Removing Saddam would have been very easy after Kuwait was freed, as the US government knew well: ground Iraqi aircraft, prevent the army from entering Kurdish-liberated land. No need to go to Bagdad. The Iraqi army, not needed any more for occupying a neighbouring people, would have crumbled, and with it the dictatorship. Still now: if the area with oil around Kirkuk, stolen from the Kurds, were restored to them, Saddam would go.
But this is the last thing the US will do. If there were an attack on Iraq, would the US occupy Kurdish land, prevent autonomy, even stop people from returning? There will be no attack at all; the threat of war serves to expand military forces in Saudi-Arabia and other countries, to further establish a global military structure, to make other initiatives and alliances less likely, to divide Europe. The US needs Saddam to keep the Saudis scared.
In ’91 it had been planned beforehand that the Kurds would rise, then to be let down, gambling that Europe would not act. I first thought this when I heard mr. Bush sr. say ‘territorial integrity’ and ‘civil war going on for ages’ as arguments for not protecting the Kurds. Make Saddam think he can take Kuwait (‘no opinion on your conflict with Kuwait’), throw him out (and lead a military operation, paid by others), destroy connections to the north, incite ‘the Iraqi people’ to revolt.
Europe would have been united by an initiative to recognize and protect the Kurds, just when Russia had given up occupying neighbours. Instead, it became accomplice to murder, thereby divided between and within states. Old-fashioned territorial imperialism was rehabilitated ‘within existing borders’, so China could go on considering it normal to occupy Tibet and east-Turkestan, and remain a relatively backward dictatorship. Secretary of state Baker said in Belgrade: ‘keep Yugoslavia whole’ (=Serbian domination), which started the shooting there, shifting attention from the Middle East. Then: ‘territorial integrity of former Yugoslav republics’, Croats and Bosniaks want Serb-majority areas, etc. Support the Taliban who want to conquer Afghanistan.
Very smart of American policymakers, this long-term geopsychology, except it gives only a relative advantage. Or maybe they don’t mind having unfriendly relations with the rest of the world, murder, refugees, environmental destruction, fewer holiday destinations, unnecessary military spending, terrorism from people mad about American bases in Saudi-Arabia, homeland controls.
So, USA: convince Turkey to recognize the Kurds, free Kirkuk, withdraw from Arabia. That simple. Could mr. Gore or mr. Clinton say something about it?