Jewish World Review March 27, 2002 / 14 Nisan, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The more you watch President Bush maneuver, the more you can't help but develop an admiration for his strategic sophistication and his tactical dexterity.
Bush has managed to flip the old economic sanctions/arms inspection game from one where Iraq holds the cards and the United States scrambles around to one where Bush controls the game and Saddam has to play by U.S. rules.
Obviously, the president and his advisers made the key decision to attack Iraq many months ago. But he realized that while he could proceed without worldwide support, it would be a lot better if he had a global consensus behind him. So, rather than just announce that he was moving into Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, he developed a game plan that was both bold and smart.
First, he let his domestic political base know that he meant business by attacking Iraq as part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union speech. By being so blunt, he bought time with his supporters while he set in motion his strategic gambit.
By lumping Iraq in with Iran and North Korea, he avoided making the condemnation seem the equivalent of a declaration of war, since we're not about to send troops marching up the streets of Tehran or across the border in Korea.
Having put his supporters on hold, he unfolded his plan. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that their goal was not to attack any particular leader (even Mideast guys with mustaches) but to ban weapons of mass destruction and to enforce the U.N. resolutions demanding that Iraq open its borders to international inspection.
Proceeding under the cover of international legality, Bush will insist that the issue be decided and inspections resumed by May, when the sanctions are scheduled to expire.
Enlisting Britain's Tony Blair in his crusade to enforce the U.N. resolutions, Bush will insist on the right of unfettered and unimpeded inspection of Iraq to make the ban on weapons of mass destruction stick.
Facing the threat of invasion to enforce the U.N. mandate, Saddam will backtrack and admit the inspectors, expecting to resume the game of hide and seek that so befuddled Bill Clinton and led to the withdrawal of the inspectors three years ago.
But, instead of Saddam playing Bush, it will be Bush who is playing Saddam. The minute Saddam resumes his old game of telling the arms inspectors they can't visit sites without notice or barring them from certain areas, Bush will immediately issue an ultimatum to Iraq demanding that Saddam either permit unfettered inspections or face invasion.
Saddam will give in, of course, but then (after a suitable interval) again try to restrict the inspectors. But Bush will then move immediately to start military action - and, when Saddam backs down, say "too late." The war will start.
The international community (i.e, the appeasement-oriented Europeans) won't back an invasion of Iraq. But they can't oppose arms inspection. Once Saddam makes clear that he won't really allow inspection, they'll have no choice but to at least keep silent as Bush hangs Saddam by his heels in Baghdad.
The recent revelations of the relationship between Yasser Arafat and Iran, which keeps the Palestinians stocked with weapons, shows the importance of removing Saddam. By linking Iran and Iraq, Bush has implicitly told the Iranian leadership, "You're next."
Faced with Saddam's overthrow, Iran's leaders will no longer feel they can thumb their noses at the world and get away with it.
Clinton's naive characterization of Iran as a quasi-democracy misses the key point about that nation's politics. It is a democracy in the same sense that a student council at a high school is democratic: Candidates run, speeches are made and a governing council is elected, but the principal still runs the school. No matter what the elected government says or does, it is the clerics who are in charge.
When one reads comments like Clinton's about Iran and
sees Bush's moves against Iraq, one thanks the Almighty
that it is Bush who is running the war on terror.
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