Monday, May 20, 2002
John Derbyshire depressingly predicts that we will never go to war against Iraq. He makes a case, unfortunately. We had the chance to fight Iraq late last year. The Atta meetings with Iraqi intelligence in the Czech Republic were the equivalent of the Zimmerman telegram. We didn't need any more excuse to go to war, and we didn't need anyone's permission. Now, we've lost the momentum and surrendered our presumptive right to self-defense. It's very depressing. I don't see how the Administration will find the excuse to go to war against Iraq any time into the indefinite future. Even another attack won't do it, because there won't be any Iraqi fingerprints on it. When the next terrorist strike occurs, and the al-Qaeda operatives responsible came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, what are we going to do? These guys are our allies, purportedly. We'll certainly look silly attacking Iraq in response.
I have no idea what the Administration is planning at this point. The notion of "cooling down" the situation in the Palestinian Authority areas to facilitate an attack on Iraq is ludicrous. I'd like to think the people running our country are smart enough to know that. But maybe not. Maybe this Administration really is so obsessed with control that they can't really manage the messy business of a major war.
The other possibility, of course, is that a direct attack on Iraq was ruled out long ago (presumably that's why the Bushies have been pooh-poohing the Atta-Czech story) in favor of supporting a coup from inside. This is also stupid, because Saddam Hussein has been extremely efficient at killing all of his potential replacements. But I wouldn't surprise me if, say, the CIA thought that was the only "practical" way to "take out" the guy, however impractical it turned out to be in reality.
The funny thing is, if we had started bombing Iraq in earnest in November or so, we'd have allies - Turkey and Britain, anyhow, and we don't really need anyone else - and, more likely than not, there'd have been a successful coup before we ever reached Baghdad.