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[casi] Charley Reese / Consequences Of War


Consequences Of War
Monday, October 7, 2002

Our problems will begin after King George the Younger's war against Iraq is
concluded. Like all wars, those who profit from it won't die or suffer in it, and
those who die or suffer in it won't profit from it.

The United States will win the war. The same country, Iraq, that is presented
to the American people as a mortal peril and threat to the United States  and
even the world  is in reality a Third World country with nothing but obsolete
Soviet weapons and a wrecked economy. No matter how bravely the Iraqis fight, they
won't be able to win against a superpower and its fifth-rate sidekick, the United

And there we will be, in the ruins of Baghdad, responsible for 22 million
souls divided into factions that hate each other, are hated by their neighbors and
that all hate us. The king's counselors seem to have convinced him that we will
simply divide the spoils among the American and British corporations and then wash
our hands of the whole thing, leaving an American stooge in charge.

It won't be that easy. Putting Afghanistan back together, which we have yet to
accomplish, will be seen as a cakewalk compared with restoring and maintaining
order in Iraq. From which faction will we draw our stooge? The Republican Guard?
The fanatic Shiites eager for close ties with Iran? The Kurds who want their own
separate country  which, if they try to produce it, will spark a war with Turkey?
Far from democratizing Iraq, we will end up imposing a dictatorship. As is the
case in Afghanistan, we will find it harder to get out of Iraq than it was to get

In the meantime, we will bear the moral shame of having launched an aggressive
war against a weak opponent. We will bear the moral blame for all the dead, maimed
and impoverished Iraqis who, like American soldiers, have to pay the price for
their leader's folly. Our grandchildren and their children will have to live with
the terrorism that this aggressive war will spawn, not to mention the hundreds of
billions of dollars that will be added to the national debt.

And that's the best-case scenario.

The worst-case scenario is that before we have defeated Iraq, the war expands
to include Lebanon, Syria and Israel, and that the Arab street rises up and
overthrows those Arab governments that have been servile servants of America's new
imperialism. One of several strategic blunders our youthful and inexperienced King
George is making is failing to understand the difference between secularism and
Islamic fundamentalists.

Secular governments, like Saddam's, want to survive. They would rather live
with us than die with us, and therefore all our differences are negotiable, even
subject to settlement with bribes. Islamist governments, however, consist of
people who would rather die with us than live with us. Nothing is negotiable. No
agreement or compromise is possible. The effect of the Bush war will be, in the
years to come, to place more and more of the world's 1 billion Muslims under
Islamist, rather than secular, leadership.

Next to King George, the single most enthusiastic and delighted person
backing a war against Iraq is Osama bin Laden. He wants a war of Islam against the
West, and George Bush, who is not a subtle or sophisticated thinker, is strutting
straight into his trap. Rather than making the Middle East safe for oil companies
and Israel, as he imagines, Bush will make the world unsafe for Americans.

To paraphrase one of his own macho sayings, he will have started something.
Others will finish it.

 2002 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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