War supporters: exactly what will happen if we don't invade?

This is something that I’ve wondered about for a while, and that I’d like to clarify with this thread. For those who believe that war is the best/only option, what are the consequences of not going into Iraq ASAP? What will Saddam Hussein do with any WMDs that he hasn’t done in the past decade or so? Supply to Al Quida? Use them on Israel? On his own people? Wait 'til he has a massive stockpile and go ape? Pull a North Korea when he has the capability?

And how do these consequences compare to the probable/possible consequences of invading (e.g. possible quagmire, moderate Islam turning against U.S., immediate and heavy increase of chance of terrorist attack against allies and U.S., etc.)?

I’ll be here to listen to any replies. Thanks!

What does “pulling a North Korea” constitute?

The most likely scenarios, IMO:

[li] Use WMD for blackmail. He really needs a nuke for this, but if he gets one, look out. If he invades Kuwait again, are we going to stop him if he threatens to launch a SCUD with a nuke on it at Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Kuwait City? Our recent experience with North Korea suggests that he’d get away with it. But just the threat of this blackmail would send price shocks through the oil economy and cause no end of grief. [/li]
[li] Use weapons of mass destruction against troops in the area if they try to oppose some action of his. The big problem here is that the threat of this will prevent the U.S. from massing troops in the first place. How do you move a carrier group into the Gulf if Saddam can drop a nuke on it? Again, the experience of North Korea tells us what he’s likely to do - threaten a pre-emptive nuclear strike if the U.S. even begins to mobilize forces in the region. That gives him the breathing room to attack his neighbors again.[/li]
[li] Smuggle weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. This one, IMO, is a certainty. A lot of people say he’d never do this because it would mean the end of him if it were tracked back to Iraq. I think this is incredibly naive. Saddam has a history of making severe miscalculations that have almost cost him his regime. His decision to use weapons of mass destruction against Iranian soldiers was incredibly reckless, as was his invasion of Kuwait. People who put their trust in Saddam’s good sense are idiots. [/li][/ul]

Also, if the U.S. backs down now, it may just cement the idea in Saddam’s head that the U.S. is a paper tiger, and encourage him to be even more reckless. Plus, Saddam has great hatred for the United States, and is getting up there in years. At some point, he may decide to make a name for himself by striking a blow against Israel or the United States.

And the other major problem with the status quo is that it can only be maintained at great expense, in dollars, in Middle-East hatred of the U.S. for basing troops in Saudi Arabia, and to the Iraqi people. In any event, the sanctions have been crumbling for a while, and would not have stood up for much longer. Saddam without sanctions is much more dangerous than Saddam in a box.

And if the U.S. military pulls out now after spending maybe 50 billion dollars building up a force there, then the political resistance to building up those forces again in a couple of years if Saddam gets out of hand will be tremendous. Saddam will know that. If he stays in power, I expect him to become even more belligerant.

Finally, If Saddam comes out of this intact, the U.S. will look weak, and this will inflame Islamic terror throughout the world. Saddam is trying to establish a new caliphate centered in Baghdad. If this clown becomes the great leader who kicked the U.S.'s ass and sent them packing, it’ll be a disaster on a PR level. And Saddam is shrewd enough to play that for all its worth. Just as he pays blood money to families of Palestinians who suicide-murder Israelis, he’ll support terror wherever he can get away with it, and funnel money all over the place. That’s just my opinion, but I think it’s a reasonable scenario.

A quick answer is all of the above are possibilities, but I don’t agree that all of your consequences of going to war are even possibilities. I’m especially thinking of the one about losing the moderate support. One of our main problems is that of appearing that we are supporting oppressive regimes, such as that of Saddam. Once we defeat Saddam, those who are being surpressed in other Middle East countries will be given hope and possibly will revolt. In fact, the news item about Saudi Arabia getting us out of their country after we win the war, is based on this premise. The idea is that OBL is just waiting for this opportunity to overthrow the present Saudi leaders. The Saudi leaders therefore won’t want us around to provide OBL with the battle cry of getting rid of the “imperialist demons.”

