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By David Podvin
What would happen if Saddam Hussein were to publicly announce that, during the twelve years he has had to prepare for another attack by the United States, his agents have smuggled nuclear weapons into America to be detonated when we invade Iraq?
The military-industrial establishment that has so much riding on a war would dismiss the statement as a bluff, but it is doubtful that would placate the soccer moms across the nation. Women by their nature are overprotective, and would irrationally recoil in horror at the prospect of their children being incinerated. This factor could dramatically lessen popular support for attacking Iraq; Americans, being a highly logical breed, prefer wars where the enemy’s kids die and ours don’t. In fact, the number of pro-war congressmen who would be willing to give their own lives for this cause could probably be counted on one hand…even by the Venus de Milo.
Such a threat by Hussein certainly would lead many of our citizens to begin thinking unauthorized thoughts:
Is this war really going to be as much fun as advertised, or is it going to cost us a few stars off the flag? If we can’t stop illegal aliens from sneaking across the border, what reason is there to believe that we have prevented weapons of mass destruction from being smuggled into this country?
Haven’t we been told that Hussein is another Hitler? Did Hitler just sit back and wait to be destroyed? Are we supposed to believe that the Madman of Baghdad has been doing nothing grotesquely diabolical for the last decade – like plotting to kill us all - especially since our revered wartime leader George W. Bush has instructed us to believe that is exactly the kind of thing Hussein has been up to?
Do we want to risk our lives by proceeding on the premise that this is just going to be another one of those amusing “big country torments small country” mismatches that are periodically staged to divert attention from vexing problems here at home? Is it wise to assume that the threat to our safety is merely a bluff? We haven’t confronted anyone who had the ability to counterattack our homeland since the 1940s, and they had already declared war on us. Is it still the American Way to pick a fight with someone who can actually hit back?
And – with a heightened sense of urgency - could you tell us again why this armed conflict is absolutely necessary? Just exactly what is it that we are fighting for?
Subversive questions, indeed.
Faced with an hysterical American public, the Bush administration would finally be tempted to tell the truth: Our intelligence has verified that there is absolutely no way in hell Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. He is running a primitive Third World country that struggled to subdue the unarmed Kurds. Your family is more likely to suffer causalities as a result of the Republican health care plan than at the hands of Saddam Hussein.
Alas, the honest approach has always been a non-starter in this situation; if it becomes an open secret that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction, then we will be deprived of our pretext for grabbing all of that beautiful, beautiful oil that belongs to us because we really, really want it.
So, what would Bush do if Hussein played the “I’m Taking You Infidel Swine Down With Me” card?
The former Texas governor might be tempted to attack immediately, responding militarily before the American public had a chance to get cold feet. But would circumstances allow him to carry out an expedited invasion of Iraq?
Would Svengali-in-chief Karl Rove instruct Bush that, even if a quick strike worked militarily, many middle of the road voters might view such action as being extremely reckless given the possible consequences of severe retaliation?
Would Corporate America allow their minion to take action that could seriously hurt the governing business elite? If nukes were to actually start exploding across our nation, would that not inevitably result in the heartbreaking tragedy of depriving countless CEOs of their stock options?
Would the military sign off on an immediate assault? Reportedly, they need more time to get everything in place for an optimal attack. If a rush job greatly increased the potential for something to go terribly wrong, would the Pentagon be willing to run the risk of needlessly costing servicemen their lives and – much more importantly – publicly humiliating the top brass?
Would the Republicans who control Congress just sit back and let Bush roll the dice without reminding him that it will be harder for them to get re-elected if their home states are vaporized? And if Bush sought to privately reassure them by confiding that Iraq poses no real threat to our country, would John McCain or Lincoln Chaffee tattle?
During the first Gulf War, Hussein reportedly expressed a desire to make the United States pay such a heavy price that pressure back home would force a Vietnam War-style withdrawal. He has demonstrated that he understands the concept of pulling the public opinion rug out from under the feet of an American president. Would Hussein be willing to go all the way and threaten to bomb America, whether or not he has the ability to carry out such a threat, based on the belief that he is now left with nothing to lose?
Thanks to the obsession for war of George W. Bush, we won’t have to wait long to find out.
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