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hysterical 'whack Iraq now' piece from today's Guardian

You can e-mail your letters to the Guardian at

Best wishes,


Bite the bullet and target Iraq

William Safire in Washington
Tuesday September 25, 2001
The Guardian

"We're looking for links" between Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist group
and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, said Colin Powell yesterday. So far, the US
secretary of state can see "no clear link" between Bin Laden's forces in
Afghanistan and the America-hater publicly laughing at our grief in Baghdad.
Powell does not want to acknowledge any evidence of sponsorship of Bin Laden
by Iraq because that would demand a crushing blow at an Arab state. It might
limit the diplomatic convoy of consensus he is assembling, which will travel
at the rate of its most grudging member.

The clear link between the terrorist in hiding and the terrorist in power
can be found in Kurdistan, that northern portion of Iraq protected by US and
British aircraft from Saddam's savagery.

Kurdish sources tell me (and anyone else who will listen) that the Iraqi
dictator has armed and financed a fifth column of al-Qaida mullahs and
terrorists that calls itself the Jund al Islam ("Soldiers of Islam"). Its
purposes are to assassinate the leaders of free Kurdistan, to sabotage the
relief efforts of the UN and to whip up religious fervor in that free Muslim
region. That is how Saddam plans to reconquer the no-flight zone that has
been a thorn in his side for a decade.

According to a key member of the Kurdish resistance reached by cellphone in
Suleymaniyah, some 400 "Arab Afghan" mercenaries armed with Katyusha rockets
transported by Toyota Land Cruisers, have been infiltrated into the
liberated region by Saddam's secret intelligence force, the Mukhabarat. They
have already murdered a high Kurdish official as well as a Muslim scholar
who dared to interpret the Koran humanely. This current, direct threat by
Muslim fanatics doing Saddam's bidding is uniting the two squabbling
democratic parties in the free zone. These Kurds are not Arabs or
anti-Turkish terrorists. Nor are they pseudo-religious extremists
humiliating women and moderates; on the contrary, the Muslim faith practised
in northern Iraq has long been marked by tolerance.

That brings us to the strategic decision now being debated in President
Bush's war council. Do we respond to our initial, catastrophic defeat in a
wholly multilateral way? That would mean seeking intelligence crumbs from
Saudi and Egyptian potentates, negotiating cautious UN resolutions,
hunkering down to limit the damage of suicide bombers, and beginning a
phased air and ground assault on Bin Laden's "base" in Afghanistan to be
followed up with joint police work for years around the world. It would
fight yesterday's terrorist war.

Or do we recognise now the greater danger of germ warfare or nuclear attack
from a proven terrorist nation, and couple expected retribution for this
month's attack with a strategy of pre-emptive retaliation? Such use of our
superpower need not require our "going it alone"; civilised nations unafraid
of internal revolt will understand the threat to their citizens and stand
with us.

Iraqi scientists today working feverishly in hidden biological laboratories
and underground nuclear facilities would, if undisturbed, enable the
hate-driven, power-crazed Saddam to kill millions. That capability would
transform him from a boxed-in bully into a rampant world power.

It's troubling when Powell says that President Bush "has not worked out what
he might do in later stages". Now is the time to work out how to strike down
terrorism's boss of all bosses. "Later" may be a stage too late.

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