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August 2, 2002
10:40 PM   Subscribe

The anticipation of war stirs uncertainty and puts people on edge, which is the way the country, already shaken by Sept. 11, is feeling these days. It is time for Mr. Bush to level with the nation about his intentions and to talk candidly about why he feels military action against Iraq may soon be necessary, and what the goals, costs and potential consequences of a war would be. (NYTimes, registration required)
posted by sudama (48 comments total)

 
Doncha think?
posted by sudama at 10:40 PM on August 2, 2002


Lotsa people do.
posted by xowie at 11:37 PM on August 2, 2002


The CIA World Factbook page on Iraq is an interesting read.
posted by josephtate at 11:51 PM on August 2, 2002


"The victors did not occupy Iraq, however, thus allowing the regime to stay in control."

Frisson.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:20 AM on August 3, 2002


While he's at it, maybe he could talk candidly about why he feels military action against Saudi Arabia isn't necessary even though "Saudi officials are on record as saying that no bank accounts related to terrorist finance schemes have been frozen, and investigators believe there is little sign that the flow of funds to terrorist groups from charities in Saudi Arabia has ceased."

I don't actually want war with Saudi Arabia or Iraq or anyone else, I just miss that sweet Bush Doctrine Moral Clarity(TM) he used to fix us up with. These double standards just bum my high.
posted by homunculus at 12:36 AM on August 3, 2002



Charts might help.

posted by larry_darrell at 12:38 AM on August 3, 2002


Nice link Sudama (and a nicely reasoned editorial too). Thanks.
posted by sylloge at 12:47 AM on August 3, 2002


Yes it is an interesting read josephtate. Just as interesting as this.

Let the kernels add it up and decide what the fuck would happen if the two countries went *head to head*. This could never be a war of anything other than what will be declared against the little people of the world. The key is, making sure the little people believe they're being targeted or hated or attacked by so and so. No substance. No substance whatsoever.

War be declared? Nothing would happen. Nothing would change. It's some cosmic joke nobody will get for hundreds of years. But what a laugh they'll have.

We could have a good guffaw about it too weren't it for that pesky problem of carnage and "the only planet we have" bullshit.
posted by crasspastor at 12:49 AM on August 3, 2002


Two good articles, one from (surprisingly) The Guardian, the other from the WaPo, detailing two possible threats from Hussein, and two good reasons to find a way to topple him. Frightening stuff.
posted by evanizer at 1:11 AM on August 3, 2002


evanizer:

have you enlisted yet?
posted by yertledaturtle at 4:12 AM on August 3, 2002


one from (surprisingly) The Guardian

and which will be used against you the next time you instinctively abuse its editorial stance. Which you will.
posted by riviera at 6:10 AM on August 3, 2002


Wow! A(nother) editorial from the NY Times raising questions about our Iraq policy. Who would have thunk it?

The anticipation of war stirs uncertainty and puts people on edge, which is the way the country, already shaken by Sept. 11, is feeling these days.
Maybe that is how they feel in the offices of the NY Times but it isn't the feeling of the vast populous of America who at last count supported an armed overthrow of Hussein by a 70-30 margin.

It is time for Mr. Bush to level with the nation about his intentions and to talk candidly about why he feels military action against Iraq may soon be necessary, and what the goals, costs and potential.

Why, Intentions,goals : What are you on drugs? Does the NY times not read newspapers or watch tv news? It was reported in open committee this week that Saddam will have nuclear weapons by 2005. You thought 9-11 was bad? Overthrow Saddam, replace it with a democracy. Remove WMD.

Costs, potential :Most likely this involve $100+ billion dollars and a 3-5 year commitment along the lines of post war Japan. High end estimates of American casualties are in the thousands.

It is presumed that a stable, prosperous democratic Iraq would be a beacon of hope for the oppressed peoples of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. In the long run saving many thousands of American and Arab lives.

One thing the article doesn't bring up, which is surprising giving the NY Times love of "world opinion", is the possibility of a coalition. In this matter Den Beste does a pretty good job illuminating our allies as well.
posted by revbrian at 6:16 AM on August 3, 2002


Joshua Marshall (of Talking Points Memo) wrote an article in June for Washington Monthly that makes a case for attacking Iraq. He thinks the hawks are trying to get the U.S. committed to a war before the American people have a real understanding of what we would be getting into, but that they're probably right to consider Hussein a significant threat.
posted by rcade at 6:27 AM on August 3, 2002


larry_darrell... great link, thanks!
posted by mcsweetie at 6:35 AM on August 3, 2002


In this matter Den Beste does a pretty good job illuminating our allies as well.

I wouldn't use the word 'illuminating' when describing someone who uses a Victor Davis Hanson piece as primary evidence in judging foreign policy.

