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Jewish World Review March 5, 2003 / 1 Adar II, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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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 government.

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 U.S. invasion.

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 problem.

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 arsenal.

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 moment.

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.


03/03/03: Europe's triangulators: Chirac and Blair
02/27/03: Invasion? More like a coup
02/21/03: The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
02/19/03: Old Europe's last hurrah
02/14/03: Corzine throws down gauntlet on Wall St. fraud
02/12/03: An exile deal for Saddam
02/07/03: The Dems give up the House
02/05/03: France: Saddam's ally
02/03/03: War critics will suffer
02/30/03: Even by Clinton standards, it's sheer chutzpah
01/24/03: Rebirth of the balanced budget Republican
01/22/03: Next to Bubba, Dubya's got it good
01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris