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August 3, 2002
3:43 PM   Subscribe

As it turns out, Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein were buddies back in the day.
posted by queequeg (43 comments total)

 
Well, we keep pursuing these policies where the enemy of our enemy is our friend. When Iran held our hostages through the latter part of Carter's presidency, we were willing to do anything to hurt them, even support Iraq, even years after our hostages came home. We have been burned so many times this way. Who did we support against the USSR in Afghanistan?

Even as late as last year we supported the Taliban in an effort to fight the heroin trade. Who is next?
posted by caddis at 4:09 PM on August 3, 2002


Just like we're supporting an autocratic, repressive Saudi regime because it supplies us with oil, and is slightly nicer than Iraq and Iran.
posted by Locke at 4:22 PM on August 3, 2002


slightly nice than Iraq and Iran


wait a second? were'nt most of the sept 11th terrorists of saudi descent? has there been a single arrest in saudi arabia related to 9.11 ?? when are we going to call for the war on terrorisim to shift its focus to the wahabi's in saudi arabia? never. i suspect. for more on iran check this out
posted by specialk420 at 4:43 PM on August 3, 2002


So what is the morally clear choice then?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:44 PM on August 3, 2002


Get rid of the Saudis and Hussein.
posted by owillis at 4:54 PM on August 3, 2002


Then it must be done, no matter the cost.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:57 PM on August 3, 2002


"So what is the morally clear choice then?" I'm unaware of any country that bases its foriegn policy on morality. Pragmatism is the common denominator.
posted by Mack Twain at 4:59 PM on August 3, 2002


I agree, many Saudi's are extremely anti-US. I said that the gov't considers them slightly nicer because the Saudi gov't occasionally plays along with our foreign policy.

owillis is right that an elimination of Saddam and the House of Saud as rulers would be beneficial. The key is to do it in a way that allows for a stable, just government to take their places, and doesn't throw gasoline on the raging bonfire of militant Islam, drawing in those who are currently moderate. Empower the people, don't radicalize them.
posted by Locke at 5:04 PM on August 3, 2002


"So what is the morally clear choice then?" I'm unaware of any country that bases its foriegn policy on morality. Pragmatism is the common denominator.

No sense not trying.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:09 PM on August 3, 2002


Then it must be done, no matter the cost.

Hee hee. I think some of our newest members are fabulously droll.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:13 PM on August 3, 2002


Hee hee. I think some of our newest members are fabulously droll.

What do you expect when waiting a year just to get a membership to this site?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:19 PM on August 3, 2002


Get rid of the Saudis and Hussein.

Careful there, Slim. Extended bomb humping has been known to cause Jock Itch.
posted by Optamystic at 5:44 PM on August 3, 2002


Well, unlike BushCo I think the way to accomplish this isn't through massive invasions of the D-day variety, but instead well placed wetworks teams. Would you prefer we not do anything? That doesn't seem to work well...
posted by owillis at 8:00 PM on August 3, 2002


Hey, I think Tony Blair showed some opposition to Bush's plans to whack Saddam. Let's get the Limies next! Yeah!
posted by timyang at 8:00 PM on August 3, 2002


but instead well placed wetworks teams.

Put down the Tom Clancey book and back away from the keyboard, Oliver.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:28 PM on August 3, 2002


In actuality the ideal situation is a regime change without a single shot fired. In part, we're trying to gin up to a level of inevitability regarding the end of Saddam that would give some other players the idea to replace him and wave a white flag regarding the coalition demands. Nobody has any confidence that will happen, but we can always hope.

There isn't any certainty, of course, but recent events have indicated it's much more likely in the Saudi case. The pragmatic angle that comes in is that while regime change itself is hovering around maybe the 30% level, the people to whom the regime would change are hovering around 75% Islamist. Which would be worse.

I detest commondreams for just this sort of hand-wringing article; it's all the "principled left" seems capable of these days -- that, and droolingly idiotic prescriptions for "consistency". Like the guy who called NPR and said "If we bomb Iraq, we should also bomb Israel. You know, because if having nukes is the rule ..."

