The Tom & Jerry Game: US Assault Against Iraq [Archives:1998/05/Viewpoint]

February 2 1998

I have chosen to write this week’s editorial about something not purely internal to Yemen – the American military build-up in a new offensive against Saddam’s Iraq. Let me state some facts, as I see them:

1) The US cannot dislodge Saddam, whatever it does, short of full occupation of Iraq. Full occupation the US cannot do,  even if it tries. The cost to itself will be unbearable, not speaking about international dismay. So far, the US has had the upper hand in the war simply because it has engaged in distance-fighting.

2) After seven years of near-total isolation, Saddam is very much alive. The sanctions are just not working. Even worse,   they are hurting the wrong people. Ironically, they are strengthening Saddam’s hand vis-a-vis his people, the only party that can actually dislodge him.

3) The US administration, notably the CIA, have spent lots of money to put away Saddam. They spent money to prop up the Kurdish minority as well as the Iraqi opposition in exile. End result, not much progress.

4) The UN-scam is clearly not a neutral entity. It has gone well beyond its original mandate, it has no deadline to finish  the job, and it has moved from a technical team to become a political animal. Let me use two examples. Mr. Butler last week chose Tel Aviv as a city that can be obliterated by Saddam’s alleged biological arsenal, a choice clearly made to excite the West against Saddam. Mr. Butler travels from place to drum up support for the US position. You would think the US administration pays his salary?

I don’t have much love for Saddam. But this Tom and Jerry game is increasingly tilting in favor of Jerry.

The declared objective of the new offensive is to do as much damage to Iraq as possible. The cost of causing the damage is actually much more than the damage that is being done. Iraq has developed a high expertise in swift dismantling of its most valuable equipment and machines, while bracing for the attack. These are then re-assembled just as swiftly. Most of the damage is done to buildings, which are a source of employment during the reconstruction phase. Today, Iraq boasts more buildings, roads, etc., than ever before.

Unless the US war machine can knock out Saddam and create a leadership vacuum in Iraq, the new military offensive is yet another part in a frustrating sequel. Can the US in the forthcoming military operation get Saddam? That would be like asking would Tom ever put away Jerry.

Meanwhile, the regional and international climate is gradually changing. Egypt has now taken an anti-aggression position. The Gulf States are trying to distance themselves from the present and any future US actions. Many countries worldwide, including some members of the UN Security Council, are dragged into “lining up’ behind the US position, as it is becoming more and  more difficult for the US to convince them. These developments have made the US attitude more single-minded.

By: Pro. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf  Editor-in-Chief and Publisher