On the other hand, questions like 'Do we have permission from Paris for an attack?' are not particularly relevant.

True: which is why the only people asking those questions are warbloggers, usually showing up their pathological problems with Europeans. One thing Bush might be considering, though, is that the US will foot the bill in its entirety for Saddam: The Rematch. Those lily-livered pinko pussy allies paid 80% of the cost of the war to liberate Kuwait. Then again, he's already directed the federal teat towards corporate welfare for warmongers, so a few billion more may not worry him.
posted by riviera at 6:54 AM on August 3, 2002


Military analyst Anthony Cordesman's opinion, as well as dispassionate assessment of capabilities and outcomes @ CSIS; and the Economist: If you will the ends, it is only honest to will the means.

Cordesman:
Will such a war really be worth the cost? Possibly. No one can predict today whether the butcher's bill for such a war will be astoundingly low or all too high. The only thing that is predictable is that Iraq will become a steadily more dangerous proliferator so long as Saddam is alive.

There is, however, one thing of which we can be certain. There will be no true victory unless we make a firm national commitment to rebuild a moderate Iraq of the kind that Iraqis inside Iraq want, rather than simply defeat Saddam.

If we go to war, it will be out of morally ambiguous strategic calculations that involve serious uncertainties. We cannot change this reality. It is clear we can win if we are willing to commit decisive force, and probably with limited U.S., allied and Iraqi losses. However, military victory is not enough. Ultimately, we be judged and judge ourselves by our commitment to helping the Iraqi people win the peace.


The Economist:
Many people who acknowledge that Mr Hussein is a danger nonetheless oppose Mr Bush's plan to depose him, on the ground that this would in itself set a dangerous precedent. How safe would the world really be if the United States, armed now with Mr Bush's new doctrine of pre-emption, swanned about it shooting up any country that possessed or sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction, deposing any president whose face it did not like? That is a good question. It is not, however, the question that arises in Iraq.

When he invaded Kuwait, Mr Hussein forfeited some of Iraq's normal sovereign rights.... Eleven years on, Iraq is still crippled, the inspectors have been forced out, and nobody believes that Mr Hussein has given up seeking a bomb or scrapped all the chemical and biological weapons he already has. He has literally preferred to starve Iraq than to give up his appetite for them.

None of this is to argue that a war to remove Mr Hussein should be undertaken lightly.... With his own head and not just his most recent conquest at stake, and especially when he calculates that he has nothing to lose, Mr Hussein might very well use the unconventional weapons he has collected.

It is little wonder, given this, that people of goodwill are groping for a safer alternative. But wishful thinking in the face of mortal danger is bad policy. Perhaps the best hope is that, as the noose tightens, Mr Hussein will save himself by letting the inspectors return. If they did so on a credible go-anywhere, check-anything basis, such an opportunity would be worth grabbing, at least to see if it worked.

Failing this, however, the outlook is grim.... The honest choices now are to give up and give in, or to remove Mr Hussein before he gets his bomb. Painful as it is, our vote is for war.

posted by dhartung at 7:42 AM on August 3, 2002


Revbrian:

>Overthrow Saddam, replace it with a democracy. Remove WMD.

You make it sound so easy! Let's get this party started!

>Costs, potential :Most likely this involve $100+ billion dollars and a 3-5 year commitment along the lines of post war Japan. High end estimates of American casualties are in the thousands.

piece of cake! We've been so good at nation building lately and $100 billion is nothing. Thousands of American lives? If you're going to make an omelette you gotta break a few eggs.

>It is presumed that a stable, prosperous democratic Iraq would be a beacon of hope for the oppressed peoples of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. In the long run saving many thousands of American and Arab lives.

The alternative scenario is Iraq's neighbors will hold even more hatred toward the imperialist Americans. The U.S. liberated Kuwait and they don't like us now. And things could get worse if lots and lots of Iraqi civilians get killed.

Don't get me wrong: Saddam is an evil bastard, and yes the prospect of him being close to having bio weapons and having a nuke in 5 years is scary. The world would not miss him. But going in guns blazing seems very dangerous in a region that is a complete tinderbox.
posted by birdherder at 8:08 AM on August 3, 2002


We missed our window of opportunity a decade ago. If we really wanted to make things better in that region, that was the only time we could completely justify removing him from power. Although I believe in interventionist policies, it is rather shady why Iraq is the target of choice right now.

have you enlisted yet?
I have.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:11 AM on August 3, 2002


and which will be used against you the next time you instinctively abuse its editorial stance. Which you will.

...and this admission of the threat posed by Hussein's regime will be used against them the next time they instinctively abuse the United States and its policies. Which they will.

evanizer: have you enlisted yet?

My plastic hip disqualifies me, I'm afraid. Thanks for asking, though.
posted by evanizer at 8:13 AM on August 3, 2002


maybe thats how the president wants the nation to be. Edgy for the elections.
posted by adnanbwp at 8:23 AM on August 3, 2002


I'm still unclear exactly why war with Iraq is being talked about.

Cordesman states that "The only thing that is predictable is that Iraq will become a steadily more dangerous proliferator so long as Saddam is alive". How so exactly? When Iran was the perceived as the great Satan we seemed perfectly happy with Saddam.

He's gassed his own people, but he's far from the only nasty little despot in the world today to turn on his own.

He invaded Kuwait. Again, he's hardly the only leader to invade another country. Israeli occupation of Lebannon? Tibet?

He may or may not be working on weapons of mass destruction. So having these is a closed club now?

Don't get me wrong, I'm no supporter of his, and would be glad to see him go, but IMHO that's for the Iraqis. If it is our place to interfere in the internal politics of a sovereign state then I'd like to see a check list that defines exactly what they have to have done to warrant our intervention.
posted by ciderwoman at 8:25 AM on August 3, 2002


you'all fucked up know, dhart whipped out the..."Cordesman"

The Cordesman is a highly efficient logic circuit that stands tall to likes of Peter (eh) Jennings and more. The Cordesman will not smile allowing you time for analysis rather then trying to make Tony lighten up (last time was when Assad 'died'.) well done sir(s).

I told ya all months ago, he's a going down...and the pressure-on-the-saddam-wait-for-a-relative-to-step up-and-whack- him routine gonna take longer.

'will save himself by letting the inspectors return' i wonder why the inspectors stopped going in the first place.
i got a fiver says saddamn is dead before october. or that weapons inspectors will flood the Tigris, slipping in a brigade of freedom fighters.

"The alternative scenario is Iraq's neighbors will hold even more hatred toward the imperialist Americans"

what a load, what do we do? well, we invade them.

"being close to having bio weapons and having a nuke in 5 years is scary."

where you on clintons policy team. ya, it would be ...scary...BOO. he already has bio weapons and 3 bombs by 2005, its almost 2003....5 years...jeesh "The U.S. liberated Kuwait and they don't like us now"
who said they ever did. Bush Sr. was fond of taking care of old scores by invasion, Panama, iraq. Hey, gotta take out the trash right.


it is rather shady why Iraq is the target of choice right now.

shit my grandmas shady. there are no choice targets only death.

I'm starting to feel like Mr. Glover in 'Rivers Edge'

"we gotta fuckin do it mannnnnn...and i need some gaahhssss money" (pops speeder, bites nail)

";Overthrow Saddam, replace it with a democracy."

the good rev is right for the most. 3 years max, as once saddam goes, thats the ball game, if we are in the suburbs of bagdad and the people say...."no, not again" they will kill saddam or contact a local Ranger to provide his where-abouts from one of his 50 cribs.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm no supporter of his" defacto comes to mind, kidding. ah, look at the facts ciderwoman. you want checklist, some fries and a malt. come on.
posted by clavdivs at 8:44 AM on August 3, 2002


It's not a closed club, ciderwoman... we did nothing to forcibly stop either India or Pakistan from developing their nuclear weapons. However, Hussein is a likely candidate to use them without humane restraint, should he develop them. Theoretically, removal of his regime before development could be considered a stabilizing move for the whole region. Imagine Desert Storm, with nuke scuds.

This is not to say that I agree with the invasion - I believe the reasons for it are less than gregarious - but I can see the good of it.
posted by Perigee at 8:51 AM on August 3, 2002


(Replace gregarious with philanthropic.. ~sigh~ My Saturday Morning Vocabulary..)
posted by Perigee at 9:03 AM on August 3, 2002


But I still don't feel that this addresses my concerns. To commit billions of dollars, perhaps thousands of lives and regionbal implications that could last for generations, I'd like a better reason than "Hussein is a likely candidate to use (nukes)", unless this comes from his doctor.

It's not just for me (hey, like George would worry), but as Al-Ahram (Egypt) said in it's editorial last week "If the US imagines it could end terrorism in this manner, reality would suggest otherwise. Hatred for America would deepen, and fuel such movements in the future" (sorry, can't find the link, but I got it through the Guardian). If there is a reason to invade Iraq then why not show it and persuade those wavering countries of its benefits?
posted by ciderwoman at 11:25 AM on August 3, 2002


(Some people would fall over in a dead faint if they saw me defending this..)

I'm put in mind of Chamberlain, and his 'peace in our time' treaty with Nazi Germany.. which gave Germany the time to amass troops and materiel that led to the widespread death and destruction of World War II. Not just military, but civillian.. and the attempted genocide of the Jews.