And they made hypocrisy the king of all vices. -- Neal Stephenson.

Unfortunately, in foreign policy as in life, sometimes all your choices are bad. It was so in the 1980s, and it is so today. And as Christopher Hitchens has put it with regard to the "but we supported Saddam!" line: Then does that not double or treble our responsibility to remove him?
posted by dhartung at 10:05 PM on August 3, 2002


We ought to mind our own business, and not interfere with other Sovereign States, including both those we agree with and those that we disagree with. The criteria for taking action ought to be that there is an immediate and imminent threat to our security or that of an ally. It ought to be obvious that we usually create more problems than we solve, with our paternalistic imperialism.
posted by onegoodmove at 10:46 PM on August 3, 2002


We ought to mind our own business, and not interfere with other Sovereign States

When they stop killing and supporting the killing of innocent people. An "imperialist" who looks out for the needs of innocents is better than a giant who ignores barbarism.
posted by owillis at 11:00 PM on August 3, 2002


When they stop killing and supporting the killing of innocent people. An "imperialist" who looks out for the needs of innocents is better than a giant who ignores barbarism.

A nice ideal, but the problem with ideals is that they never match-up with the real world. More often than not, claiming an ideal makes a hypocrite, especially when its an organization claiming an ideal (from the US Government to Hamas to the Catholic Church --- all claim to be working from ideals but often do anything but follow them in the real world)
posted by nathan_teske at 11:20 PM on August 3, 2002


nice hitchens quote - dhartung .
posted by specialk420 at 11:35 PM on August 3, 2002


"When they stop killing and supporting the killing of innocent people."
You mean like in the West Bank and Afghanistan. I understand the argument that they are collateral damage, but dead nonetheless and yes innocent. The point is that we often do more harm than good, and since the determining factor is often not a moral one but an economic one exacerbates the problem.
posted by onegoodmove at 11:38 PM on August 3, 2002


If you cannot see the difference between intentionally targetting civilians (and even Bush has spoken against the Israelis for doing this, to his credit) and actively trying to hit only military targets...
posted by owillis at 11:46 PM on August 3, 2002


Certainly I can see the difference in the motives just not a great difference in the results. There are more dead innocents in Palestine than there are in Israel for example.
posted by onegoodmove at 11:50 PM on August 3, 2002


I think Mr. Willis might be on to something with this "wetworks" idea. A little research online reveals that some of them do look quite capable and intimidating.
posted by poseur at 12:19 AM on August 4, 2002


Ahhhh....that delightful combination of testosterone, too long in front of a computer screen & comic book politics.

Get Your War On!
posted by i_cola at 1:55 AM on August 4, 2002


Ah, the wonderful resort to personal insult when your argument is zippo.
posted by owillis at 3:14 AM on August 4, 2002


Hahahahahahaha!

If you wish to be offended rather than amused then that is your choice. However, I do think that 'comic book politics' is an apt description based on your approach to WoT threads recently.

My arguement is pretty much the same as before;

'I think you (and others & not just in the US) get off on the whole tub-thumping media show instead of working towards some common ground.'

Regime changes in Iraq or Saudi would have a good chance of causing more problems than solutions as dhartung points out (with ref. to Saudi).

I guess you didn't read the first time I linked to it but here's where the real problems lie...
posted by i_cola at 4:19 AM on August 4, 2002


A nice ideal, but the problem with ideals is that they never match-up with the real world. More often than not, claiming an ideal makes a hypocrite, especially when its an organization claiming an ideal (from the US Government to Hamas to the Catholic Church --- all claim to be working from ideals but often do anything but follow them in the real world)

So we shouldn't have any ideals at all on fear of becoming hypocrites? We shouldn't try to make anything better because we can't make everything better and we might make things worse? I'm not saying ideals don't fall horribly flat, I'm saying we might want to try to do something. People blast when we do things for economic reasons and political reasons because we aren't doing things for right and wrong, and people attack doing things because of a moral prerogative because its unrealistic.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 5:55 AM on August 4, 2002


Lord Chancellor --- no, you're taking my point to an extreme. I was referring to the little white lies organizations often use to avoid confronting the reality of their actions. The justification comes in an idealized form, even if the implementation bears little or no semblance.
posted by nathan_teske at 6:25 AM on August 4, 2002


Ah, I concede your point.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:47 AM on August 4, 2002


Just to add to the fun and games, Bush's 'axis of evil' speech has more or less ensured that, if and when 'Operation: Doin' It For Daddy' begins, the Iranians with the power to do such things will attempt to shoot down US jets. (With North Korean-designed missiles, to add to the irony: proving my point that Bush has the capacity to turn far-fetched imaginings into reality, just by opening his mouth and putting his simian foot into it.)

It takes a special kind of diplomatic incapability to turn Iran and Iraq into brothers in arms.
posted by riviera at 8:35 AM on August 4, 2002


Right. Amazingly, before Bush's poorly-timed speech, Iran was one of our best friends in the region and a certain ally.
posted by dhartung at 9:45 AM on August 4, 2002


love that 'Operation: Doin' it for Daddy'
sounds so pornographic...and W can be the fluffer!
posted by amberglow at 10:24 AM on August 4, 2002


Amazingly, before Bush's poorly-timed speech, Iran was one of our best friends in the region and a certain ally.

Well, it's with crass polarisations like that that Bush foreign policy is made: multilateral relationships are no longer to be developed, but imposed by ultimatum. (And you appear to know enough about the region for your reply to be a knee-jerk and nothing more.)

With friends like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, perhaps the US does need 'enemies' in a capacity other than scapegoat and bogeyman. And if you were to make a list of countries where there'd be a certain relish for slapping down Saddam Hussein, you'd expect to see the one that lost 300,000 of its own during the 1980s to be near the top. 'Our enemy's enemy' is pretty central to Bush foreign policy, so you'd think someone might check if it applied to Iran.
posted by riviera at 3:09 PM on August 4, 2002


Excellent point, riviera. Every word out of Bush's mouth gives the extremist Mullah's in Iran the politial justification to continue their stranglehold on the nation's power. When the "Great Satan" acts like just that, then Iranian moderates are left with little justification for taking a less-than-hardline approach when it comes to the U.S.
posted by Optamystic at 3:41 PM on August 4, 2002


One can just as easily draw the conclusion that the policy has successfully exposed splits in the leadership, which is on the edge of something -- either a massive restructuring accompanied by liberalization, or a massive retrenchment that will expose the regime and further distance it from the masses.

The "Iranian moderates" championed lo these many years by the West have blown their wad; they have no credibility any longer. Nobody believes they can deliver on their promises, which makes them a) impotent or b) deceitful. Thus, without firing a shot -- or even threatening to fire a shot -- we have gained in Iran.

As for the promise/threat that they will use Pyongyang's missiles, bring it on. Are they really proposing this as a rational strategy? Please.

What tiresome Euro-condescension. Don't you ever give it up? THe contradictions are getting amusing -- you accuse us of mindless polarization, and yet there must be a good reason we're not playing the EomEimF this time around. Maybe our policies are more sophisticated than you'd care to let on.

Me? I'm sick of begging these guys to liberalize. Why isn't Europe?
posted by dhartung at 4:11 PM on August 4, 2002


Exactly what promises are the moderates required to deliver on? Do they have to open a McDonalds adjacent to every mosque for them to be sufficiently Westernized? Or is it enough for them to significantly modulate whatever real or imagined threat that Iran presents to U.S. citizens. (I could give a rat's ass about U.S. "interests". Cheap oil is no reason for anyone's blood to be spilled).
posted by Optamystic at 5:08 PM on August 4, 2002


dhartung --- re: liberalization in Iran, I recently read where Iran has legalized prostitution, fudging a few things in the Koran to turn it into a temporary marriage.
posted by nathan_teske at 6:45 PM on August 4, 2002


dhartung: I respect you a hell lot for what you say here on MeFi but please don't fall into the tedious US v Europe trap. It's bool-sheet.

I understand that you & riv have a little history but the guy shouldn't bear the weight of representation for an entire continent. Even if he does seem to be the only MeFite who can needle you ;-)

And what is this Europe of which you speak? The 700M+ sprawled from Moscow to Lisbon? Or the much smaller, but expanding European Union? Or possibly something else?

Anyhow. EU & Iran & liberalization - here & here for starters. It's a long & winding road...
posted by i_cola at 3:54 AM on August 5, 2002


Nobody believes they can deliver on their promises, which makes them a) impotent or b) deceitful.

Bush said he'd get Osama. He hasn't. He's either incapable, incompetent, or deceitful. See, the argument is sophistry.

The "Iranian moderates" championed lo these many years by the West have blown their wad; they have no credibility any longer.

So you believe that there's no difference between the Iran of today and the Iran of Khomenei. Which means you have no credibility either.

What tiresome Euro-condescension. Don't you ever give it up?

I love the idea that if a warblogger puts 'Euro-' in front of an insult, it makes it appear all the more sophisticated, and in with the in-crowd. In fact, it just exposes its shallowness. And its condescension.

As for the promise/threat that they will use Pyongyang's missiles, bring it on.

You know what? On the way home from work last night, I realised the same: bring it on. It's only going to take the implosion of the region, from the Bosphorus to the Hindu Kush, that will expose the fraudulent, witless foreign policy of the USA. And the rest of the world will stand at a distance and shake its head in rueful horror. Get your war on, you fucking fools.
posted by riviera at 4:46 AM on August 5, 2002


Riviera: Fucking right - I've been pretty unpoliticised for the past few years but I'll be supporting any measures to stop the poodle Blair joining the warmongering fool Bush at something he knows nothing (nor cares to know anything) about.

I couldn't give a fuck about Bush any more - only misguided fools would trust him to do anything right - it's Blair the appeaser who deserves the contempt. My first ever mail to my MP goes out tonight.
posted by niceness at 10:28 AM on August 5, 2002


Hmm so far there has been little discussion of the original link. The Hitchens quote works, but it also can be turned around: since the US supported Hussein, doesn't it double or treble US responsibility to protect his people from further torment and bloodshed? There are few people in the world who support Saddam, the question should be how to get rid of him without make the exact same mistakes that have been made time and time again.

Also, it seems to me that the best strategy the United States ever came up with in foreign policy was the containment strategy of the Soviet Union. Eventually the regime changed because we had the forsight to not engage it directly, even though it was a terrible place run by dicatators who killed their own people, possessed massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction, and had more-or-less openly declared war on the United States. You could potentially call that a "do-nothing" strategy, but its success in unrivalled in post WW2 US foreign-policy. Obviously it's nowhere near an exact fit for Iraq, but how would those itching to remove Saddam by force respond to the idea of a containment strategy? I am curious to be told exactly where I have gone wrong, and by what degree.
posted by cell divide at 10:43 AM on August 5, 2002


Well, cell divide, it seems like containment has been the general policy engaged in over the last decade (perhaps "active containment" would be a better phrase) and it appears that this policy has done little or nothing to bring about a regime change. In fact, containment has beggared the Iraqi people while allowing Saddam a stranglehold on power.

Containment worked against the Soviet Union for a couple reasons. Primary among them was that the United States was willing to wait the enormous length of time (fifty years) for the regime there to crumble. The second reason was that while the Soviet Union could be argued to be fundamentally opposed to US interested during the Cold War, it was seen as a rationale regime. with whom deals could be struck. I don't believe anyone believes this about Iraq (accept maybe the French.)
posted by pjgulliver at 10:47 AM on August 5, 2002


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