Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2002 /3 Tishrei, 5763

Bush exhibiting leadership while the 'world' plays 'wait and see' games

By Ranan R. Lurie | The world is keeping check on Saddam Hussein as if it were making sure that Jack the Ripper paid his parking tickets on time.

The international community is doing what it does best: wait and see.

But President Bush, we know, soon will reveal detailed information that shows Hussein for the evil that he is. This information will show that civilization simply cannot afford to haggle with itself until it is too late.

Once Iraq, a country twice the size of Idaho, has a nuclear weapon, it won't be considered small anymore.

Time is the only commodity Hussein needs to fulfill his terrible dream. Every political rally warning against "the war," every editorial recommending "patience," every running-for-office politician who "condemns" an attack against Iraq has a death wish. The problems of uprooting Hussein from his underground bunkers and laboratories are dwarfs in comparison with the new Holocaust awaiting us if we don't do so.

That said, Iraq has a history of poor combat performance.

Hussein's army failed miserably against the U.S. coalition forces in 1991. It could not even handle the inefficient Iranian foot soldiers for eight years during the 1980s, and it lost the territories it gained when it attacked Iran.

In October 1973, it sent one armored division to help the Syrians on the Golan Heights. That unit fell into an elementary but devastating trap set by the Israelis.

Although it sent a huge army to help its Jordanian brethren just before the Six-Day War, the Iraqi forces retreated to Baghdad as fast as they could once the shooting started.

In 1948, Iraq sent to Palestine the biggest military force of all Arab states--and failed to have any impact on the war results. The stories about Iraqi officers deserting their trenches while locking their soldiers in chains so that they could not join them became part of Israeli War of Independence folklore.

The only two sources of real power that Hussein has today are his Gestapo-like control of his people and his imminent nuclear threat capability.

Time is on his side. Therefore, he must be destroyed.

Iraq should be treated as an island state without a navy. The "ocean" is a combination of the desert (almost half of the country) and Iraq's hostile neighbors. The "navy" in this case is actually the air force because in the desert, the one who has the more efficient air force is the winner before the war even begins. In the desert there is no place to hide from marauding planes or smart bombs.

The U.S. forces can land with a minimum force of no more than a couple of battalions on the western tip of Iraq that borders Jordan, take over two old airports named H-2 and H-3 and create an instant base of operations, probably without suffering casualties.

This act alone would bring tremendous psychological relief to our fearful ally, Jordan, which would then have a U.S. buffer between it and Iraq. Because of the short range of Scuds, our control of west Iraq would eliminate the chances of Iraqi Scuds being launched against Israel.

The destruction of military barracks and installations would be even more devastating than in 1991.

The historical statistics lean heavily toward Iraq waving the white flag again.

We just have to get there in time.

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JWR contributor Ranan R. Lurie, a senior adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., is a syndicated columnist and political cartoonist. Comment by clicking here.

07/18/02: Before it's too late: No time for war games
07/09/02: Bush's warnings on Baghdad are so clever, most don't grasp his M.O.
05/29/02: The giant with three tasks has only two hands: What I know from speaking to Musharraf and Gandhi
03/20/02: Arafat has mastered history's lessons. The West has not
03/04/02: Why the Saudis Are Warming Up to Idea of Mideast Peace: A political insight by Ronald Reagan

© 2002, Ranan R. Lurie. This article originally appeared in the LA Times.