Does invading Iraq require more than declaring Saddam Hussein "evil"?
August 15, 2002 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Does invading Iraq require more than declaring Saddam Hussein "evil"? The New York Times reports public opposition from people not easily labeled Brie-sucking scared-of-war libyerals -- people like Henry "Bombs Away" Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft. Meanwhile, hawks argue that not attacking after all Bush's rhetoric would "produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism." [registration required]
posted by sacre_bleu (62 comments total)
My level of confidence in George Bush remains unchanged.

Me, though, I started whooping on worldwide evil, I'd pave Libya first, just for practice. Leastaways we're pretty sure Khadaffi's people actually murdered some of our people, over Lockerbie.
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:31 PM on August 15, 2002

"If you disagree with anything we want to do... you let the Terrorists win."
posted by Stuart_R at 8:42 PM on August 15, 2002

Sheesh...I'm quite non-liberal - I don't think I could spell a certain soy-based product if you spotted me the T, F and the U - but I'm quite against attacking Iraq. Y'know, the whole "innocent until proven guilty" concept.

But the thing is, I would put cold hard cash up, right now, that we won't attack Iraq. Bush is using the threats of war to make sure that Saddam knows that he *can't* do anything stupid. It's a bluff. Nothing more. Colin Powell and the guys in the White House may not be the Brain Trust 2, but they're still smart enough to know that an attack on Iraq done 'preemptively' would be a disaster for foriegn policy. I think it's only the liberals who truly believe that we're going to war.

For more evidence on the usefullness of war bluffing subject, see "Cold War", "India/Pakistan 2001" or "India/Pakistan 1999"
posted by Kevs at 8:55 PM on August 15, 2002

Here is the article by Scowcroft: Attacking Saddam would undermine our antiterror efforts.

From the nytimes article: "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism."

So we should go to war so Bush can save face? Perle really is a chickenhawk.
posted by homunculus at 9:00 PM on August 15, 2002

While I agree that a preemtpive strike on Iraq would be a foriegn policy disaster, I sincerely fear what Saddam will do to Israel (if not US interests in the Middle East) if we wait until he is able to strike.

If he thinks as you do, he won't draw the US into a battle by firing a few nasty but small SCUD missles at Israel. Rather, he'll go out with a bang by waiting until he has enough of an aresnal to make what would surely be his last act of military power a huge whallop that may kill millions.

Is that a risk we are willing to take just to save foreign policy face? I think thats the way it will likely play out, but I'm not sure its the right way.
posted by schlyer at 9:24 PM on August 15, 2002

Josef Stalin had far more nuclear weapons than Iraq. They were our enemies, an 'axis of evil' if you will. But I never saw Eisenhower or Truman call for pre-emption. How is Saddam different? The difference is not with the tyrant (though Saddam is nowhere near as maniacal as an Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, or Mao Tse-Tung)

I still don't see why we should invade Iraq. As for the Israel argument. Well, they should take care of themselves. Besides, they possess nukes, do they not?

If Saddam fired nukes or other WMD, he would be sealing his own destruction, and he, like all typical corrupt political leaders, would rather send others off to die for him. Job 1 for Saddam is self preservation.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:36 PM on August 15, 2002

You might have missed it, but Britain's Foreign Minister had a meeting/interview with Saddam a week or two ago, and it came back as being rather positive.

It may be a typical gambit, but Saddam said he was willing to make concessions, and that he wanted to strengthen his relationship with Great Britain. No mention of the US though!

Considering that the UK and Iraq were reasonably close in the 80s and before (that's why the Iraqis were wearing British-made uniforms in the Gulf War), I see no reason why we can't return to some resemblance of peace.
posted by wackybrit at 11:31 PM on August 15, 2002

It's annoying me more by the day that the administration discusses the invasion of Iraq as a done deal before presenting a single bit of good evidence. I mean, you keep reading about how he gassed his own people, but wasn't that while we were supporting him financially and militarily? And the whole WMD thing.... we invaded his country and all he did was lob a few crappy missiles at Israel in a futile failed attempt to gain the sympathy of the Arab world. If he didn't even use chemical or biological weapons on our MILITARY when we INVADED Iraq, why is Saddam going to be motivated to use them on civilians during peacetime? Now to provide some sort of vague justification they're doing stuff like changing the official status of a pilot lost in the Gulf War from "MIA" to "POW" without a shred of evidence.

Desert Storm cost around $70 billion, with most of that covered by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, other Gulf states, Germany, and Japan. This time we're in it all alone, and meanwhile Bush is making a stink about pork barrel spending in that $5 billion homeland security bill he vetoed. Hey buddy, skip the useless war and you can buy yourself 10 new bureaucracies and have plenty left over to pass out tax cuts to the big corporations you hold so dear!