Now, in retrospect, would it have been ill-advised to take the Nazi regime down before it acted? It is not impossible to think that Iraq would take to the fields again, and move against Kuwait. In fact, its a pretty rational assumption. BUT.. now with field nukes. And the first one goes into Israel - that almost needs not be said. Israel Will retailiate... and then all hell breaks loose. That's not an unlikely scenario.

We can go now, or we can go later - the question in my mind is simply how much hell is gonna break loose when it happens.
posted by Perigee at 12:49 PM on August 3, 2002


Always good to rmember Chamberlain Perigee, but I'm not sure, or at least not convinced this is a simillar situation. Granted he seems to regard Kuwait in the same way the Nazis saw the Sudentenland, but I'm not convinced he has the same wide ranging plans. Wasn't there clear evidence of German intent, leaked to Churchill? As I undersatnd it Chamberlain's reluctance to go to war was based more on the fear of dragging a generation that was born at the end of WW1 into another conflict, though I'm sure it's not that simple.

Did Bush run for office promising to remove Saddam? Or is this just a post 9/11 thing?

Again I just want to say I think Saddam is a real pain in the a$$, I just think that if the west is going to play gloabal policeman it needs to do so with an even and open hand.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:12 PM on August 3, 2002


I wouldn't mind the U.S. playing global policeman (even if it gets me killed or something) but we need to be more selective and draw up an Interventionist Charter or something so we can say 'If you do this, the US reserves the right to trounce you' that way we can at least pretend that we are impartial and that our attacks are apolitical.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:46 PM on August 3, 2002


~nodding~ I agree with you there, on just about every point. I don't think he's out for world domination - but if he goes out conquering again, but this time with nuclear capability, we'll be faced with two options.

1) Do nothing. The only way he won't fire 'em off is not to be interfered with.

2) Face the very real probability that he will use his nukes when we get involved militarily. If he does use 'em, you can bet his first strikes will be at Israel. Assuming the same capabilities as he had before, he can rig a few mobile launchers with a capability of launching SCUDS at Tel Aviv (24 scud hits in 90) - population 348,000 - and Haifa (8 scud hits in 90) - population 265,000 - within 30 minutes of parking.

Now, I'm going to start to get way out of expertise, but you can call me on anything you find dubius. Scuds explode on contact: in a nuke, that makes it pretty dirty - it'll kick up a whole lot of irradiated dust dirt and debris that will spread 'lethal' fallout. Picture that big o'l cloud of dust that poured through NYC, and now make it highly radioactive. Even two strikes in either city would be catastrophic.

Now, Israel is in no mood to be nuked. They're gonna get angry, and they're gonna go off too. But they arent the type for 'measured responses.' They're gonna hammer 'em hard - probably with targets like Bagdad (population 4,000,000), and Mosul (population 664,000). Mousul is very close to Syria, by the way.

So - just in terms of civillian casualties, the first, inevitable strikes would be just plain... unacceptable. What follows, I won't even begin to guess.

For that reason, a pre-emptive strike makes a whole lot of sense to me.

That's my thinking on this, and it is predicated on the claims that Iraq is in fact within reach of delivering these weapons. Now - are they? They're probably trying. How close are they really? I dunno. The world doesn't know. The US says they do... and they did pin the needle on Binny in a matter of hours, so I have some serious respect for the cards they hold close to the vest. Now - is it real intelligence, or is it an excuse? I dunno. But that would be my line of logic, anyway.
posted by Perigee at 2:20 PM on August 3, 2002


Think the scenario you laid out is very possible indeed, but IMHO, like in the cold war, the threat of massive retaliation by Israel (and I think you're right to say they wouldn't hold back) will stop Saddam launching an attack on Israel, it's just not in his interests.

With you on the security services too, I was really impressed with the speed they fingered Bin Laden (oh dear, that sounds wrong). My concern is not with them but with politicians using their work for their own ends.

As for an Interventionalist charter I'd suggest the UN. To get their backing lends any attack some legitimacy.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:31 PM on August 3, 2002


Well, that's where I play a bit of armchair tactician - and admittedly, I'm just barely adequate at chess.

IF Saddam goes wandering again, he's going to look at his nukes as a gun held to a hostage - in this case, Israel. He's not going to try targeting us; at the point at which he makes his decision to make incursions, we won't be massed in his striking range, and in some cases will probably be in other arab countries, who he may be counting on if it comes to an end game. Israel is his only rational threat against our interference. Just like any old cop show, the bad guy knows if he shoots the hostage, he's done for. Its not a rational choice - its a desperate move, and brinksmanship; and we've seen him do that before, with the scuds and the burning oilfields.

And if we get involved, he's going to know he's done. Whether we do it sooner or later, round 2 will not leave Saddam in power... or maybe even alive. With the first shot we fire, his fate is sealed.

