Thursday, September 19, 2002

While Paul Wright and Lileks and Jane Galt are dithering about how the inspections may play out, lets take a look at what Saddam's best move would be. He has proven to be quite predictable to me despite the uncertainty others may see.

Reading this article about Saddam's day-to-day life one can get a flavor about how isolated and paranoid he is. He is totally focussed on remaining in power as long as possible. Everything is secondary to that. It appears he has no serious ambitions beyond that. The sanctions and the constant American military pressure make it impossible for him to mount any effort at military adventurism. His only visible play has been to hand out money to Palestinian bomber families. This brings him the only international support he can muster. All he has to offer is money but not enough to mend fences with other Middle Eastern powers.

He knows that any overt resistance to inspections will be suicidal. He knows that his only hope is to recover the wealth and accompanying influence he had when he could sell his oil freely. That is more valuable to him than WMD. Any scenario involving WMD is fundamentally counter-productive to him. If he has any such capability he will put it on ice and hide it away where it very likely will not be found. Nothing will be operational and at risk of detection by inspectors.

They will tool around as long as it takes. He may even leave something out for them to find so they feel useful. Whatever they find will be sacrificed at little loss. In the end sanctions will be lifted. He will remain in power. And THAT will be his victory. In the end Bush will be frustrated and Saddam will just smile and count his cash.

And who knows? When the heat is off and there is lots of money Saddam will return to his favorite hobby.

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