Iraq, Plan C
March 12, 2003 10:17 AM   Subscribe

In the dispute over Iraq there is always Plan C Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But of such dreams Plan C is made. For New Zealand, a country with a record of peacekeeping and independent thought in international affairs, perhaps the compromise is the solution to what otherwise could be a nightmare in the making.
posted by a3matrix (27 comments total)
"Done, but with errors on the page"

That Javascript message seems somehow poignant.
posted by dhoyt at 10:46 AM on March 12, 2003

I think this is an excellent idea, and has the air of something that might attract UN naysayers such as France. Key problems are that it doesn't really address the US concerns about WMD and Saddam Hussein, except in further financially emasculating him. Nor is it at all clear that the government of Iraq would willingly accept such a Kosovo-style solution. Obviously it has the plusses of concentrating world effort on the democratization questions and offering legally sanctioned self-government to both the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs/Shi'as, all while eliminating the divisive questions of the sanctions and an invasion. Sadly, it's just the kind of thing that the Clinton administration should have pursued back in the 90s (even before they had developed the Albright doctrine), when the repression stepped up and the sanctions were becoming a clear liability; but of course Somalia was still fresh in American minds.

It's too bad -- and I say this with all even-handedness -- that nobody in the current mix has offered something half as original, the US and France included.
posted by dhartung at 10:54 AM on March 12, 2003

Uh, what I meant is that it seemed like a veiled cautionary message about the war in Iraq: it's (inevitably) done, but with errors (casualties)...

Aw, never mind.

For the record, I like Plan C ("a mix of the coercive and the diplomatic"), assuming it doesn't lull the Iraqi government into another ten years of non-compliance.
posted by dhoyt at 10:59 AM on March 12, 2003

Nnsense. I must assume (1) Saddam has chemical and biological weapons right now (no nukes) and that they are not concealed in the no fly zones, or, if they are, they will be quickly moved. (2) We control the oil? Then this means we don't lose anything if you believe we are going after Saddam for the oil. Why would a leader of a country unwilling to step down to avert a war give the go ahead to lose his one big card--oil?

Bush --whether you like it or not--is hell-bent on replacing Saddam. If as some see it the reason goes beyond Saddam but has as an endgame bringing about democracy etc in the region, then why would the US accept the plan: And France with the heaviest invetment in Iraq's oil not going to go for this either.
posted by Postroad at 11:00 AM on March 12, 2003

And it completely fails to contemplate (in this mews article anyhow) that Saddam will have a vested interest in these new autonomous regions prospering.

In short, it will attract all sorts of terroristic types loking to sabotage the peaceful and orderly administration of these regions.

Such is already the case on in the Kurdish region NE of Bagdad. So massive security will be needed whether the Baths are toppled up-front or not. And the US will shoulder the blame in either case if it fails.

And whatever the case, the real loser in this is the UN, bleeding credibility by the day. Don't expect the NoKo "situation" to be deliberated in the Sec Council. (But I digress...)
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:02 AM on March 12, 2003

WBUR, "On Point", Tuesday night: "Avoiding War in Iraq: With war looming many are still asking, "Can we still disarm in Iraq without the use of force?" At this point, what would it take? A dramatic visit to Baghdad by the Pope or Jimmy Carter? A huge nationwide letter-writing campaign? Major overnight policy changes? As troops move closer to Baghdad we're thinking up "Hail Mary" ideas to still avoid war"

Listen to the show (link the "On Point" main page)
posted by troutfishing at 11:12 AM on March 12, 2003

interesting. Enough of a blow to Saddam that Bush saves face. The oil flows, lives are saved. Inspections continue.
posted by pejamo at 11:17 AM on March 12, 2003

Wishful thinking.

1) Bush is hell-bent on replacing Saddam.
2) Saddam is determined to go down in flames.

The only solution is for Bush to go to war. Not because a war might solve anything, or because a war is justified, but because two madmen have backed themselves into the corner. They have no options.

