The war is over, but the blood-lust just won't die


April 10, 1991|By ROGER SIMON

Having been responsible for the deaths of anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 Iraqis, George Bush is now being criticized for not killing more of them.

First, he is being criticized for not killing more Iraqis when he initially had the chance. The story was leaked last weekend that the United States was just "six hours" away from completely destroying Iraq's fighting force when George Bush opted for a cease-fire instead of more slaughter.

Second, Bush is being criticized for steadfastly opposing sending back our troops and planes to kill more Iraqi soldiers now that these soldiers are being used to crush opposition in Iraq.

Somehow, someway, George Bush has become a wimp again.

What a shame. I thought our blood-lust would have been satisfied by the Persian Gulf war, but apparently I was wrong. I thought the joy of getting almost all of our troops back unharmed would have meant we could become a kinder, gentler nation again.

No way. Instead, some want us to turn our quick victory into a long-term belligerence.

Not that we have any animosity toward the Iraqi people. Oh, no. Actually, we like them. We just want to kill a few thousand more of them to teach Saddam Hussein a lesson.

They are just victims of Saddam, too, you see. It is Saddam we really don't like, but the only way we can make him suffer is to kill off his population.

Not that he seems to care much. He is still sitting in his bunker in Baghdad, still in possession of a considerable private fortune, and still putting out press releases.

Which is the problem. Many Americans can't stand the fact that he has gotten away with this. And they want another excuse to go get him.

What they see as an excuse is Saddam's murderous behavior toward Shiite and Kurdish rebels in his country. And since we are for freedom and since these rebels are fighting for freedom, shouldn't we be fighting on their side?

George Bush says no. And this has some Americans so upset they have briefly forgotten what a hero George Bush was just a few short weeks ago.

Take William Safire, the New York Times columnist and former Nixon speech writer. Last week he wrote:

"The enormity of the dishonor brought on the United States by President Bush's decision to betray the Kurdish people is beginning to sink in at the White House. . . .

"Today, the news of death and starvation being inflicted on the countless innocents double-crossed by George Bush is spreading a sense of revulsion through our body politic."

Wow. Pretty strong stuff. Dishonor. Revulsion. Double-cross. And what could wipe out the shame of these despicable acts? You guessed it: More blood.

If we just kill a few more thousand Iraqi soldiers (say 25,000 or so) we would all feel a lot better, wouldn't we? We would all be more honorable, right?

What, however, is this "betrayal" that Safire and others are talking about? Well, first, Bush "encouraged" the Kurds and Shiites to rebel against Saddam, "urging" the Iraqi people to overthrow him.

Of course, the Kurds and Shiites didn't really need our encouragement in that they have been plotting Saddam's overthrow for a very long time and will continue to plot it no matter what happens now.

But, second, Bush has supposedly betrayed the cause of "freedom" for which the Persian Gulf war was fought by not supporting the rebels with our troops.

But would the Kurds or Shiites establish freedom in Iraq if they won? Well, no, probably not. They would just discriminate against a different set of people. That's how things happen in the Mideast. Which is why it usually makes no sense to get involved in the fighting there.

I think some people, however, want America to continue to fight for "freedom" in Iraq because we haven't actually established much freedom in Kuwait, which is what the whole Persian Gulf war was supposed to be about.

Kuwait was a monarchy before the war and it is a monarchy now. The only difference is that now the monarchy is ruling by martial law. No date for free elections or the re-establishing of parliament has been set.

And in one of the tragic ironies that abound in the Mideast, all the kidnappings, beatings and tortures that the Iraqis did to the Kuwaitis, the Kuwaitis now seem to be doing to the Palestinians in their country.

Freedom? Well, maybe next year. Or the year after. Or, well, some day.

So what did we end up fighting for? What did we end up killing and dying for?

Well, we did get Saddam out of Kuwait.

And gasoline is selling for 99 cents a gallon.

And I say let's take what we can get.

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