A military solution to the Iraq-Kuwait crisis would be catastrophic economically and in the number of lives that would be lost, a Middle East expert said Thursday.
Omar M. Kader, a native Utahn who heads his own Middle East consulting firm in Reston, Va., told a University of Utah Hinckley Institute of Politics audience that Americans must be patient and maintain their perspective - even if takes months or a year or more to resolve the crisis.A former University of Utah student and Brigham Young University professor, Kader said it is critical that Americans become knowledgable about the military, political, economic and other issues. And he urged their support of the Bush administration's policy of a peaceful resolution of the problems surrounding Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
"Peace will take more time and there is a peaceful resolution possible. However, you have to have a military deterrent on the ground in the event that peace really doesn't succeed and Saddam Hussein really pushes us to the brink.
"I don't think he wants to go to war with us, but he's going to have to go all the way to test us," Kader said in an interview.
The speaker, who visited Iraq within the past year, said he has been reading Saddam's speeches.
"In every speech he gives is (the feeling) that the United States can't sustain . . . the American people will not support, the American people are inpatient, the American people will not accept 10,000 or 20,000 casualties," he said.
Kader, whose parents immigrated to Utah from a small village outside Jerusalem in 1912, said the U.S. should continue to send messages to Saddam that America is there for the "long haul and that the American public will not abandon the president." He said the current "policy is sound. The Soviets are with us, the U.N. is with us as a whole. It is sound to support a policy of peace."
With support from nation after nation, the U.S. is "building bridges we never dreamed of."
In the interview and in his talk, Kader faulted congressional leaders and the White House for not working hard enough to educate the public. People have got to be educated to be patient, he said.
"They can't have blind patience. I fault the leadership of the country for not going out there talking to the public about what the policy entails and calling for patience."
"People actually believe that we can go in there and do physical, military damage to Saddam Hussein and not be damaged ourselves," he said.
"For those who talk about military strikes, I don't think anybody in this country has any idea of what a military strike would entail . . . I think we would be talking about a minimum of 20,000 American casualties (the first month). I think we would be talking about a minimum of 30,000 to 50,000 Iraqi casualties. We are talking about a major, significant global confrontation . . . ," he said.