Saddam Must Go
Ken Adelman, writing for the editorial page of the essential Wall Street Journal, makes the case today for deposing Saddam Hussein ... now:
WASHINGTON--Now that Vice President Cheney has made it clear that the Bush administration is preparing the groundwork for the liberation of Iraq, it is time to take the case to America's allies. It should be an easy one to make.
Right now, there is an important gap between how Americans and Europeans perceive the risks from abroad: America was attacked on Sept. 11. Europe was not. And America would be attacked in another 9/11, especially one where weapons of mass destruction were used. Again, Europe most probably would not.
Despite this risk gap, our European allies nonetheless have a very real stake in how we now proceed. The world order from which they benefit is at risk, something that European voters instinctively understand. This is why they sympathized with the U.S. after it was hit. It's also why it's important to make the case now.
A U.S. attack on Iraq and Saddam Hussein will already garner solid support in key quarters. The Iraqi people will be cheering from the rooftops, as they did at the opening of the Gulf War in 1991, and dancing in the streets of Baghdad, as the liberated public in Kabul did months ago.
Governments in Britain, Turkey, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar and a surprising number of others will be solidly in our camp. So, there's no risk of "America going it alone," as the media likes to hype. But our support won't be limited to that, once President Bush lays out the case for going after Saddam with as much conviction and logic as he did for demolishing al Qaeda's cells in Afghanistan a year ago.
Indeed, the relative strength of the case against Iraq is greater than that marshaled against al Qaeda. A terrorist network like al Qaeda is horrible, but a terrorist nation like Iraq is even worse. It has the economic, scientific and military assets of a state--a far more daunting prospect than the piecemeal assets of a private group.
Terrorist states can thrive without terrorist networks. But terrorist networks can barely exist without terrorist states. They must reside somewhere, and have real trouble operating if being hunted down furiously--like Osama bin Laden now (if he's still alive). And they must rely upon sophisticated institutions to move their money and agents around the globe.
Unlike bin Laden, who slithered around Afghani caves, Saddam slithers around a state capital. He has his hands on billions of dollars in state oil receipts, hundreds of thousands of troops, scores of scientific laboratories and myriad manufacturing plants cranking out weapons of mass destruction.
Our moral imperative for ousting Saddam is powerful. With a whole nation of victims, he oppresses more people on a daily basis than bin Laden will in the course of his lifetime. We just need to get this idea through to Europeans, with their history of realpolitik. In a recent debate on the BBC, a former British permanent undersecretary at the Ministry of Defense, Sir Michael Quinlan, even argued that Saddam's regime provides "a certain stability."
Saddam, like bin Laden, is clearly an international terrorist. He was involved in the unsuccessful plan to knock over the World Trade Center in 1993. He ordered his goons to assassinate the first President Bush later that year. And he now encourages suicide bombers in Palestine by bankrolling their families. For years, Saddam provided a safe haven for that godfather of terrorism, Abu Nidal, who was expelled by Moammar Gadhafi for being too vicious and radical (if you can imagine).
While the evidence connecting Saddam to Sept. 11 is less of a smoking gun, it remains significant. Ringleader Mohamed Atta made the 7,000 mile round trip to Prague a few months before Sept. 11. There, he met a top officer of Iraqi intelligence, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani. Doubts the American press raised about this meeting were contradicted by those in the know. A month after the attacks, Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross shocked the world by saying: "We can confirm now that during his trip to the Czech Republic" in April 2001, "he did have a contact with" Saddam's key intelligence agent.
The prime argument for demolishing Saddam rests not so much on the past attacks as on a future one. Rather than come after America directly, Saddam could covertly hand off chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons to any number of terrorist groups. Their attack with his weapons of mass destruction would make last year's attacks pale in comparison.
We can't solve this problem by reinstating U.N. inspections, as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw advocated Thursday on BBC radio. Contrary to international law and clear U.N. resolutions, Saddam has barred inspectors for four years running. Even if he were to acquiesce, they would do little good. His chief nuclear engineer, Khidhir Hamza, identified more than 400 sites in Saddam's nuclear-weapons program--not counting those making chemical and biological agents.
In his book "Saddam's Bombmaker," Mr. Hamza describes how Saddam--after Israel obliterated his Osirak nuclear plant in June 1981--decided not to put all Iraq's nuclear assets in one basket. Iraqi uranium enrichment facilities were spread around--some behind farmhouse façades, some disguised to look like schools or warehouses. International inspections would need a veritable army to cover this expansive covert program.
Every day Mr. Bush holds off liberating Iraq is another day endangering America. Posing as a "patient man," he risks a catastrophic attack. Should that attack occur and be traced back to an Iraqi WMD facility, his presidency would be relegated to the ash heap of history.
Why risk that? Why risk us? The case is compelling--at least to anyone open to reason and logic.
Mr. Adelman was assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977, and U.N. ambassador and arms-control director under President Reagan. He is currently on the Defense Policy Board, and co-host of TechCentralStation.com.