Friday, October 18, 2002

In the wake of the revelation of the North Korean nuclear program, the other day, it was a common observation that North Korea now fits the Bush doctrine criteria for a preemptive strike better than Iraq.

But that's not all. It now turns out that they got crucial technical assistance with their nukes by trading some of their own missile technology with Pakistan. Which means that Pakistan is no longer just a nuclear-armed power with a record of supporting fundamentalist Muslim fanatics in Afghanistan and Kashmir. It is now a nuclear-armed power with a record of supporting fundamentalist Muslim fanatics in Afghanistan and Kashmir, which has proliferated nuclear arms to madmen.

But never mind the Pakistanis. They're our ally. It's important to remember at all times that the real threat is from Iraq. And not just from Iraq --- from Saddam Hussein personally. After all, there have been persistent hints from American officials as high as Donald Rumsfeld that a coup from within the existing Iraqi leadership would end the crisis, even though the existing Iraqi leadership consists largely of Saddam's homeboys from Tikrit, who share his background, his outlook, his methods, and presumably his goals.

But again, never mind that --- Saddam personally is worse than any of his subordinates. He used chemical weapons against the Iranians and his own people. Or rather, his subordinates did --- but that must have been Saddam's baleful, personal influence, as they'd never do anything that mean on their own.

Besides, you may not want to worry yourself with that sort of detail anyway. American diplomacy in the region can get a little complicated --- as with the Reagan administration, which sent Donald Rumsfeld to normalize relations with Iraq and promoted international sanctions against Iran --- while at the same time cutting their own illegal covert arms deal with the Iranians. (George H.W. Bush pardoned a number of men involved in the latter scheme, and at least one, John Poindexter, is presently serving in the Pentagon. I wonder if he and Rumsfeld ever compare notes?) So if your mind is not equipped to deal with that level of complexity, you can just focus on one essential thing: Saddam's a bad, bad, bad, bad man. Ask Dubya, or Rummy, or Dick, and they'll tell you, it's all you really need to know...


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