Samizdata, August 2002
SADDAM, LET’S THINK outside the box for a change.
We know you don’t really give two shits about the Palestinians, and you sure as hell don’t give a rat’s ass about Islam, either. And we know you’re a practical kind of man. So here’s a little suggestion that might meet both of our needs.
Here’s the way it is. Unless we make some kind of arrangement here, we’re going to have to turn all of Iraq into a pane of stained glass. It’ll be an ugly business; everyone in the world will get their panties in a wad about it, and we’ll all have to waste a lot of our valuable time and energy holding useless press conferences explaining things we’d rather not explain. We will, that is. You won’t, because you’ll be dead. You can take Israel with you, sure, but you’re still going to be dead as a dodo, and there ain’t no 72 virgins in Paradise waiting for you. Take my word for it, we know from the pleasures of the flesh in our country.
Now here’s what we suggest, Saddam. This might come as a surprise to you, but we’ve been giving it some thought, and lately it occurs to us that the Iraqis and the Americans might actually have more in common than we first thought. You know that book about what to do when someone moves your cheese? Well, we’ve read it too, and it really spoke to us. It’s time to look at that cheese again.
For one thing, we’ve noticed lately that we really don’t feel a lot of love for the Saudis, and it just doesn’t seem to us that they’re running those oil fields as responsibly as they could. And you know the Kuwaitis? Well, we were wrong, you were right, and we’re man enough to admit it. They’re repulsive little ingrates and they’re too damned cowardly to have a country of their own. Hell, they probably were stealing your oil.
So you know what, Saddam?
Yep, you heard us right. That was the green light, just like the one you thought you got from that Glaspie woman, only this time we mean it. Take Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia too. It would take you what, three days? Go ahead and butcher the Al Sabahs and the whole Saudi royal family. Have at it. Any dissent? We know you know how to handle it, just don’t tell us about the details. Let Noam Chomsky worry about it.
And hell, Saddam, you want a free hand over Iran? We see no problem with that either. We know they gave you a bit of hassle the last time around, but after 23 years under the Ayatollahs, this time they’ll probably be throwing roses at your tanks. As far as we’re concerned, you can have the whole Persian Gulf. All of it. You can even keep your WMD program. We’ll sell you the damned Trident missiles if you like, just as long as you keep them pointed toward the right people. Oh, and we’ll give you a free hand to slaughter all the Islamic fundamentalists you want – in Saudi Arabia, outside Saudi Arabia, in Iran, Yemen, wherever. We know you’re dying to do it anyway; heck, you love killing people. Give ’em a taste of what the Kurds got. Like I said, we don’t want to know the details. Kind of like we said to the Indonesians back in the day. Let Robert Fisk worry about getting the scoop. (Oh, and if something unfortunate were to happen to him, you didn’t hear it from us, but you know – accidents do happen. The will of Allah and all that.)
Way we see it, Saddam, there’s really no reason the two of us should go to war when we really have a lot of common emotional needs. Sure, we think you’re a little ruthless, a bit of a homicidal maniac, but you know, we managed to see the bright side of Stalin when we needed to, and in retrospect, it’s a fine thing what those Russians did at Stalingrad – that could have been our boys taking losses like that. We think we might have sort of a similar situation here. Let’s face it, we Americans just don’t have the stomach to do what it really takes to wipe out these Islamic lunatics. And they seem awfully serious about wanting us all dead. So why not give the job to a man who has both the appetite to do the job right and the expertise?
We just have a few little things we’d like in return. Lay off of Israel, stop sending money to those idiotic suicide bombers, and keep the price of oil below nine dollars a barrel – forever. The way we see it, everyone ends up happy, except maybe the Al Sauds, and frankly, at this point, their happiness is just not our number one priority. You get what you always wanted – total control of the Gulf. We get what we always wanted – – cheap oil and the assurance that every fundamentalist maniac in the Middle East will enjoy your excellent vacation facilities and your trademark Iraqi hospitality. We can be buddies again, just like we were during the Cold War. Remember the good times we had together back then?
What are the Europeans going to say about it? They’re the ones who keep blathering on about how they don’t want us to antagonize you, so they should be thrilled by the announcement of the Iraqi–American Peoples’ Alliance for Peace. And figure this: We lift the sanctions, you control all the oil in the Gulf, you start pumping it out like there’s no tomorrow, and within a week you’ll be able to feed all those poor little starving Iraqi children and keep your palaces maintained in the fashion to which you’ve become accustomed. No more of this undignified slinking from house to house every night to escape detection – you could really live in style. And a constant supply of nine–buck–a–barrel oil will do wonders for this unpleasant little economic slump we’ve been facing here. It’s a win-win situation.
So that’s really the deal, Saddam old buddy. It’s simple, isn’t it? Lay off of Israel, do the needful with the terrorists, and the Gulf is yours. We tried to do the right thing by the Kuwaitis and the Saudis, but you know, there comes a point in every relationship where you have to ask – “Am I giving more than I’m getting here?” And honestly, we think that point came and went a long time ago. It’s like they say in the books about healthy relationships. We feel like one of those women who love too much. Have you read that one? It really spoke to us, all that stuff about being co–dependent and all. Always bailing out some penny–ante, Jew–hating Gulf potentate whenever he gets himself into some stupid mess, and getting no thanks, none at all, not one word, just more abuse about how we’re such bullies and warmongers.
Well, we’ve talked it over with our therapists and we’ve seen that we’re worth more than that. It’s all about Toughlove now. If they think they don’t need us, fine – let them go it on their own, just don’t come crying to us when the Republican Guards start yanking out the plugs on those incubating babies. They had their chance.
Nine dollars a barrel. Lay off of Israel. Do whatever it is that you do best with the Islamic Fundamentalists. And the Gulf is yours forever. Tell me you don’t see the beauty in it, Saddam.
And of course, remember the alternative.