Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

I don't think Saddam is deterrable.

Right now he is not deterred. Were he deterred he wouldn't be working feverishly on a nuclear program. He would accept that even having it wouldn't do him any good. He was quiet up until now because he learned a big lesson in the Gulf War. Don't start a war that may involve America unless you have everything in order. He didn't use WMD at the time, yes, because he saw a way out. He could live another day to prepare.

But prepare for what? You have to understand that Saddam sees himself as a semi-mystical being. More so than Hitler and Stalin. Maybe not so much as the Kim's. He has been close to death a number of times, every time he escapes he is sure it is his destiny saving him for his ultimate purpose?

But destiny can only save him for so long. Unlike the Kim's he doesn't think he is immortal. He's nearly 70 and must know that time his time isn't forever. At most he may have another 10 years of relative vigor to complete his purpose.

Saddam understands the history of the Middles East very well. Especially the ancient history of the region. The land he rules is the 'Cradle of Civilization'. He sees himself as the direct spiritual descendent of Hamurabbi, Nebuchadnezzar, Saladin and Suleyman the Magnificent. He has a destiny to meet, he doesn't care about the people of Iraq and doesn't trust his sons to take care of his legacy (they remind me of Feyd Rautha and Rabban, the Baron Harkonnen's nephews. Brutal and good as tools but not very trustworthy behind pop's back). It is HIS destiny not theirs not anyone else's.

But what does he see is his purpose? It is to create a legacy in which his name will never be forgotten. Just like the heroes of Iraq's past (and Islam's when he needs it) he wants to be remembered for thousands of years. To be spoken of in reverent and fearful tones throughout history.

Two times in the past he tried to do this by building an empire. First by defeating Iran and then again by going after Kuwait (with and eye on the whole Gulf Region)(another similarity to Hitler. The invasion of Kuwait was almost exactly reflected in Hitler's invasion of Poland). The first ended in stalemate and the seconded ended in defeat. But, find some of his speeches and read them, he perpetuates the myth that he won both times. He is trying to forcibly create his legacy until the tie is right to finish the story.

And how does the story end? I think right now he sees two possibilities. Both involve a ready to go deliverable nuclear weapons.

The first path could be a third try at empire. His conventional army may be weak but, backed by nuclear, biological and chemical weapons he can make up for that. Under a nuclear umbrella, that with North Koran help could reach all of Europe as well as covering the Gulf, he can dominate and demand the fealty of the entire Persian Gulf. (I am not sure how far reaching his goals are but, I'm sure it would include his old nemesis the Iranians) With control of the Gulf's oil he could then demand the obeisance of Europe and America. He could force an abandonment or destruction of Israel. He may not be a devout Muslim but, he understands how to use it. An empire built on his nuclear weapons would give him a legacy he would find acceptable.

The reality of this situation wouldn't intrude on his visions. His survival to date has reinforced his faith in his destiny. He thinks it can be done and he thinks America and Europe are paper tigers. We may have defeated him but we left him alive. It is twisted but, for him this is victory (on a personal level that is understandable). That he stood up to us once, while unprepared (i.e. no nukes), and survived and was allowed to go on doing whatever he wants while he manages to divide us and use Europeans to do his bidding (whether they are doing it willfully is a debatable point. But doing it they are) reinforces this feeling of destiny. If he follows the prescribed path he will have his Empire and his name will live forever.

The second, and probably scarier, path is holocaust. In the vein of Saladin and Suleyman he sees himself as a tool to bring death to the 'Crusaders'. He is growing a bit long in the tooth to go and build an empire. It could take longer than he has. Especially if his nuclear program takes too long. And, again, it is HIS destiny. Nobody else can be entrusted with HIS divine mission. If he feels time is running out he may see the way to write his name among the stars is as a destroyer of the infidel (again using religion while not being a strict observer, himself). He will bring them to their knees. This path would have to come as he felt his time was near, making the Empire option impossible (Or as a contingency should the first path fail). He would use this weapon, never unleashed on mankind before (the atomic bombs pale in comparison to today's nukes, as we all know) to strike fear and devastation on his enemies (unless he went for spite, he would probably spare Iran in this scenario, hoping that the masses there would revere him). Millions, maybe billions would die. Iraq would be turned into a sea of flame but so would Israel, Europe and (hopefully) America. Those who survived would pass his name down for all time, the Bringer of Destruction, The Archangel of Doom who brought the West to its knees. He knows his destiny is not to die unknown in a bed somewhere. He is completely driven by the knowledge that his Destiny will lead him to greatness.

How do terrorists figure into this? In the first scenario, they would play the role of insurance. He may not have the capability of reaching Britain or America so would have to trust to terrorist agents to pave the way for him to deter the West. By planting WMD in Western cities he could threaten to unleash devastation if they move to stop him as they did in 1991. Or even as a back-up should the West have anti-ballistic missiles. Can't shoot a hand placed WMD out of the air. In the Path of Destruction, terrorists would be useful tools. Again, they would be able to place WMD in places where Saddam's own missiles could not reach or may face getting shot down. Because he doesn't trust anyone, I don't think he would give terrorists anything too devastating until he is prepared. He may be willing to give them some cyanide, sarin, anthrax or whatnot. But, no nukes or smallpox, yet. Too early, and he would like in 1991 be unprepared to follow through.

Under either scenario, millions would die and there would be a very strong possibility that nuclear weapons would be used. Both scenarios depend on Saddam having working nuclear weapons and a delivery system. We have been surprised before at how advanced Saddam's nuclear program was. The next time we are surprised it will be to find out he is a fully nuclear capable threat.

< email | 2/19/2003 02:56:00 PM | link

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