NOW THAT the holiday of peace is behind us, it is time for Americans to start deciding on our Official War Aims.
Different people have different ideas. The way it works is that everyone expresses one's ideas (1) in columns like this, (2) in letters to the editor or (3) letters or telephone calls to one's representatives and senators, (4) in calls to radio talk shows, and (5) in conversations with sexual objects on the 900 network.
There is a per-minute charge for (5), but all the other forms of communication are free, unless you happen to be from California, Arizona, Michigan or Ohio, in which case (3) will entail a rather large contribution to a political action committee.
The president weighs all the ideas for their merit and does what he thinks will get him re-elected.
Does that sound cynical? Actually would you want it any other way in a democracy? I wouldn't. In fact, what I fear is that what some scholars of the psychology of power argue may be true: Presidents behave in these situations not in accordance with the popular will or the national interest but to satisfy some deep, perhaps subconscious, personal need. If Bush starts calling those 900-number babes, watch out!
Anyhow, as a good American, I will now express my idea of what LTC our Official War Aims in the Persian Gulf crisis should be.
1. Kuwait. Winning this war is going to cost us a bundle. So far, before the fighting has started in earnest, we have been spending some $2 billion a month. Once the war starts, the meter will start ringing up costs of $1 billion a day, according to some estimates. We can't afford that, with our chronic deficits.
Kuwait is hardly a democracy whose government deserves by our standards to be restored. So we take it over as a territory, like Guam or American Samoa. Kuwait has approximately $100 billion in world assets and 94.5 billion barrels of crude oil reserves, worth a couple of trillion dollars. That is a prize worth fighting for.
2. Ouster of Saddam Hussein. The region will never be peaceful as long as he is the Iraqi leader.
3. His trial as a war criminal. If ever the precedent set by the trial of the Nazi war criminals applied, it applies here.
4. Reparations. Probably a surcharge on Iraqi exported oil, to be paid into the U.S. Treasury.
5. An Iraqi government acceptable to the U.S. Iraq's too big to take over, so we would supervise installation of a pro-Western democracy in Iraq, as we once did in Japan.
6. Destruction of Iraq's offensive military assets. Even a docile government can surprise you at times. Better that this one not have the means to start a war.
7. Permanent U.S. Army and Air Force bases in Saudi Arabia. War aims are imposed on one's enemies, not one's allies, but we did this in Britain and France after World War II, and it worked very well, pacifying Europe for 45 years so far.
8. Suez Canal Zone (U.S.A.). Hey, might as well go for it all.