Part of the reason he scudded Israel in the first place was trying to goad 'em into retaliation, to rouse up the other arab nations into making it an entire regional conflagration. The scuds weren't effective in doing so... but Bush can't even get Israel out of the Palistinian zone, much less stop them from pressing the shiney red button after taking a couple 100,000 civvy casualties. And going down in a blaze of glory, Saddam at least thinks he's started that big old holy war everyone keeps bandying about. And remember - there are no Islamic casualties - only martyrs that get big parting gifts.

All of this, of course, is speculation, and a moot point - because the US is gonna do what the US is going to do, and for its own reasons, and in its own time. ~sigh~ At this point, the citizens of the US and the rest of the world are just... color commentators, I guess.
posted by Perigee at 2:57 PM on August 3, 2002


And combatants.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:46 PM on August 3, 2002


Anyone surprised to hear "let's go to war" coming out of Shrub's lips should get their head examined. I knew he was going to do this the summer before he ..ahem, aquired the Oval Office. It's one of the many reasons I didn't vote for him: Like father like son.

"Does the NY times not read newspapers or watch tv news?"

Does the NY times even acknowledge the existence of other news media? Didn't think so.

"i got a fiver says saddamn is dead before october."

Ten years ago I would have joined you in that bet, and we would have lost. I think Saddam is worth more to the Bush (2) Administration alive than dead. The government response to improving the economy is going to war with someone. It has been this way for centuries. The Crusades. World War One. World War Two. Korea. Vietnam. the Balkans. Kosovo. Desert Storm. Now it's Al Quaida and Desert Storm Two Electric Boogaloo. Interesting we're facing the worse financial slowdown since the Great Depression (which predated WW2) and DC's answer is to tempt fate by starting World War Three.

Do politicians just SKIP history classes when they're in high school? This is same song THIRD verse. Sometimes I just want to buy the next ticket off this planet to anywhere.

"If the US imagines it could end terrorism in this manner, reality would suggest otherwise. Hatred for America would deepen, and fuel such movements in the future"

They already hate us, whether we do anything or not.

"For that reason, a pre-emptive strike makes a whole lot of sense to me."

A pre-emptive strike may have been possible ten years ago. Today, it would not be pre-emptive. We'd be a bear swatting at a beehive. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't So Damn Insane five years away from nuclear capability during the Gulf War?

Where's this "2005" crap coming from?

"All of this, of course, is speculation, and a moot point - because the US is gonna do what the US is going to do, and for its own reasons, and in its own time. ~sigh~ At this point, the citizens of the US and the rest of the world are just... color commentators, I guess."

Just color commentators? Try this: We're just Dennis Miller immediately after being fired from Monday Night Football. We were about as useful as color commentators and are now about as useful as recently fired color commentators.

It's why I'm seriously considering no longer voting. I tire of perpetuating the illusion that what I say matters. My vote is not heard. My vote is irrelevant.

Shrub's gonna do what the voices in his head tell him to do, and he's gonna drag the rest of us along for the ride. For what it's worth, at least CNN will be more entertaining. Yay. Woohoo.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:48 PM on August 3, 2002


Wow, Zach; that's a whole lot of typin', but I've read it three times, and still can't figure out what your take is on how we deal on the long-and-short term with Iraq.

And are you actually suggesting that "The Crusades. World War One. World War Two. Korea. Vietnam. the Balkans. Kosovo. Desert Storm. Now it's Al Quaida and Desert Storm Two Electric Boogaloo. " Were ALL based on economics?

Seems like the politicians aren't the only ones who snoozed through history...
posted by Perigee at 4:21 PM on August 3, 2002


It's why I'm seriously considering no longer voting. I tire of perpetuating the illusion that what I say matters. My vote is not heard. My vote is irrelevant.

Then you'll get the government you deserve (Florida 2000 notwithstanding).
posted by owillis at 4:57 PM on August 3, 2002


But at least you won't get jury duty.
posted by xowie at 5:03 PM on August 3, 2002


Just to save the gainsaying, a quick look back at history: World War One: Treaty alliances cause a domino effect, due to a political assasination. The United States entered the war because ships carrying passengers and humanitarian aid were being targeted and sank.

World War Two: German aggression across Europe in 1931 caused it for Europe. America held back for three years until Japan and Germany declared War on the US, and something happened of note in a little place called Pearl Harbor.

The Korean War: Soviet and Chinese forces agreed to unify the divided Korea by force. The US., the protectorate of South Korea and barely garrisoned at the time, was forced to retrench. The US Economy was booming at the time - 1950 - 'Happy Days', Richie Cunningham... We were not in any substantial trade with Korea at the time, and it did nothing to enrich our coffers. Korea was not providing us anything substantial in an economic sense at the time - we had no 'interests' in the area other than democracy.

