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Iraq
December 20, 2002 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Iraq and the Arab's Future, by Fouad Ajami Some real background, and analysis.
posted by semmi (21 comments total)

 
Good article...thanks.
The case for war must rest in part on the kind of vision the United States has for Iraq. The dread of "nation-building" must be cast aside. It is too late in the annals of nations for outright foreign rule. But there will have to be a sustained American presence if the new order is to hold and take root.
Yes, of course there must.

And of course, there's not a chance in hell that that will happen.

Does this guy think that Clinton's still in office? Who here thinks that there is a member of the Administration that entertains any small investment in Iraq other than in bombs?

Afghanistan is a map to what will happen in post-war Iraq: the installation of a pathetically weak puppet that is designed to last only until the next American election.
posted by goethean at 10:51 AM on December 20, 2002


Iraq is not Afghanistan, which doesn't mean that disaster doesn't await in Iraq. But as I've said before, most people in the Muslim world would prefer to be living in New Jersey, and I think this is probably most true in Iraq. There's definitely room for a post-Hussein Iraq to be a success, an incredible liberating success.

But in any case, it doesn't matter in the sense that we're going in the defang a madman with tons of WMD, that threaten the entire world.

But let's hope for the best.

And thanks for the link!
posted by ParisParamus at 11:05 AM on December 20, 2002


PP, You know that Bush will not spend a nickel on post-war Iraq. And without money, no, there is not room for a sucessful post-Hussein Iraq. Where America fails to organize a democracy, the most likely outcome is more militant, aggressive, and underground anti-American Islamicism. But what does Bush care? His only concern is the 2004 election.
posted by goethean at 11:18 AM on December 20, 2002


You know that Bush will not spend a nickel on post-war Iraq

You would have a point if Iraq, because of its oil, was not self-financing.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:21 AM on December 20, 2002


I certainly hope that you are right. But it is still staggeringly sad that America is politically (not economically) incapable of a Marshall Plan for the Mideast.
posted by goethean at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2002


But in any case, it doesn't matter in the sense that we're going in the defang a madman with tons of WMD, that threaten the entire world.

no, that would be north korea.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2002


Donkey: it's both. And it's not our fault that it's both.

And why is it "staggering sad" if we can't pull off a Marshall Plan (as opposed to just regrettible)? There's more of cultural gap in the Mideast. There's no "pre-war memory" of a place to rebuild. A Marshall Plan connotes rebuilding, whereas, in Iraq, to say nothing of elsewhere in the region, it's a question of first-time building.

Well, the official date for war seems to be January 27, which suggests to me that's not the date.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:39 AM on December 20, 2002


In the end, the nation that has the most to lose by not taking out the Iraqi/DPNK regimes will have no choice but to do it. It will probably cost as much blood, gut$ and glory as WW2.
(And the French will still piss on it afterwards).

But it will buy the world another 1/2 century of relative peace. [rinse & repeat?]
posted by BentPenguin at 11:54 AM on December 20, 2002


why exactly are we going after iraq first when it's north korea that -- oops! -- went ahead and developed nukes and it's north korea that -- oops! -- has been shipping all sorts of terrible weaponry to all manner of terrible clientele?
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:55 AM on December 20, 2002


And BTW, as the single most insightdul and level-headed middle east expert in the biz, they should really refer to the regional rebuild as the "Ajami Plan"
posted by BentPenguin at 11:57 AM on December 20, 2002


And why is it "staggering sad" if we can't pull off a Marshall Plan (as opposed to just regrettible)?
Because it suggests to me that the US, as a society, has regressed rather than grown since 1947.
posted by goethean at 12:17 PM on December 20, 2002


North Korea is probably next. But we can hope that it will colapse on its own in the interim. Also, North Korea may be more dangerous than Iraq. Which doesn't mean we shouldn't have a "warm-up" first.

By the way, I suspect NK will be taken out. Right now, the US is probably well along the way to mapping the 500 or 1000 targets which would need to be taken out to decapitate the place's leadership. If there's a place to set the world record for most cruise missles launched at one time, it will likely be NK.

but just not quite yet.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:23 PM on December 20, 2002


Because it suggests to me that the US, as a society, has regressed rather than grown since 1947.
There are cultural ties that made the Marshall Plan an easier sell. In 1947 a lot of Americans would have considered Arabs barely human, so we've moved forward in one area at least (I'm aware some Americans still feel this way.)

The comparison is invalid for another reason: the Marshall Plan was designed to rebuild a war-ravaged Europe. A plan to "rebuild" the Middle East would really be, in a lot of places, a plan to introduce democracy and capitalism for the first time.

But I agree that the Bush administration seems too short-sighted to help lead the Middle East towards modernity.
posted by lbergstr at 12:27 PM on December 20, 2002


weird. seems like i'm the only one who feels this report is rather disdainful of arabs and arab culture.

i keep bumping into snooty sentences that don't mean much, but imply that arabs are bad, stupid, etc. for example: There is an unfathomable anti-Americanism in Egypt -- even among those professionals who have done well by the American connection. which seems to imply that those who haven't done well (who have suffered?) by the american connection have an "unfathomable" dislike for the country.

anyway, the basic analysis seems to be: there's a huge disparity between the haves and have nots; america sides with the haves, so the have-nots (unfathomably) object to america; saddam is populist and, therefore, has the support for the have-nots; but not as much as he used to, since he's been defeated once; so america can defend the existing oligarchy without much risk (of the region falling apart), but also without much hope for changing things for the better, as far as the arab masses (who hate themselves and whine a lot) are concerned.

well at least that gives "the left" (of which i count myself a member) something to object to - that this is a war defending existing, unfair, undemocratic power structures rather than one of liberation and democracy. which is an improvement on complaining that a (relatively) small number of children (so much more important than adults because they're, err, cute) were killed by accident in afghanistan....
posted by andrew cooke at 3:10 PM on December 20, 2002


Here's a cheerful thought or two: After much drama, we ramp up to invasion. Karzai gets his ass assassinated--oh, like no one's ever tried--boom! We go in Iraq. Musharraf gets his ass assassinated. Jihadis in Kashmir massacre 700 Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir and then....
posted by y2karl at 7:41 PM on December 20, 2002


If I might comment on these North Korea is next posts. North Korea is not Iraq. North Korea has been preparing for war since the last one ended. There are bunkers, tunnels, bases built inside mountains, and thousands of artillery pieces in range of Seoul. Remember, Seoul is a city of 14 million people.

Also, you currently have a South Korean population that isn't enamored with America and a new President who, up until recently, called for the complete removal of all the US troops.

Considering these factors, attacking North Korea is something I doubt the US will be doing soon.
posted by Baesen at 9:09 PM on December 20, 2002


We won't be attacking North Korea for a couple of reasons. Number one being the fact that they are armed to the nuts and can and will fight like wolverines. The second reason is that South Korea will give a lot of accomodations for reunification, and they view a North Korean bomb as a Korean bomb. Actually, Japan doesn't like the idea of a united Korea, especially with the bomb in their arsenal. As for Iraq, sounds like we will be saving lives by invading them and ending the killer sanctions. The greatest impediment to democracy and the free flow of oil in Iraq is the other local dictatorships who use their oil wealth and Islamic law to keep their own people down. I'm sure the EU, Nato and the UN will all chip in as they should to help rebuild Iraq.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:53 AM on December 21, 2002


We won't attack North Korea because we don't need to. China has much more to lose from an aggressive N.K. than we do; they will keep them in check. The only reason they haven't done so yet is to try to keep *us* in check. :-)

The problem with Iraq is that there are no local major powers with a vested interest in the inner workings of that nation. Left to its own devices, a "warlord" controlled Iraq would be able to conquer the whole of the Arab region in short order. A new power, hostile to the Western world is what we are trying to prevent. It's just cheaper to do it now than it would be later.

We probably will not encourage democracy anymore there than we have in other regions we've kept an eye on. A "democratic" regime with the support of the mostly anti-American poor population will end up forcing a war by attacking or threatening our allies in the area. Right now there is more rage there than an instinct for self-preservation. The last thing we need is for that blind rage to be in office.

One more marginally related thing: why is it always necessary for so many people here to reduce arguments on important and complex issues to "Bush doesn't care" or "it's about oil" or "America sucks"? Surely we can come up with better responses than that. In fact, I know we can. There are a whole lot of smart people here, even some of the people who blame Bush for everything. ;-) I'm not W's biggest fan either, but jeez. . .
posted by BrandonAbell at 1:19 AM on December 21, 2002


weird. seems like i'm the only one who feels this report is rather disdainful of arabs and arab culture.

No Andrew, actually I for one agree with you on that point. Foreign Affairs magazine more often than not has a distinctly anglo-/amero-philiac tone to it. But the writers in it are usually preaching to the converted, though, so they seem get by with it.

It's not so much of a scholarly journal, rather a barometer for keeping an eye on the prevailing views of those currently making foreign policy. Usually makes for pretty good reading though.
posted by BrandonAbell at 1:32 AM on December 21, 2002


The second reason is that South Korea will give a lot of accomodations for reunification, and they view a North Korean bomb as a Korean bomb.

No we don't. It is a North Korean bomb. We just figure if they use it, they will bomb Japan.
posted by Plunge at 7:46 AM on December 21, 2002


"Washington's failure to engage North Korea has in a few months turned a minor problem (a uranium program that would take years to produce weapons) into a major crisis (the restarting of a reactor with enough plutonium to produce five additional warheads). Now the administration is allowing the situation to drift on a trajectory that conceivably could end up as another Korean war."
posted by homunculus at 11:10 AM on December 21, 2002


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