The idea of it becoming a “quagmire” is not impossible, but that is one of the biggest arguments used before Desert Storm. We are many times as strong as we were then and Saddam’s forces aren’t nearly as strong. You didn’t mention it but we will either set seize to Baghdad or go in at night, when we have the advantage of “night vision”. Saddam does not want his troops in the city, because he doesn’t trust his army. :wink:

I didn’t see Sam Stone’s post until after I’d written mine, but I want to include everything he said in my all of the above.

Saddam is not the only toy store for terrorists. There are plenty of folks out there who would be happy to sell them whatever they want. Hell, if it’s plutonium they’re after, all they have to do is go to the old Soviet Union. Some of the dump sites are completely unguarded. It may not be “weapons grade” but you could make a nice little dirty bomb out of it. If it’s germs you seek, see the same source as above. I saw a photo in * National Geographic * of plague vials stored in a coffee can in a warehouse.

Not to mention the “evil regimes” that probably have sources of their own. The government might not sell it to the terrorists directly, but there’s probably a corrupt offical or two that could be persuaded with a nice fat bribe.

But if it a nuke you must have, as I understand, there are still some warheads from the old Soviet Union that are still unnacounted for.

Why would a terrorist want to shop at Saddam’s store, anyway? As the slogan goes, “The whole world is watching!” Saddam may be a bastard of the first caliber, but he’s not stupid. He knows that the “civilized” world (interperet this as narrowly or broadly as you like) is just waiting for an excuse to kick his ass. He’s not going to be dumb enough to give weapons material to any old terrorist that asks for it. It could be a set-up, or if the terrorist was intercepted before he could carry out his acts, or caught afterward, he may squeal, and that would get Saddam in a world of trouble.

And who says that Saddam would want to part with his “goodies” in the first place? Maybe he’d want to keep them for himself.

Deep down, Saddam knows he’s a piss-ant. He can’t even seriously threaten the world with blackmail, because he knows that even if he carries out his threat, we’ll stomp him into the dust. We’ve got more money, more advanced weaponry, and more well-trained troops. Saddam, as I said before, is not stupid. even for all of his posturing, he knows that when it hits the proverbial fan, he’s toast, and he has no interest in truly provoking us, or any of our allies.

His miscalculations haven’t cost him much of anything. He’s come through just fine each time. I really think the man knows just how much he can get away with, and like a little kid making faces at his brother, he’ll back off right before he really makes problems for himself. I doubt sincerely he’ll repeat the mistakes of the past; maybe he’ll make new ones, but I don’t think he’s dumb enough to try expansion, or using any “fancy” weapons that he’s not supposed to have against his enemies. As I said, he’s under intense scrutiny, and as long as he’s in the world’s eye, I don’t think he’ll misbehave. As soon as our back is turned . . . well, that’s another story. He bears keeping an eye on.

WMD blackmail, basically. I’m not saying that they can get away with it like North Korea can, but I thought I’d at least insert that as a possibility.

I’ve read some of those page-turners myself. I especially like the part where the CIA agent always kills the bad guy right before he presses the button. If it was that easy they would already have them and used them.

It’s about to cost him a major ass whoopin. And most likely the loss of power, his country, and probably his life.

Actually, it is that easy. I take it you did not read the lengthy piece that * National Geograpic * did on this issue? They’re not the only ones that I’ve heard it from. Honestly, if you think that Saddam is the only potential source for biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, you’re very much mistaken.

Perhaps they’re biding their time.

And by the way, I don’t read fiction.

I don’t necessarily share your confidence in this. I doubt highly that Saddam would be killed. Most likely, if anything, he would be put up on war-crimes charges. That’s assuming of course, that we go to war in the first place, also assuming that Saddam does not go underground like Osama, and also assuming that we finish the job like we neglected to do the first time around.

