Bush should finish work with 'hit' on just one Iraqi


January 13, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

George Bush has shown a willingness to be bold in his last weeks in office.

Whether it is sending troops to Somalia or pardoning Iran-contra conspirators, Bush has demonstrated a willingness to act decisively regardless of the controversy.

And why not? He need never worry about getting another vote. He doesn't have to kiss any more mistletoe. He can afford to offend a few people.

And while all presidents worry about the judgment of history, they are usually dead before history has anything meaningful to say.

So all I ask of Bush is one last, bold gesture before he leaves office next week:

I think he should take out Saddam Hussein. I think he should whack the guy.

Saddam grows more belligerent and threatening each day. The Iraqi people are not our enemy. The Iraqi army is not our enemy. Saddam is our enemy.

He is the man who invaded Kuwait, sacked the country, and set the oil fields aflame.

America sent more than a half-million of its men and women to fight him. Some 148 of our troops were killed.

And the death toll on the Iraqi side was staggering: Estimates range from 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqi soldiers killed and 76,000 Iraqi civilians killed.

The cost to U.S. taxpayers was about $7 billion and the cost to our allies was more than seven times that.

And for what?

For just one guy.

Even before Desert Storm, I suggested killing Saddam.

And the reaction was predictable: America cannot murder! America cannot assassinate! Was I trying to suggest that the ends justify the means?

Well, to me that depends on the ends and the means.

Looking back on it, wouldn't you have assassinated Hitler in 1938 if you had gotten the chance? Wouldn't you have taken just one life to save the lives of millions?

And as to the difference between killing and murder, which is which when U.S. forces fire Tomahawk missiles into Baghdad and blow up civilians? You think because our hearts are in the right place, it makes any difference to the dead or their families?

Yes, there is a presidential order against assassination. It was signed by Gerald Ford in 1976 and re-affirmed by Ronald Reagan. It forbids "political assassination."

But Bush can countermand any previous presidential order. And, besides, Saddam is strutting around in the uniform of an Iraqi field marshal and is directing hostile acts against U.S. forces and the forces of our allies.

So I don't see why killing him would not be a legitimate act of war.

He sends his planes into no-fly zones to challenge our jets. He sends his troops into Kuwait to steal missiles. He probes us and he pokes us, trying to get a reaction.

And sooner or later we all know some kind of military response from the United States will be required. And who will suffer most? It will be the Iraqis, none of whom voted Saddam into power and few of whom want to keep him there.

So why not direct our response this time against the sole person responsible for the provocations? Why not get rid of the person at the top instead of slaughtering those at the bottom?

Last week, CIA Director Robert Gates revealed to the Los Angeles Times one reason we didn't push onto Baghdad at the end of Desert Storm to get Saddam: The Bush administration assumed that a post-war coup would topple him.

But it hasn't. And now, Saddam is provoking Bush in his last days as Saddam surely will provoke Clinton in his first days.

So why doesn't George Bush do the president-elect a favor? He knows Clinton is a politician who must build a consensus and please as many people as possible.

But George Bush does not need to. He has a few days left to be daring. He could take care of Saddam once and for all.

And it would settle an old score: Though Bush beat Saddam, Bush lost his presidency while Saddam kept his.

Oh, I know what you are saying: It would be very difficult to kill Saddam Hussein in his own country.

To which I say: Don't underrate this country.

If America can't come up with a few good hit men, nobody can.

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