Saddam Hussein: Back to Square One

I was speaking to an Israeli official shortly after the Gulf War. “We are,” he said, “deeply appreciative for all that America did during the war with Iraq. Israel is grateful. But if I could, with all due respect, I’d like to offer an opinion: I’m afraid that perhaps the United States stopped two or three days too soon—and that in a matter of a few years, Saddam Hussein will have to be dealt with again.”

Are we dealing with Saddam Hussein—or is he dealing with us? At the moment, the latter seems to be closer to the mark.

The man was a prophet. Having said that, I must admit that it did not take superior powers of perception to arrive at his conclusion. American leadership was confident that his own people would soon do in the Iraqi iron man. After all, he had sent multitudes of Iraqi soldiers to their deaths, ruined the nation’s infrastructure, and brought devastating misery upon masses of his people. But, as is so often the case, Washington and the West did not quite understand some basic laws of life in a world where the likes of Saddam hold sway. He did survive, and now, a few years later, we are being forced to deal with him again. This time, however, there is a question: Are we dealing with Saddam Hussein—or is he dealing with us? At the moment, the latter seems to be closer to the mark.

Playing Chicken
By ordering the U.S. contingent of U.N. inspectors out of his protected sites, he dropped the gauntlet and dared the United States and the international community to do anything about it. At first glance, it seemed like an absurd exercise in brinkmanship. However, the wily dictator had some solid objectives in mind that, in reality, made his chicken game with the United States a testing of the waters. How far could he go? And how far was this American administration willing to go to put a stop to his obstinance?

Sending the American inspectors on a perilous 12-hour journey across the desert in land vehicles by night, while inspectors from other nations were flown out, was a masterstroke for Hussein. Two things were accomplished. First, he publicly and deliberately humiliated the United States and got away with it. Second, in so doing, his stock soared among radicals in the Muslim Middle East. The self-proclaimed “New Nebuchadnezzar” had sent the hated Americans packing. Beyond the fusillades of rhetoric heard from the United States, there was little more than a threat to send U-2 surveillance aircraft over Iraqi airspace—hardly an act that would cause Iraqis or their leadership to lose much sleep.

Of considerable substance for Saddam Hussein was what he learned during the test of American will. Several facts of life surfaced. He, and everyone who cared to watch, learned quickly that this was not going to be a rerun of the Gulf War of 1991.

The coalition was not there. To the contrary, diplomatic relations between such “allies” as Paris and the Russians were rarely so close on a matter of such international import. Neither wants to move in a world order dominated by Americans. Both countries are owed billions of dollars by Iraq, and both have oil companies eager to tap into the huge petroleum reserves when sanctions are lifted.

The United States received a cold shoulder from the ArabsThe United States was unwilling to go it alone. For Saddam, a major part of the test was learning just how far an American administration—which he suspected was short on the will to commit to military action—was willing to go to protect U.S. interests in the region. He also wanted to know how far down the road to globalism his former adversary was. We suspect that at this point he is encouraged by the results.

The New World Order
From all appearances, the phrase popularized by then-President George Bush during the Gulf War is fast becoming a functional reality. Talk in our nation’s capital at the moment is about the big issue facing Americans in the next election. Will we opt for a president who is a declared advocate of passing U.S. sovereignty to a global confederacy or one who will at least give lip service to a commitment to some form of nationalism. It is a fundamental choice—one that the prophetic Scriptures said would come during the last days. It appears that we are about to arrive.

The driving force behind the New World Order is, of course, economics. Again, the Bible identifies the essence of what concerns nations during the last gasp of contemporary history. Struggles that will take place are to be rooted in financial markets, which will be tied to a global economy. Morality is not a significant factor when societies are totally secularized. Possessing the spoil is the reason the game is played. Nations are thus divided into the haves and the have-nots. And in the New World Order, the only place to be is on top.

Running for Cover
While the sweet smell of international harmony has been a powerful intoxicant to many in the West, Iraq’s neighbors are not so sure. The Saudis are in the midst of closing a huge arms deal with South Africa. In an arms-for-oil deal, the Saudis are scooping up $1.6 billion worth of military hardware. South Africa is also negotiating an arms deal with Kuwait worth some $4 billion.

“Given what is happening in the region…I’m pretty sure Saudi Arabia and Kuwait want to discuss arms deals with everyone,” said Bill Sass of the Institute for Security Studies. Evidently the Saudis and their neighbors in Kuwait can still smell the smoke from the oil rigs torched by their less than benevolent Muslim brothers from Iraq.

As for the Israelis, they have informed America that they cannot again sit idly by while Saddam rains long-range Scuds with improved accuracy on the cities of Israel. If he decides to attack, Israel plans to respond with massive retaliation.

No Second Chance
For everyone in the Middle East and, for that matter, the world, the stakes are enormously high. Some might see the hide-and-seek contest between U.N. inspection teams and Hussein’s weapons makers as a quaint game of little consequence over the long haul. But, as long as Iraq can successfully produce barbaric implements of mass destruction—such as the VX nerve gas that has the potential to kill millions of people with only a few ounces—not one person on the planet is safe.

When cries persistently rise from the streets of Baghdad…maybe it is time for the civilized world to say, “We’ve had enough.”

There has been talk of surgical preemptive air strikes akin to Israel’s taking out the Iraqi nuclear facility in the early 1980s. A world that was angry with Israel early on now has cause to express gratitude and a measure of relief. Perhaps now is the time to employ the strategy of former President Ronald Reagan, who quieted Libya’s Qaddafi by rolling a bomb under his tent flap.

When cries persistently rise from the streets of Baghdad, such as were heard at the 18th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy—“You must,” Iraqi demonstrators were told, “shout loud enough for your cries of ‘Death to America’ to ring throughout the Gulf”—maybe it is time for the civilized world to say, “We’ve had enough.”

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