National Geographic??. That ain’t exactly the Mid-East Policy Review.

Well i’m trying to quit getting my international intellegence breifings from NG. They kinda let me down about the Archaeoraptor thing a couple of years back. I lean more towards 20/20 and the Discovery Channel now because of entertainment value.

They must be waiting for us to attack them and give them a reason to use them. Much easier to spend all of the time and effort to train a couple dozen guys to highjack planes and run em into a couple skyskrapers.

“Near certainty”: Hmmfff. There are no certainties here: serial miscalculators are inherently less predictable with regards to the particulars.

At any rate, invading Iraq gives Saddam nothing to lose and increases the probability that Saddam will forward his WMDs to terrorists.

Once Saddam hands the weapons over, he loses control over them. This in and of itself is a deterrent with regards to this scenario.

Miscalculations: How true, however. If Saddam was a rational deviant, he might be deterable. As it is, deterrence is an inferior option to invasion. Alas.

“Smuggle weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.”
This is the silliest of all reasons. First of all there is the threat of retaliation if he is found out or even suspected. I think Saddam knows that he would be suspect no. 1 even without concrete evidence linking him. We can talk all we want about “miscalculation” but it’s pure speculation. Saddam has possesseds bio/chem weapons for more than 20 years and he hasn’t made this particular miscalculation to the best of our knowledge. There is no particular reason to believe he will do so now.

Secondly there is the loss of control involved in passing weapons to terrorists , many of whom hate his regime. It is a big risk which he is unlikely to take unless desperate.

Finally war makes it more likely that Saddam will work with terrorists because he will have nothing to lose. Passing WMD to terrorists is an act of desperation and an invasion will inevitably make the regime desparate. In fact it’s a certainty that if the US invades Saddam will do his best to use his weapons including passing them on to terrorists.

The bottom line:
If the US doesn’t invade there is a possibility that Saddam passes his weapons to terrorists.(and probably a very slim possibility)
If the US invades there is a certainty that Saddam will pass his weapons to terrorists.

Take your pick.

The possibility of Saddam working with terrorists is an argument against war.
As for nukes:
1)there is very little evidence that Saddam is likely to acquire them in the near future. This was by far the weaker part of Powell’s presentation.
2)Nuclear facilities tend to be bulky and are difficult to hide from inspectors. In the last round of inspections most of Iraq’s nuclear facilities were destroyed despite Iraqi obstruction. No one has provided evidence that inspectors won’t manage this again.
3)Even in the worst case if Iraq acquires nukes nuclear blackmail scenarios are implausible especially against other nuclear powers with massive conventional superiority. Pakistan has nukes but hasn’t made any progress in Kashmir by threatening nuclear blackmail. In fact the Kargil war a few years back is a classic counter-example to nuclear blackmail scenario.

No, but if we close his toy store the other stores will think twice about selling their’s. If we back down everyone will know that they have our passive permission to do whatever they want.

Do you remember when Reagan delivered a few missiles to the tent Gaddafi was sleeping in? When it came out that he got away, I thought “Boy will he give us shit now!” Instead, he got the message and it is only recently that he has re-emerged to test the waters. But you can tell he’s still not taking any chances of another visitor in the night.

Well, thanks to the thread that grayenight started in GQ it looks like

And given the rumors that those most likely to succeed Saddie if he kicks off due to natural causes are nuttier than he is, I’d say the yanking him out of power and replacing him with a democratic regime is worth a shot.

flow: “As it is, deterrence is an inferior option to invasion.”

Perhaps so, but, at the moment, no major world player is talking about deterrence.

What is being debated are different strategies for disarmament. Indeed, even containment—which had its supporters prior to the current heightened sense of urgency–though less satisfying an option than disarmament, is far stronger that deterrence.

