Post-Saddam Iraq? Not Our Problem.
September 9, 2002 10:34 PM   Subscribe

Post-Saddam Iraq? Not Our Problem. "President Bush Monday told world leaders it will be the responsibility of the whole international community, rather than the United States, to determine what kind of regime should replace Iraqi President Saddam Hussein if his government is toppled by U.S. military action, European diplomats told United Press International." How's your shining beacon of democracy doing today?
posted by owillis (45 comments total)
I pity the lessons of those kids, should they really internalize the games' teachings. Even as a magnificent society, like democracy, that game will crush you, as, on the higher levels, you watch despotisms developing panzer tanks and smiting you off the planet, while your open society is dragging it ass out of the neolithic era. That game is way too hard in higher difficulties.

But I guess it does allow for good conversation starters...
posted by Busithoth at 10:48 PM on September 9, 2002

Hey! I posted to the other blog!
posted by Busithoth at 10:50 PM on September 9, 2002

It's a case of identifying the lesser of evils - I'd really rather the whole international community made the decision than just the United States. So on that score, I agree with Mr. Bush.

However - I am very uncomfortable with the idea of a government in one place telling other places what government they should have, and in some cases removing and replacing them. Doesn't history show that the long-lasting democracies of the world are generally put in place by the people of that country via revolutions or coup d'etat etc?

Besides, democracy is the worst system of government in the world - apart from all the others...
posted by nthdegx at 11:10 PM on September 9, 2002

There's a few things at work here. One is that Bush is saying to the multilateralists, Don't worry, I'll kick the ball over to you. Two is that Bush is signalling to certain quarters that the US is not trying to force its own puppet. Third is that the Bushies are birding the Euros, You like all that nation-building stuff? Fine, you do it. But ultimately, I suspect it's a way of changing the basis of the question from Why do you want to go to war? to What endgame do you see?

I really would be more uncomfortable with the situation should the US be pushing forward a particular candidate -- many of the existing exile leadership is compromised on the one hand by former participation in the regime and on the other by cooperation with the CIA. For instance, a few folks you know, Oliver, seem to be waving the flag of a 'Hashemite restoration' with the bypassed brother of Jordan's King Hussein being given a role.

Returning to the endgame point, for example, it's clear that there may need to be a consultative process to determine what kind of structure the Iraqi government ought to have to preserve stability in the region, e.g. some form of autonomy for the Kurds, but exactly how much?
posted by dhartung at 11:32 PM on September 9, 2002

And the eternal struggle to keep Detroit in business go's on no matter how many dead iraqi children it takes.

Then I Realize Gas will be 85 cents a gallon next year and then i'm happy...

Sick, Sad world is it not?
posted by Dreamghost at 11:37 PM on September 9, 2002

The problem is that the US is pushing for a war that no one wants, then laying the responsibility of cleaning up afterwards on others. While I can see your point, dhartung, I think really what this comes down to is that W doesn't care what happens after his war, just that his war happens. It seems a tad short-sighted, and I fail to see how this ploy can be expected to get anyone against a US attack on our side. It's not granting concessions or working towards a compromise -- it's sticking an unwilling party with a mess they wished to avoid from the very get go.

It's not very nice, if you ask me. And I doubt anyone's going to fall for it.
posted by dogmatic at 11:44 PM on September 9, 2002

No matter how many dead American soldiers it takes, too.
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:45 PM on September 9, 2002

This is supposed to be shocking/embarrassing, then?

If the US government demands Saddam be taken down, then it will have to act nearly unilaterally to do so, since most of the international community disagrees. The anti-attack folks decry this unilateralism.

But now that Bush claims the eventual replacement government will be a decision for the international community, bitching commences again? Would you prefer this be made another unilateral decision? Set up Iraq with an identical model of the American government?

From reading the article, it seems that Bush is opening up the replacement government to input from the rest of the world, not saying that the replacement will be "not our problem".
posted by tirade at 11:46 PM on September 9, 2002

It's not very nice, if you ask me. And I doubt anyone's going to fall for it.

Except for the 60 - 65% of the American people who (or at least those polled) who said they think we should attack Iraq.

Six in 10 say they agree with the administration argument that Hussein must be removed from power because he is a threat to the United States, compared to 27% who see the threat of military action against Iraq as a political move. -- L.A. Times Poll Analysis
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:53 PM on September 9, 2002

In the end, it's likely a strange hybird of a policy statement. On the one hand, it's certainly true that whatever happens afterwards in Iraq simply cannot be under the sole control and direction of the US -- so in this regard, the statement is right on target.

On the other hand, I have a nagging suspicion that the motivation behind the statement isn't an understanding that the US should not be Iraq's puppetmaster, but rather an unstated admission that we simply don't have a freaking clue what to do afterwards and want to absolve ourselves of the burden of having to lay out any ideas beforehand.
posted by theonetruebix at 11:56 PM on September 9, 2002

Hold Up Your Mice! This is A Thread Jacking!

Anybody read that article on Drudge about Saddam's Sex life & his love of Frank Sinatra?

That wacky Saddam he should get his own sitcom.

::runs out of the forum::
posted by Dreamghost at 12:04 AM on September 10, 2002

Making it the responsibility of the whole international community doesn't negate US involvement in the process. It's merely open for discussion. Bush is conceding to regime installation by committee while implementing a clever PR tactic. He's throwing the world a bone and, at the same time, getting everyone used to the idea of No More Saddam. You have to admit, it's almost... brilliant. Very Machiavellian. I'm impressed.

My concern is the end of the article. "They'd be going in without Canadian support." Whoa! Let's rethink this.

Ok, that's over. Carry on.
posted by David Dark at 1:21 AM on September 10, 2002

Brilliant? It's retarded.

I'm sure Bush meant it to sound like the world community should all have a say in determining the post-Saddam government of Iraq. It actually sounded like "we'll go in and create the mess, whether you like it or not, and we'll leave to you to sort it all out."

It's worth re-iterating this point. No plausible exit strategy has yet been discussed. No puppet regime can last for long. As soon as the USA turns it's back, there will likely be a revolution that installs a virulently Islamic government. Is that what the USA wants? I don't think so.
posted by salmacis at 1:29 AM on September 10, 2002

It may sound retarded to you, but you're biased and your opinion is unimportant. Not to me, understand, I value your opinion highly, but I doubt the individual leaders of the international community say things like "We should definitely consult salmacis about this." Of course, I could be wrong. But saying, "we'll go in and create the mess, whether you like it or not, and we'll leave it [sic] to you to sort it all out" isn't accurate. The last thing the US wants is to leave it to you to sort it all out. Try, "Let us go in and clean up the mess (because we will whether you like it or not), and then we'll all sort it out together once it's over, if not before."

People don't care for war, but remember, people don't care for Saddam, either. He's defied the UN for over a decade, he's a loose cannon pursuing nuclear arms, and whether you agree or not that invasion is justified at this time, considering a post-saddam iraq that you helped build might just be a pleasant experience for some international leaders.

We may get UN approval, yet. It's still highly doubtful, but this will help.
posted by David Dark at 2:46 AM on September 10, 2002

Gulf War 2 will be better than the first
posted by JonnyX at 2:48 AM on September 10, 2002

If Iraq doesn't currently have weapons of mass destruction, it's not from a lack of trying. "Clear and present danger" isn't just the title of a Clancy action thriller, it's a criterion, and I think that Iraq falls well within it. To paraphrase the Secretary of Defense, do we want to do something about Iraq's nuclear weapons program before or after they detonate a nuclear weapon?

The aftermath of "neutralizing" a threat to US national security and/or the stability and security of a region which would have a direct effect on US national security isn't our problem. We cannot continue to police the world unsupported--the nations that turn to the US to oust Kuwaiti invasions, deal with Baltic warlords, and in short shore up global security (how much as France done to curb weapons grade plutonium smuggling?) should either take a more active role in world events or stop complaining. In any event, a US-mandated political leader in any Middle Eastern country wouldn't likely last too long, and would probably destabilize the region in the long run.
posted by KiloHeavy at 3:23 AM on September 10, 2002

The Bush approach is great! 1. answers the critics who say that we will have to spend over ten years in Iraq after we tople Saddam. Nah, says Bush: we do it and let the world clean up our crap. 2. We don't care what you say. We are doing it.Your part? clean up the mess we made in our diapers...that is what grownups are for.
posted by Postroad at 3:35 AM on September 10, 2002

I say create a power vaccuum in a place where all the people just had the shit bombed out of them. It's the fastest road to peace.
posted by vbfg at 4:11 AM on September 10, 2002

"'Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? / That's not my department,' says Wernher von Braun." Tom Lehrer.

I see why W. was a C student. He gets his results out there first, and then tries to figure out ways to make the process fit the results. We want regime change or a winnable war (can't find that weasel Osama) or a salable definition of the pres as a War Leader instead of a failed CEO. But we can't find the goods to link Saddam to Al Qaeda . . .

Where's the CIA when you need 'em?
posted by palancik at 4:11 AM on September 10, 2002

So.. we'll let the world that didn't go along with us, determine Iraq's future?

I don't like this war, but, that is a dumb idea.

No country in the Middle East wants Democracy in Iraq, because that will show their people how lousy their government is.

and we'll let those people determine Iraq's future?
posted by RobbieFal at 4:47 AM on September 10, 2002

Creating morasses with your lovely bang-toys is the easy part, George. Of course we wouldn't expect you to handle something difficult, given how useless you've proved at difficult things so far.

I think the 'international community' should lock the US out of the conference room, and decide to re-establish Kurdistan in Montana. Or Colorado. I'm sure George would love that one.
posted by riviera at 5:06 AM on September 10, 2002

See, the thing I'm worried about is the idea that Bush is probably going to use Iraq as a staging ground to invade other hotbeds of terror, like Iran, or Syria.

Post-saddam Iraq won't be a problem in the short term, kind of like how post-Soviet Afghanistan wasn't a problem, at least for a few years.
posted by insomnyuk at 5:32 AM on September 10, 2002

Damn I'd like to know what those ol' Bush family pals the Saudi princes are saying via sat-phone to their American friends about all of this. One assumes that they're pooping their robes...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:02 AM on September 10, 2002

And the eternal struggle to keep Detroit in business go's on no matter how many dead iraqi children it takes.
Then I Realize Gas will be 85 cents a gallon next year and then i'm happy...

Sick, Sad world is it not?

on a slight tangent, but this reminded of something Dennis Miller said on his last show that was funny. Not an exact quote, but it was something to the effect of "Most Americans don't feel the need to go to war with Iraq, with gas still being under $2 a gallon...."
posted by stifford at 6:11 AM on September 10, 2002

What Bush won't want is democracy in Iraq. (or any American president for that matter)

If you lived in a country that was on top of one of the biggest supplies of oil in the world, would you vote for a candidate that thought it would be a jolly good idea to give all that oil to those lovely Americans at knock down prices.

Not bloody likely. So it's also obvious that it's not bloody likely that Bush won't interfere either

The logic behind Bush's statement is mind boggling too. Firstly it reinforces the view amongst some that Bush and Co don't have a clue what they're doing. Secondly it's a bit like me saying "I've just shit in your garden, maybe you'd like to clean it up."
posted by dodgygeezer at 6:18 AM on September 10, 2002

I keep having this morbid fantasy of Bush consulting Noriega, in the same manner as in Silence of the Lambs.
posted by BentPenguin at 6:25 AM on September 10, 2002

See, the thing I'm worried about is the idea that Bush is probably going to use Iraq as a staging ground to invade other hotbeds of terror, like Iran, or Syria.

Funnily enough, I've been thinking along similar lines recently. Launching attacks on anywhere from Saudi Arabia isn't going to be allowed by the Saudi government, possibly, indeed probably, including Iraq. Moving around with relative impunity isn't even possible, certainly not as a military force.

However, if you can take Iraq the reasons for being in Saudi at all become null and void. As I understand it the principle beef driving Bin Ladin and much of his support base in Saudi Arabia is the US presence there. I think they're reasoning (Bush and chums), and probably with some justification, that with an absence of troops on Saudi soil and the oil money still rolling in that the average Saudi will not give much of a flying fuck either way for the Palestinians.

You also get the added bonus of territory right in the Middle East that come and go to and move around in without hinderance. However internationalised a post-war solution the Bush administration wants right now, I cannot see any solution not including a US force in being within the current Iraqi borders.
posted by vbfg at 6:35 AM on September 10, 2002

here's another interesting angle i thought to a preemptive invasion. said pakistan's UN ambassador munir akram: "A more relevant question is what would happen if India were to take advantage of an attack against Iraq in order to launch a strike, or to provoke a conflict with Pakistan." india has come out against war with iraq, but the fear is according to pakistan's foreign minister inam ul haque, "we have heard noises from India, for example, saying that if the United States can take unilateral action in Afghanistan and in Iraq, why can't India take unilateral action against Pakistan."

looking at it from a non-US perspective i think is one of the more compelling reasons why the case bush presents before the UN on thursday better be pretty persuasive. like beyond making the case that saddam is a threat to the global community which necessitates preemptive military action (w/ a reasonable plan of succession), he'll need to guarantee that while the US is removing saddam, india won't go after pakistan (or china doesn't move against taiwan or whatever) which i think will take considerable back channel diplomatic assurances and such.

it also speaks to the US' force projection capabilities and it's relative isolation across the atlantic and pacific. the US can remove saddam from power, but the aftermath, the immediate consequences (far from clear by anyone's estimation) are likely to be localized to the region, which is europe's, russia's, africa's and south asia's back yard after all.

in the finaly analysis i think the people in the region have much more at stake in terms of the long-term repercussions of a US strike that the US does. so it's sort of obvious that there'd be outcry and resentment, esp without meaningful consultation. but then it also makes sense IMHA (in my humble analysis :) why the US should undertake such an endeavour and risk regional instability: because it can! or more precisely, it can afford to.
posted by kliuless at 6:40 AM on September 10, 2002

Another thinly disguised attempt by dubbya to lend the look of coalition to his quest for OIL!!!
posted by hoopyfrood at 6:49 AM on September 10, 2002

i didn't know bush did comedy acts.
posted by aLienated at 6:57 AM on September 10, 2002

Meanwhile, the administration is dropping the argument that Iraq has connections to Al-Qaeda:
Although administration officials say they are still trying to develop a strong case tying Hussein to global terrorism, the CIA has yet to find convincing evidence despite having combed its files and redoubled its efforts to collect and analyze information related to Iraq...Most specifically, analysts who have scrutinized photographs, communications intercepts and information from foreign informants have concluded they cannot validate two prominent allegations made by high-ranking administration officials: links between Hussein and al Qaeda members who have taken refuge in northern Iraq and an April 2001 meeting in Prague between Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:59 AM on September 10, 2002

Does anyone recall what happened last year tomorrow?!

Clinton was offered Bin Laden more than once. He didn't take him and we get 9/11/2001 courtesy of that SOB (UBL, not WJC). Saddam is a dictator trying to obtain weapons of MASS destruction with an intent to use them. Machiavelli and Sun-Tzu both observed that eliminating a problem during its infancy forestalls major damages later. Yeah, yeah, Machiavelli and Sun-Tzu, whatever. But they were right about that. Why in the h*ll should we wait until Saddam has the power to slaughter millions, when we can remove him now militarily. It's pretty easy to chant against another war, but does anyone have a better solution? Do you actually think we should let him remain even a day longer?!
posted by BirdD0g at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2002

lots of countries have weapons of mass destruction and "the power to slaughter millions," but that doesn't mean we should take them all out :) it's like the second amendment, but for the world!
posted by kliuless at 7:57 AM on September 10, 2002

dhartung's third postulation sounds on the mark to me.
If Bush&Co can redirect discussion from reasons to attack (which most of the world has rejected) to the post-Hussein possibilities (and offering no suggestions), they may be hoping to suck some skeptical nations into a debate vacuum. If they can force other nations to even consider the possibilities, that makes it more likely those nations will come on side once the shooting starts, to try to create what they have envisioned.
It's classic debate technique. When you've struck a wall, redirect discussion and bypass the wall altogether.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:02 AM on September 10, 2002

(whoops, make that FOURTH postulation. Damn, screwed up in my first-ever post.)
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:04 AM on September 10, 2002

Does anyone recall what happened last year tomorrow?!

Yes - why is Al Quaeda no longer a priority?

Do you actually think we should let him remain even a day longer?!

Perhaps you could direct me to similar posts that you made pre 9/11. Saddam is a nasty piece of work (not least to his own people) but why is he more dangerous now than last year? why is he more dangerous when controlled than when attacked? and how will war in Iraq help in the continuing 'war on terrorism'?

Incidentally - Bush's debate technique appears to have dramatically changed since Blair got back from holiday, where are Cheney and Rumsfeld this week?
posted by niceness at 8:05 AM on September 10, 2002


Al Queda's not a priority? Then why do I still read about the adventures of UBL, Al Queda, and Afghanistan every day in the newspaper? I believe terrorism is our #1 priority.

As for the redirect to my pre-9/11 comments, I didn't make any. I was actually OK about letting things be before then. But the WTC came crashing down because of a person who hated the US and our ties with Israel. Saddam hates the US and Israel and is pursuing an anti-US agenda. I don't want to see it happen again.
posted by BirdD0g at 8:38 AM on September 10, 2002

In 1982 I believe, Israel, acting unilaterally in the face of worldwide disapproval, missiled an Iraqi nuclear reactor. Had they not, Saddam would have had nuclear weapons ten years ago. I'm not sure about an Iraq attack yet myself, but I'm with Rumsfeld in that worldwide approval is by no means a requirement.
posted by gsteff at 8:40 AM on September 10, 2002

And on further reflection, I don't have a clue why I put that comment in this particular thread.
posted by gsteff at 8:41 AM on September 10, 2002

I keep having this morbid fantasy of Bush consulting Noriega, in the same manner as in Silence of the Lambs.

Me too, but instead of Noriega it's Kissinger. That's way more scary.
posted by Dr. Boom at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2002

Al Quaeda's not a priority? Then why do I still read about the adventures of UBL, Al Queda, and Afghanistan every day in the newspaper?

Of course capturing, killing (or confirmation of death) of Bin Laden would be welcome but it can't realistically be seen as a priority when a war with Iraq will not only relegate Al Quaeda to secondary importance (which conflict do you think will consume the greater finance, political and military strategy, intelligence and firepower?) but also ensure it a steady stream of disaffected fighters.

Mind you, a traditional war must be far more fun for the CIA than getting down dirty in Peshawar for the sake of a few crumbs of local intelligence.
posted by niceness at 9:47 AM on September 10, 2002

South Korea is part of "The Axis of Evil". They already have nuclear capabilities ("weapons of mass destruction"). How come we're not invading them?

No oil.
posted by owillis at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2002

Owilly your words betray you, old friend. Exactly what is your obsession with Seoul ;)

But the short answer to your question is that N. Korea is not near Israel and has no oil.
posted by cell divide at 11:14 AM on September 10, 2002

I think that this could be usefully subtitled:

"Crushing defeat of Saddam provides excellent press and personal ratings boost, long term support for Iraq drains foreign aid finances and is ignored by the media."
posted by daveg at 12:42 PM on September 10, 2002

« Older Everything I Needed to Know about Life, I Learned...   |   From Richard Wilbur: Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments