Israel sits on a fault line. A fault line is where tectonic plates of the earth rub each other the wrong way, causing massive upheavals - like earthquakes. Israel actually sits on the African rift which splits at the Jordan River and through the Dead Sea down the Arava Valley to the Red Sea. But, I am now talking about another fault line. This fault line is deep and dangerous for this small Jewish nation.
On one side of the fault line is gathered such self-declared hostile enemies as Arafat, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Assad of Syria, the Ayatollahs of Iran and much of the Islamic world. On the other side of the fault line sits our friends or at least our "sometime" friends. The problem is that our friends have their hands deep in the pockets of our enemies. This presents a problem for Israel when friendship vs. profit = betrayal. In order to keep their hands in the Arab's profitable pockets, the West must give up something and, unfortunately, the only thing they have to trade that the Arabs have not yet been gifted or sold is the Nation of Israel.
So what does this have to do with the US attacking Iraq. Quite simply, even though Iraq represents a major threat to the Arab and European countries themselves, nevertheless, they will stand together with Iraq against Israel. This follows the conventional wisdom of the region which is "My enemy's enemy is my friend." The track record is clear on this matter which allows us to see the next step and assess its probability.
Recently, when Saddam refused to allow inspectors into his "sensitive" areas to look for his catastrophic weapons, Clinton tried to re-cobble together the Gulf War Coalition including the Arab and European countries. When this did not work because our former allies (except for Britain) would rather make profit then war, Clinton and the State Department led by Madeleine Albright, blamed Israel. Their faulty rationale was that Israel's reluctance to make further withdrawals endangering her safety, made the Arabs truculent, angry and uncooperative. I will not list all of the instances when the Arabs were angry, unfriendly and, in fact, downright hostile to the west because that would take 100 pages. But, let it be noted that the US State Department and Clinton put together the un-connectable and blamed Israel. Clinton and Albright considered Arafat's total non-compliance with every single commitment within Oslo/Hebron as irrelevant. So, if Clinton is to make a fight of it, will he later (or sooner) offer up Israel as his apology for offending the vaunted sensitivities of the Muslim nations? I think so.
Perhaps you will remember that, during the Gulf War, President Bush pulled together a kind of show coalition of Arab countries. Syria came for the promised money and equipment they would and did receive for merely showing up. So did Egypt but, neither brought arms with which to fight Iraq, nor did they intend to fight. However, they provided a fig leaf of respectability for Bush as he fought a war he never intended to finish or win.
Bush refused to give Israel the IFF codes (Identification of Friend or Foe) to allow cooperation with the US Air Force for Israeli aircraft to use their excellent fighting skills and hit the mobile missile launchers of the Iraqi SCUDS. Even though 39 SCUDS hit Israel, she could not fight back. In fact, the last SCUD of Desert Storm hit a barracks of soldiers' from Pennsylvania, killing at least 29. If the Israelis had been permitted to hit the SCUD launchers, maybe those Americans would be alive today.
Long after the war, intelligence revealed that American air strikes against the SCUDS and other Iraqi sites housing Saddam's weapons of mass destruction had been quite unsuccessful. The CNN contrived air show of direct hits was truly falsified reporting - as directed by The Bush Administration. To keep the superb Israeli Air Force out of the War, Bush promised Israel he would have US aircraft target the launchers, but accounts after the war showed he lied. He did not task the US Air Force to track and attack the SCUD mobile missile launchers. Much later, reports surfaced that the Patriot missiles the US installed in Israel were totally ineffective, shooting down SCUDS over cities so debris from both the SCUDS and the Patriot actually fell on the cities, creating millions of the dollars in damages - though miraculously, only one death.
Israeli Intelligence had known the truth about both covered up disasters. When the General of the Israeli Air Force went public exposing the false promises, the State Department flooded the media with denials. Clearly, Bush did not want the Israelis in the War nor the possibility that Israel might successfully target Saddam who was being so carefully preserved by Bush.
Before the start of the Gulf War, the US Military, Colin Powell and Gen. Schwarzkoff, were deeply concerned that Saddam would use his biological and chemical warheads against US troops. We knew he had them because the American Administration assisted him in acquiring them through various Allies, like Germany, France, Belgium, England - and even America herself.
Israel was also expecting Saddam to use gas and chemical warheads. Thanks to Jonathan Pollard's whistle-blowing about Saddam's poison gas capability, Israel had developed gas masks and baby tents for all civilians. At 4 AM January 16th on the first night that Iraq attacked Israel with SCUDS, in our gas masks, in our sealed room, we heard a radio interview of Sec. of Defense Caspar Weinberger who bemoaned: "It's too bad that Iraq is using nerve gas against Israel." How revealing!
Bush stopped the War after only 4 days of ground assault. He never attacked the sites housing Saddam's NBC, Nuclear, Biological or Chemical weapons. For his own reasons of future profits, Bush carefully preserved Saddam and his elite Republican Force intact, as he issued waivers to his cabinet for any business they may have been doing with Iraq -- like selling Iraq missiles, chemicals and other weapons, plus oil deals in yet unpiped Iraqi fields.
Strangely, when Clinton (through Janet Reno) never investigated the Iraq-gate scandal of Bush providing Saddam with funding for his catastrophic weapons' buildup with $5 billion of US taxpayers' money through the Department of Agriculture and BCCI. Ms. Reno never found anything wrong. Why? What scandal could Bush have held over former Governor Clinton which forced him to follow the Bush plan? Bush had Joseph DiGenova (Pollard's prosecutor) strip all the White House computer discs and hard drives, which are buried and may be erased. Clinton never even investigated the Bush accusations against him regarding his alleged passport manipulation. This could have been a greater scandal than the current one.
So, after Gulf Storm was over, Saddam was free to successfully bury most of his important weapons and has been leading the UN inspectors on a merry goose chase. Now it's beginning again. If the US attacks Iraq and finishes the job, it must pay the other Arab nations for the privilege of protecting them and their oil fields. That payment will likely comes in the form of unbearable pressure on Israel. Perhaps this time Israel will be allowed to defend herself but, given US history with the Jewish State, I doubt it.
Let us assume that Saddam decides to launch his hidden gas missiles at Israel. What will America do? What will America do when Israel retaliates? What if a coalition of Arab nations decides to attack Israel because their "good" friend, the Butcher of Bagdad has his nose bloodied in retaliation or justifiable pre-emption? Will American Arabists in the White House and State Department ever allow Israel to battle with our Arab friends of the rich, deep pockets?
Israel never wanted American soldiers to fight or die for the Jewish State. She merely asked for arms to do it for herself. It is revealing to note that, as Israel seeks to wean her economy off of American economic aid, that the total aid of $1.2 billion a year for has merely paid the interest on the loans Israel had to incur to pay for Israel's rearming after the Yom Kippur War and the Camp David withdrawal from Sinai which cost Israel at least $17 billion. And that all the funds from those loans, with their exorbitant interest, were actually spent at weapons' manufacturers in America, providing American jobs and profits. But, Israel is still paying and is losing the battle for military superiority over the Arab confrontation states who have unlimited funds to buy the same American technology.
The Jews winning 6 wars against unbelievable odds enraged the Arabs - but religiously observant Jews understood the miracle! Nevertheless, the growing military imbalance which now greatly favors the Arab Armed Forces and the world's preference for Arab oil profits drastically threatens Israel in any future war. Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are a far greater threat to Israel than to the rest of the Free World.
Chief UN weapons' inspector, Richard Butler used a very revealing phrase January 26th: "If Saddam uses his weapons' of mass destruction, Tel Aviv can be blown away." "Blown Away" is not what happens from Biological and/or Chemical missile strikes. "Blown Away" sounds more like a Nuclear attack than Biological or Chemical. However, it is extremely revealing that the Pentagon announced publicly that they will inoculate all the US Military, wherever they serve, against the deadly anthrax toxins they obviously know Saddam has. However, they only have enough vaccine for the US Military. Who will inoculate the 5 million Jews and Arabs of Israel against Saddam's anthrax?
At the moment the Russians have sent their former Ambassador to Iraq to negotiate a deal which looks like he is buying time so the heat will be lowered. That means that another year of cat and mouse with the Iraqis moving their weapons' stash while building new ones. Well, whatever. We know that Saddam's regime must be removed even if it interferes with Bush and his oil friends' plans. Saddam has become a big enough danger to the world to warrant removal. Let us hope that there is still enough morality left in the Clinton Administration not to use Israel as his bargaining chip to appease the Arabs.
If ethics don't drive his conscience, perhaps he'll recognize a more powerful and higher order can reach into his life and, at specific crucial moment, destroy his ambitions. Perhaps the urge for self-preservation will move the Americans to be true allies of the only country in the world who can defend the Free World against the hysterical forces of radical Islamic Fundamentalism who want world dominion - for Islam.
Israel has often been used as the "Scapegoat". Recall during the Iran/Contra scandal, Ollie North testified that, if caught transferring missiles, the US would exercise "credible deniability" by blaming Israel. Having already blamed Israel for the hostility evinced by Saddam and the other Arab potentates, surely we can expect to see Clinton once again using Israel to deflect criticism from any negative results of American attacks against Saddam - or failure of creating a credible coalition to destroy his weapons' of mass destruction and, perhaps, Saddam himself.
Emanuel A. Winston is a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.