One may debate whether or not a serious and ongoing inspections regime, backed up by high-tech surveillance, intelligence, and UN troops on the ground will get us to disarmament. A separate debate is, even if it does not, is not the containment that such a vigilant inspections regime would involve sufficient to ward off the theoretical potential for harm–especially when there is reason to believe that unilateral US war will itself do harm by exacerbating the terrorist problem.

Whatever the merits of these debates, the position is not one of deterrence vs. invasion.

Sam, are you seriously questioning Lissa’s assertion that terrorists can get access to destructive weapons from many places, or are you just dissing the National Geographic?

If so, how dare you insult the latest publication to offer the world a swimsuit issue? :wink:

Saddam has already given large cash payments to the families of suicide bombers in the Palestinian territories. I think that it’s a logical extension that instead of cash payments, he supplies weapons to the terrorists directly.

It would be a big defeat for the USA. After spending so many millions of dollars sending troops and equipment to the area. I don’t really see Bush saying “never mind boys, come home”. It would look like if the usual American way of dealing with problems (war) is kind of getting too old. Maybe the world is starting to get sick and tired of us, bombing all over the world.

“Finally, If Saddam comes out of this intact, the U.S. will look weak, and this will inflame Islamic terror throughout the world.”

Isn’t the inflammation of fundamentalist Islamic terrorist organizations as equally like to occur whatever the outcome of the war?

It’s not my usual source for information, either, but the article was well-researched and very thorough. I have not seen any critcs who claim that the article contained factual errors. It may not be their usual subject area, but I have no reason, as of yet, to disbelieve it. It’s not like they’re * The Weekly World News, * after all. They do have some journalistic integrity.

It’s very difficult to tell if someone is being sarcastic through written word alone, but I agree somewhat.

September 11th was a daringly simple plan which worked, probably due to its relatively uncomplicated nature. With America on high-alert status, it might be difficult to smuggle in weapons, considering that a bomb would most likely be a bit sizable, and I doubt strongly that a terrorist would ever have the ability to launch an ICBM. A “dirty bomb” would have to be carried into the country by some means, and there are also logistical problems of international customs searches.

Biological weapons would be much easier to convey. A “suicide cougher” with a clean record could be sent into the country by a terrorist orginization, or could easily smuggle germs in an ordinary toiletry container. (It’s not like they check for biological contaminants at customs.) Terrorists could also infect an ordinary citizen with no ties to any terrorist organization, even unbeknownst to the citizen.

Germs are iffy, though. Buying a vial of germs that’s old enough to have been “lost” could be worthless. It could be that the stock is dead, or lacks sufficient potency to do the job. If it’s a known, curable, illness, such as bubonic plague, an outbreak could be contained with only a small body count. If the outbreak is successful, on the other hand, it runs the risk of killing the terrorists themselves, as well as innocent people in their own country. The majority of terrorists are not inclined to suicide. (“Martyrs” can be hired to do the job, while the top eschelon of terrorists remain safely at home, doing the planning. You don’t see top Al-Qaeda leaders running the missions themselves.) There’s no point in “victory” if there’s no one left to enjoy it.

At this point, there are difficulties to a terrorist attack that did not exist prior to 9/11. For an attack to be successful, the terrorists would most likely already need to be in the US, since it’s more difficult to obtain a visa these days. (But then again, with the recent INS shakedowns, even this is not a given.) The plan would need to be relatively simple, to reduce human error, and utilize as few people as possible to prevent leaks of the plan. A 9/11 attack would be highly unlikely to succeed at this point, because passengers have shown that they’re willing to fight back, instead of cooperating in the hopes of being unharmed. (Witness the various pummellings of would-be flight dirruptors.) Security is very tight, and phone-tap laws have been loosened to the point where any would-be terrorist must fear to use the phone in planning attacks.

For an attack to succeed, you must strike when your victim least suspects it. America is paranoid, and watching every dark corner for terrorist activity. It may be that the terrorists are waiting for us to go back to feeling safe and secure and less watchful before striking again.