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Iraq – The Wrong War

By Leonard Peikoff

January 28, 1997—President Clinton’s air strike against Iraq is more than geographically misguided. Clinton is fighting the wrong country for the wrong reasons.

Because he “doesn’t want to take sides,” Clinton has launched missiles and flown patrols well away from the battle area, risking valuable American lives in a backwater, so he can avoid giving indirect support to the Iranian-backed Kurds. But this is not the worst of it.

The civil war in Kurdistan is none of our business. No legitimate American interest is served by separating these warring tribal factions. As in the Balkans, there is no chance of achieving any peace among religious fanatics who have been at war for centuries.

Second, and more important, the country most deserving of an all-out air strike is the country most likely to benefit from Clinton’s actions: Iran.

It is true that Iran and Iraq are using the current conflict as a proxy war to vent their long-standing hostilities, and that Turkey is entering the fray to enhance its relationship with Teheran, but the conflict still is basically Kurd against Kurd.

Just as it would have been moral to allow the Soviets and Nazis to destroy each other, rather than side with one evil dictatorship against another, so too would it be proper to allow Iran and Iraq to destroy each other, even on somebody else’s territory—so long as it is not ours.

Even accepting for the briefest moment President Bush’s pointless and self-sacrificial commitment at the end of the Gulf War to ensure the Kurd’s safety under Saddam Hussein—a dictator Bush was too cowardly to remove—his promise was to defend the Kurds from Saddam, not from each other.

Even if Clinton succeeds in restraining Saddam, for whom does he leave the region open? The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is backed by Iran, aided and abetted by Turkey.

If Saddam leaves Kurdistan, Muslim forces from east and west will unite in the Iraqi north, creating an even more powerful and hostile Iran.

If Saddam does not leave, then America is left more impotent than ever, and our foreign policy is that much more of a joke.

An air strike is desperately needed in the Middle East. Not a few small missiles to intimidate Saddam Hussein into moving some of his troops, but an all-out assault against a country that is waging a terrorist war upon us every day: Iran.

Iran—not Iraq—is the primary threat to American interest in the Middle East and has been since it confiscated our oil fields in the 1950s. Iran is the major sponsor of international terrorism throughout the world and is the country most responsible for lethal attacks on American citizens. For these reasons, Iran fully deserves bloody retribution.

Clinton, however, is not the primary villain in foreign policy and is suffering (partly) for the sins of his predecessors. In particular, George Bush left such a legacy of indecision, appeasement and American self-sacrifice that trying to continue his duty-ridden promises to be the world’s policeman places us in an anomalous position of having made suicidal commitments that are grossly immoral to keep. Not to mention a legacy of flip-flops that has decimated any credibility in our foreign policy. As A.M. Rosenthal puts it, “We are dancing to a suicidal rhythm. Terrorists attack, the West investigates; they attack, we investigate.” (New York Times, 9/4/96)

What is needed is a complete reversal of American foreign policy to establish the principles of American sovereignty in foreign policy, of Western oil companies’ property rights in the oil fields, and a real commitment to war against terrorism.

What is needed is a publicly announced deadline, say four days, for Iran to dismantle its entire military—official and terrorist—or to suffer a massive air strike. When Iran fails to respond, a major and lethal strike must be launched against all of its military and industrial installations.

Only action will destroy Iran’s willingness to wage a terrorist war on the United States. Only action will put Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and all other terrorist nations on notice that the time for appeasement is over.

Leonard Peikoff is the founder of the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, California. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

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