There are less costly strategies for dealing with Hussein than conducting a war. Hussein, while he may not act morally, is rational in the sense that economists and political scientists use the term. An examination of his past actions indicates that his principal need is to maintain his own physical and political survival. Using that knowledge, Washington can develop a strategy that would allow the United States to deter Hussein from taking actions detrimental to U.S. national security, without engaging him in warfare.
The key to neutralizing the Iraqi threat is to deter Hussein from aggressive action by sending a clear and credible message of commitment to protecting the United States against any challenge to its security; it is essential to communicate a willingness to massively retaliate in response to attacks against our homeland. This is crucially different from President Bush’s message that overthrowing Hussein must be a top priority, regardless of his actual behavior. If Hussein believes that his political survival is being threatened, and there is nothing he can do about it, he may respond in a dangerous and unpredictable manner—with weapons of mass destruction.