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Jewish World Review March 6, 2003 / 3 Adar II, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Iraq war will come and go before we know it


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Don't say you didn't know this was coming.

You've had more than a year to learn how to pronounce Shi'ite and find Baghdad on a map. You've studied the in-depth cover stories, deconstructed the president's speeches and laughed at the French jokes.

By now, you should be able to write a solid 750-word essay on the pros and cons of dethroning Saddam Hussein and the effects of a long-term U.S. occupation of Iraq on both America and the pitifully backward Arab world.

Be sure to address these points:

  • Will de-Saddamizing Iraq set off a happy domino effect that will bring democracy, freedom and a better fashion sense to people of the Middle East? Will regime change liberate Iraq or make it disintegrate into civil war like the former Yugoslavia?

  • Will anyone still care about Iraq by summer, when Condy Rice is explaining to Tim Russert why it is up to the world's only hyper-power to bring freedom and Disney merchandise to the oppressed souls of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Lybia and France?

You still have a few days to do some cramming on Iraq - but hurry. The fighting probably will start in earnest next Wednesday morning and could be over by the weekend.

Before it's too late, check out Business 2.0's "The New Military Industrial Complex," a fine catalogue of the high-tech weapons being developed by a new generation of innovative defense contractors. Some of the Scud-frying lasers, X-ray-vision glasses and unmanned aerial vehicles might be used or tested by our soldiers and pilots on Iraq's hapless forces.

If you're still struggling with the protestors' claim that this war is really about Iraq's cheap oil, Newsweek shows why that's simplistic nonsense and makes no economic sense. It says Iraq is really about our showing the world what happens to bad countries who make weapons of mass destruction.

The lefties at Mother Jones think more diabolically. We don't want or need Iraq's oil to keep our SUVs running, they say. But we - i.e., the evil cabal of Bush hands who seek to dominate the world - want to control Iraq's oil supply as part of a grand strategy to exert power over Europe, Japan and China.

Speaking of people who think America is morally suited to run the world, the Weekly Standard talks with the 150,000 Iraqi-Americans you probably didn't know are living in the Detroit area. Another piece describes Saddam's maze of secret hiding places and personal security precautions, which include body searches of his wife and kids.

War is so imminent, Time is doing cover stories on how we hope to set up a postwar government in Baghdad. Rooting out the ruling Baath Party - and teaching Iraqis how to spell - and figuring out which Iraqis get to control the oil fields won't be that hard, Time says.

The toughest job will be knowing how many years of occupation it'll take before it's safe to hand control of a shiny new American-built democratic government to the Iraqi people.

As Time points out, Iraq, though not nearly as primitive as Afghanistan, is a "deeply tribal, vengeful and embittered" country whose formerly oppressed peoples might rather spend the next decade settling scores than voting for village councilmen.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald