Charles Whalen is statistical mathematian who has lived in Tokyo and New York, where the building he once worked in was destroyed in the WTC attack on September 11th. He is the son of former Ohio Republican Congressman Charles W. Whalen. He and his wife now live in Florida where they are gradually going solar.
This week the Bush bully machine moved into high gear and gained unstoppable momentum. The result was predictable in the U.S.
House of Representatives with its Republican majority. But the Democratically-controlled U.S. Senate just caved in and allowed itself to be steamrolled with barely a whimper of dissent or even any real debate. The Senate quietly acquiesced and followed the House in giving the President carte blanche authority to prosecute a war against Iraq.
And so without having had any genuine debate on the merits and wisdom (or lack thereof) of this military adventure, it is now pretty much a pre-determined and foregone conclusion that we will launch a January invasion into Iraq. The only remaining question, and the only real debate, is whether we will go in with the "light" option of 75,000 troops or the "heavy" option of 375,000+ troops.
It is quite ironic that the "light" option is being pushed by the real war-mongers who are in the driver's seat on this "crusade" (as Bush once called it) – people like the highly influential Richard Perle and Ken Adelman and their protégés in the administration – Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz, none of whom, by the way, have ever led men and women in battle, while on the other hand the "heavy" option, based on the so-called "Powell doctrine" of using overwhelming force, is advocated by people like Generals Powell, Scowcroft, and Schwartzkopf, all of whom have led men and women in battle and seen mates die all around them but who are nonetheless very much in the back seat on this crucial issue.
I would like to point out the fallacy and inconsistency of the war-mongers' reasoning, as it is so stark and obvious, it absolutely amazes me that no one has ever exposed and laid bare their intellectual dishonesty and logical bankruptcy for what it is.
On the one hand, Perle, Adelman, and their brethren in the Bush administration have often expressed the supposed rationale for invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein by claiming that Saddam, his military, and his WMD are so strong, so powerful, and so overwhelming that they represent an imminent threat to Iraq's neighbors, to Israel, and even to us 8,000 miles away.
But then in the very next breath, these same hawks claim that Saddam's military might was so devastated in the Gulf War 11 years ago and that he has never been able to sufficiently rebuild and reconstitute his former military power, and that the equipment, weapons, training, capabilities, and morale of his forces are so low, that in fact it will be a "cake-walk" (as they put it) for us to easily roll right over him with a "light" force of only 75,000 troops.
Well geze, guys, come on, which is it? Is Saddam strong or is he weak? Is he a threat or not a threat? You can't have it both ways. It's either one or the other. So please, give me a break!
Have we Americans and our elected leaders in Congress (who, by the way, are the only national leaders we have that were actually elected by the American people) become so intellectually and analytically weak that we allow these unelected charlatans to pull the wool over us and run circles around us with their inconsistent, bankrupt arguments devoid of all logic? Are we and our Congressional leaders so gullible, timid, and docile that we allow these people to insult our intelligence and hijack our democratic process, which they seek to subvert and subordinate to their own ulterior motives and grand geopolitical schemes?
Furthermore, for people like Perle, Adelman, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz to cry wolf about Saddam's WMD and try to use that as an excuse for invading Iraq is just the absolute height of hypocrisy! Who was it who created this monster? Who was it who gave Saddam his WMD in the first place? Surprise, surprise – it was us! Well, not you and me; actually it was people like Richard Perle, who was at the time one of Wolfowitz's predecessors as Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration.
Back in the early 1980s we actually supplied Saddam with chemical weapons and encouraged him (with a wink and a nod) to use them, which he did, against Iran in his 8-year long war with them. In this way, we deliberately used Saddam as our proxy to carry out our own national vendetta against the Iranians, who of course had disgraced and humiliated us just a few years earlier by overthrowing our puppet, the Shah, seizing our embassy, and holding our diplomats hostage for over a year.
Well, that explains how, why, and where Saddam got his chemical weapons – from us. Therefore it should come as no surprise that he also got his biological weapons from … you guessed it … us! He simply ordered biological agents on the open market from commercial laboratories in the US, including one in Rockville, Maryland, and these transactions were all approved by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.
So if anyone is to blame for having created this rogue monster (who is now claimed to be dangerously out of control), it is us, or rather more specifically, people like Richard Perle and his colleagues, as they are in fact directly responsible for this mess that they say we are now in.
I never cease to be amazed at how time and time again we fail to learn the lessons of our own history and continue over and over again to repeat our past mistakes by stubbornly adhering to that old Machiavellian principle that "the enemy of my enemy must be my friend." We always seem to get into bed with these unsavory tyrants, empower them and create monsters out of them, and then somehow we are always surprised when some years later they "blow back" on us and use our own weapons against us.
This is as true of Saddam Hussein as it is of Osama bin Laden and Manuel Noriega, two other monsters whom we had a hand in creating and empowering. Either directly or indirectly, Osama bin Laden benefited from our funding and training in the late 70s and early-to-mid 80s of the anti-Soviet Afghan Mujahideen, of which he was a leader, and especially from our supplying them with and training them to use anti-aircraft missiles, some of which Al-Qaeda has recently fired (thus far unsuccessfully) from close range at US military aircraft in Saudi Arabia.
In the case of Manuel Noriega, he was of course the CIA-run puppet in Panama whose major drug trafficking our government was willing to tacitly tolerate as long as they felt it was worth the intelligence benefits Noriega was providing on our enemies in the region, such as the Sandinistas and Castro.
As former CIA director, then Vice-President George Bush Sr. was reportedly Noriega's senior "handler" within the top levels of the Reagan administration and had direct knowledge of all of this. But once the Sandinistas were gone and no longer a threat and Noriega's drug trafficking had become so bold and brazen that he was becoming a growing liability to the future political fortunes of George Bush Sr. and the Republican Party, it was time for Noriega to go and thus for a nice, convenient little war to remove him. We got in bed with Noriega and then used him, chewed him up, and spit him out the same way we have done with numerous other two-bit tyrants before and after him.
Castro, Cuba and Weapons of Mass Destruction
Speaking of Castro, right here in our own backyard is one of the world's worst and most dangerous dictators who has a long history of supporting terrorists all over the world, especially in Africa, like for instance that old terrorist Nelson Mandela of the ANC.
And talk about WMD – Fidel Castro is the King of WMD!
Forget about Saddam's chemical and biological weapons; Fidel makes those look like mere bottle rockets. What about nuclear weapons? Here is a man who had nuclear missiles aimed at us from only 90 miles off our shore!
That was 40 years ago, and yet this ruthless dictator (who, by the way, has also tortured and executed his political opponents) is still there "thumbing his nose at us" (to use a rather puerile phrase made popular by our president) and continuing to bruise our sensitive, big American ego.
Therefore, as the world's sole remaining superpower and now, it appears, also as the world's self-appointed policeman whose mission it is to rid the world of all its nasty, brutal dictators and tyrants, don't you think we should start by cleaning up our own backyard first before launching some half-cocked crusade halfway around the world?
And if the mere perception of vague ill-intent towards us is now the critical threshold for using our military to strike out against those who don't happen to like us or rather our policies, then I ask you, who has demonstrated greater ill-intent towards us – Saddam Hussein with perhaps a few small, crude chemical and biological warheads on inaccurate short-range scud missiles aimed at Saudi Arabia and Israel, or Fidel Castro with highly accurate medium-range nuclear missiles aimed at us from only 90 miles off our shore?
If that is the new definition of what constitutes a threat, i.e. perceived ill-intent towards us, then who, I ask, represents the greater threat to us – Saddam or Fidel? Surely it is Fidel.
Thus, if President Bush is trying to use a war with Iraq to score political advantage here at home – which it seems he is indeed trying to do – then all I can say is that he has miscalculated his politics and picked the wrong tyrant to bully.
Most political analysts predict that my state of Florida will again be the pivotal key to winning the presidential election of 2004, just as it was in 2000. I don't know how people in the rest of the country feel about Saddam, but down here in Florida, we don't much care about him one way or the other. The only dictator people down here are concerned with is the one 90 miles south of us – Fidel Castro.
So if Bush really wants to win the 2004 election bad enough to risk and sacrifice the lives of our young American soldiers, as it seems he does, then I suggest that he forget about Saddam Hussein for the time being and first come down here and remove that dictator Fidel Castro. That would absolutely guarantee Bush an easy victory in Florida and an outright win of the presidency in 2004, something which eluded him in 2000. That would give him another 4 years to go after Saddam and then once Saddam is out of the way, to use Iraq as a stepping stone, or "domino" if you will, to launch further military adventures and conquests in the Middle East in pursuit of Perle and company's expansionist dreams of greater US glory and dominance of the region.
In all seriousness though, to be quite honest, our policy towards Cuba over the last 40 years, which I have supported, is the correct model for how to contain and restrain a dangerous tyrant. You box him in, keep him in his cage, keep him on the defensive, and don't give him any room to maneuver.
Since the early 60s, this policy of containment has been successful in neutralizing any further serious threat from the dictator who once had nuclear missiles aimed at us. And if this policy has worked for 40 years for a dictator who once threatened us with nuclear weapons 90 miles off our shore, then why can't it work for a dictator with a few chemical and biological weapons and no serious delivery capability 8,000 miles away?
The answer to that question is that actually we have had the exact same policy of containment, albeit even much more aggressively, towards Saddam Hussein over the last 11 years. This policy of containing and restraining Saddam has been just as equally successful as that same policy towards Castro.
For the last 11 years, Saddam has not set foot outside his borders and has not attacked any of his neighbors. We have successfully boxed him in and kept him in his cage. Our fighter jets have patrolled the northern third and southern third "no fly zones" of Iraq for the last 11 years and dropped bombs on his military's makeshift, third-rate command and control facilities and anti-aircraft batteries and radar on a weekly basis for at least the last 4 years. Our satellites spy on every square foot of Iraq for 12 hours of daylight a day, every single day, 365 days a year. I can't imagine a tighter cage we could have this guy in. He's going nowhere.
I doubt Saddam will live another 30 years, or at least that he won't be in power for another 30 years; but even if he does, so what? We have the ability to keep him in this cage for 40 years, if need be, just as we have kept Castro in his box for 40 years and just as we successfully stood off and outlasted the Soviets for 45 years after World War II until their untenable economic system eventually collapsed of its own weight and bloat.
If we want to continue to be the world's strongest and most successful nation, we must have the wisdom and maturity to be able to understand and take a realistic, sober measure of our own limitations, to be patient, and to be disciplined.
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