(end angry rant here)
posted by mogwai at 11:49 PM on August 15, 2002

If Saddam fired nukes or other WMD, he would be sealing his own destruction, and he, like all typical corrupt political leaders, would rather send others off to die for him. Job 1 for Saddam is self preservation.

Bingo. Insomnyuk, this is precisely what Scowcroft argues and others have said as well in profiles I've read of Hussein.

Scowcroft: Indeed Saddam's goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them.
While Saddam is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor.
posted by pitchblende at 11:56 PM on August 15, 2002

While Saddam George is thoroughly evil, he is above all a power-hungry survivor.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:52 AM on August 16, 2002

I really don't think that it should come as a surprise that Bush is both dumber and more neo-reactionary than somebody like Kissinger or Powell. Jeez, I saw Tony Blankley (Gingrich's secretary) on TV the other day and he seemed like the voice of reason, moderation, and tolerance.

Kevs wrote: "It's a bluff. Nothing more."
The really convincing thing about this argument is that I do think that Bush so lacks any ability to make a policy argument that this wishy-washy arm-flexing is just his idea of foreign policy (a la his back-and-forth handling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict).

But still, I think I disagree with Kevs. I think that given the opportunity, Bush would go over there and finish his dad's job in a heartbeat - I think he just made the announcement that we're going to beat up Iraq before he learned that fighting this war would (a) kill a lot of Israelis, (b) kill a lot of Americans, (c) cost the US a ton of money and necessitate the cutting of major domestic programs and/or the rollback of his rich friends' tax cut, and (d) in no way receive the kind of popular support that his war on Afghanistan did.

It seems a bit uncanny that our economy is faltering and we're thinking of invading Iraq. It's so like President Bush in 1991!

Personally, I think we should at least be more fashionable with our retro-wars and try to do something in Honduras, so it would go with my shell-top adidas, electro CDs, and habit of watching Phil Donahue.
posted by fsck the police at 12:59 AM on August 16, 2002

If we wanted to "punish the guilty", perhaps it would be more appropriate to make war against the corrupt corporations that keep cropping up.

Frankly, it terrifies me to think that we would (with a very heavy hand) continue to dictate to the world what we believe and give fodder to an entirely new generation of terrorists.

Why not focus on the real enemy?
posted by FilmMaker at 3:28 AM on August 16, 2002

Don't Start the Second Gulf War - Cato Institute. FWIW, somebody says they spotted a few trucks at the germ warfare plant. Focusing the public agenda on how to govern Iraq after Mr. Hussein leaves sounds right to me.
posted by sheauga at 4:13 AM on August 16, 2002

A lot of good points are being made in this thread. Some semi-idle thoughts:

What if all this just sets the stage for a big press conference at which photos of a nuclear bomb are shown, or something? T

here must be something a la the Cuban Missle Crisis which could justify an attack without Saddam firing first.

What about a naval blockade of Iraq?
posted by ParisParamus at 4:40 AM on August 16, 2002

Tell me - What's the difference between a group of people sitting around making plans on taking down America, and America making plans on taking down Iraq?
posted by LowDog at 4:58 AM on August 16, 2002

LowDog: There isn't really any difference if you watch the right TV stations. Remember all those Sept. 11 reports of TV stations and newspapers in the East that were praising the WTC as a successfull attack against America? Well, you can guess what kind of an attitude they have about Bush's public planning of a pre-emptive attack on Iraq.
posted by Fabulon7 at 5:25 AM on August 16, 2002

Agree with Paris - does anyone really believe the old "tacky press conference with inside information on why we had to attack without getting consent of Congress" routine anymore? Some quick crisis event as justification for intervention doesn't cut it. Intervention or not, we a well-thought out case outlining realistic long-term options for the Iraqi people.
posted by sheauga at 5:47 AM on August 16, 2002

LowDog: Which group of people are we talking about here- plotting to take down America? The one's who used civilians on a civilian jetliner to ram civilians in civilian buildings (minus the Pentagon)? Or some other group?
posted by internook at 6:04 AM on August 16, 2002

While Saddam is clearly evil, he is not that much of a threat to us in comparison to some other groups and countries. America preemptively attacking could also be considered evil by many.

We had the World with us on Sept. 12. Look at us now. I am truly astounded how so much good will could be squandered so quickly by the Dubya administration.
posted by quirked at 6:09 AM on August 16, 2002

Quite the contrary! I think the Amercian PEOPLE still have the good will of most of the world... it's team W that doesn't.

