Beating Iraq Builds Iran

CARL T. ROWAN

September 01, 1992|By CARL T. ROWAN

WASHINGTON. — Washington -- It is incredible that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, has such an impact on U.S. foreign policy and politics.

Saddam was so demonized by his invasion of Kuwait (into which he may have been suckered by U.S. officials) that it is now ''unpatriotic'' for any American to attempt a rational discussion of U.S. policies regarding Iraq in relation to Iran, Israel and the Arab states.

Even if he felt that the imposition of another ''no-fly'' zone within Iraq is a long-term mistake, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton could not say so. It would cost him millions of votes.

Well, I'm not running for anything except tennis balls, so I am free to say that we may rue these days in which the U.S. and Great Britain are effectively partitioning Iraq and adding to the power and influence of Iran.

The U.S. is marking up a map of mischief that does not serve our national interests.

There should be no doubt that Mr. Bush's judgment regarding Iraq is skewed by hatred of Saddam. This zone in the south of Iraq, where the U.S. military is supposed to control the skies, is not a manifestation of compassion for the oppressed Shiites. It is an attempt to so limit the territory over which Saddam wields power that he will be forced out, or so Mr. Bush hopes.

While this splenetic charade goes on, Iran -- repeat, Iran -- is building up its arsenal that can be hurled at Israel and other nations of the region. Iran, not Iraq, is fast becoming the Mideast military menace.

Still, the U.S. continues a tilt toward Iran, the nation that held U.S. hostages so cruelly and until it helped Ronald Reagan to win the presidency from Jimmy Carter.

American officials who are not blinded by myopic hatred of Saddam might think twice about enfeebling Iraq while empowering the mullahs of Iran and their version of an Islamic revolution.

Mr. Clinton backs the new ''no-fly'' ultimatum with the comment that it ''sends a message to Saddam.'' He may within days or weeks learn that he has been suckered.

Let one Iraqi missile down one U.S. plane and there will be a massive U.S. retaliation. And a new war. And new reasons for President Bush to posture as the great commander. And that could cost Mr. Clinton the election.

What a grim irony if Saddam Hussein, the tormentor of George Bush, were to take just one foolish action that helped our desperate president to win four more years in the White House.

Carl T. Rowan is a syndicated columnist.

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