Back to the Bush Margaret
Reaching for historical parallels the ever Left Margaret Atwood decides to compare the American prospects in Iraq with Napoleon's experiences in Spain and Russia.
"The first was Spain. Napoleon got Spain treacherously. He had an agreement whereby he could march through it on the way to Portugal, which was bothering him by interfering with his sanctions against trading with the British. Once his armies were in Spain, he took the place over, whereupon his forces engaged in their usual practices of priest-pestering, church-looting, and removing sparkly things and artworks to other locations for safekeeping. Napoleon's big mistake was underestimating the religious feelings of the staunchly Catholic Spanish."
Actually, his big mistake was underestimating the willingness of the English to support the Spanish. The Duke of Wellington has a little something to do with the difficulties which Napoleon encountered in his Iberian adventure.
More to the point, the French went into Spain as a conquering army poised to extend the borders of the French Empire. They were not there to remove an odious regime. The Spanish resisted simply because they had no desire to be governed by the French via one of Napoleon's relatives. The Iraquis are not going to be ruled by the Americans and Jeb Bush seems to be occupied running Florida.
As for Russia:
"Napoleon's second big mistake was invading Russia. There's no one clear explanation for this. He didn't need to do it. Russia wasn't attacking him, though it had in the past and might in the future. Maybe he just wanted to add it to his set. In any case, he invaded. When his horse stumbled as he crossed the Dnieper -- a bad omen -- a voice said from the shadows, "A Roman would have turned back."
Actually, Russia was attacking him in so far as she was a part of a large and growing anti - French coalition organized by the English and the various E-Bay nations of the day. But, no matter.
The strategic blunder of attacking Russia, later repeated by that little German fellow, has absolutely nothing to do with the strategic considerations involved in moving on Iraq. There was no way that the Russians could have directly, or indirectly, wiped out the population of Paris in a day. There was no way that the Russians could have let loose diseases which had the potential to decimate the French population. And there was no way that the Russians could have developed toxins so dangerous that a single spray can let loose above a city could murder virtually all its inhabitants.
Iraq has or is building all three of these sorts of wepons of mass destruction. It has used nerve gas on its own citizens and other gases on its "co-religionist" neighbour Iran. It has and can acquire "delivery systems" in the form of suicide bombers from its friends in Palestine or through Al Qaeda.
Napoleon had the option of ignoring Russia and it might well have been the smart move to make. The world, led by the Americans, does not have the option of ignoring Saddam. The only issue is how best to disarm Iraq: a question on which reasonable people may differ.
Too bad the Globe and Mail had to waste the space to let the fading talents, historical ignorance and political naivety of Atwood muddy the debate still further.