Further Reflections on Violence

Saddam Hussein's little expedition into Kuwait has begun to take on the colors of a counter-crusade against European and American influence in the Middle East. As I write, in the second week of August, it is too early to predict the outcome of any of President Bush's diplomatic and military initiatives. In general, he deserves praise for the caution with which he has acted but blame for the vehement rhetoric in which he and other American politicians have been indulging. Saddam is not Hitler, and Iraq is a nation that, for all its "million-man army," could not even conquer the priest-ridden shambles of what had been Iran.

Of course, our own affirmative action army may prove to be no match for Iraq's well-equipped mob of Arabs. And, as Bill Hawkins points out elsewhere in this issue, America is woefully underprepared to shoulder the burdens of empire. We are back to the policies of the 1930's when FDR was cutting the military budget and goading the Japanese into war. But George Bush has no Douglas MacArthur to rebuke him.

The idea of shedding a single drop of American blood to restore the emir of Kuwait (or lower oil prices for bankers and lawyers commuting to work) is worse than preposterous. Even Saudi Arabia is important to us only as a strategic ally to which we have made commitments. On its own merits the regime of the Saudi "royal" family is not worth a single bullet, much less a...

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