Wednesday, September 11, 2002

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Part LXXVIII of the NYT's "Why we shouldn't invade Iraq" series

Milton Viorst warns of the worst-case scenarios if we invade Iraq. This essay is a great example of what InstaPundit's been pointing out -- that the anti-war crowd is making lousy arguments even though there are some decent arguments lying around. He makes four arguments, three of which can be quickly dismissed:

1) " suggesting that our forces will dispose of Saddam Hussein in a war that is quick and painless, like the Persian Gulf war or the war in
Afghanistan, the president is clearly choosing not to consider the worst-case scenario at all."
Now it should be granted that Richard Perle has been spinning this scenario, but I haven't heard the President or any cabinet official make anything approximating this suggestion. [Doesn't Kenneth Pollack provide a hard-headed assessment of the forces needed?-ed. Yes, but he still thinks an invasion is worth it.]

2) "By moving into Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein would shift the battlefield far to the south, imposing on American forces a much heavier burden than just the capture of Baghdad." Er... how is this a worst-case scenario? If Hussein were actually stupid enough to do this, what is currently a roiling international debate about Iraq would turn into the Gulf War redux, except this time it wouldn't end until the regime had changed. Plus, any invasion would leave Iraqi forces totally vulnerable to an air attack. If I were Central Command and tried to envision the way to guarantee regime change with the least amount of political or actual "friendly fire," this would be the scenario.

3) "Saddam Hussein, prior to an American attack, goes after Israel with the chemical or biological weapons that Mr. Bush says Iraq possesses. Israel, if it survives, will retaliate, perhaps even with nuclear weapons." In 1991, a Bush administration -- which had a much more strained relationship with an Israeli government that was more vulnerable to domestic hardline pressures -- and was able to prevent any Israeli response to the Scud attacks.

4) Pakistan would explode and Musharraf would fall; Islamists could control the bomb and there would be global chaos. OK, it's late for me, but I'm pretty sure this is the one valid point in the op-ed. Except that the distinction between Pakistan's ISI and Viorst's Islamists seems awfully thin. I leave this one to the Blogosphere.

posted by Dan on 09.11.02 at 11:48 PM