Messrs. Bush and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz rant on every TV screen about how dangerous Saddam is, and that's why we need to launch this war soonest. I'm sorry but I don't buy it, even if (today's hot news) the Iraqis may have a drone with a wider wingspan than they're supposed to. I fully believe they've got some chemo/bio weapons salted away somewhere, but I still don't see them as anywhere near the world's or even America's biggest problem. (Doesn't mean that it mightn't be a good idea to take Saddam out, just that all these ridiculous lies about how dangerous he is are really getting old.) In fact, I thought it might be helpful to make a list of things that are scarier than Saddam.

(Not in any particular order.)

  1. The Big One - One of these years one of the big West Coast cities (San Fran, Seattle, Vancouver) is going to get clobbered by a somewhat overdue earthquake, with carnage that will dwarf that of 9/11. Are we ready? I wonder if money diverted from conventional Homeland Security to disaster preparedness would make a big difference in the aftermath.
  2. Heroin and Crack - On the street, the price declines as the purity and availability increase. I've got a little boy growing up.
  3. India - They've got nuclear weapons, and a ruling party that skates just this side of racism, and a nuclear-armed enemy next door.
  4. Pakistan - Same neighbor situation as the previous, but here they've got a good old-fashioned military dictatorship after several failed attempts to get democracy working.
  5. Russia - Yes, Russia is sort of kind of democratic, but just try to keep an opposition media outlet going, and a certain proportion of the population looks back with favor on Stalin, and is supportive of the brutal, abusive, imperialist war against the Chechens. And they've got nukes.
  6. North Korea - Paranoid, delusional, and starving.
  7. Saudi Arabia - We need this country's oil, and the government is a corrupt autocratic absolute monarchy that has no place in the twenty-first century and can't possibly last much longer, and the chances for a graceful transfer of power to something more civilized don't look real good.
  8. Israel/Palestine - Right now each side would really rather fight than make any meaningful compromises, and neither of them can win.
  9. Abusive Agriculture - Particularly on the meat side of the business, the Western world's farmers are pumping their products with antibiotics, hormones, and a witch's brew of other goodies in an uncontrolled experiment where you and I, dear reader, are the guinea pigs; maybe we'll get lucky and this won't lead to some horrible health catastrophe.
  10. Rich-Country Protectionism - It's really tough to see how the poor countries of the world are going to pull themselves up through trade when the EU and the US are subsidizing their own farmers and building tariff walls against steel, lumber, and food. Countries stuck in poverty are breeding grounds for all sorts of nastiness.
  11. China - A highly corrupt one-party dictatorship with a yawning gulf between urban wealth and peasant poverty, an immense military with not much to do, and territorial claims against its neighbors.
  12. Water - Large parts of the world, including most of the Western half of the United States, are using up their water supplies way faster than they're being regenerated, and it's not going to be pretty when things run out.
  13. Global Warming - Imagine hundreds of millions in Bengladesh retreating before the advancing waters - where are they going to go? Imagine the desertification of the North-American prairies, what are we going to eat? That's just a couple of potential consequences. Maybe if we denounce Kyoto as unrealistic and look the other way it won't happen, but the penalties for being wrong are awfully severe.
  14. Multi-drug-resistant bacteria Some of these have probably already found a home in your local hospital, and if you happen to get unlucky after your next surgery you may replicate the drama and thrills of galloping morbid infection, just like our grandparents knew, pre-antibiotics.
  15. Market Turmoil There is reason to expect a wave of big ugly bankruptcies in the airline industry, the telecom industry, and the energy distribution industry in the coming weeks or months. I don't think our system is set up to handle all this very well, and expect some ugly main-streeet consequences.

author · Dad
colophon · rights
picture of the day
March 11, 2003
· The World (147 fragments)
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