Russel Martin, author of Picasso’s War: The Destruction of Guernica and The Masterpiece That Changed the World notes that in 1936 Hitler’s* Luftwaffe* bombed the Spanish town of Guernica, an terrorist attack that shocked the world. Picasso’s masterpiece was covered up when the UN was discussing plans to attack Iraq. And why not? The U.S. is planning just such an attack on Baghdad. U.S. Defense planners call this kind of attack “shock and awe”. Hitler called Blitzkrieg.
Mr. Martin says that Bush may have considered the effect that the attack on Guernica had on the Spanish people; but if so, he misses the point. A retaliatory attack on Germany would have been made in response to the attack on Spain and not on the possibility that he might do so. Mr. Russel continues that the international community would not have sanctioned an attack on Germany had the German forces remained within their borders instead of bombing Guernica. “Yes,” he says, “the Nazis were ammassing sophisticated weaponry at an alarming pace – precisely the charge that Saddam Hussein stands accused of today. But the decision to go to war before one’s enemies do is the thinking of despots, not statesmen.” He says that “free and just peoples are never the first to strike”. I’ve said the same thing on these boards when I said, “The good guys don’t start wars.”
I know that Saddam is ammassing weapons. I know that he might use them outside of his borders. I know that the world would be a safer place without him. But unless he is attacked, he is not likely to use WMD against us. Attacking him would give him the justification to use them.
Had the Allies stopped Hitler before he left his borders, WWII would likely have been averted. Should Hitler have been taken out before he attacked? Or was it right to leave him alone until he actually did something. Taken to an extreme, should a person be arrested because he might commit a crime? (For example – an absurd one – if a guy has a lot of alcohol in his house and he also has a car, should he be arrested for DUI before he decides to leave the house and causes a hazard to other motorists?)
If we attack Saddam now, we may very well prevent a lot of bloodshed in the Middle East and around the world. But it may also trigger a larger war. If we wait, then Saddam will have nuclear weapons with which he could intimidate his neighbours. And he’d probably use them. (Personal opinion, that. I think he’s mentally unstable.)
So. Should we emulate the tactics of Hitler in the name of peace? Or should we take the moral high ground and risk attack?