Saddam Hussein is known to have had weapons of mass destruction and he used chemical weapons against his own Kurdish citizens and against the Iranian military. The pacifist myth according to which Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction was an American propaganda fabrication therefore does not hold water. There was a United Nations inspections regime in place to dispose of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In the early stages of the Iraq war, many trucks were known to have crossed the border from Iraq into Syria which is peculiar since this border was generally closed due to the hostility and rivalry between the two Ba’athist regimes. The general assumption is that those trucks carried Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction although there is no hard evidence that this was so. Either way, Saddam must have somehow disposed of his weapons of mass destruction and transporting them to rival Syria makes just as much sense as his documented transfer of the Iraqi air force to rival Iran.
The question therefore is why did not Saddam Hussein hand over his weapons of mass destruction to the UN inspectors so as to prevent the US-led invasion of Iraq? It could similarly be asked why Iran refuses to return to the JCPOA and is opposed to any nuclear agreement with the United States? Iran will eventually face an international coalition that will not only destroy the Iranian nuclear weapons program but will impose a no-fly zone over Iran that will provide air support to armed rebellions throughout the country and which will very likely lead to the downfall of the regime.
Hezbollah will on orders from Tehran launch an all-out assault on Israel in trying to emptying its arsenal of rockets and missiles, knowing full well that Israel will liberate Syria and Lebanon, establish an Aramean Christian state (Aram), annex Median Jewish (Alawite and Druze) regions of Syria and Lebanon and subsequently hand over most of Syria and the remainder of Lebanon to the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) of the AANES (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria).
Yet, the Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian regimes are not doing anything to prevent their own demise. On the contrary, they are doing everything possible to promote their own demise. Iran could return to the JCPOA and order Hezbollah not to attack Israel. Syria could ask Hezbollah to leave Syrian territory and Lebanon could try to disarm Hezbollah. Yet, they are doing nothing of the sort. Another example is the Afghan Taliban who refused the American demand to hand over the al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan to the United States. The Taliban had to endure two decades of war with NATO because of this decision. There are no signs that the Taliban regret their 2001 decision as they still harbor al Qaeda.
There are of course many rational state actors in Islamdom, in fact, most nation states in Islamdom act perfectly rationally and no less so than non-Muslim nation states. The example of the otherwise lunatic Muammar Gaddafi comes to mind who for unexplained reasons agreed to dismantle his advanced nuclear weapons program. The Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi Ba’athist and Taliban regimes have almost nothing in common other than ruling predominantly Muslim countries and being Anti-Semitic. Yet, most governments of Muslim nations do not display such irrational behaviors. Nevertheless, it must be understood that the Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian regimes, despites having almost nothing ideologically in common, are acting in concert to irrationally further their own demise.
Israel has plenty of experience of this kind of culturally based irrational behavior. In 1947 did the Palestinian national movement launch a civil war to “throw the Jews into the sea” and eliminate the Zionist (i.e. Jewish) demographic presence in Mandatory Palestine. Instead were the majority of Palestinians displaced as acts of self-defense in order to prevent a Second Holocaust. Since then, Israel’s enemies have attacked Israel many times and always with disastrous results for the attackers. There is still a broad consensus among the Palestinian public outside of Israel that the Zionist (i.e. Jewish) demographic presence has to be completely removed from “historic Palestine” between the river and the sea. The demand for flooding Israel with millions of Anti-Zionists is not merely intended to minoritize the Jews but to displace them entirely. Of course, the demand for implementing the ostensible “Palestinian right of return” to complete the failed genocide of 1947 is entirely inconsistent with the official claim by the Palestinian Authority that it ostensibly supports a two-state solution. The Palestinian consensus in favor of displacing 7 million Israeli Jews is also inconsistent with the mourning for the “Nakba”. This is certainly not principled opposition to forced mass population transfer.
What conclusions can be drawn? That there are actors in Islamdom who insist on acting irrationally to their own detriment. Why did al Qaeda attack the United States? There is no coherent explanation other than the Islamist tendency to blame America for everything the Islamists disapprove of in Islamdom. This of course is based on the Islamist Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory according to which America’s global power – hard power and soft power alike – is a Jewish conspiracy intent on destroying Islam.
The bad news is that appeasement does not work with those irrational actors and there is no known way to persuade them to act rationally. Their irrational behavior is certainly not reducible to Islam (the Syrian and Lebanese regimes are secular) or even political Islam. It is not reducible to totalitarianism either as not all of those actors subscribe to totalitarianism. While all those irrational actors are Anti-Semitic can Anti-Semitism not fully account for their irrational behaviors. US Iran envoy Rob Malley of course insists on rationalizing Iranian intransigence in implausibly claiming that Iran’s advanced uranium enrichment is a mere negotiation tactic.
One essential conclusion is that Islamdom is divided between rational actors and irrational actors and the international community must internalize the utter futility in attempting to appease the irrational actors into rational behavior.