The year was 2001. Iraqi security services identified a growing threat: Pokemon. The animated Japanese figure - and an entire industry of video games, films and toys - was, in fact, a Zionist plot to undermine Saddam Hussein's regime by inflaming the fervor of Iraqi children with the help of a pocketsized monster whose name meant in Hebrew, according to the Iraqi secret service, "I am a Jew."
This utterly twisted conception, supported by a regional power that launched missiles that landed in Tel Aviv and sought to renew its own nuclear, chemical and biological military infrastructure, is only one of the disconcerting details in a fascinating report entitled Iraq Perspectives Project, published last week by the United States Joint Forces Command. The report is the culmination of more than two years of analysis of Iraqi preparation for the 2003 war, from the Iraqi perspective. The report is based on intelligence, military documents and interrogation of prisoners. A summary of the report, presented in the international media, highlights subjects like the Russian intelligence that was provided to Iraq (as well as Russian and French political aid) and Iraq's economic motives.
But the report also reveals a depressing insight, on the part of the Iraqis, in regard to the entire population of Israel. As long as there are Muslim zealots, and suicidal fighters waging an eternal war with the infidel, there cannot be peace.
The Iraq Perspectives Project is required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the region and its peoples. The report cites Saddam's collaboration with Yasser Arafat and the Hamas. In 1990, Saddam boasted to Arafat that he would attack Israel with chemical weapons. There were documented Palestinian training camps in Iraq. In 2003, Abdel Aziz Rantisi spearheaded a campaign to send Palestinian volunteers to the war in Iraq. Iraqi intelligence encouraged Hamas to launch terror attacks against Israeli and American targets.
Saddam scorned American weakness that was expressed, in his opinion, in the restrained bombing of specific targets in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans; in the commitment to prevent the deployment of ground troops in an effort to limit casualties; and in a premature cease-fire in Iraq in 1991 and in Somalia after only two years. According to Saddam, this weakness was not specific to any particular U.S. president - it was shared by the Bush I and Clinton administrations, and when Donald Rumsfeld was Ronald Reagan's emissary during the mission to pull America out of the Lebanese "mud" in 1984, it was evident in the Reagan administration as well. All of them committed the sin of terrified flight, which taught their Muslim adversaries that the combination of patience and terror would vanquish even the world's mightiest power.
Saddam only anticipated another American air attack. His fraudulent campaign to convince the world that he had weapons of mass destruction was all too successful: He forced an American decision to invade on the ground, without postponement, to prevent a WMD attack on American forces concentrated in the launching arena in Kuwait. Saddam also feared an additional attack by Iran, Turkey and Israel. He was concerned that he would be easy prey if they did not believe that he had weapons of mass destruction. His agents in Jordan reported that 10,000 IDF soldiers were already preparing to invade Iraq.
But his biggest fear was internal rebellion. Thus, he set up a focused and murderous regime to suppress rebellion, which resembled the Stalinist model that he adored. He removed anyone who dared to stand out and forbade any collaboration between commanders of military forces pertaining to movement of neighboring troops in order to prevent a military coup. Americans believe that he thus prevented talented Iraqi military commanders from delaying their own demise.
The evident conclusion is that the new Iraqi military, which America is constructing, will stand on its own feet in time, and will allow America to gradually withdraw. With or without war in Iraq, Iran's determination to achieve nuclear capability leads to a U.S. calamity. Saddam, had he not been toppled, would have considered it an existential reason to renew his efforts to arm Iraq with nuclear weapons. Now, in addition to the risk posed to the U.S., and commitments to Europe and Israel, Bush's commitment to the new Iraq provides him with another excuse. If the Iranians fail to comprehend that, they will repeat Saddam's mistake.