Vietnam: Its roots in the revolution from French rule, American involvement in 1961 was due to a military and economic aid treaty as part of the 'red scare domino theory'. The American economy was just peachy in the sixties and early seventies. The Beatles. Groovy. Once again, Vietnam was not providing us anything substantial in an economic sense at the time - we had no 'interests' in the area other than democracy.

Kosovo - an 'ethnic-religious conflict.' The 1990s didnt need any economic boosting, and Kosovo provided nothing of value to us.

Now - here's an XLS of the US GDP from 1959-2001. I looked, and I don't see any direct correlation between poor economics and US involvement in armed conflict. I'll concede your point as soon as you show me the corellation you claim.
posted by Perigee at 5:25 PM on August 3, 2002


See The Debate Within by Seymoursh, New Yorker in March of the Year in which Geoffrey Kemp, the N.S.C.'s ranking expert on the Near East in the first Reagan Administration, is extensively quoted, for example:

Whatever happens, Bush cannot afford to fail. At the end of the day, we must have a stable, pro-Western government in Baghdad. But it's important also that you look at the worst case. One nightmare would be that Saddam used weapons of mass destruction against Israel and you'd end up with a U.S.-Israeli war against Iraq. No one knows how much it will cost. You could have an interruption in oil supplies. Meanwhile, you've still got Afghanistan. The whole purpose of going in is to cleanse Iraq of all weapons of mass-destruction capability.

If Saddam is gone and his sons dispatched, you will still need two things: complete coöperation of whoever is running the show and inspection teams to cleanse every bedroom and every crevice in the palaces. Iraq is a proud country that has been humiliated, and it's madness to think that these people, while hating Saddam, are in love with the United States. Latent nationalism will emerge, and there will be those who want to hold on to whatever weapons they've held back. The danger is that these capabilities could pop up somewhere else—in control of some small Army group with its own agenda.


emphasis mine.
posted by y2karl at 5:29 PM on August 3, 2002


Syemoursh is Seymour Hersh's new name, if you missed the memo;)
posted by y2karl at 5:31 PM on August 3, 2002


I am probably going off on a bit of a foolish tangent here since I too think that Saddam is a loose cannon that the world ought to do something about.

That the American foreign policy during cold war containment years was amoral is something many people can get over (Let us face it - Taliban came to power in Afghanistan because of the quid pro quo that US had with Pakistan at that time. Mr. Hamid Karzai's then party itself had a very hard time getting any face time from the US embassy during the Zia years). But that even in a uniporal world U.S. foreign policy continues to be dictated by pure economic interest and a status quo mentality is what the world has a hard time getting used to.

I have no problem whatsoever with an international/US effort to oust Saddam. That guy is a maniac and is probably a danger to the rest of the world. The idea that he would get his hands on WMD is pretty scary.

But let us not forget that the strain of Islam that is creating and bankrolling militant fundamentalist Islam from Central Asia to Pakistan is coming from Saudi Arabia. That the man on the street in Egypt is probably a lot of frustrated and a lot more capable of wrecking havoc in the outside world than the man on the street in Iraq. A quote from an American fugitive in Iran in an unrelated story in New Yorker captured my unease:

"I would think that Egyptian society in particular and Saudi Arabia to a lesser extent have been incubating this (Md. Atta)type of personality for decades."

The underlying problem is not Saddam. The underlying problem is the tugs and pressures that are supporting the repressive societies in middle east. When a people lose its voice, when it has no uplifting cause to rally around and have no way of gaining it, it mutates into all sorts vicious animals. i have said this here earlier too. You can not support democracy at home and repressive regimes with different values abroad and expect people to heed your moral call. Unless the anachronistic and repressive social structure in middle east which us the rest of the world continue to support (because everyone is afraid that what may replace it is going to be worse) middle east is going to remain a powder keg.

Even NOW, the US administration seems blind to the dichotomies of its position. Today's Friedman op-ed mentions the disturbing case of Saad Eddin Ibrahim in Egypt. A few weeks back TNR published a story about the dangers of voicing your opinions in current day Afganistan. I was recently reading a book on militant Islam in central Asia(unfortunately unavailable online) that talks about how the dictatorial regimes in central Asia are sending the disaffected kids into the arms of the Mullahs. Every last one of them are run by recycled communists. And of course they are buddies of the current US government (I am a fine one to talk anyway. The current Indian government has decided to befriend those regimes too having conveniently forgotten what the support of Najibullah regime cost us).

The fact remains that the US position is so hypocritical and so blatant full of dichotomy (if you are with us, it is alright)that it is very hard to get worldwide support for human rights reasons.

