Some thoughts on Iraq

October 02, 2003|MILTON F. SNYDER

I am amazed by the constant criticism of our president and the Iraq war by many people who are just repeating stories originated by those who have never been to Iraq or any other Mideast country.

To keep Iraq in perspective, it was a Third World country, poorly run by a dictator and a tyrant. All of the evidence points to a suppressed population with no economy, a minimum of infrastructure, controlled press and television. We hear reports of our failure to restore electrical power, water and other services. Iraq never had ample infrastructure before we arrived, so how can we be expected to restore something that was never there? Pictures on television show an early-1940s electrical system.

I lived in Cairo, Egypt, for more than two years, and with all of the money we have poured into that country, $2 billion-plus a year for the last 20 years, or more than $40 billion, it is still a Third World country. I was involved with people from all walks of life, including the poorest to the government ministers. I traveled the country and observed places tourists will never see, including their jails. I do not believe the United Nations can do any better job than the United States, and do not forget the United Nations has little or no financial resources. Who will pay? Also, do not look for Iraq to become a democracy since Islam is not compatible with democracy. Probably, free elections and improved conditions are the most to be expected.


Saddam Hussein was a lot smarter than people want to give him credit for. In the case of the nuclear programs, he knew he could not set up and start a uranium or plutonium enhancement program. They are very difficult to hide due to physical size restraints. Also, it takes very pure nuclear materials to make a small, efficient weapon, one that you could fit onto a missile. He probably did purchase uranium "yellow cake" and traded it for finished weapons-grade material. We know he had financial resources so he could buy nuclear material from, say, North Korea, which has limited financial resources but can refine nuclear material. A swap could be made with Saddam, who could hide weapon-size material very easily. It would be easy to hide assembly facilities.

Let us explore the chemical weapons charge. Within 30 miles of Danville, at the Bluegrass Army Depot, enough weapons are stored to kill the population of several large cities. In fact, just the supply in one igloo could wipe out New York City. Again, it would be easy to hide or move in five or six 18-wheeler trucks.

As for the biological weapons, they do not require a large space or sophisticated equipment. Think of what appears to be the work of one person and what he did in the Washington, D.C., area. This was no doubt produced by a small lab in a home or commercial location or could easily be in a large, 18-wheeler van. It could be dispersed from a common CO2 fire extinguisher, propane tank or welding gas cylinder. We know the weapons inspectors saw a lot of truck movement.

In regard to more troops in Iraq, we should want to have few troops if we are to convince the people we are ready for the Iraqis to be more involved and to turn the operation of the country over to the local people. More troops do not deter suicide bombers but expose more troops to danger.

On the subject of American contractors, Iraq needs their organizational expertise. The Arabs are very poor planners and organizers, whether it is in war or peace. The United States will continue to supply most of the resources.

Danville resident Milton F. Snyder is a retired executive of a large defense contractor and has more than 50 years of experience in nuclear, defense and private manufacturing industries.

Central Kentucky News Articles