Living in another country, I get the sense that the US is *not* united behind George Jr's plan to invade Iraq.
posted by Stuart_R at 6:19 AM on August 16, 2002

We had the World with us on Sept. 12. Look at us now.

Logically, strict application of the Bush Administration's credo ("If you're not with us, you're against us") must eventually lead America to this end: alone against the world.
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:27 AM on August 16, 2002

Yesterday on Fox's cable news channel, they were discussing wether all the recent statements by the white house mean that the attack on Iraq will be in September instead of October. I think those people are really sure about it.

I find the recent rhetoric from the white house really cheap. Obviously they think people are stupid. They tried and tried to make a connection between Iraq and 9/11 and failed. Now they say oh he has weapons of mass destruction and he used bio weapons on his own people. Excuse me, when was that. Wasn't it when the white house was openly, financially, deplomatically supporting the same Saddam against Iran ? If use of bio weapons against the Kurds was such a big issue then why did they support him then ?

The US beat him in the Gulf War. Alright, and put strict economic sanctions on the country. The weapons program ppl have said that they destroyed his weapons. Nevertheless, the reason he doesnt let weapons inspectors in his country is that the UN keeps sending Americans. Thats all he is irked about. First you kick some one's butt and then go over to check if the wounds are deep enoug ? That would irk me alright and I wouldnt let any weapons inspector in my house.

I think we should just stay home and worry about our economy. Friends and relatives all around are getting laid off. The one sided economic conference Bush held is not gonna change any thing. Yesterday CNN should a graphic showing number of people arrested from all US corporations except Enron. As we know the Enron total is still zero. The only way forward is to vote left in October.
posted by adnanbwp at 6:27 AM on August 16, 2002

While I agree that a preemptive strike on Iraq would be a foreign policy disaster, I sincerely fear what Saddam will do to Israel

Israel has proven in the past that they will not stand by idly waiting for him to attack. They have flow preemptive strikes before, and no doubt would do it again.

As for the initial question, declaring Saddam "evil" in no way justifies an invasion.
posted by a3matrix at 6:28 AM on August 16, 2002

My opinion is that there's certainly a case for Saddam's removal (via an assasination, not a casual-heavy invasion/occupation) - but his connection to 9.11 is practically nonexistent and while Osama + Co. are still running around Afghanistan/Pakistan, it smells of wagging the dog.

Washington Post poll on Iraq:
1. Would you favor or oppose having U.S. forces take military action against Iraq to force Saddam Hussein from power?

Favor 89%
Oppose 22
No Opinion 9

5. Do you think Iraq does or does not pose a threat to the United States?

Does pose a threat 79%
Does not 16
No opinion 5

6. Do you think George W. Bush has a clear policy on Iraq, or not?

Yes 45%
No 42
No opinion 14

7. If Bush decides to go to war with Iraq, do you think he should get authorization from Congress before launching an attack, or not?

Yes 75%
No 21
No opinion 4

8. If Bush and the Congress disagree on attacking Iraq, who should have the final decision - Bush or the Congress?

Bush 37%
Congress 59
No opinion 4
posted by owillis at 7:17 AM on August 16, 2002

i remember when saber-rattling was all the vogue, now it is attacked by people who have little geopolitical sence and aging fools like Scowcroft.

I think we should just stay home and worry about our economy. what does that mean, really. stay home and get a movie....WE MAKE THE MOVIES......stay home and let someone else get the skinny on your enemies...we'd be a pile of liberal chalk in 5 years....worry about our money?(economy) WE ARE FOLKS. Losing Middle EAST oil would through us into depression. I don't give a flying rat what energy inc. says about the alternatives. we would be strapped...but SO WOULD EVERYONE ELSE. So raise the price of things (EVERYTHING) 15-2O-% cut 15-25% off the work force and what do you get....your communicators won't help you folks.

see i spoiled it, the UN is probably hemming and hawing about weapons inspectors. Hey, it's the way to go, the biggest search warrant in history.

I wouldn't let any weapons inspector in my house.
then they kick in the door. and you cant hide a large bio-lab in your house."my house" america, it is (in theory) all of our house, but you personalize the statement "my house" in reference to saddams it's all saddams house huh. Well time to burn his evil, everlasting rat-like self out of the house. See, many ways to catch the rat WHEN he is exposed. time to expose this rat...and someone in this admin better pull an Adilai Stevenson quick...or else this is just saber rattling and I'm sorry, nothing is more heart sinking then a Texan making Idle threats.
posted by clavdivs at 7:46 AM on August 16, 2002

So according to the poll owillis quotes, the vast majority of americans believe that Iraq is no threat, but that we should attack them anyway.

