|Most of us accept that he is. Or, at least, very
few people are surprised to hear it. The question is, does that justify
killing him? And the answer, in my mind, is an untroubled "Yes".
The world will definitely be a better place without Saddam Hussein. So
fine. Kill the man.
And we can even, with a reasonably clear conscience, extend the death
sentence to the few hundred close family and members of the Baath party
who form the top tier of the regime and whose support sustains him in
with these) They probably all have blood on their hands and
may all deserve to die.
But thats about it. Go much lower than a ranking general or third cousin
twice removed and you are no longer dealing with those responsible for
Iraq's breaches of international etiquette. Instead we are in danger
of further victimising an already severely abused population.
And whatever Saddam's obvious guilt does justify by way of action against
him and his cohorts, it most certainly does not excuse the killing of
the quarter of a million innocent Iraqi victims of his regime who will
be made to stand in the way of the direct military assault about to
be launched against their country. That inexcusable slaughter is an
inevitable consequence of the military option being considered.
That is the real argument against a War on Iraq. But I'm not a pacifist
- as you will see.
We CANNOT justify mass murder. We CAN reasonably justify targeted assassination.
We must find a more intelligent way to deal with the problem.
Why not, for example, try the direct approach.
Dear Iraqi citizens,
As you may be aware, we have some scores to settle with the people
who run your country. They appear to be either developing or hiding
weapons of mass destruction which they may be intending to use against
their neighbours or even against some of you, their fellow citizens.
We are also concerned that they may provide some of these lethal materials
to terrorist groups who are intent on killing thousands of our own
citizens. This is a risk we are not prepared to tolerate and so we
must get rid of the weapons and those inclined to develop them within
We can achieve this aim with a full frontal military assault on
your country but this might kill hundreds of thousands of innocent
Iraqis. We would prefer to avoid that if at all possible. By
and large we have nothing at all against most of you. We see you,
if anything, as the main victims of the current Iraqi regime and we
hope to bring an end to your suffering.
Here's the deal.
If you help us bring an end to the regime and to eliminate all
traces of the dangerous weapons, or, at least, do not directly oppose
our search for the relevant weapons or the people on our list (attached),
then we will undertake not to extend our quarrel to you and will do
everything in our power to avoid harming any Iraqi not on that list.
If you were, collectively to organise the arrest and detention
of these people and organise their handover to our authorised agents,
we would be so grateful at the huge military expense you will have
saved us that we will grant you one third of that expense by way of
development aid to help rebuild your country. We would also ensure
the immediate lifting of UN sanctions.
George and Tony.
Thats a bribe, of course. It might work. It might not. It has to be
worth a try. Perhaps not in the naive form of a straightforward bribe.
We can quibble over the wording, the form and the exact scale of the
"offer" and so on, but the gist is simple. We can get what
we want more cheaply, in terms of both lives and cash, than by launching
cost of a war is put at between one and FIVE hundred billion dollars.
That's without the cost of rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure which we'll
be obliged to do if we bomb the shit out of it again. Include that cost
and some of the other prospective costs and some
put the potential cost at up to $1.9 Trillion. We can all agree
- its going to be expensive.
Paying one third of the agreed estimate of that cost to the Iraqis
in return for the hand over, dead or alive, of the thousand or so leaders
of the regime, seems to me a pretty good deal and they might even rather
like the sound of it themselves. We save them about $50 billion in undamaged
infrastructure and then provide them with a similar sum in direct aid.
And save a couple of hundred thousand lives. And lift sanctions. And
guarantee them a fair market for their oil. Everyone's a winner.
Given the obvious difficulties potential collaborators will face, the
exact form of their co-operation, and our means of conveying the offer,
may have to be left to specialists in the field. But we could certainly
agree to provide any reasonable assistance. For example, we could train
and equip brave volunteers with laser targeting devices and secure communication
equipment. This would allow them to inform us when they have located
one or more of the appropriate targets in a location wholly or largely
free of innocent civilians. They could then illuminate the targets for
us and we could quite quickly and cheaply deliver a laser guided missile
to those targets.
I'm sure that with the active co-operation of the Iraqi people, whom
I strongly suspect would be keen to co-operate, we would jointly be
able to remove the offending regime with minimal loss of life. The result
would be a regime with a somewhat friendlier disposition to its benefactor
and approximately 250,000 lives saved together with most of the remaining
infrastructure. And the oil would continue to flow. All in all, a good
basis on which to rebuild a country. Everyone goes home happy...
Except, of course, for a bunch of tyrants who belong in the middle
7 Feb 2003