Let’s drop the big one.

There is one thing I simply don’t understand about the war party.

Suppose they are right, and Saddam Hussein has got access to nuclear and chemical weapons. Suppose he would like to cover Tel Aviv in anthrax spores. Why hasn’t he done so already?

It’s certainly not the goodness of his heart. The only answer anyone has suggested is fear of retaliation. Why, then, is it suddenly a mark of realism to advocate that we get our retaliation in first?

You might want to gamble that he will have no time to use his horrible weapons before the US troops are there. I wouldn’t, myself, if I lived in Tel Aviv, but clearly some people are prepared to do so. Or you might want to eliminate the possibility by simply nuking everywhere that might have a missile launcher in it. But no American president could do that without provocation, and after the provocation it would be too late.

Or you might treat him as we have treated every other evil, psychopathic dictator in possession of weapons of mass destruction — as someone who is concerned to preserve his own skin, and to enlarge his own power, no matter what the cost. Such people understand the language of deterrence. If it worked for Khruschev, why on earth shoudn’t it work for Saddam Hussein?

The only reason I can come up with is that he is an Arab. And there are simply too many powerful people, both in Israel and in America, who cannot believe that Arabs are members of the same species as we are, and susceptible to the same kinds of argument. Yet, if you cut them, do they not bleed?

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3 Responses to Let’s drop the big one.

  1. Rupert says:

    It’s crazy, innit? If they DO have proof, then what’s to lose by showing it? It’s not as if it’ll compromise the US intelligence network within Iraq — there ain’t one — or surprise Saddam.

    Either he’s doing it for Daddy, or to get everything nice and toasty ready for the next election. Can’t do that too late in the cycle, so best get going now.

    I find the reports that the US is preparing to renounce its ‘no first use of nukes’ policy more than a bit disturbing. Not as disturbingl, mind, as the theory in Salon that the actions and policy of the Bush administration makes most sense if viewed in the light of the eschatological schlock fiction of the Left Behind series of novels.

    Ah well. Anyone want a share option?


  2. andrewb says:

    It’s not a matter of proof: we knew perfectly well that Russia (like Pakistan, like Israel) had weapons of mass destruciton, and still does.

    It’s the assumption that Saddam is prepared to use such weapons on countries that can retaliate massively that looks dodgy to me.

    I also don’t understand the popular American belief that anyone who shrinks from war is wrongly afraid of it. I am afraid of it, of course, but I can’t see why the Americans aren’t. If this war is actually being fought because Saddam has “unconventional” weapons; and if the plan is to put him in a position where he has nothing to lose by using them, why are the soldiers not afraid?

    Perhaps they have been assured that if he does drop biological scuds on Israel, the Israelis will nuke Baghdad (with American troops there?). But you have to ask whether that will function as a deterrent, and whether the death of a milllion or so civilians on either side will have a confidence-building effect.

    I do think that American attitudes to Israel probably are more influenced by the Christian loonies than by the “Jewish lobby”. I put the phrase in quotes because I know perfectly well two jews have three opinions.

    Policies are perhaps a different matter to attitudes; and there, the well-directed use of money serves to concentrate the minds of politicians wonderfully well. But if Americans were not already receptive to the idea that world history is about the chosen people (as we also believed in the days of our empire) then the buttons would not be there for the zionist lobby to push.

    But it does make me wonder what the point of long-term thinking is.

  3. Louise says:

    I agree with Andrew that the Yanks are heavily influenced by the evangelical loonies for Israel lobby.

    I didn’t believe that these people existed until I started encountering them on discussion boards and it became clear there were quite a few of those wingnuts around. (You even get this with some of the more barking evangelicals over here.)

    But I also read, I think on Metafilter, some sort of conspiracy theory that the idea is to grab Iraq start turning out millions of barrels of cheap oil and undermine Saudi by doing so.

    I think that’s a bit far-fetched but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more to do with the price of oil somehow than with Saddam’s alleged threat to the US.


    Ps. Hooray! I’m allowed to say things like ‘loony evangelical’ here! I can’t do that when I’m politely moderating religious bulletin boards.

    Nyaah! Fundamentalist loonies! Pbffffffft!

    Sorry. How much shall I put in your swear box?

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