Iraq
initially admitted that it had produced 650 litres of anthrax. As
inspectors found more and more anthrax, Iraq kept admitting higher
and higher figures. By the time the inspectors had to leave, the
figure stood at 8,400 litres... and counting. Saddam claimed that the
vast Al Hakam factory complex produced agricultural products: the
inspectors found clear traces that huge quantities of anthrax (about
50,000 litres of anthrax and botulinum) had been produced there. The
latest estimate is that Iraq had produced 19,000 litres of botulinum,
8,400 litres of anthrax, 2,000 litres of aflatoxin and clostridium.
These are all deadly agents that can cause painful deaths. There is
evidence that Iraq had armed ballistic missiles with botulinum,
anthrax and aflatoxin.
Iraq has also been known to court former Soviet biologists who worked
on biological weapons programs for the old Soviet Union. Between 1945
and 1992, the Soviet Union produced the largest stockpile of
biological weapons in the world, about ten times more than the USA.
We now know that 60,000 Soviet scientists worked on biological
weapons, as opposed to 3,400 American scientists (see this table). It
is unknown what happened to that huge stockpile of biological weapons
and what happened to those 60,000 Soviet scientists (A brief history
of the Soviet biological weapons program).
Unfortunately, the United Nations inspections basically stopped at
the end of 1998, because of Russian and French pressure (Russia still
thinks in cold-war terms, and France is eager to do business with
Iraq). We don't know how much more Iraq has produced since then,
where it has hidden it and who it has given it to.
The USA is largely to blame for this. First of all, the USA refused
to pay its dues to the United Nations for several years: this
weakened the USA position within the United Nations and eventually
even allies like France reacted with a "hey, if you don't believe in
the United Nations, why should the United Nations work for you?".
Second and most important, in august 1995 two of Saddam Hussein's
sons in law (general Hussein Kamel al-Majid, who oversaw Iraq's
program of weapons of mass destruction, and colonel Saddam Kamel
al-Majid, head of Saddam's bodyguards) fled to Jordan with a bounty
of information about those very weapons of mass destruction that the
inspectors had not been able to find. Their defection was the single
most important breakthrough in the war against terrorism ever. For
six months they waited patiently in Jordan for the USA to rescue
them. The USA was too busy with sex scandals and let them languish
there, where they could be killed any day by Saddam's agents.
Eventually, they made a deal with Saddam to be allowed to return to
Iraq. In february 1996 they returned to Iraq and one week later they
were both shot dead in an "incident" with guards led by Saddam's
eldest son, Uday, the rising star of Iraqi politics (their mother was
then brutally killed in 2000). There will never be a defector again:
the USA has proven to the Iraqi people how it treats heroes who risk
their lives to help the USA against Saddam.
Ironically, the very reason that Iraq (and anyone else) could develop
its biological weapons goes back to a decision taken by the USA in
1991 (George Bush senior) to oppose verification of the Biological
Weapons Convention (the USA was joined by Iran and Iraq). On July 25,
2001, due to the opposition of the Senate, the USA announced that it
would not ratify the protocol for verification of the Biological
Weapons Convention (one of the many international agreements that the
George W Bush administration has refused to sign). How ironic that,
only two months later, terrorists attacked the USA and people started
dying of anthrax (See this paper).
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(October 2001) Did America kill the Iraqi children? Arabs routinely
accuse America of having caused terrible sufferings to the Iraqi
people by enforcing sanctions that hurt the civilians, not Saddam. In
particular, a recurring mantra is that hundreds of thousands of
children have died in Iraq because Iraq cannot buy medicines or food.
Even some Americans admit that thousands of Iraqi children have
suffered and died because of the sanctions imposed by the United
Nations on Iraq. Was this slaughter of innocents justified?
(See also How many Iraqi civilians are killed by the sanctions?)
First of all, one wonders why the Iraqi children are so precious.
Nobody did much to save the thousands of children who were killed in
Rwanda by the hutus, in Timor by Indonesia, in Afghanistan by the
Taliban, in Hama by Syria, and, lo and behold, by Saddam Hussein in
northern and southern Iraq (even using chemical weapons). Nobody
seems too concerned that every day thousands of children die of
hunger in Africa. It seems that the only children that really matter
are those born in Iraq.
Second, before believing dictators one should always make sure of
what the facts really are. Saddam and a whole bunch of terrorists
claim that up to one million children died over the last ten years
because of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq. But that is way
too many because of the population of Iraq: it would mean that almost
every child is sick and that a large percentage die, which is not
consistent with the image of well-nourished children we have seen in
Bagdad and it is not consistent with the children we can count in the
areas that are not ruled by Saddam (kurdish and shiite areas, which
happen to be the poorest areas).
Some Americans estimate that half a million children died over ten
years. That figure is also not realistic. By all accounts, Sudan has
a far more devastating situation (apparently, neither Arab countries
nor westerners care much about the lives of Sudanese children)
because of the drought and the civil war. Humanitarian organizations
estimate that about 20,000 children die every year in Sudan because
of lack of food and medicines. That would make 200,000 in ten years.
But there is no comparison: half the population of Sudan is starving,
whereas nobody is starving in Iraq. Sudan is in the middle of a
devastating civil war, whereas in Iraq all infrastructures are
working (albeit not as well as before the war). So it is hard to
believe that more Iraqi children die than Sudanese children, unless
somebody proves that the Iraqis are genetically inferior to the
Sudanese. By comparison with Sudan, we can estimate that possibly
between 10,000 and 100,000 children have died in Iraq over the last
ten years. That is a more realistic number.
This is also consistent with the numbers provided by Iraqi dissidents
in exile. Nobody ever asks Iraqi dissidents what they think. It seems
that Saddam Hussein is the only reliable source of information on
Iraq. Whatever he says, it immediately becomes news for Arabs and
westerners alike. Whatever the dissidents say, it is completely
ignored by everybody. Somehow, we have decided that dictators like
Saddam Hussein are more credible than freedom fighters like his
Now: how many people did Saddam kill before the sanctions were
imposed? We don't know for sure, because Iraq does not have the free
press that America has, but most estimates by Iraqi dissidents put
the figure at between 100,000 and one million people, mostly in the
shiite south and in the kurdish north of the country (lots of them
were children, but Westerners are not very interested in children
killed before 1991). Plus Saddam caused the death of about one
million Iranians when he attacked Iran (this was before the invasion
of Kuwait, but nobody cared for the lives of Iranian children the way
they now care for the lives of Iraqi children). Saddam used chemical
weapons against both Iran and Kurds.
We can estimate that at least one million total died because of
Saddam Hussein before the war in Kuwait.
There is no evidence that Saddam has suddenly become a saint, so we
can expect that he would use the same chemical weapons and kill the
same number of people if he only could.
Grand total. By enforcing the current control of Iraq, America has
saved the lives of about one million people and caused the death of
about 100,000 children. The problem is that the children are Iraqi,
and they seem to count a lot more than the Iranian, Kurdish and
Shiite children.
Now, what killed those 100,000 Iraqi children? Iraq has been
receiving plenty of food and medicines in exchange for oil. Why do
children still die? What do they die of? This is not clear. All
accounts are vague about the causes of those deaths. In many cases it
is surgeries that are not possible because hospitals do not have the
appropriate equipment. Excuse us, but about 150 countries of the
world are in the same situation: why do we worry only about the
hospitals of Iraq and not about the hospitals of Laos or Ghana or
Guyana? Are Iraqis a superior race?
Ditto for the other medicines. In most if not all cases, the
medicines that Iraq does not have are the very same medicines that no
other developing country has. Children die in all of those countries:
why do we count only the children killed in Iraq? who killed them?
Now, who killed those 100,000 Iraqi children? Saddam says that
America did. But the truth is that America would be more than happy
to flood the Iraqi market with American made medicines. The reason
America does not send medicines to Iraq is that Saddam takes the
medicines for his own entourage, his army, his government, and even
sells some of them abroad to buy arms on the black market. Sending
medicines to Iraq is a way to help Saddam.
If Saddam really wants to save those 100,000 children, why can't he
just resign? After all, nobody elected him and we suspect that many
Iraqis would be very happy to see him go. Why doesn't Saddam resign
and save those 100,000 children?
Arabs tend to forgive Arab dictators and place the blame for
everything on the West. They would have a better chance to improve
their part of the world (by far the highest density of dictatorships
on the planet) if they faced the fact that most of their problems are
due to their dictators, not to the western democracies.
Saddam Hussein has killed one million dissidents, one million
Iranians and 100,000 Iraqis children. That is the truth. America has
committed only one "crime": it has been too nice to Saddam Hussein.
In the old days, the loser of the war would be dead or in exile.
Saddam Hussein lost a war and is still in power. That is what is
killing the Iraqi children.
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(December 1999) Iraq commands and France obeys.
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(December 1999)
(Ocotber 1999) Iraq: the hidden war. While the world is looking at
Kosovo and Indonesia, a war is still underway in Iraq. UK and US
warplanes keep pounding Iraqi positions in the south: they have flown
16,000 sorties, dropped more than 600 bombs, fired more than 1,000
missiles in the first nine months of 1999 alone. This is almost
exactly the number of bombs and missiles used against Serbia during
the Kosovo war. Note: this is in the south as well in the north. This
is not to defend the kurds.
The official version is that the Iraqis fire to US and UK planes and
they fire back. No explanation is given as to why the Iraqis would
attack vastly superior air forces and be glad to receive such
damaging punishment.
The facts say that Iraq has won the political conflict: while the US
and UK insisted that Iraq accepted the periodic NATO controls over
weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has expelled all of the NATO
experts and has unmasked a few of them as US spies. This has
embarassed the US and weakened the argument in favor of international
isolation of Iraq. France and Russia have de facto already broken
that isolation and are ready to reopen business routes with Iraq.
Most Arab countries would be in favor of letting Iraq resume selling
oil, now that oil prices are high enough. So the US and UK are left
alone to struggle with Saddam's political victory. Their only
consolation is that every day that goes by they destroy another
little bit of Saddam's powerful war machine.
Bottom line: Iraq has won politically, while it is losing militarily.
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(November 1998) Iraq is cheating, but the West is hypocrite . There
are no doubts that Iraq has been cheating and will be cheating on the
United Nations' inspections. Saddam's power and prestige rests on
Iraq's most precious possessions: its weapons of mass destruction,
which are most likely just chemical weapons. At the end of the war,
Iraq claimed that it didn't have a single chemical weapon. Since the,
the United Nations inspections have destroyed some 38,500 chemical
weapons. At the end of the war, Iraq claimed that it didn't have a
single nuclear weapon. True, but the United Nations inspections found
clandestine caches of highly enriched uranium and plutonium, enough
to build more nuclear weapons than China has. It would be comic if it
weren't tragic. Whatever else Iraq has managed to hide from the
inspectors (mainly thanks to tips from the French and the Russians)
is likely to constitute a considerable arsenal. Otherwise Saddam
would not have lost 120 billion dollars in oil revenues over the last
seven years.
If the West really wants to disarm Iraq, the only option is to get
rid of Saddam Hussein. No Western country seems to be willing to do
that, but sooner or later there will be a showdown. Cornered, Saddam
will have no choice but to use the chemical weapons that he
treasures. Most likely, he will use them against Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia (bombing Israel would call for devastating retaliation,
bombing Iran would be unpopular across the Muslim world). The Western
world must be ready to decide whether it is prepared to go to war
against a country that will be desperate enough to use chemical
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(March 1998) Why is America so obsessed with Saddam Hussein? . The
official answer is "because he constitutes a threat to its
neighbors". Lie: none of Iraq's neighbors is willing to go to war
against Iraq and all refuse to let the Americans conduct a war from
their territory. A secondary answer is "because he is a brutal
dictator". True, but so are the Chinese leaders, whom America has
never even threatened to bomb. Third reason: "because he may invade
Kuwait again". Well, China is still occupying Tibet and nobody seems
ready to even vaguely condemn that. And Kuwait is not exactly a
reputable democracy that is worth defending. The funny thing is that
Saddam has never threatened the West. He has attacked only Muslim
countries, first Iran and second Kuwait. He never used chemical or
nuclear weapons against western or Israeli soldiers, not even during
the Gulf War. He has used weapons of mass destructions only against
Iran. When has he threatened the West?
A fourth reason would be that he poses a threat to Israel. Well,
first of all it is not clear why America has this duty of always
siding with Israel, especially since recently Israel has done
precious little to deserve any sympathy. Second, Israel possesses far
more powerful weapons of mass destruction than Iraq (enough that the
West should be concerned about Israel's weapon program, not Iraq's),
therefore Saddam is unlikely to ever drop a single microbe on Israel.
Third, Saddam's natural enemies are the other Muslim leaders
(especially Syria's, Iran's and Saudi Arabia's), not Israel.
Finally, the vast majority of countries in the United Nations would
vote against a strike, and a majority is in favor or abandoning the
embargo. America is right in trying to limit the spread of those
weapons, but America is likely to have more influence on Iraq if it
approached Saddam as a customer of its oil industry. Probably, just
offering him a nuclear umbrella against Iran would convince Saddam to
curtail his investment in weapons of mass destruction. Saddam is in
power because neither Iraq's people nor Iraq's neighbors are willing
to get rid of him. Why should America bother?
Let us not forget that Saddam has been a far better ruler to his
people than most arab dictators. Before the Gulf War, the Iraqi
people did enjoy a good life. Saddam did invest in roads, hospitals
and schools. Iraqis are far better educated than most Arabs.
Let us not forget that the U.S. itself sided with Saddam during his
war against Khomeini's Iran. Iraq was a friend (if not an ally) of
the West. Iraq sold oil to the West for as long as the West wanted to
buy it. Iraq never represented a threat to western interests in the
Gulf. Saddam informed the U.S. ambassador and a delegation of U.S.
senators (led by Bob Dole) of his claims over Kuwait, and he
misunderstood their silence as a sign of non-interference. Most
likely, he had no intention of hurting western interests, and would
have been happy to continue normal relationships with the West, if
nothing else to counterbalance Iran's threat to the east.
The real issue is the buildup of weapons of mass destruction, in
particular in the Middle East. That issue will not be resolved after
Saddam is gone or disarmed. That issue will remain for as long as 1.
Israel is at war (whether formally or ideologically) with the Arabs;
and 2. Israel is allowed to keep its nuclear and chemical arsenals.
It is a little unfair to expect that all Arab countries disarm when
Israel has a huge and unchecked arsenal of weapons of mass
Let's not forget that the first country to ever use nuclear weapons
was the United States and the first country to ever use chemical
weapons was again the United States, and in both instances they
killed many thousand civilians. The United States now rules the
world. It is hard to explain to any developing country that weapons
of mass destruction don't pay off.
Today, Iraq is a secular country. If Saddam is removed from power,
there is a strong chance that it will become (yet another)
fundamental islamist country. It is not clear what interest the West
has in destabilizing Iraq's current regime.

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