July 15, 2003
Saddam insane? Maybe not...

My response to today's Stratfor Weekly by Dr. George Friedman, which you can sign up to receive (it's free) at their website.
You wrote:

> Put
> simply, if he really didn't have WMD of any sort, then Hussein's
> behavior from November to March 2003 could only be described as
> bizarre and self-destructive. Even if he thought that the United
> States would attack regardless of whether he had WMD, Hussein had
> every reason to disprove the allegations if he could in order to
> complicate the diplomatic and domestic difficulties of the U.S.
> administration. Either Hussein was insane or he had weapons of
> mass destruction.
> It is equally difficult to believe
> that he would have destroyed them without at least inviting
> former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix to the party. What
> could Hussein possibly gain from destroying them in secret? It
> makes no sense. Why did he behave as he did if he had no weapons?
> We find it impossible to believe that Hussein once had WMD but
> destroyed them in secret.

I have some difficulty understanding why you find the scenario you've outlined "impossible to believe," since I've believed that something like this was in progress well before the war started! I'm also not sure what it means to be "self-destructive" when one's destruction is already assured and not under one's control at all.

Far from being insane - which, unfortunately, tends to be the way Americans cast foreign adversaries who do things that are hard to understand and violate all expectations - this would be the proverbial sane response to an insane situation. If Saddam reached the conclusion at some point after 9/11 - accurately, and in agreement with your assessment way back in early 2002 (was he reading your analysis?) - that the U.S. and possibly others are coming for him, eventually, no matter what he does, he may have decided that the only option left is to make the U.S. pay, through loss of face and credibility, at some point in the future, by making certain that every trace of WMD was removed before Iraq was invaded. The rationale given for the war never materializes in reality, thus complicating "the diplomatic and domestic difficulties of the U.S. administration" on a scale dwarfing any such complications that may have occurred had Iraq not been invaded. As far as Saddam is concerned, he's going to get invaded no matter what and face an uncertain if not unlikely future, so he's going to pay the cost; so why wouldn't he do the best he can to maximize the long-term diplomatic and domestic damage to the U.S. and Britain? He knows that if he hung onto his WMD and used them on Western (or, for that matter, any) targets there would be massive, easily justified retaliation; by making the WMD disappear almost anyone can later cast the invasion as unjustified, particularly when it finally comes as mostly a unilateral U.S. action justified primarily by the assumed existence of WMD.

I agree with you that the U.S. would have sought to invade Iraq no matter what. The problem is that this administration is, in my opinion, simply unable to communicate to pretty much everyone exactly why that should be so, with a rationale that would stick no matter what happens next, and is committed to going it alone and not caring what the rest of the world thinks in a situation where the world's support may have made the difference between ongoing quagmire and some degree of success. Tying the justification to physical evidence that is not in hand before invading leaves open the possibility that the physical evidence would be removed just to spite and discredit the invader. Watching Colin Powell before the Security Council, playing those intercepts, I got the distinct impression that the administration was walking into a trap of some kind that would lead to exactly the kind of finger-pointing we're seeing today.

The original essay that I wrote on this matter on March 21 is at

Mike Doughney

Posted by Mike Doughney at July 15, 2003 04:13 AM | TrackBack

I find it hard to beleive that Dr. George Friedman is even a master at politics, this simple assumption gose right into what you said in the first sentence, because the Buddhists sit on the floor and meditate all day does not mean they are simply sitting around doing nothing, its scientifically proven if not known before it that these foreign activities have at least part of the effect of what they say.

Saddam Hussein is not a madman, U.S. had been looking for him for years unable to kill nor capture him, why would they think they have him now? It may just be part of Saddam Hussein's master vengeance plan for U.S. and Israel crushing him in the Gulf war that all the captured officials would say that the clone hiding in the spider hole was the real Saddam and hes just running off with Osama Bin Laden causing some sort of mischief among Israelis.

The United State's dismissal of most foreign practices and beliefs may one day be their downfall, perhaps Santa Claus will come down from the moon and put anthrax in the presents he delivers >< not likely, but you know me, im an American.

<('.')< <('.')< <('.')> <('.')> >('.')> >('.')>

Posted by: Nicholas Heaton on December 23, 2003 10:23 AM
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