Friday, March 07, 2003

Saddam and The Terrorists: Barbary Pirates of the 21st Century
By Alexander Marriott
UNLV Rebel Yell: March 10, 2003

In the coming days the United States could very well be at war with Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussein. Free countries never want war, but there comes a time when they must defend themselves from external threats, and if diplomacy isn’t a viable option then armed conflict will and must take place.

We are faced with such a time now. International terrorism is the only means the enemies of the United States can fight against us. The American military is far too powerful for any one European country to combat or any number (perhaps all) of third world countries to cope with. Our arsenal of nuclear weapons serves as a deterrent for any hostile country to not make open war on the United States. The Soviet Union realized this, which is why that tyrannical regime gave money and weapons to terrorists, including Yasser Arafat, from the late 1960’s to its collapse in 1991. It is also why countries hostile to the United States, such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, choose to sell weapons to terrorists, or let them set up offices, so that the terrorists can fight a covert and low-tech (and hence low-cost) war against the “Great Satan.”

The low costs of fighting war in this manner has encouraged a great number of people to take up arms, or support those who take up arms, against the United States and Israel.

Saddam Hussein is one such person. Since his humiliating defeat in the Persian Gulf War he has been attempting to exact revenge on those who embarrassed him before the Arab world, namely the United States. His attempt to get someone to assassinate former President Bush was just one example. But his attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, can only have one purpose, total immunity from anyone checking his aggression. With nuclear weapons Saddam could easily rebuild his army and invade Kuwait or Iran again at his leisure. Even more ominous is the fact that Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, has an office in Baghdad. With nuclear immunity Saddam could arm these barbaric thugs with any weapons he so desired, and they would, no doubt, unleash these weapons upon Israelis and anyone else they saw as infidels.

A situation such as this would also scare governments in the region that are helping us out to either obey Saddam or be attacked by his terrorist cronies. This situation would leave us with only one option, and that would kill far more civilians any war we are currently contemplating could kill.

The President has said that the reason we must disarm Saddam now is because we don’t want Iraq to become another North Korea. But if Saddam got nuclear weapons the situation would be far worse, because he, unlike Kim Jong Il, has an axe to grind with the United States, Israel, and numerous Arab countries surrounding him. But why now, and not earlier? Because September 11 changed the timetable we view these threats in. We don’t have years to waste in stopping threats any longer. Our enemies aren’t deterred by a few cruise missile strikes or economic sanctions (Saddam and the Taliban.) They don’t stop their plans when we post rewards and it is clear now the countries harboring terrorists will not even feign cooperation without the imminent threat of serious military force.

In short, Saddam could demand any price of the United States to stop him from using and distributing his weapons. And we would either have to pay it, or invade and face the possibility of having an American army destroyed by a nuclear weapon, or we would have to use a nuclear weapon to get rid of Saddam.

This whole situation is very analogous to the dilemma facing Thomas Jefferson in 1801. The Pasha of Tripoli (Libya) demanded a ransom from the United States beyond what was negotiated by treaty. When Jefferson refused to pay, the Pasha unleashed his Pirates upon the American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, causing Jefferson to dispatch the Navy and Marines to put an end to the blackmail once and for all. Even then, it was the United States, acting unilaterally, that finally put an end to the Tripolitan extortion.

Now imagine a similar situation, but instead of Pirates stealing American vessels and killing American merchants, it is a man like Saddam Hussein with the ultimate trump card. The early American Republic could afford to pay off the Pasha, as a naval war half way around the world was incredibly expensive. Can we afford Saddam such time when it is easily within our power to cut down on civilian casualties now as opposed to later when he has nuclear weapons? This “Give the dictator time” option is no option at all and would leave the world much more dangerous than it already is. It is bad enough that there is already one country blackmailing us with nuclear weapons, there is no need for more if we can prevent it.

In the case of Iraq it is clear that we are in a position to prevent any further weapons development, concealment, and proliferation. To not do so would be an unconscionable dereliction of the government’s primary duty to protect the people of the United States.

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