Ye olde Axis of Evil
February 13, 2002 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Ye olde Axis of Evil turns out to be, really, just an exercise in getting rid of Saddam (registration required). Not that I blame W but shouldn't we get a few other countries to back us up in a potentially long, protracted war? Could North Korea be right?
posted by boardman (9 comments total)
Well, he beat Ann Richards for Daddy's sake...why not Saddam?
posted by solistrato at 1:49 PM on February 13, 2002

Boardman, given that you accept the necessity of (as Powell put it) "régime change" in Iraq, the lessons of the Gulf War and Somalia and Kosovo (among others) demonstrate that multilateralism-for-multilateralism's-sake leads to impossibly contorted decision-making processes and, ultimately, to delay, failures, and even curtailed goals. The reason Iraq continues to be a problem is that our coalition partners (and, truthfully, some in the then-administration) insisted on backing off before fully removing Saddam, fearing the chaos of a weakened Iraq and, in the longer term, opportunistic invasions by Syria and Iran.

We have seen that the price of maintaining a weakened Iraqi regime, ostensibly for the purpose of regional stability, has been too high. It's a wound that has festered for a decade, breeding cracks in our friendships, allegations of Western responsibility for all of Saddam's failures of governance (including medical care for his citizens), and ultimately, has failed to solve itself as the US hoped.

If you believe that Bush I should have "finished the job" -- you map a course of action where a coalition that is not behind us in our goals is more of a hindrance than a help. Essentially, it's a key reason why we're still in this mess after all these years in the first place.
posted by dhartung at 4:05 PM on February 13, 2002

Beyond the UK, there are no countries with a military serious enough to make any difference in the effort.

Once the United States ousts SH, it would be nice if we would impose a tax on all commerce with Iraq, 1%, perhaps, to pay for the military campaign: TAX THE FRENCH and the other econo-whores who sit back and enjoy our intervention!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:18 PM on February 13, 2002

Already 650 troops have been dispatched to the Philippines, and administration officials are considering whether to ask Indonesia to accept a similar force. Sounds sorta familiar, like:
United States involvement in Indochina began on May 8,1950, when President Truman sent thirty-five military advisors...(under) Eisenhower U.S. military advisors sent to Vietnam increased to two hundred... During the Kennedy administration advisors were increased from approximately 685 to 16,000 men.... By the time Nixon withdrew troops over 350,00 Americans were dead or wounded. The cost of the Vietnam conflict totaled $140 billion. Just substitute 'terrorist' for 'communist', and keep the domino principle intact. This sorta stuff can get out of hand; just saying.
posted by Mack Twain at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2002

"America is right to target Saddam Hussein next, Iraq's most eminent dissident thinker, Kanan Makiya, tells Oliver Burkeman."

This is the best thing that I've read on the Iraq situation for a while.
posted by RobertLoch at 4:52 PM on February 13, 2002

And Mack plays the "Q" card.

Look, when we were in Vietnam, we were fighting an indigenous guerrilla army seasoned by an anti-colonial war and supplied overland by two communist powers utilizing logistics routes that were politically untenable for US attacks. Last I heard, there were no actual terrorist superpowers vying for global domination and vying to engage us in proxy wars.

The Philippines have actually done a fairly good job of neutralizing their insurgencies and consolidating the remit of the national government. They've been in peace talks with the New People's Army (the local Marxist revolutionaries), and they've already settled with the Moro National Liberation Front, the movement that represents 80-90% of the dissident Muslims (moro=moor). The remaining problems are with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a splinter group from the MNLF, and these Abu Sayyaf folk who are really just bandits. They've succeeded in wringing money deals for kidnap victims, which has only emboldened them (and allowed them to work with better equipment and pay). Essentially the president, another feisty woman, has said "no more". There's every reason to think that this is the final push and the assistance of the US is helpful mainly to the morale of the armed forces.

Indonesia is a more complicated problem, because they do have a risk of fragmentation and even a major civil war. That we were able to carve away East Timor without a real fight indicates the essential weakness of the Indonesia government in this period. I'm not certain that ET is necessarily better off -- in the end they'll have to develop an economic relationship with Indonesia that will put them in a position not markedly different from being a department in a truly constitutionally federal Indonesia -- and ultimately, the Indonesians have to recognize that's the direction they need to go. (Now, the federalization is nominal.) So the US role here is more crucial for regional stability.

So, why are we there? Well, I think there's a component here that goes to regional strategy -- the US wants stronger relationships with these Southeast Asian powers, as a counter to China's influence. There are indications that we may be in talks with Vietnam to get a small facility at Cam Ranh Bay, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Navy has hopes of a return to Subic, even if in a much reduced form.

China is both expansionist, and nearing a generational régime turnover that may end up being as dramatic as the one that put Gorbachev in power in Russia. Whether they're confidently expanding, or tilting towards a violent collapse, we want to be around to protect our interests and friends in the region.

I think the war on terrorism provides a very convenient context for assistance to these longtime allies in the process of developing more mature relationships in the 21st cnetury.

But absolutely: read the piece that Robert Loch linked to. It's incredible. And in the Guardian! (The political officer must have been napping.) Similar sentiments have been voiced by Salman Rushdie and a few other thinkers; in particular, the "who did this to me? or what did I do wrong?" formulation is familiar.
posted by dhartung at 10:08 PM on February 13, 2002

boardman - the north koreans have a point.
maybe TWAT should consider this:

'Henry Kissinger was one of the first to react to the recent tragedy: ‘Those who provide support, financing and inspiration to the terrorists are as guilty as they are,’ he stated, using words that President Bush repeated just hours later.

If this were the case, the first step would be to bomb Kissinger. He would be guilty of far more crimes than bin Laden and the rest of the world’s terrorists combined. And in many more countries: acting in the service of various American administrations, he provided ‘support, financing and inspiration’ to state terrorism in Indonesia, Cambodia, Cyprus, the Philippines, South Africa, Iran, Bangladesh and the countries of South America that suffered under the dirty war of Operation Condor.'

Nasra al-Sa’adoun:

Don’t talk to me about human rights.’ Nasra al-Sa’adoun’s voice is firm. ‘Your analysis is too simplistic. You see the West as good and Iraq as bad. You think you have the right to interfere in our affairs because you have always done so.’
Nasra feels that she is facing yet another bereavement; the death of her country: ‘Where are our human rights here in Iraq? We have no electricity, no clean water, no trains, no safe cars, an environment which is being destroyed, and you are bombing us every day. I tell you, we would rather have a real war than this slow death. This is genocide.'

Yet the other irony in all this is that the sanctions and bombing regime has achieved the opposite of what was intended. It has consolidated rather than weakened the Government’s power; Saddam Hussein has become for many in Iraq – and indeed in the Middle East – a symbol of Iraqi resistance and determination never to bow to Western pressure.
posted by asok at 4:10 AM on February 14, 2002

Saddam Hussein has become for many in Iraq – and indeed in the Middle East – a symbol of Iraqi resistance and determination never to bow to Western pressure.

Western pressure to what? Be civilized? Go to McDonalds? This will change after about a week of US Military action. Saying "no" as an end in itself is supposed to end with your third birthday.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:05 AM on February 14, 2002

when asked 'what do you think of western civilisation?, maybe ghandi said:

'i think it would be a good idea'.
posted by asok at 6:21 AM on February 14, 2002

« Older Big Brother really IS watching you.   |   U.S. CONSIDERS MILITARY ACTION TO REMOVE SKATING... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments