The Mideast Nuclear Arms Race That Didn't Happen
It seems to have become part of the group consensus dogma that the 2003 American invasion of Iraq was a big mistake. There are certainly some good arguments supporting this conclusion, but there also seems to be some important considerations routinely left out of the calculation.
Perhaps the most important factor missing from public discussion of that war is this. If Saddam and his sons were still ruling Iraq we'd undoubtably be witnessing a nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq today.
As of this writing, the Iranians have stopped just short of having enough nuclear fuel for their first nuclear weapon. It seems inconceivable that Saddam would have calmly watched the Iranians build a nuclear weapons program without starting one of his own.
Let us not forget that these two countries fought a bloody war in the 1980s that caused the death of at least hundreds of thousands of their citizens. While we in the West may have forgotten about that conflict, we can be assured that no one in the region has.
If Iran and Iraq were engaged in a nuclear arms race it seems certain that other countries in the region would have started their own nuclear programs. And it doesn't seem too likely that either Israel or the United States would have been willing to bomb Iraq, Iran and multiple Persian Gulf states to prevent these developments.
Yes, yes, I know, I know, there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. That was certainly true. But that was almost 20 years ago. We can't leap from the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction 20 years ago to an assumption that the same would be true today if Saddam had remained in power.
A lot went wrong in the occupation of Iraq. A lot of mistakes were made. And a lot of innocent people died. This is all true, and very regrettable.
But without that invasion the odds are that instead of we in the West now having the luxury to largely forget about Iraq, today we'd be facing down the barrel of a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the world.
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