Jewish World Review March 5, 2003 / 1 Adar II, 5763
Domino theory II:
Toppling Mideast despots
Remember the domino theory? It
posited that if Vietnam fell, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and
Singapore would be next. Then the Philippines and
Indonesia. Soon we'd be fighting in San Francisco.
It was wrong. Vietnam fell . . . and nothing happened. Of
course, we'll never know what would've happened if the
United States hadn't intervened - perhaps the dominoes
would have fallen.
In any case, now the domino theory is back in a new
version - and it may well work. Bush is right that if Saddam
falls in Iraq and 200,000 American troops occupy the
country, the ripples will be felt throughout the Middle East.
In Iran, where the student strike of last year showed the
strength of the opposition and the timidity of the clerical
government in the face of determined democrats, the
ayatollah's grip on power may be weakened.
Until now, 70 percent of the Iranian population has
contented itself with voting for the phony reform allowed by
the clerics. The secular presidency in Teheran resembles
nothing so much as a high-school student government. Like
the kids, Iranians elect their leaders but like the principal,
the clerics still rule. Now there is a real chance to harness
the forces of demographic change, a clear majority of the
nation, and force an end to terrorist and repressive
Syria, long a handmaiden of terrorism, will feel the heat of
U.S. military action next door and will likely curtail its
support of terror along Israel's northern border and will cut
back its financing of terror worldwide. In Damascus, they
know that they could be next.
You don't need a weatherman to know which way the
wind is blowing. You have Saudi Arabia. Always sensitive
to global power shifts, the royal family will get the message
from a robust U.S. presence in Iraq and will have to cut
back its financial support of terrorism. Cut off, Yemen will
have to come around as well.
With Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia trimming their gifts to the
100 neediest terrorists, the PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah
will have to cut back their operations as well.
But the greatest change may be in Korea. The North
cannot ignore the military precision and effectiveness with
which we will likely topple Saddam from power. No nation
appreciates power more than North Korea and no country
is more sensitive to the possibility of a rapid and successful
All this reinforces the key point about Iraq. If U.N.
inspections, backed by the threat of U.S. force, do work to
disarm Saddam and we leave him in power, we will have
accomplished almost nothing. We will have postponed a
crisis for a few years. But we will not have solved the
After all, if U.N. inspections make any progress at all, it is
not because of their persistence but due to the presence of
200,000 troops in Kuwait poised to attack. We cannot
keep those troops there, on full alert, for many more
months. The moment they are gone, Saddam will reverse
field, as he has done before, and begin to rebuild his
To strike at terrorism throughout the Middle East, to oust
Saddam, to give Israel a good chance of survival, and to
cut back the support of terror everywhere, we must
destroy Saddam, not just force him to disarm for the
We are playing for big stakes and have a president with the
clear strategic vision to appreciate it. By toppling Saddam's
regime, we send a message of democracy throughout the
Middle East. We crack a center of terrorist funding.
Why didn't the domino theory hold in Southeast Asia?
Each nation was different, with varying levels of internal
ballast. And the North Vietnam Communists were a
nationalist challenge before they were an ideological one.
But in the Middle East, all regimes are subject to the same
forces. They are all unpopular, lack a mandate from their
people and depend on arms to stay in power. A robust
American military presence sends them a message: You
could be next. The next domino.
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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