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Old 02-16-2003, 02:50 AM   #1
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When And How This War Is Going To Be Played Out

The man who gave this presentation knows the issues inside and out. Here's the link to his (very, very impressive) bio:

Gwynne Dyer speaks at Laurier
War with Iraq is "dumb and dangerous"
Date posted: February 10, 2003

Gwynne Dyer addressing Laurier audience
War with Iraq is "dumb and dangerous," but it is almost certainly going to begin later this month, says Gwynne Dyer, the internationally syndicated freelance journalist, broadcaster and lecturer.

This is how it will happen, Dyer told a capacity audience at Laurier Thursday:

First, the United States will go back to the United Nations for a resolution authorizing force. "It's in the bag," Dyer said, or the U.S. wouldn't even bother. This will take about a week.

Then civilians of many nationalities will be evacuated from Iraq. This will take another week.

"Then the war starts, on the 19th, 20th, 21st…"

And this war, Dyer said, is not going to be like the recent wars in Afghanistan or Kosovo, or the war George Bush Sr. led to push Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991.

"The last time, we were actually only trying to drive Saddam Hussein out of occupied Kuwait. There was hardly any fighting on the ground.

"If you are going to get Saddam Hussein, you have to go where he is, which is a deep bunker (somewhere) in Baghdad, which is bigger than Toronto." And unless Saddam is assassinated or is deposed in a coup, "you have to fight your way in. It won't be (as fierce as) Berlin 1945 or Stalingrad or Grozny, but some of them (Iraqi soldiers) will fight," especially the 90,000-strong Republican Guard.

"Street fighting eats up soldiers," said Dyer, "so you're talking quite a few American casualties. So you flatten it (Baghdad). So we're looking at tens of thousands of civilian casualties, and it may not stop there."

If Saddam still has Scud missiles, he may well turn them against Israel, just as he did in 1991. They won't be nuclear, because Saddam doesn't have nuclear weapons, and they probably won't even be chemical, but they will hit somewhere in Israel "and kill a few sheep."

This time, however, unlike in 1991, Israel will retaliate. "Sharon (the Israeli prime minister) has said he will retaliate, and for once I believe him," Dyer said.

This "changes the optics" in the Middle East because now you have "Israel and America attacking an Arab country together. How will that play?"

It might, Dyer said, result in a couple of things. For one the pro-American government of Jordan could be toppled and replaced by militant Islamists, "people who think bin Laden is really neat."

The first thing the new government would do is cancel Jordan's peace treaty with Israel. Then, under cover of war, Sharon would forcibly expel the Palestinian population from Gaza and the West Bank, sending them to Jordan, which is already 70 percent Palestinian.

"I don't know if this is true," Dyer said, "but a lot of people in Israel think it's true."

Other pro-American Arab states might also be vulnerable to takeover by militant Muslims…Saudi Arabia and Egypt in particular.
"So," said Dyer, "do Americans understand the Pandora's Box they're opening? I don't think so."

To understand the situation, you have to look at the 19 terrorists who hijacked planes on September 11. Who were they? What was their strategy. These, Dyer said, are not questions that are often asked in the United States.

"The preferred way of talking about them is 'evildoers', like The Joker in Batman movies. But these are 19 young Arab men…could this be a clue? Could it be about the Middle East?"

Dyer noted that only about one in five of the world's Muslims are Arab, but all the hijackers were Arab. And what they did "required a strong degree of commitment. I won't say courage, because you get fired for that if you're a journalist."

The last 100 years have not been good for Arabs, he said. They've been conquered and colonized by European powers. Israel was created in their midst. They've lost every war against Israel. Their standard of living is declining. It is "the only area in the world where there are no democracies…the governments are corrupt, oppressive, and can't even deliver prosperity.

"Most Arabs don't turn to political extremism, but it's bound to be the case that some will," Dyer said. "Most times they turn to militant Islam as their tool of choice for turning this around. How's this going to help? It's not crazy, and it's not stupid either.
"If you're a devout Muslim and an Arab, you're bound to ask, 'Why has God let this happen to us? What are we doing wrong to make God turn his back on us?' The explanation is, 'Of course God has turned his back on us, because we have turned our back on him' by abandoning traditional values in favour of Western ideas, Western entertainment, even Western ways of dress.
The way to get God back on side is to change, "which is logical if you're a person of faith. Start living right and God will do the rest."

This message "commands a powerful audience," Dyer said. "Ten to 20 percent in Arab countries (which have a combined population of about 300 million) would accept that analysis."

