Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2003 / 10 Adar I, 5763
An exile deal for Saddam
If Saddam were to leave Iraq with
200,000 U.S. troops breathing down his neck, many Iraqi
and American lives might be spared. It is an outcome
devoutly to be wished, whether you are for or against the
Displacing Saddam is, of course, only the beginning of what
we must seek in Iraq. The United States must occupy the
country with its massive armed force and scour the land for
weapons of mass destruction, labs, atomic scientists and
the rest of the apparatus Saddam has used to terrify the
world. Then we must gradually yield to an international
peacekeeping force that will oversee Iraq's transition to
All this can be done peacefully once Saddam is on his way
But will Saddam quit? It's not that simple anymore. At The
Hague waits an international court able, eager and willing to
put him on trial for crimes against humanity and to usher
him to the prison cell he so richly deserves - right next to
Which brings up a key question: Should we offer Saddam a
plea bargain - exile in return for no prosecution?
It would save many, many lives and avoid subjecting U.S.
troops to the hazards of chemical or biological attack once
the shooting starts. We can't be confident that our
pre-emptive bombing and threats to prosecute enemy
commanders who use such weapons will prevent their use.
We really don't know if our countermeasures will work
because we can't be sure what goodies Saddam has hidden
in his vaults.
The equipment our troops carry and wear has, of course,
never been tested against a real biological or chemical
attack. (Even after the Gulf War, many argue that we
experienced tens of thousands of delayed casualties in
disease or altered genetics as a result of weapons that may
have been used without our knowledge.)
Yet: If ever anyone deserved to be tried and imprisoned for
war crimes, it is Saddam - who has used poison gas and
biological weapons as well as torture and secret police to
keep power. If we let him go, won't it render enforcement
of human-rights laws impotent? Will the good that has been
done by arresting Pinochet and Milosovec be undone by
the example of a Saddam Hussein going free?
And isn't part of the point of invading Iraq to deter other
rogue states from following its path? How do we send that
message and let Saddam go free? Can the world handle
both Saddam and Osama bin Laden hiding out in adjoining
It's a tough question. I think I come down on the side of
those who back a plea bargain. I'm worried about our
troops and the risks they will face on the other side of the
But the time for this debate is now, not after the war is
over. We should have discussed whether to leave Saddam
in power before the last Gulf War started. Now it's time to
figure out whether to lock him up or let him go if he tries to
surrender before the shooting starts.
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Dick Morris