Monday, December 20, 2004

Here's an interesting take on what might have happened if we hadn't invaded Iraq.

Dissolve to a scene in a Tikrit palace where Saddam lays out his plan to (a) amass billions through a U.N. oil-for-food scam and his secret oil pipeline to Syria, (b) increase contacts with Al Qaeda, (c) take leadership of the Arab world by developing W.M.D. or pretending to have them already, and (d) openly challenging Bush.

Back in D.C., at a critical go-no-go meeting in the Situation Room, Bush sides with Powell not to invade Iraq. Wolfowitz enters with news of a shoot-down of our "Northern Watch" aircraft by Iraq. Kofi Annan, on CNN, asks: What do we expect - the U.S. flies over sovereign Iraqi territory. Bush decides against his aides' audacious regime-change proposal, and chooses a restrained, Clintonian pinprick response with cruise missiles.

Having gloriously faced down the U.S. - and gaining greater financial and weaponry strength every day - Saddam becomes an iconic, heroic figure in the Arab and Muslim world. Through massive kickbacks and smuggling operations involving France, Russia and China, the murderous despot ensures U.N. protection from inspections. Free from fear of retaliation, Saddam offers safe haven in Iraq to bin Laden and followers seeking a center of operations.


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