The first task towards getting God back on your side, to returning to traditional values, is to overthrow the existing Arab governments. The trouble is that 80 to 90 percent of the population, while not necessarily supporting the government, also doesn't want to go back to the village days. They saw what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over. The Taliban paid no attention to traditional governmental roles, like the economy, health or education (except to restrict it), but "were obsessed with attire, beards and burkhas...these guys were hicks and most Arabs have no intention of doing that."

There are underground revolutionary Islamists in every Arab state, waging low level civil wars for the past 20 years in which hundreds of thousands have died, 100,000 in Algeria alone.

"There are 18 Arab countries, but not once has an Islamist government come to power. They have an unblemished record of failure."

Terrorism by itself does not bring down governments, Dyer said. You need either broad public support or a military coup, and the military traditionally sides with the government.

So how do you get public support? How do you bring people into the streets?

In 1998, bombs outside the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 240 people, mostly Africans in the street, and 24 Americans. About 5,000 were injured. Bill Clinton, not really knowing who to punish, unleashed 70 cruise missiles "into the blue," destroying, among other things, a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum that supplied half of Sudan's medicines.

"Al-Quida looks at the sequence of events…24 Americans, 70 cruise missiles fired essentially at random, and says, 'We can work with that. What we have to do is go to the U.S., kill thousands of Americans, and they'll go berserk. They'll get some of us, but we're ready to die, and thousands of civilians. And if we sucker them into doing that, we'll win'."

"I think it might have worked, you know," Dyer said. But America didn't walk into the trap. It stopped and thought about the situation, then "chose the right target, Afghanistan, which is not an Arab country," and went after al-Quida, with allies in tow.
"For a while, I thought I was wrong about Bush," said Dyer, "that he was really a wise man with a deep understanding of the Middle East."

But then, in January 2002, with al-Quida virtually eliminated and no real targets in sight, Bush faced a dilemma. Congressional elections were only a few months ago, and there was a need to sustain the momentum that had made him the most popular president since polling on presidential popularity began. There was also a "general panic in the U.S. that there might be another terrorist attack on their watch" so there was "a scramble to cover every imaginable risk."

Thus was born the Axis of Evil, consisting first of Iraq, then Iraq and Iran, and finally, to include a non-Arab country, North Korea.
Dyer recalled being on a live television program when the Axis of Evil was announced by Bush. "I didn't know where to look," he said. "It was a Monty Python moment…'And Now for Something Completely Different'…"

What Iraq, Iran and North Korea have in common is that they had nothing to do with the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Bin Laden actually thinks Saddam is an infidel. But the U.S. public already knows they're bad, unlike, say, Bolivia, Monaco and Nepal, said Dyer, and the decision was made to round up the usual suspects.

And that is why North Korea is making counter threats (nothing will come of it, Dyer says, because the U.S. will never attack a country that may have nuclear weapons), Iran doesn't know what is going on, and Iraq will be invaded within weeks.

"It ain't pretty, but I think it happened," said Dyer. "We're going to war over this and tens of thousands will die and what is it all about?"

Bush has now "painted himself into a corner with his tongue," Dyer said, and "there is no way American interests come out ahead. Occupy Iraq? I don't want to occupy Iraq. Iraq is an impossible country to run, even if you're an Iraqi."

Despite the failings of U.S. foreign policy, "most of this is due to the failure of the political structure of the Arab world," Dyer concluded. "Why can't the Arabs get their acts together? Oil and Israel. Israel diverts their attention, and oil encourages outside meddling.

"I like Arabs and I trust them, and they'll come out in the end," he said. "In the last five years, you're finally getting free media in the Arab world," through Al Jazeera TV in Qatar, which is available on satellite throughout the region. While only about 10 percent of the population can see it, "that's enough. That's going to change things."

Dyer said support for war is so thin in the U.S. that there probably wouldn't be a war if the U.S. had no allies. But Britain's Tony Blair is along for the ride so he can maintain access to Bush. And Canada's policy of "constructive ambiguity" as to whether it will send troops or not "is absolutely what you should be doing," he said.

"The prime minister, cabinet and military think this (invading Iraq) is an absolutely dumb idea. But how much will we be hurt by the Americans if we don't (participate)? You've got to fudge it like crazy, but I suspect in the end we will go. I sure don't want to see Canadians involved as ground troops.

"I'm not a pessimist," he said. "I don't oppose every war. The last four Canadians were involved in I supported, although I was a little doubtful about Afghanistan. But this doesn't feel like that. This feels dumb and dangerous. If you take up the challenge and fight every time somebody wants you to, you're just dumb."

Barry Ries
Public Affairs
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, ON
N2L 3C5

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