A quick little Risk-like role-play, starring you as El Comandante. The world awaits your roll of the dice.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a third-world tin-horn dictator and that you are, like everyone else on the globe, watching today’s scenes of the US military trooping through Baghdad. It took the US less than four weeks and 100 casualties to depose Saddam Hussein. The technological superiority of the US armed forces was such that this was by-and-large a turkey shoot, whereby we killed thousands of Iraqis without, in most battles, suffering any deaths ourselves. If there was any doubt left over from the first Gulf War that we are the preeminent military power in the history of the world, it’s gone now.

So you, Mr. or Ms. Tin horn Dictator (may I call you Dick?), have control of an army that’s probably not even half the size that Saddam’s was. You don’t have the technological sophistication of Iraq, or even necessarily the oil money he had to keep the economy propped up. How do you hold onto power in the face of George Bush’s stated and now proven first strike doctrine? If your first thought wasn’t “acquire weapons of mass destruction” you’re not long for the throne. Because what every other two-bit penny-ante Saddam-wannabe in the world now knows is that you must have weapons of mass destruction—preferably nuclear—to counter US conventional forces. As a bonus, once you acquire them, you’ll gain a measure of respect in the world community that far exceeds what you deserve on the basis of your government or economic power (for example North Korea and Pakistan).

So, no, I don’t think today’s toppling of the Iraqi government has made the world a safer place. There are any number of crucial questions left on the table by members of the Bush Administration, who seem to have read too many Tom Clancy novels. Foremost among these is probably though not necessarily: Who will we attack next?

[BTW, has anyone else noticed that no chemical weapons or weapons of mass destruction were used against US forces? I don’t believe that Iraq was in compliance with UN resolutions—Saddam is or was too much of a snake in the grass for that—but golly, what if they were and the whole pretext for our invasion turned out to be false? I suppose it’s too late now to tiptoe back out of Iraq, whisper “sorry, our bad” and quietly close the door behind us.]