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Saddam: Stop punishing your people - Once again the Iraqi people stand on the precipice of catastrophe because their leaders consistently misinterpret, miscalculate and misunderstand what goes on in the outside world. US President George W. Bush issued what might be described as a post-dated declaration of war: All he was waiting for was for Baghdad to reject his terms. Having been granted his wish, all that remains to be seen is when and how.
In what has become a self-destructive habit on the part of Saddam Hussein and his advisers, the Iraqi regime seems not to understand just how little support it has. It has mistaken widespread discomfort at Bush's unilateralist tendencies for approval of Iraqi defiance in the face of UN Security Council resolutions.
Worse yet, this erroneous conclusion was not drawn in the dark, but rather atop a mountain of indications that even - and perhaps especially - those governments that least want to see Iraq attacked are firmly convinced that it must readmit UN weapons inspectors.
Instead of heeding this sound advice, from both Western capitals and Arab ones, Baghdad has reacted with an archaic call for its people to fight to the last man. Those days are over. There was a time when sticks and knives might have deterred an attacker armed with muskets. But Iraq has none of the tools required to so much as slow down - much less repel - the hi-tech juggernaut at America's disposal.
And there was a time when a dictator could motivate his people by lying to them about what they were fighting for and about their chances of success. But even impoverished Iraq is sufficiently penetrated by the Internet and satellite television for individual citizens to have a very good idea about whom they are being asked to defend, and about what the consequences might be. This time the isolated party is not so much the people as their government.
Arab media outlets do not tend to be fond of the Bush Administration, but even they are convinced Baghdad's only hope is to let the inspectors back in. The fear that Bush might still find a pretext to attack Iraq even if the inspectors do return is a legitimate one, but it is also irrelevant: The Iraqi government's responsibility right now is to do anything it can to spare its people more heartache. Future problems can be dealt with as they come up, but today the priority must be to prevent further loss of life.
Saddam has almost no support outside Iraq and deserves none inside it. If he truly believes in suicide as a national duty, let him fly a warplane into one of the so-called "no-fly zones" above the northern and southern portions of his county.
If not, he should stop asking his long-suffering people to make endless sacrifices so that he can thumb his nose at the entire world. - (The Daily Star, Lebanon, September 14)
-------------------- "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do."-King Solomon
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
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