I have no love lost for Saddam and wil be happy to see him gone. But I have very little faith that what will replace him will be a regime that is going to be any better for the Iraqi people.
posted by justlooking at 7:10 PM on August 3, 2002


Friedman's column is excellent.

Since Sept. 11 all we've heard out of this Bush team is how illegitimate violence is as a tool of diplomacy or politics, and how critical it is to oust Saddam Hussein in order to bring democracy to the Arab world. Yet last week, when a kangaroo court in Egypt, apparently acting on orders from President Hosni Mubarak, sentenced an ill, 63-year-old Saad Eddin Ibrahim to seven years at "hard labor" for promoting democracy — for promoting the peaceful alternative to fundamentalist violence — the Bush-Cheney team sat on its hands.

The State Department, in a real profile in courage, said it was "deeply disappointed" by the conviction of Mr. Ibrahim, who holds a U.S. passport. "Disappointed"? I'm disappointed when the Baltimore Orioles lose. When an Egyptian president we give $2 billion a year to jails a pro-American democracy advocate, I'm "outraged" and expect America to do something about it.

How about before we go trying to liberate a whole country — Iraq — we first liberate just one man, one good man, who is now sitting in an Egyptian jail for pursuing the very democratic ideals that we profess to stand for.


Hear, hear!
posted by homunculus at 9:55 PM on August 3, 2002


Then, more to the point of the thread, there is Richard Falk at The Nation with his The Rush to War, as well as Richard Cohen at the Washington Post, who wrote The Dangers of an Unexplained War.
posted by y2karl at 11:57 PM on August 3, 2002


"German aggression across Europe in 1931 caused it for Europe."

wha? have some doc that proves old Hindy was getting frisky with France....1931?
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on August 4, 2002


~Grin~ Dead right, Uncle Clav-clav-clavdivs; off a couple years on that one. Spellcheck doesn't correct mistyped dates.
posted by Perigee at 9:40 AM on August 4, 2002


Perigree: "Wow, Zach; that's a whole lot of typin', but I've read it three times, and still can't figure out what your take is on how we deal on the long-and-short term with Iraq."

WE don't. Unless you got Shrub's ear, you're down here amidst the groundlings with the rest of us. Just let the tragedy play itself out and quit trying to get on the stage. Oh, and hope a random thermonuclear missile doesn't actually land in the pit we're standing in.

"And are you actually suggesting that [every major war in history] Were ALL based on economics?"

YES.

I quote from James Carville: "It's the economy stupid." It's always the economy. Follow the money. It all goes back to that. If you don't know that, you don't know your history. And I ain't talking just American economics. I'm talking world economics. I can't believe I have to whittle this down for you. Wars generally occur because someone somewhere stops playing by the rules of trade, or starts making up their own rules as was the case in WWI. They try to force economy to work their way through violence and dirty tricks. In effect, any country starting a war is about as desperate as a man holding up a convenience store. Just on a MUCH grander scale.

Crusades: On the surface it was a battle against religious beliefs. Christian interpretations of scripture indicated that Jerusalem was the Holy Land. "How dare people who don't believe in Jesus live on it?" Talk about not understanding your history! King Richard the Lion Hearted was (God love'm) an idiot of the highest order. However, no one in the West really cared about the Middle East until they found out there was a bunch of neato expensive stuff over there.

WWI: It all boiled down to treaty alliances between countries. Government A agrees to do X for Government B in return for Y. That X and Y was usually goods, services or some form of money, and goods & services are barterable equivalents of money. Military assistance against one's transgressors? We're still talking about goods & services trading hands. The political assassination was the flashpoint of a powder keg that was waiting for an excuse to go off. When the assassination kicked in, governments started turning in their signed treaties, expecting their allies to pay up. Some countries got squished because they'd made previous agreements with two different countries which were fighting with each other. Ouch. The result was madness, and eventually led to the League of Nations, which let to the U.N., so in theory all the countries of the world would have some vague idea what was going on with each other. There's still behind closed doors stuff going on, but it's a little harder to get away with it than it was a century ago.

WWII: Why was Germany trying to take over Europe & the world? Economics. They were left with nothing after World War One and they were begging for someone to come along and fix their country for them. Hitler's people claimed to have the answer. They'd take over a country, cannibalize its resources and move on. Hitler started the war because Germany had nothing, and conquering was a way to get what surrounding countries had and they did not. Again. Economics. All the obnoxious claptrap talk about Nazism and their superior race blah was rationalization for murder and theft. They convinced themselves they were superior and therefore deserved to take what they didn't have. They were forcing economics to work for them through violence.

BTW this is why capitalism works a wee bit better than any other ISM: it works WITH economics rather than against it.

