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January 10, 2005

Same Song, 24th Verse

Here's another part of the Newsweek article about the "Salvador Option" in Iraq:

...most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they won’t turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said... "We have to change that equation."

Ah, that takes me back.

On May 7, 1991 (just after the Gulf War), Robert Gates of the Bush I administration gave a speech. Gates was then deputy national security adviser, and would later be head of the CIA. Gates explained that the economic sanctions on Iraq would remain until Saddam Hussein was out of power. This was in direct defiance of international law -- the sanctions were supposed to be removed when Iraq was WMD-free -- but the hope was it would encourage Iraqis to overthrow Saddam. As Gates put it:

"Iraqis will pay the price while he is in power... All possible sanctions will be maintained until he is gone."

And boy, Iraqis paid the price. By conservative estimates, 350,000 Iraqi children died because of the sanctions. And they still wouldn't do what we told them to.

I think the lesson from history is clear: this time, we must make sure the price they pay is higher.

Posted at January 10, 2005 09:07 AM | TrackBack

The price they pay must not only be higher, but significantly higher - a quantum leap, so to speak - now that they have a history of ignoring penalties at a certain level, it is necssary to get their attention again, with negative consequences sufficiently large to provoke a reaction of, if I may coin a term, "shock and awe."

Posted by: mistah charley at January 11, 2005 02:46 PM