Friday, November 01, 2002

Saddam Hussein is playing "chicken" with the lives of his people and ours. Is he doing this because he thinks he can win? I doubt it; he's not stupid. Does he think the US will back down and face humiliation as an impotent 'Paper Tiger', having twice 'failed' to overthrow him? He has a megalomaniac's penchant for underestimating his opponents. There is a third possibility, as symtomatic of mental imbalance as the second, but which gives him credit for being aware of what an invasion might mean for us as well as for him (an awareness which does us no good since our leaders don't seem to share it.)
Our intelligence agencies have already reported their analysts think, even if he would not do so otherwise, that Hussein would use whatever WMD's he has if he were trapped. So doesn't it make him only slightly more crazy to imagine he might dare us to invade, knowing the result would be an absolute disaster for us, and that our later collapse- as he imagines it- would be enough to satisfy his need for glory? Remember that the mythology of the Serbian nationalists sprang from the memory not of victory but of defeat. Fascism and glorious failure go hand in hand. The Thousand Year Reich was based the prophesy that it would become decadent and be violently overthrown, eventually. It's all very 'B' movie: Saddam Hussein sees himself as a man standing at the edge of a cliff, daring his opponent to jump him, knowing that the force of the attack will drive them both off the cliff and into the sea. The fact that's it's cheap melodrama doesn't make it less scary.
And I guess it's just another excuse for me to decry the absence of the sort of political culture that might recognize this sort of game more easily. As I read what I've written it seems obvious. But I've been writing this for two hours and I didn't think about it two months ago, when perhaps I could have if I had had a little more imagination.

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