::head explodes::
posted by ook at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2002

::rereads poll:: ::feels stupid:: ::puts head back together and wanders away::
posted by ook at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2002

Israel Urges U.S. To Attack Iraq "A survey in the daily Maariv newspaper showed 57 percent of Israelis were in support of an American battle to wipe out Saddam's leadership, though about the same percent of people questioned believed Iraq would attack Israel." Well, I took a poll and 100% of my friends were in favor of letting someone else do the dirty jobs they wanted done. BFD
posted by Mack Twain at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2002

I find it interesting to observe lately that some folks both:

a.) condemn the Bush administration for considering a pre-emptive strike on Iraq.

b.) condemn the Bush administration for not preventing the Sept. 11 attacks.

posted by Tubes at 8:17 AM on August 16, 2002

A preemptive strike with the right documentation would not be a disaster, politcally; it will eventially be necessary in the case of Saddam on other leaders who hungry for nukes, and who, it cannot be assumed, is not delusional; against whom there is no deterence.

But a strong, serious case needs to be made, and it hasn't been made yet.

Actually, the case is "out there," but it hasn't been made in a serious coherent, way, as in a speech/presentation before Congress. Little sound bites on Meet the Press is not the "case" which needs to be made. Show us documents. Show us satellite photos. Show us exiled Iraqis.

As I have previously said, many, and perhaps most Europeans' opinions need to be ignored. The defense spending and policies of most of Europe shows a kind of denial of the world's realities. With the exception of the UK, there is no military in Europe to help with an attack; only European psychological insecurity and denial at the reality that Europe is not in control of its destiny.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:38 AM on August 16, 2002

I think the UK, US, Turkey and Israel is all the coalition you need to get rid of the Iraqis, and then, hopefully, watch Saudi Arabia disintegrate in civil unrest.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:40 AM on August 16, 2002

a.) condemn the Bush administration for considering a pre-emptive strike on Iraq.
b.) condemn the Bush administration for not preventing the Sept. 11 attacks.

How about this instead:
a) Condemn Bush administration, CIA, FBI for not taking warnings about 9.11 seriously
b) Condemn Bush administration for not making a real connection between Saddam and terror, but being willing to risk American soldiers' lives anyway
c) Condemn Bush administration for not being serious about fighting terror:
  • Kissing Saudi Ass (the terror link is open for all to see)
  • Letting Bin Laden escape
  • Not helping instill democracy in Afghanistan
What happens if Bush "invades" Iraq, removes its government but Saddam Hussein escapes to fight another day (shades of Osama's possible fate)?
posted by owillis at 8:46 AM on August 16, 2002

owillis: Iraq is not Afghanistan. If he's deposed, it's over. The hatred of SH in Iraq, combined with the narrow, central character of his regime pretty much guarantees a quick collapse upon an invasion.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:50 AM on August 16, 2002

A classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. I am one who, deep down, hopes that this sabre rattling is all an effort to bluff against Saddam.

I believe that should we invade or try an ouster, we will find ourselves in a horrendous situation with our other partners and allies.

And as one theory of geopolitics/war goes (the "warbirds" theory), once our supposed allies and enemies see the tide turn against us (perception-wise, for the most part) they will try to use that leverage against us.

For example, the EU, struggling though they have been to find and elaborate a common military and foreign policy, are becoming more willing to go to heads with the US of tariff and trade issues. Case in point-the current Steel tariffs.

Having lived in Europe for quite some time now, I can attest that the mainland is growing quite sick of many trade policies of the US. Another case in point-I spent the last two years in Valencia, Spain where the US placed an embargo against Valencian oranges and clementines this past growing season because ONE 'potentially dangerous' insect was found.
The US solution to allow the resumption of trade? "The growers of all oranges and clementines in Spain must place a trained, full-time 'inspector' in each orchard to inspect all fruit before packing for shipment."

Now, beyond the fact that this is the most RIDICULOUS of policy solutions, indeed aimed at trying to eliminate a large number of produce growers through increased costs, surprise surprise-guess which states' representatives pushed for this embargo: Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California.

Of course, I think I've moved beyond the point of this thread. I apologize for rambling...
posted by tgrundke at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2002

Iraq is not Afghanistan. If he's deposed, it's over. The hatred of SH in Iraq, combined with the narrow, central character of his regime pretty much guarantees a quick collapse upon an invasion.

I'm not doubting it will collapse - but what then? If you invade a country and topple it's leader with just cause, America also has a moral obligation to rebuild it and create a situation where democracy works. We're not doing it to any real effect in Afghanistan, why would I assume Bush + Co. will do it in Iraq?

The Marshall Plan.
posted by owillis at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2002


I think there is a point to 'ignoring most european's views'. I will agree that Europe works within its own reality-distortion field. However, one of the European points of view is this:

For centuries, we were the most war-ridden continent on the planet. For centuries we spilled blood and this culminated in the two most horrid wars and atrocities of the 20th century-dare, the milennium. Since 1945 Europe has been able to move beyond that history of warfare. Europe has been able to change the way it operates, thinks, and uses 'power'. Europe has found, after 2,000 years, that armed force begets more armed force and is not the solution. Ergo, Europe wants to try and expand this attitude world-wide.

NOW, that having been said, you are welcome to poke-holes in that philosophy. Trust me, I know there are tons-starting with the fact that it took massive military intervention in the 1940s to bring about this 'long peace' across the Atlantic. Moreso, that it was US military protection ans support that allowed for the "European Project" to focus its energies inward instead of outward.

Finally, keep in mind that Europe knows it has no military capacity to rival nor challenge the United States. Europe knows that in the game of power-politics, it will always lose. Therefore, it is in Europe's best long-term interest to develop a system of international organization based on rule of law and norms.

When you are the weaker power, you seek to leverage your advantages and downplay your disadvantages. Recall that in the 19th century it was the US pushing for international laws and norms in the realm of the high-seas. Conversely, it was Great Britain, at the time the "Queen of the High Seas" who refused to sign on to legally-binding international agreements that might constrain her use of naval power. Very similar to the situation we have today.

The US most definitely CAN go it alone and if we do decide to do so, it will not be difficult. However, again, I must press that it is the long-term implications that need further study. While we can never imagine what they will/will not be with certainty, I don't trust the Bush Administration to think this carefully through.
posted by tgrundke at 9:01 AM on August 16, 2002

tg: agree with most of what you write. It's just kind of pathetic if many Europeans can't distinguish between what does on in their own back yard and elsewhere. And why the US would quite legitimately not want to join the jurisdiction of that Court. Particularly since the US, by being the only nation with global military reach, is the only nation likely to be sued in that Court (or at least, by far the most likely).
posted by ParisParamus at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2002

Do people really condemn the Bush admin for not preventing the Sept. 11th attacks? I am not huge fan of Bush but that thought has never crossed my mind. Tubes you have to ask yourself if a strike from Saddam on America is imminent. If there was any solid evidence to show it was, I am sure 99% of the people in this thread who are wary of a war would be fully supportive of a strike.

The issue to me seems perfectly encapsulated in your post-- people are scared, upset, and angry about Sept. 11th, and the Bush administration, who was prepared for a war with Saddam in any case, is using those emotions to stoke up war. While there is definitely some justification on UN Weapons-Inspections grounds to threaten or wage war on Iraq (what use are sanctions if they can't be enforced?), I don't think using Sept. 11th logic is entirely appropriate.
posted by cell divide at 9:22 AM on August 16, 2002

Cell, you have to consider the possibility that the United States has mediocre governance at present (although, what nation doesn't?) with a pro-war bent; and yet the danger from Iraq exists nonetheless. Or that the Adminstration is competent in one dimension (the military), and Iraq would be there forte.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:47 AM on August 16, 2002

Paris, the problem as I see it is not whether the administration is competent militarily, they are. I have no doubt that if we invaded Iraq the US military (cojoined with the UK and Turkey) would be able to fairly rapidly route Hussein's forces.

The issue is:

1) Is this worth the loss of American lives? Probably a loss of life in the hundred or low thousands.

2) Is this worth the loss of a minimum of 10,000 Iraqi civilian deaths (DOD estimate from 2000 on likely results of a full scale invasion of Iraq) from the direct effects of battle, and potentially thousands more as electricity, transport, and potable water infrastructures are destroyed in fighting?

3) Is this worth the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi military personnel, who are most likely fight not out of support for Hussein or his ideology but because they have been drafted?

4) What comes afterwards? US troops have been stationed in the Balkans for five years and Germany, Japan, and South Korea for 50. The only proven method we have seen to turn and autocratic, aggressive country into a moderate free-market democracy is through a basic security guarantee backed up by an aggressive US troop presence in country and massive foreign aid. Given the administrations response to the need for stabilization forces and reconstruction money in Afghanistan, what hope to we have that we will follow through in Iraq?

5) Lastly, there's the money issue. How should we pay for this war? Gulf War I, (a conflicted that entailed no reconstruction money or permanent stationing of troops in defeated Iraq) cost between $60 and $90 BILLION dollars. The bulk of this was paid for by allied nations. Undoubtedly, if the US attacks, we will be paying for this ourselves. Is this a worthy use of scant national treasure at a time when we are surging into an ever growing federal budget deficit, domestic social spending in all likelihood will be cut, and the administration has shown no leniency on its tax policy?
posted by pjgulliver at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2002

pj, as for your last point, how about the tax revenue on the massive oil concessions US firms will win post-Saddam?
posted by cell divide at 10:01 AM on August 16, 2002

Our troops are already going to have to occupy Afghanistan for an undetermined amount of time, why do we want to occupy two huge areas of land in the Middle East simultaneously? Won't that breed more hatred of America?

1) Is this worth the loss of American lives?

Absolutely not.

2) Is this worth the loss of a minimum of 10,000 Iraqi civilian deaths

Ah, what's a few thousand more when sanctions have already knocked off anywhere between 100,000 and 500,000 Iraqis in the last 10 years? Most people just callously write off any civilian deaths as 'collateral damage', a convenient euphemism.

3) Is this worth the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi military personnel

Hey, they were drafted, it's not like those young men are doing anything productive! No worries! Besides, if they mess with us, they deserve to die, right? If you're not with us you're against us, my country, right or wrong.

4) What comes afterwards?

U.S. troops stationed in 107 countries instead of 106. And people think we're not an empire?

5) Lastly, there's the money issue.

Especially when you realize the war will inevitably wreak havoc with the economy, and society in general, if all of this interventionism leads to a new draft. Peace is good for the economy, except the segment of arms manufacturers and contractors who live off of the largess of the state.

If the above things happen, Bush can enjoy his one term presidency, while it lasts. Public opinion basically sours on any war, over time.

I think we should just stay home and worry about our economy.

what does that mean, really.

I think it means keeping our noses out of the business of others, and becoming a peace loving nation concerned with its own affairs, but not willing to go to war over 'national interests', which are really only what politicians are interested in. We should be kind of like a big Switzerland. Of course, it will take a lot of work to bring home troops which are spread out over 106 countries, and then reduce the size of the military, as most of it would be unneccessary within its own borders. Pipe dreams, I know.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:09 AM on August 16, 2002

cell divide, seeing how most major US energy concerns barely pay taxes anyway, and how they have large, in region competition from the European and Russian majors, and lastly, how, if we are truly fighting to free the Iraqi people from tyranny (as our government states) it will be up to them to dole out oil field concessions, I think that potential future tax revenue from US oil firms is an extremely poor source of funding.

It seems you are arguing for a form of reparations here, and history has proven that reparation do nothing but build up animosity and lead to future conflict (Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, France in the 1880s and 1890s.)
posted by pjgulliver at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2002

I disagree with you about global disengagement, insomnyuk (as you probably would have guessed.) I believe it is undisputed that US military commitments, when carried out properly, can bring stability, political reform, and prosperity. I will again cite the Balkans, Germany, Japan, and Korea as successful examples of this. To this list I will add Hungary, Czech an Poland. The addition of the these countries to NATO, and the subsequent US military guarantee, and with it its expectations of democratic governance and civilian control of the military undoubtedly helps stabilize these countries. US training programs throughout Central and Eastern Europe (as well as the Caucuses) are also helping these societies, many of which have never experienced civilian and/or democratic governance hold the military from being a power broker. US troops in the Sinai were key to allowing Israel and Egypt to disengage and pursue peace (regardless of the current regional situation.)

I'll be the first one to admit that there are also many occasions when US troop presence harms local interests and breeds instability. But because some missions are wrongheaded does not mean all should be terminated.
posted by pjgulliver at 10:20 AM on August 16, 2002

What comes afterwards?

hashemite kings!?

How should we pay for this war?

since it's all part of the master plot by THEM to ring in the end times, does it matter? :)
posted by kliuless at 10:38 AM on August 16, 2002

more on these characters.... any thoughts on the potential backlash of letting these zealots lead us into war with the entire arab world? seems to me like they are picking up right where the now missing OBL left off....
posted by specialk420 at 11:19 AM on August 16, 2002

What is interesting is that many of the people now advocating war with Iraq, and considered hard-line Republicans, started out as Democrats, notably Perle and Jean Kirkpatrick. This book , while generally an overly praising view of the Reagan administration, offers an interesting detailing of the transition from Democrat to Republican undergone by many of these individuals.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:25 AM on August 16, 2002

to those suggesting the US go isolationist: that's fine, if we'd be so inclined to develop our own alternative energy resources and figure out how to keep Wall Street happy when many US corporations lose the 30-50% of their business which comes from overseas.

That, and the fact that 70-some odd percent of manufactured goods sold in the US are manufactured outside of our borders. Conspiracy theorists-get crackin'!

On another note-Japan and Germany currently have a sizable lead in alternative energy research and technology. Imagine: we'll have to be buying that technology from them in the future if we don't start getting our rears in action on the homefront.

Homeland security? Try spending less on oil subsidies and more on alternative energy technology.
posted by tgrundke at 11:37 AM on August 16, 2002

sort of OT but i thought this was kind of related: "Karen Hughes was Beauty to Karl's Beast" OT, but anyone notice how the administration's popularity began to slip after Karen Hughes' departure? I think she was much more important than anyone on the outside gave her credit for being...
posted by kliuless at 11:38 AM on August 16, 2002

I don't think the preemptive security idea is all that controversial of an idea. After all its been the primary basis on which we have been bombing Iraq for the last 10 years. However history has shown that the difference between the preemptive strike for national security and a land grab is rather fuzzy. I believe the doctrine goes back to a case where the British military in Canada sank an American freighter carrying weapons to Canadian rebels.

Historically over the last century, the United States has tended to reject the idea of preemptive invasion on national security grounds. After all, this is one of the reasons that the Soviet Union justified the annexation of neighboring territories (reorganized under friendly local governments of course). It's always been a good rationalization for occupying a given bit of land.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:53 AM on August 16, 2002

Tubes you have to ask yourself if a strike from Saddam on America is imminent. If there was any solid evidence to show it was, I am sure 99% of the people in this thread who are wary of a war would be fully supportive of a strike.

And 1% would rather die quietly than risk inflaming international opinion by preventing a strike on America?

Post-Sept. 11 analysis of intelligence collected prior revealed bits of info we can now relate to the attacks. Would any of these tidbits have been enough "proof" to lauch a military action?

What I hear are people demanding some kind of absolute proof that an unstable, murderous madman is just about to attack us before we act. Unless the technology of "Minority Report" comes to pass I doubt this condition can be satisfied in time to respond.

We are told that intelligence indicates he has continued to work on weapons of mass destruction. I suppose one way to know for sure is to wait until he uses one to kill thousands of our friends and neighbors.
posted by Tubes at 11:58 AM on August 16, 2002

Another article about the Eurpoean view of the US - Global warmth for U.S. after 9/11 turns to frost. My favorite part is many Europeans have started using the phrase ''that's American,'' which is shorthand for ''not taking anyone else into consideration.''
posted by quirked at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2002, which may or may not be the Israeli Military National Inquirer, claims that US troops are already in Jordan and/or Iraq, and that European protests of intervention may be disinformation. And the recent congressional distancing? It all makes my head spin.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:24 PM on August 16, 2002

And yet, on the other hand pjgulliver, the U.S. is the country who supplies the most weapons around the world. Forget small arms control, when you have the government arming crackpot dictators and regimes.

to those suggesting the US go isolationist: that's fine, if we'd be so inclined to develop our own alternative energy resources and figure out how to keep Wall Street happy when many US corporations lose the 30-50% of their business which comes from overseas

I am not referring to isolationism, merely strict military non-intervention. For me that means free trade with other countries. Hell, even Saddam himself exports millions of barrels of oil per year. Only the most ideologically devoted country would not do business with a willing and co-operative United States. Hell, Canadian tourists have frequented Cuba for the last 40 years. The notion that American corporations will go under without U.S. military intervention is bunk, in my opinion. Most U.S. corporations don't rely on the military for success, and if somehow using that power is the only way for them to stay profitable, then they ought to go out of business anyway. Even Enron, with all its help from the U.S. gov't securing contracts, went under. Please tell me how military non-intervention would harm the United States.

I'll be the first one to admit that there are also many occasions when US troop presence harms local interests and breeds instability.

So the question then becomes, is the benefit of these successes worth the costs of the failures?
posted by insomnyuk at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2002

One factor which needs to be considered: a lot, and arguably most of the insanity of the middle east is the direct result of American and European oil dollars. If Saddam has or is about to have operational nuclear or bio weapons, we made it possible. And we may have a responsiblity to neutralize him. Just a thought.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:40 PM on August 16, 2002

A difficult question insomnyuk. However, I think I can state with some certainty that the peace imposed by the US on Western Europe (and by the Soviet Union on Eastern Europe) coupled with the extension of American security guarantees to East Asia limited to the extreme the possibility that the advanced, industrialized nations would make war on each other again, as had happened twice in the first half of the century (though, it should be said, there was the threat during this period of global thermonuclear war. As this article from Wired demonstrates (I know, Wired is not the best source for defense policy arguments, but it was the quickest source on this I could come up with,) the bulk of deaths and destruction caused by warfare in the past two centuries came about in WWI and WWII. If American military involvement in East Asia and Western Europe prevented the industrialized nations from fighting themselves once more, than, in my opinion, this was a worthwhile effort.

As to the proper role for the military overseas in the post Cold War era, that is a more complex question, and probably, we should continue this whole conversation in a more appropriate thread (though I really enjoy arguing with you about this.)
posted by pjgulliver at 12:48 PM on August 16, 2002

The problem with Iraq is that the danger is not that of a conventional threat, but one which is not preceded by a troop buildup or "warning signs" (other than the lab work we are told is taking place in Iraq). Missiles carrying whatever toxin or nuke could be launched in two hours. Now, while this is true of several nations in the world, no others I know have are sufficiently undemocratic that there is no pressure no to so launch. Saddam doesn't care, either because he's mad, or because he's convince he can run and hide with a few buddies in his fallout shelter.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:59 PM on August 16, 2002

Paris, while I agree that Hussein is unstable, autocratic, evil, whathaveyou, there is absolutely no evidence he would ever just launch an out of the blue WMD attack. He has always shown himself to be a prudent man, who does whatever necessary to preserve his own rule (ie, the gassing of the Kurds.) He knows that if he ever used WMD in an offensive manner, the rest of the world would give the US a green light for regime change, the thing he fears most.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:19 PM on August 16, 2002

the bulk of deaths and destruction caused by warfare in the past two centuries came about in WWI and WWII.

Indeed, most of the people killed through warfare died in those two wars, but millions more were killed by their own governments, in places like Cambodia, the USSR, China, and the Sudan, to name a few. While there was no war in Eastern Europe, they were under Soviet domination. Thankfully, those countries eventually threw them off.

However, it is hard to see how military non-interventionism would have played out, because we do not share the perspective of those in the past, and (I would like to think) we know more about the big picture than they did at the time. In my opinion, all we can do is approach it from a 'do the least harm' point of view.

If American military involvement in East Asia and Western Europe prevented the industrialized nations from fighting themselves once more, than, in my opinion, this was a worthwhile effort.

This is an especially problematic view, especially because we can't know the future. I can see what you mean, but remember, Vietnam still fell to the Communists, but now the country is coming around to liberalizing the economy and maybe eventually the government. The same for China. What I mean by problematic is, yes, there was and is peace in parts of Europe and Asia, but at what cost? Half a million American lives (including Korean and Vietnam wars) and the lives of millions upon millions of Asians and Europeans? Was it really worthwhile? It seems difficult to try and balance such things and say that the 'good' outweighs the 'bad'. In war, the costs of death and destruction are guaranteed. But if countries are at peace, it is possible that good things can come of it. Very little good comes from war except in the rebuilding. For example, imagine if Reagan had decided to invade Soviet Russia? That would probably have solidified Gorbachev's power, prevented perestroika and glasnost, and most likely ensured the continuation of that brutal regime. I can only begin to imagine the horrible catastrophes that would result in a war with China, for example. I think war ought to be only used as a last resort, and done in self-defense. Of course, I also think we should go back to the days of yore when kings were also military commanders and fought hand to hand on the field with the rest of their men, putting their own necks at risk. Maybe then chickenhawk politicians such as Bush, Clinton, and Bush wouldn't be so willing to commit the military to attack, because to them human lives aren't measured in bodybags but merely numbers on paper.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:57 PM on August 16, 2002

Insomnyuk, good points as always. I think we are arguing different things here. In my posts in this thread placing a positive value on American military involvement overseas, I am not necessarily talking about waging war. As you can tell from my earlier posts to this thread, I am deeply skeptical about any plans for invading Iraq. Rather, what I was seeking to defend here is American military involvement oversees (which you referred to when you mentioned the 106 countries US forces are currently involved in, which started this discussion.) Involvement is not war waging. Rather, it is stationing troops for national security and development missions, such as providing a stabilizing, peacekeeper like force, or taking on issues of professional training of foreign militaries.

And many of these missions create substantial benefits for the regions/nations in which they are stationed. That's why I'm inclined towards the positive when it comes towards stationing troops overseas (not in all cases, and certainly not always to wage war.)
posted by pjgulliver at 2:12 PM on August 16, 2002

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