Monday, August 01, 2005

Iraq Iraq

I am in the middle of an interesting book by Kenneth Pollack titled "The Persian Puzzle". Pollack worked for Clinton's NSC, concentrating on Iran, and is now employed by the Brookings Institute.

One of the oft raised questions is why did we invade Iraq when there are other countries out there that might have deserved it more. One answer is that Saddam Hussein was notoriously unstable and really unable to adequately assess risk, and, thus, engaged in a pattern of agressive behaior. Pollack called Hussein "a serial agressor who never seemed to learn from his mistakes".

Some of Saddam Hussein's more notable exploits:
- After a humiliating confrontation with the Shah in 1975, he followed this with a confrontation with Syria the next year.
- Then, he invaded Iran two years later, despite that country having 2-3 times the population and a similar size ratio.
- Two years after the end of that war, he invaded Kuwait.
- He then decided to fight the U.S. plus 30 other nations for Kuwait in 1991.
- Attempted to assassinate former president Bush (41) in 1993.
- Renewed his treat to Kuwait in 1994.
- Attacked the Kurdish city of Irbil in 1996.
- Evicted U.N. inspectors in 1996, provoking Operation Desert Fox.
- Tried to move a corp of ground troops to the Golan Heights to start a war with Israel in 2000.
- Ignored our buildup to an invasion in 2003, despite having misread the elder president Bush.

In short, Saddam Hussein just couldn't keep his head down and make nice with us. Rather, at every turn, even when discretion would be the better part of valor, he chose confrontation.

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