The Korean War: Had little to do with American economics granted, but had everything to do with Korean and ultimately world economics. Utopian Communism attempts to make economics obsolete but to get there socialism has to steal and kill, which is why it consistently fails. South Korea asked us to help them. We had the money and they didn't, so we said sure. It was a battle between Communism & Capitalism, which is ultimately a difference in economical theories: whether a person has the right to work for his own living or a responsibility to work for The State's financial security.

Vietnam: This is where conspiracy theories abound, but I'll try to simplify it. A lot of people found ways to make money off that war and many people in high places of power not just in America but elsewhere were benefitting financially while innocent blood was spilled. Drug trafficking had a bit to do with it but that was just part of it. It was not in some people's best interests to end that war with a victor and a loser, because then the money would stop rolling in.

Then there's Cuba: Why was Kennedy assassinated? An endless stream of conspiracy theories abound, but after the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis it was obvious Kennedy wanted to end war rather than exploit it. God help me, I cite Encarta:

"They were preparing to complete the job on April 16 when President Kennedy, for reasons that have never been properly explained, ordered a halt to the air strikes."

The boy got cold feet.

As for the rest, someone has to make those guns (and tanks and missiles etc.) and then sell them. Such goods are not very popular if there's not a war going on somewhere. Anyone recall the Iran/Contra Affair? It's why some politicians believe waging war against somebody during a time of economic sluggishness can benefit the economy. It creates jobs. It stimulates trade with allies.

owillis: "Then you'll get the government you deserve (Florida 2000 notwithstanding)."

I've BEEN voting. Did I get the government I deserve? Bullshit. My vote has no money behind it, so my vote means nothing. Political decisions in today's America and the entire world are voted on by dollar signs, not scraps of paper or chadded holes in ballot boxes. The voting system in today's America is a smoke screen to hide how decisions are really handled.

If you don't have money, you're wasting the time of those who do. Do I LIKE this? Do I believe in it? No. But that doesn't stop it from happening, does it?
posted by ZachsMind at 1:06 PM on August 4, 2002


I dunno, Zach; I can't agree with you.

I do agree on the Crusades, especially the later ones. I agree with the Gulf war as well, although I do see some mitigation, even there. I can see the militarization of Germany as an economic issue, pre-WWII, but I believe that the invasion aspect had deeper roots. As to the rest, the thread gets pretty weak in comparison to the more obvious, more primal instincts of man.

To me, and, I think in the wider view of historians, it's too simplistic a stroke to draw - it suggests that if economics is the 'root of all evil', so to speak, then there would be no conflict in the absence of economics. But that's simply not true.

Even in the animal kingdom there is territoriality, the need to place in the dominance hierarchy... it follows more closely to me, at least, that these same 'monsters of the id' are far more dangerous and likely motivators for primal behavior.

But, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
posted by Perigee at 1:30 PM on August 4, 2002


"an idiot of the highest order. However, no one in the West really cared about the Middle East until they found out there was a bunch of neato expensive stuff over there."

ummm. no sorry zach. Incursions and rising boarder tensions and an un-unified christian europe led to the crusades. knew about the goodies for awhile. and where talking just persia on west here. since polo was a few years off (1254? for polo-i hate to google out of mefi these days) Urban (pope) saw the threat and possible danger from a incurring Islam. hassan sabba, ole granddaddy was active and i don't care what Durant says, they where perceived as a threat more then history leads on. (damn empirical data) Crusades where about conquest aboard, at home and for mens "hearts and minds".

"Hitler started the war because Germany had nothing, and conquering was a way to get what surrounding countries had and they did not.'

Hitler had the best officer corps and some of the best tacticians and strategists. He had a lot of good equipment for europe but he had a plan to build a better army and air force that would outpace the allies...so he thought.

It's not all about the loot (in and of itself). It's about whose got it and who is gonna use it and how it's used.

JFK was not killed for cuba-r
that one still baffles me.

"To me, and, I think in the wider view of historians, it's too simplistic a stroke to draw"

sometimes. but i believe its simple for the most. the questions are either loaded or invalid....well, we have no more simple if the latter is applied...
history is criteria and records. cold as that may be, i believe its true.
posted by clavdivs at 3:38 PM on August 4, 2002


Then there's Cuba: Why was Kennedy assassinated? An endless stream of conspiracy theories abound, but after the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis it was obvious Kennedy wanted to end war rather than exploit it.

Whoa. The Cuban Missile Crisis shows nothing of the sort - JFK got what he wanted (IRBMs out of Cuba) via a blockade and threats. The fact that he was less rabid than the JCS at the time hardly makes him a peacemonger. Let's also not forget that he was the one who sent tropps to Vietnam in the first place.
posted by jaek at 4:06 PM on August 4, 2002


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