Iraq War 2003: Background & Lessons

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October 23, 2002


Removal of Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein: an Iranian Opposition Perspective

Ah, love! Could thou and I with fate conspire
To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire!
Would not we shatter it to bits-and then
Re-mould it nearer to the Heart's desire!

The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam. Translated by Edward Fitzgerald

Opinion. By Dr Assad Homayoun.1 It is clear that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had a profound impact in the United States and on international politics. The terrorism and development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by so-called “rogue regimes” is increasingly posing a grave danger to US security and to international equilibrium. The United States, as the single remaining global superpower, has been subjected to worst terrorism and has taken on the task trying to help create a new world which would be free of terror, and democratic. Or indeed the United States is undertaking to reorder the world on US terms. 

In order to create this “new world”, the irresponsible administrations which try to develop WMD and support of international terrorism must changed or removed from power. Change in the Iraqi Administration in Baghdad would be the first and important step for change in the Middle East region which has been a hotbed of fundamentalism and the center of both international terrorism and competition for the acquisition or development of weapons of mass destruction.

Debate is presently ongoing in the United States and world community regarding US decision of removing Iraq's Saddam Hussein, but there can be no question that he represents a menace to the stability of the region, to world peace and to his own people. Twice in the past he tried to develop nuclear weapons to dominate the Persian Gulf and intimidate Iraq’s neighbors. Presently he is accumulating different kinds of WMD and appears determined to acquire nuclear weapons. He has violated the resolutions of the UN Security Council 16 times. He, after the disintegration of the Iranian Armed Forces, and the decimation of military officers of Iran by the revolutionary clerics, invaded Iran in an attempt to become “lord paramount” of the Persian Gulf to control oil wealth and dominate the entire Middle East.

Pres. Saddam used 101,000 chemical and biological shells against the Iranian forces who were defending their country against invading Iraqi forces. It was an invasion which left 400,000 dead and 900,000 wounded. As Dr Khidhir Hamza put it in his book, Saddam’s Bombmaker, Pres. Saddam, during the Iraqi invasion of Iran, expedited activities to secure an indigenous nuclear weapons capability. His real aim was, if he could not succeed in defeating Iran with conventional weapons, to destroy Tehran with nuclear weapons. Saddam Hussein gassed his own people and forcibly relocated more than 400,000 Kurds. Again he tried to dominate the Persian Gulf again with the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. And after defeat in this war by US and coalition forces, he massacred Shi’ites of Iraq’s South. If the US did not move to oust Saddam from Kuwait, he would now be sitting on 65 percent of world energy with one of the world’s biggest armed forces, equipped with nuclear weapons. He has killed those of his ministers who dared criticize his policy.

Those who think that Saddam will agree will full and unfettered United Nations inspection do not understand the psychodynamics of Saddam Hussein. He has been cheating and playing with the UN and world community for years. He may be willing to make a tactical concession to save his skin but, if he agrees nominally to UN weapons inspections, he will not succumb to an effective inspection regime, and inspections will never ensure the disarmament of Iraq. Indeed, as noted by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, much of Saddam’s WMD program is being undertaken offshore, in any event, in Libya.

[See, for example, Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, October 1, 2002: Weapons Grade Uranium Moving in Middle East; Iraqi WMD and Delivery Development Being Undertaken in Libya, by Gregory R. Copley.]

Pres. Saddam’s real strategic goal is acquiring nuclear weapons with which to dominate the most important energy center of the world. Once Saddam has acquired a nuclear weapon it will be too late to stop him from materializing his goals.

US President George W Bush, in declaring the two administrations in Baghdad and Tehran as an “axis of evil” in the Middle East, made the right, courageous and necessary decision. The only way to remove those administrations from having access to weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, is removal of their leaderships, and paving  the way for real reform and democracy. People such as Pres. Saddam Hussein and the “Supreme Leader” of Iran “Ayatollah” Ali Hoseini-Khamene‘i, whose administrations and existence have been based on blood, will not change by negotiation and the influence of good people. Their dictatorial systems are founded on continuation not rupture. As Niccolò Machiavelli put it in Discourses: “ … [F]or, a licentious and mutinous people may easily be brought back to good conduct by the influence and persuasion of a good man, but an evil-minded prince is not amenable to such influence and therefore there is no other remedy against him but cold steel.”

Apart from the good it would achieve for the Iraqi people, the removal of the Administration of Saddam is of the utmost importance because:

I strongly believe that the United States, with the diplomatic, military, economic and technological resources and determination of Pres. George W. Bush, can succeed in overcoming this new asymmetrical threat to civilization and international stability. I am of the opinion that the removal of the two administrations in Iraq and Iran is imperative to the restoration — or introduction — of representative government and order to the Middle East as well as to any viable “new world order”. The new developments in North Korea (DPRK), the leadership of which in October 2002 admitted the existence of its long-standing nuclear weapons program, has confirmed and justified the concerns which Pres. Bush expressed in February 2002 in declaring the Iran-Iraq-DPRK “axis of evil”. 

The US-led removal of the Saddam Administration in Iraq would play a salutory rôle in bringing the DPRK into the world community by signaling the West’s resolution to deal with destabilizing elements. It would also provide the appropriate signals to the peoples of Iran and Libya that their initiatives to remove repressive leadership would be supported by the international community. 


The author, Dr Assad Homayoun, is President of the Azadegan Foundation for Democratic Change in Iran. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), in the Washington, DC, area, and was, in the period leading up to the 1979 revolution, the senior Imperial Iranian diplomat in the United States.