Iraq's Bitter Harvest

February 27, 1991

Saddam Hussein got one thing right yesterday in acknowledging the wreckage of his Kuwaiti adventure. "In this mother of battles," he said, "we have succeeded in harvesting what we have sown." Some harvest! Iraq's economy wrecked, its army shredded, its hated neighbors strengthened at its expense, its ruling military clique de-clawed and potentially decapitated.

As allied armies drive north in a campaign that will rewrite military doctrine, the liberation of Kuwait is at hand. Soon the world will know the full extent of the sufferings of Kuwait's people, the theft of its resources, the destruction of its resources, the polluting of its environs. If Saddam is deposed, as he should be, the world will also learn in detail what savagery he has inflicted on his own citizens, not least the Kurdish people massacred in 1988 with poison gas and chemicals.

Saddam's blather and bravado, like Gamal Abdel Nasser's before him, make him a sometime hero among Arab masses filled with resentment against the West. But, in time, many may think again. The Palestinians can take note that he did not evoke their cause until ten days after his Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait -- and then dropped them from the Soviet-brokered peace plan he tried to engineer. Jordanians now immersed in Saddamism will have to count how much his marauding has cost them.

Even as his kingdom crumbled about him, Saddam Hussein could not resist putting conditions and rhetoric in his speech of withdrawal that made it unacceptable. Most important, he refused to accept all 12 of the United Nations resolutions targeted against him -- especially those resolutions that called his annexation of Kuwait null and void and held Iraq liable for the "war damages and economic losses" it has caused its neighbors. Instead, he repeated his historic claims to Kuwait, expressed no regret for what he has done and called upon "the Arab parties and masses to revolt against the treacherous (Arab) regimes" that opposed his aggression.

This is a formula for guaranteed trouble and regional instability if he somehow clings to power. The bravery of American men and women now in harm's way on the battlefield can best be recompensed by the overthrow of this tyrant. The United States should not impose a successor regime on Iraq, but it should make Saddam Hussein's defeat so complete and unmistakable that more responsible Iraqis will appear to take his place. Even some Bush administration critics who opposed resort to force seem to agree on this point.

This is not yet the time for a cease fire, which the Soviets propose. Iraq forces should be kept in flight and forced to abandon their over-sized arsenal. It is the time for Iraq's full acceptance of all the U.N. resolutions, as both Americans and Soviets agree. Meanwhile, the forced demilitarization of Iraq should continue. After the liberation of the Kuwaiti people from Saddam's clutches, the Iraqi people should be liberated, too.

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