Little to say for myself

Thursday, May 29, 2003

A ruthless and dangerous man

Donald Rumsfeld expects us to believe that Saddam must have destroyed his WMD just before the invasion by coalition troops. Let's look at that:
  • if he didn't have them in the first place, then the coalition was wrong to invade
  • if he had them, but destroyed them well before the invasion in response to the pressure from Blix's team, then the coalition was wrong to invade
  • if he had them and didn't destroy them before the invasion, then they would still be around somewhere. We are then faced with the questions: (a) Why didn't he use them in the face of overwhelming enemy ground attack as a last-ditch defence? Was he too decent a chap to do that? If so, what were they for? (b) Why, even with the help of captured Saddam henchmen and scientists who have nothing to lose by full co-operation, can no WMD be found - especially knowing the political imperative to find the smoking gun?
Given these alternatives, it's hardly surprising that Rumsfeld has come up with this convenient new theory. It's the only one that both legitimises the invasion and explains the absence of WMD. The only problem is that it's a ludicrous theory.

Here we have a ruthless and cunning dictator. He has defied the international community by brutally repressing his people whilst developing and manufacturing illegal WMD for over a decade since he was beaten back from his invasion of Kuwait. The imminent threat of overwhelming military action in late 2002 persuades him to allow the UN weapons inspectors back into his country. His stocks of WMD are now under threat of discovery. He understands that if the WMD are found, they will be taken away and destroyed. The downside of this is that he will be branded a liar (shock horror). The upside is that he will then be left in power in Iraq, with his conventional armed forces intact, because once the WMD are gone the UNSCRs are satisfied. Despite this, he manages to succeed in hiding his WMD from the inspectors. The US becomes impatient and rattles its sabre louder and louder, saying that unless the WMD are found and destroyed soon by Blix's team, they will march into Iraq and find and destroy them themselves. Still Saddam holds out, bringing down the inevitable conflagration upon himself.

This is the crux. He obviously desparately needs to hang on to his WMD, otherwise he wouldn't have held out so long, and put his whole dictatorship at risk of overthrow, just to keep them. The alternative (clearly unthinkable to him, for whatever reason) would be dutifully to hand them over and be left alone to continue his domestic program of violence against his own people.

So what does he do? Just at the point when he starts to pay the ultimate price for keeping his WMD, he decides to destroy them. He thereby ensures that
  1. they cannot be used against the invading enemy
  2. they cannot be handed over as a ceasefire bargaining chip to allow him to hang onto power
  3. their destruction in secret means it cannot be used as evidence that he is no longer a threat
In other words, he manages to shoot himself in both feet and the mouth at the same time.

Does that sound like a ruthless and dangerous enemy to you?

posted by Plig | 09:27 |

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Forget the sentimental notion that foreign policy is a struggle between virtue and vice, with virtue bound to win.
Forget the utopian notion that a brave new world without power politics will follow the unconditional surrender of wicked nations.
Forget the crusading notion that any nation, however virtuous and powerful, can have the mission to make the world in its own image.
Remember that diplomacy without power is feeble, and power without diplomacy is destructive and blind.
Remember that no nation's power is without limits, and hence that its policies must respect the power and interests of others.
Hans Morgenthau

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts
Bertrand Russell

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one
Albert Einstein

When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative
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Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man
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I think it would be a good idea
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