There was an interesting comment in the paper today suggesting that the single quickest way to get rid of Saddam is to lift sanctions. Ensure that the Iraqi people are well-fed and healthy and they will be able to target the man that they want to get rid of themselves. A healthy, well-fed population that is angry against an evil dictator is much more likely to succeed in getting rid of him. An Iraq people hungry and grieving the deaths of an estimated 500,000 children over the last 10 years as a result of sanctions imposed from outside are not well-placed to oust an evil dictator.
The lesson from similarly punitive sanctions imposed on Germany after the 1st World War is that those who suffer most - the punter in the street and his or her family - simply rally around their leader - Hitler or Saddam - and against those imposing the punitive sanctions. The sanctions effectively gave rise to Hitler's rise to power rather than the reverse. It's easy to raise anger against those who are apparently withholding food and medicines and garner 'support'. Allowing western trade back into the country will inevitably have a democratising effect just as in the former USSR and Eastern Europe and even China.
Even though Iraq is not a strict religious state, it is likely that in the Muslim World generally the explosion of anger and rage that will follow the onset of war will be on a scale not seen since the Crusades. It's going to be a very unpleasant decade or two coming up as the retaliation begins. With tanks surrounding airports already can you imagine the dampening effect on international commerce and tourism once the war starts? Will you be happy to fly from Knock or Dublin and on through Heathrow? Can those tanks actually protect your flight at take-off and landing? Unlikely that US businessmen or holidaymakers will even want to make the trip. And obviously it's not the so-called WOMD and 180km range scuds launched from Baghdad that they are afraid of. It's a fear of the backlash that will be provoked.
It is so blindingly obvious that the one sure result of bombing Iraq in a so-called "War against Terrorism" is the unleashing of a whole new generation of terrorism. An iron fist approach that will make the Berlin Wall look like a summer camp will be needed to control this new terrorism. The fact that these reprisals will be invoked against the consequences of a war that millions of westerners (never mind the non-western world) obviously see as an unjust war will encourage even more to join the fight back against an "oppressive" western world.
Just as interning the IRA 30 years ago in Northern Ireland succeeded in recruiting a whole generation of terrorists will we look back and ponder this mistake in 30 years time? The escalatory, Israeli-perfected eye-for-an-eye approach to "peace process" too shows the futility of the approach. Stomping hard on people in order to 'control' them merely makes those you are trying to control very angry. How would you feel as a Palestinian following decades of being stomped on - the genocidal camp massacres, demolition of houses, gun-ship attacks, air to ground missile attacks against their Palestinian neighbours in contravention of umpteen UN resolutions? It's simple human nature stupid! The Palestinians have become so angry with their oppressors that they now even feel that it is worthwhile to take their own life if they can succeed in killing some of their enemies at the same time. It is happening too in cases where the provocation is not as obvious to us westerners - the Twin Towers. The twisted mind of Osama is applying the eye-for-an-eye philosophy too - and perhaps in direct revenge for Israeli behaviour towards Palestinians. He is even able to convince some of his pawns to sacrifice themselves in the process. Just contemplate what it will be like when the anger following the Iraq war is harnessed and focussed against the West!
Following the Sep 11 attacks anything is possible but escalation is not the approach to take. Do not 20,000 people that died in Afghanistan balance the books? That was six non-American lives for every one American? At least there was a direct cause and effect in the Afghanistan war. A uniquely awful attack followed up swiftly and even logically by reprisals that killed six times as many people. But where do you stop? And what if the Islamic World is not happy that their people are not as highly valued as Western lives? What if they now kill 120,000 westerners in reprisals on the basis that it is clear to them that a follower of Islam is six times more valuable than an infidel western life? Then 'we' would have to kill three quarters of a million in reprisal and so on - two more cycles and we have reached the sum of all human war deaths so far. Clearly escalation is not a good policy.
Even if the military might is available to control reprisals and 'win' so to speak, by use of the kind of terror tactics that we are supposed to be against. But the fear of even small reprisals will be so great that democracy and freedom and all the things that we in the West are supposed to value will have been thrown away with the bath-water. Already it seems that daily "colour-coded" terror alerts are destroying peace of mind and frightening people to an alarming degree. "One, two, three what are we fighting for?" as Country Joe MacDonald put it?
Q. When is a UN resolution not a UN resolution to be enforced in order that the UN should not become irrelevant?
A. When it is one of the 60+ resolutions that Israel has already ignored!