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The Iraq Policy Crisis

Naveen Sunkavally

For seven years, the United States has been testing the proposition that Saddam Hussein has a heart. Now, more than ever, it is clear he doesn't.

A man with heart would not let his people starve under the effects of crippling economic sanctions in order to wage a petty personal battle for power in the Middle East. He would not invest $120 billion worth of oil in developing biological and chemical weapons at the expense of his starving nation. Had Saddam a heart, he would have, when the sanctions were initially levied, backed down and decided to destroy his weapons stockpile (wherever it is) and stop future testing. Saddam, in short, is a megalomaniac. If his entire nation was annihilated and ripped to shreds, and if he alone survived, he would consider himself victorious.

But if Saddam Hussein is a monster, one who abets a monster is also a monster. For seven years now, the United States has fought a battle with Saddam Hussein over who has less of a heart. It's like a game in which two people vie to see who can bear longer to look at a dying, rotting, disease-ridden body. After a while, one gets used to it.

Economic sanctions against Iraq are poorly targeted. The United States' problem is with Saddam Hussein, a ruthless dictator, not the Iraqi people. Yet, everyday, thousands of Iraqi people perish while Saddam lives dressed in opulence behind palace doors.

That these people may largely support Saddam Hussein and vilify the United States is little reason to go after them. The government of Iraq is a tyranny; dissent is actively suppressed. I remember reading somewhere that, after President Clinton gave his "apology" speech to the nation on Aug. 17, the major headline in Iraq's major newspaper purported that the United States was intentionally planning to hand over power to Al Gore so that he could invade Iraq. In the last ballot for president of Iraq in 1995, 99.96 percent were reported to "vote" for Saddam - I wonder where the .04 percent came from.

An old saying I once heard (or perhaps am making up) went along the lines: "It is a waste to fight a hopeless battle, but a shame to fight those without hope." It is a shame for the United States to fight the Iraqi people. Sometimes, continents away, it's easy to forget that Iraq, or any other name for a country, is actually attached to a body of people, that a country's name represents more than just the leader of that country. Saddam Hussein is not representative of the Iraqi people or any body of people for that matter. The U.S. should see to it that economic sanctions against Iraq are lifted immediately. It is not the solution for its battle against Saddam Hussein.

Then what is the solution? The United States is in a bind. The United States cannot afford to let Saddam develop biological weapons - that would be the worst-case scenario, but somehow the United States must also come up with a solution that will specifically target Saddam with the least civilian casualties and the least possibility for infuriating other Arab countries.

There is little doubt that Saddam is indeed developing chemical weapons. Twice, when United Nations inspectors came close to discovering substantial evidence of biological evidence, Saddam halted inspections. And, thus far, since the start of inspections, inspectors have accounted for the destruction of 38,000 biological weapons and one chemical weapons factory in Iraq.

The ideal solution would be to negotiate with Saddam, but he has given negotiators the run-around for so long that they are no longer tenable. The latest letter from Saddam allowing for inspectors to resume their operations will inevitably turn out to be a sham - some time in the future, Saddam will boot the inspectors from his country. Saddam has hidden his biological weapons from inspectors for so long that there's no reason to believe he can't do so for an indefinitely long time.

The next best solution is a military coup. This is easier said than done. The Central Intelligence Agency has plotted at least four covert operations directly against Saddam Hussein, but all have failed miserably. Military plots, coups, radio propaganda, supporting rebels within Iraq - remarkably enough, helped by the CIA's general incompetence, Saddam has found a way to kill off all opposition leaders and squelch any serious threats.

The only alternative remaining (economic sanctions have obviously failed) for the United States, the choice that should have been made from the beginning, is to go to war. Not air strikes that would temporary weaken Saddam, but full-scale war that would wipe Saddam out from power permanently.

Time is of the essence; the more time Saddam has, the more time he has to develop more weapons. As soon as the next round of brinkmanship begins, the United States should take swift action, march into Baghdad, and depose of Saddam. His entire family (Saddam's sons are rumored to be more ruthless than Saddam himself) should be ousted and thrown out from power. The war should be as quick and efficient as possible, to avoid many civilian casualties.

In the meantime, the United States should have economic sanctions against the Iraqi people immediately lifted. It may seem contradictory that I would advocate lifting sanctions on the one hand but also advocate going to war - which could cause potentially more civilian casualties.

But war is the only solution that Saddam has given the United States. A man bent absolutely on power can only be bent back with a show of power. Sometimes, when stuck between a rock and a hard place, the only way out is with a eight-bit drill and a heavy hand.