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Don't disappoint Saddam

Saddam Hussein is a very unusual character. He seems to want the United States to bomb him. I think that, in the interest of politeness, we should oblige him, and, once and for all, free the Iraqi people, the Kurds, the Shiites, the Israelis and all the other peoples from Saddam's grasp, to live in peace and freedom.

Last spring, the US-led coalition liberated Kuwait and all that. In the months since then, Saddam has crushed independence and democratic movements, killed thousands, tried to build nuclear weapons, finished construction of a super-gun (whose sole purpose is to shower Israel with nerve-gas shells), imprisoned UN observers who were trying to legally investigate Saddam's nuclear program and become a general nuisance to humanity.

A few months ago, Iraqi troops even shot at some unarmed UN nuclear weapons inspectors. When the United States protested, Saddam said that his troops weren't firing at the UN folks, they were firing near them.

For months, Saddam has danced around the UN sanctions which order him to reveal his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons technology. He's trying to get away with just enough to keep from getting bombed. Let's show him that it won't work.

For some reason -- fear that he'll be scoffed at as a fool, or that he will endanger chances for Mideast peace, President George Bush has done nothing more than threaten military action.

This week, after months of empty threatening, Bush announced that US aircraft would escort UN observers into Iraq to carry out their investigations. This measure is a good start, but it is inadequate.

If US forces escort UN investigators into Iraq, the chances for a US-Iraqi confrontation are great, and in such a confrontation loss of life would be likely. US helicopters and escort aircraft would have to fly into the heart of Saddam's secret military machine, and any kind of slip-up or accidental firefight could cost the lives of US servicemen and UN experts.

The United States has the international justification to launch a strike against Saddam, and should have launched one months ago, after the first UN official was denied access to information on Iraq's nuclear program. US threats are now as empty as they ever were.

No allied soldiers or Iraqi civilians need be killed in a punitive strike. Cruise missiles, launched from submarines and surface ships, could excise Saddam's nuclear capability, his biological weapons plants, airfields, Republican Guard bases and other military targets. Even if a some military capability does escape unhurt, Saddam, if he survives, will get the message. Perhaps, after some pounding, his army won't have the eagerness or capability to crush minority groups.

Before Bush goes to the Mideast peace conference table, perhaps he should remember a few other buried remnants from the gulf war: that Syria's official reason for sending troops to the gulf last year was to prevent American forces from attacking Iraq, and that the Jordanians and the Palestine Liberation Organization sang Saddam's praises as Scuds rained down.

Peace is good, but a bad peace -- an unjust peace -- is worse. When Bush enters into negotiations, he should remember who his friends are.


Matthew H. Hersch, a sophomore in the Department of Physics, is an opinion editor of The Tech.

This might need to be altered tomorrow, depending on the global situation. - Matt