What was the point?
By Bill Hengst
On the evening of February 16th, five command and control targets, mostly radar facilities, were attacked by a surgical air strike force of 24 U.S. and British aircraft. The entire strike force itself contained more than 50 aircraft, including support craft. They departed from bases in the Persian Gulf, and the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Harry Truman, using long range optically controlled weapons that can be fired from up to 40 miles away. The sortie itself was devastatingly successful, decimating the intended targets and with only slight collateral damage. Iraq is reporting allegedly, one death and 9 injuries from the air raid. All in all a rousing success, but what was the gain? What was the point? And most importantly what was the policy behind the bombing?
Since Desert Storm in 1991, the policy apparently has been one of containment. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth plan of action, which obviously has not been working. The emphasis has been on UN sanctions, which the embattled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein privately has laughed off as of no consequence, while publicly using them as a propaganda tool to sway many nations to his side in the public opinion arena. As proof of this consider the following:
France has publicly called the bombing illegal. Russia has expressed outrage at the bombing, and quite publicly ignores UN sanctions, actually preferring to do business with Iraq. Moderate Arab states see the UN sanctions as the starvation of regular Iraqis, and no longer uphold the embargo. Egypt has restored full diplomatic relations with Iraq.The UN weapons inspections are long gone. China is actually aiding Iraq in their anti-aircraft artillery, radar and overall defenses. In fact Chinese military and civilian personnel actually oversaw some of the installation of fiber optic lines which were the main target in the bombing that night.
Sanctions are obviously not working. A more forceful and longer lasting solution is called for. A permanent solution to the problem of Saddam Hussein.
Three years ago an open letter from the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, which called for the U.S. to recognize the exiled Iraqi National Congress as the rightful leader of Iraq, was presented to President Bill Clinton. The administration chose to stay the course and continue with UN sanctions, and occasional air attacks whenever the situation in Iraq was so outrageous it seemed warranted.
The committee further went on to recommend that the U.S. assist the I.N.C. by launching "a systematic air campaign against the pillars of Saddam's power", and positioning "U.S. ground-force equipment in the region", to back the I.N.C. up. The whole operation would be funded by tapping oil revenues in parts of Iraq that would fall under I.N.C. control.
Essentially the committee called for a new full scale war in the Gulf. An end to what was started in 1991. The Gulf War in 1991 was successful on many levels. It was a major political triumph for the United States and our allies. It set back the clock on Hussein's nuclear strike capability for years. It drew a line in the sand, and proclaimed to the world that the United States will not allow tyranny, and despotism under any circumstance. But where it fell short was the ouster of Hussein. The one objective that was not realized, perhaps the most important objective, was the removal from power of Saddam Hussein.
So here we are three years later, a new administration, a new millennium and still like a burr under our saddle the shadow of Saddam Hussein looms large on the horizon. However, several key members from the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, are now also key members in Bush cabinet. Case in point: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his designated deputy Paul Wolfowitz, and from the State Department, Richard Armitage. These men sat on the committee, drafted the proposal to Clinton, and are still strong supporters of the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
Perhaps Bush will accomplish what his father couldn't or wouldn't. Perhaps the new policy will encompass more than just sanctions. Perhaps the new administration will break the shackles of UN control of U.S. forces and finish the job that was started in 1991.
One thing is for sure, Iraq's nuclear clock is ticking, granted it was wound back, but it is still ticking. Something must be done soon, or else we may realize it is too late. If Hussein had the capability to wipe the U.S. off the face of the planet, to annihilate the United States, there would be no debate, no discussion of sanctions, no UN restrictions, no second guessing. There would be only mass destruction of biblical proportions!
Think about that for awhile, and then tell me that sanctions are working.
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