Nothing will change the fact that the US is going to war. Not great ideas, not appeals to practicalities, not worldwide condemnation, not public protest. Bush has said straight up that he thinks this is vital and he's not interested in hearing about why it isn't.

"Saddam is an immediate threat to the safety of Americans."

In the face of such stupidity, what how could anyone have for peace?
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:21 AM on March 12, 2003

what dhartung said. amen.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:28 AM on March 12, 2003

Well, if Russia or France moved troops into Iraq, that would change matters somewhat.

In the face of that sort of stupidity, peace might suddenly seem like a pretty good idea.

(morale of this story: just because two madmen are bent on killing each other doesn't mean additional madmen can't stop them)
posted by Ptrin at 11:38 AM on March 12, 2003

It is wishful thinking I agree. It asks all sides to make concessions, and I doubt any of them really will want to.

I agree that GW seems Hell bent on going in, and I think it will be soon, UN or no UN.

I think for me, that Plan C is an attempt to alleviate the current "no compromise" mentality currently surrounding the Iraq issue. I wish it were possible, but given the attitudes of GW, Saddam, and others, it would never even be brought to the table for discussion.
posted by a3matrix at 11:41 AM on March 12, 2003

The US government wants to invade and is going to do so, everything else is besides the point.
posted by signal at 11:48 AM on March 12, 2003

I'm putting this FPP-worthy op-ed in today's Iraq thread.
Soros, "The Bubble of American Supremacy".
posted by goethean at 12:04 PM on March 12, 2003

In addition to removing Saddam from power, the policy of the current administration - as I understand it - is to ensure that Iraq remain a single nation. Carving the place up into states dominated by a particular religoius or ethnic group is not a desirable thing.

Just look at India and Pakistan.

While I applaud any effort to avoid bloodshed, and am no fan of Bush's impending war, I don't believe that this plan is viable. It might make sense in the short term, but in the decades to come it may well bring about even greater problems.
posted by aladfar at 12:08 PM on March 12, 2003

This plan makes no sense - it requires Saddam to give up control of most of the square mileage of Iraq, all of the oil deposits and all thus all his revenue, and allows allied troops to within 100 miles of Baghdad, where they can mobilize and stage a future invasion and seize the capital with a half-day's drive.

Under this plan he gives almost everything, imprisoning and pauperizing himself, gets nothing, and makes it vastly easier for America to destroy him at a later date.

Even if he would accept this, the French never would. Since the mid-70's their policy has been create and maintain Saddam as a nuclear armed client state. I can't imagine how this could be in France's interest, but it has been their policy for a quarter of a century, and it won't change just for the sake of Plan C.
posted by Jos Bleau at 12:33 PM on March 12, 2003

In addition to removing Saddam from power, the policy of the current administration - as I understand it - is to ensure that Iraq remain a single nation. Carving the place up into states dominated by a particular religoius or ethnic group is not a desirable thing.

The article doesn't presuppose that we're seperating Iraq indefinitely. It supposes that we're occupying it, strangling the Ba'ath regime (rather than shooting it), and strengthening the other groups in the country. You can argue about whether this could have the unintended effect of carving up Iraq, and there's definitely a good argument to be made about why that would be bad. But the article is focused on a solution that would hopefully keep Iraq the state-concept intact, while allowing for a regime change, and hopefully keeping U.S.-Europe relations intact.
posted by namespan at 12:47 PM on March 12, 2003

The more I think about this, the more I like it. Given the choice between plan B or C, I imagine Saddam would choose to live. And even if he didn't go into exile, he would be in a much tighter box, making WMD manufacturing and courting terrorists much more difficult. The Turks wouldn't like it, but I agree with Hitchens that we're better off without them anyway. And we could return our focus from this detour in fighting terrorism. The biggest obstacle would probably be Bush's "Team B," who would hate this.

"Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But of such dreams Plan C is made. For New Zealand, a country with a record of peacekeeping and independent thought in international affairs, perhaps the compromise is the solution to what otherwise could be a nightmare in the making."

