Reese: Truth Is The Best Argument
By Charley Reese
I don't think President Bush will succeed in persuading America to go to war with Iraq until he and his minions start telling the truth. There might be sound reasons for making war, but the Bush administration is keeping them secret, if they exist at all.
Vice President Dick Cheney said the other day in his war-call speech that Iraq represents a mortal threat to the United States. This is an example of falsehoods being peddled.
Think for yourself. Iraq is a small, Third World country of 20 million people. Its economy has been wrecked by 10 years of sanctions. It has a small, practically worthless air force, no intercontinental missiles and no nuclear warheads. It might have some quantities of chemical or biological weapons, but no means of delivering them and certainly not enough of them to wipe out the United States.
Just exactly what could Saddam Hussein do to the United States? Not much. That might be why the CIA says that it has no evidence of Iraqi involvement with terrorism for the past 10 years. It might be why for the past 10 years, Iraq has not attacked anyone. It might be why Saddam's neighbors contradict George Bush and say they don't feel threatened or menaced by Iraq.
And don't forget that while Saddam was not attacking anyone, we were attacking and making war on two nations — Yugoslavia and Afghanistan — not to mention periodically bombing Iraq. The facts show that the United States is a greater threat to its global neighbors than Iraq is to its regional neighbors.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the administration's worst-case scenario comes true. Somehow an impoverished and embargoed Iraq acquires two or three primitive nuclear warheads. Somehow Iraq manages to smuggle them into the United States. So, there are three nuclear explosions.
Those would certainly knock the Sept. 11 attack off the news agenda, but they would not come near to destroying the United States, which is, after all, a nation of 270 million people and about 3 million square miles. They would, however, assure the sudden disappearance of a nation called Iraq.
Knowledgeable people in Europe, Asia and the Middle East do not see Iraq as a threat, much less a mortal peril, to anybody. After all, at the height of its power, Iraq failed to defeat Iran and was easily kicked out of Kuwait. Comparisons between Saddam and Hitler are just stupid.
If the Bush administration wishes to persuade the American people to support a war, it should stop insulting their intelligence. The administration should answer this basic question: If deterrence worked on the Soviet Union, which had tens of thousands of nuclear warheads and the means of delivering them, not to mention hundreds of thousands of chemical and biological materials, why will deterrence not work on Iraq, a little country laughably weak in comparison with most of its neighbors, let alone the United States?
Mr. Bush's obsession with Saddam Hussein reeks of mental imbalance or at least some secret explanation for his otherwise irrational fixation on an aging dictator lacking the power to cause any serious harm to the United States.
Mortal threat my foot.
© 2002 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.