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Jewish World ReviewFeb. 23, 2001 / 30 Shevat, 5761

Roger Simon

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Let's be humanitarians: It's time to ice Saddam once and for all! -- LAST week, the United States once again made a bombing raid on Iraq, risking our pilots, the pilots of our allies and innocent civilians on the ground. None of this was necessary.

As I have written before, what we really need is one guy with a rifle and sniper scope. Instead of making raids on the Saddam Hussein's Iraq, instead of sanctioning him, instead of waiting for him to complete his weapons of mass destruction, what we really need to do is ice the guy.

I am not being bloodthirsty.

On the contrary, I am being a humanitarian.

It is almost universally recognized that Iraq is in the grip of a dictatorial madman, a murderous lunatic who has armed his country to the teeth with terrible weapons including chemical, biological and possibly nuclear devices.

Former President Bush once compared him to Adolph Hitler and the stated policy of the U.S. government since Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 has been to "destabilize" his government and "topple" him.

How can we do that?

In 1991 we sent 467,539 U.S. troops, sustained 760 casualties including 148 battlefield deaths and spent $7.4 billion of our own money (plus $53.7 billion of our allies' money) to fight Saddam.

What happened?

Saddam is still in power, but Bush got toppled in the next election.

President Clinton also launched raids against Saddam. In order to minimize the risk to U.S. airmen, Clinton preferred using Tomahawk missiles.

These are so-called "smart" weapons" but in reality they are not all that smart.

Of the 23 missiles we sent into Baghdad on June 26, 1993, three went astray and killed eight civilians.

Why should those eight innocent people have to die for Saddam Hussein's policies? Shouldn't Hussein be the one to pay for his own evil deeds?

Assassination is a terrible word and a terrible deed. Except when the alternatives are worse. Why spend all that money and risk the lives of our soldiers when all we need is one assassin or a small team of assassins?

Three U.S. presidents -- Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan -- issued executive orders, still in effect, that make assassination illegal for any "person employed or acting on behalf of the United States government." We can't assassinate or "conspire" to assassinate.

But on Jan. 3 of this year, Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., a man whose politics I rarely agree with, introduced the Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001 that would nullify those executive orders.

"Our federal government should never put the lives of our troops at risk when there is an alternative method of accomplishing the same goals," Barr said.

Barr's bill currently has absolutely no support. He has not a single co-sponsor, no hearings are scheduled and a similar bill he introduced in 1999 went nowhere.

But that does not mean Barr is wrong.

The last time the United States apparently tried to kill a head of state it was 1986, the target was Muammar el Kadafi and we attempted it from 1,500 feet.

President Reagan sent 33 jets on a bombing raid into Libya where they dropped 64,000 pounds of explosives on Kadafi's living quarters. We missed him, but unfortunately killed his 15-month-old daughter. We also lost a U.S. pilot in the raid.

Officially, the raid was not an assassination attempt. Secretary of State George Schultz explained the difference: Because Kadafi was not "a direct target" -- anyone in his living quarters was -- it could not be called an attempt at assassination.

Which is a pretty fine line to draw. If you send in a single shooter, it is assassination. If you send in 33 jets, it is ... what? The glories of combat?

What's the difference, except that jets and bombs are far more likely to kill innocent people?

There is no difference. Death is death; killing is killing.

But as Voltaire once wrote, "Killing a man is murder unless you do it to the sound of trumpets."

Planes, ships and Tomahawk missiles give America that nice sound of trumpets.

But they don't make sense in some situations.

We all know that Saddam Hussein is going to continue to threaten the stability of the Middle East and the world unless we do something about him.

But why risk the lives of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians to do it?

If one guy is the problem, we should take out that one guy.

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