Monday, September 30, 2002


Rich Lowry has a good piece on the Deterrence Argument vis. Iraq -- that is, that Saddam will not employ Weapons of Mass Destruction because of the threat that we will annihilate Baghdad in response.

Lowry does a good job of refuting this argument. But Kenneth Pollack, in his book which I linked below, does an even better job. He refutes the Deterrence Argument in principle and then by example. For instance...

Imagine it's 2007. Saddam has by now acquired a small nuclear arsenal. Being sane, he has no illusions about using his arsenal against New York, D.C., etc., as this would most certainly invite an overwhelming response by the U.S. Besides, there is no real reason for Saddam to do so: it doesn't further his purposes. But what does further his purposes and ambitions is taking Kuwait, something we well know he is willing to do. So...

Iraq repeats 1990 and invades Kuwait, with little problem. But this time, he warns the U.S. not to attack his forces, because if we do, he will employ his small nuclear arsenal (or a portion thereof) against the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, thereby reducing the world's oil production by some 22% (Polluck's figure) and thereby plunging the world economy into a recession or even a depression (as Polluck points out, the oil embargo of the early 70's which had such an impact on our economy saw a lessening of oil production of only some 2%).

Now what is the U.S. to do? Allow Saddam to invade his tiny neighbor and thereby gain even more control over Middle East oil and continue in his desire for Middle East dominance, or risk a worldwide depression by attacking Saddam's forces? Hardly a choice any president would want to face. But it is a very plausible one, if we chose deterrence over regime change.

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