I'm not familiar with the procedural mechanisms of the UN. Could New Zealand present this as a plan to the Security Council if they wanted to?
posted by homunculus at 3:48 PM on March 12, 2003

ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT [ Logical, restrained discussion of Iraq/War issue - no hurling of vitriol and spittle ] - DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER DANGER
posted by troutfishing at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2003

It's too bad -- and I say this with all even-handedness -- that nobody in the current mix has offered something half as original, the US and France included.

Considering Amerikkka and a Freeper worthy link on the Bubba schlong, all evenhandedness takes a whole new meaning--and I want you to wash yours before I shake either one! Well, one thing is for certain--None Dare Call It Quietude.

However, I am interested in your take on this:

Idealists shouldn't be allowed to run the world

More especially this passage--and chime in, riviera, if you're out there--here:

Another rational country appears to be Russia. It is unlikely to veto the US-UK resolution but wants to encourage France and Germany to defy the US. American recognition of Russia’s unique military importance would not only help to satisfy national pride and offer the restless army a vision of a potential global role, a partnership with America would also guarantee Russia a free hand in crushing the Chechens and maintaining its influence in Central Asia, as well as accelerating its integration in the global economy. Meanwhile, a Russian dream is coming true with the rapid dissolution of Nato, as American public opinion identifies France and Germany as persistent troublemakers and even enemies, instead of allies. Thus it is very much in Russia’s interest to encourage France to use its veto against the US. This seems the most plausible explanation for Russia’s hard line in the past few days.

The other rational player in this crisis is, surprisingly, Tony Blair. Mr Blair quickly understood that September 11 could offer an opportunity to lock a dangerously fundamentalist US government into the UN system and to create a semblance of an international order (note to Clare Short — not “preserve” a UN order which never existed, but create one for the first time).

Such an “order” could not be based on trying to “hobble” the US giant. This would be not just futile but terrifyingly anarchic, since the US is the only “global policeman” with the power and the courage to impose order in places such as Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, where the UN’s writ never ran. Mr Blair could see that the UN’s mission should not be to “control” America, still less to defy it, but to channel and legitimise America’s essentially benign monopoly of military power. Mr Blair shared this rational vision with leaders from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Poland and most other countries in Eastern Europe — and I believe it was absolutely right.

Mr Blair also believed that Britain’s interest was to act as a bridge between America and Europe. Mr Blair’s success last September in persuading President Bush to seek UN backing for his Iraq adventure was a triumph for the Prime Minister personally, as well as for Britain’s interests in global prosperity and peace.

That, at least, was how things looked until two months ago, when a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis, either through Saddam’s exile or abject surrender, seemed likely. But in January, the best-laid plans of such rational actors as Britain, Russia, Italy and Cameroon, started to fall apart. They fell apart for a very simple reason: four of the key players in the global chess game acted out of conviction instead of national interest. These four rogue nations were Iraq, Germany, France and the US.

And while we're on the topic, Dan, another question:

Donald Rumsfeld--currently the biggest fuck up on the team or what? His talking big has made Tony Blair's days numbered and what possible good is going to come of that?

The Myth of Republican Competence, indeed.

“In the period of crisis the hegemony of the United States will operate more completely, more openly, more ruthlessly than in the period of boom. The United States will seek to overcome and extricate herself from her difficulties and maladies at the expense of Europe, regardless of whether this occurs in Asia, Canada, South America, Australia, or Europe itself, or whether this takes place peacefully or through war”

Trotsky, The Third International After Lenin, p. 8.

posted by y2karl at 8:10 PM on March 12, 2003

This should be called Plan "N" for naive. Nice if it would work. But Saddam Hussein isn't Barney.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:18 PM on March 12, 2003

homunculus, technically they would have to go through an intermediary, as NZ is not presently a member of the council. But then it's common for front-room resolutions and plans to emerge from unexpected parties chosen in back-room negotiations. (As with any politics, it can be a way of concealing source or motive, or simply a form of mentoring.) The bigger problem here is that this isn't really an actual plan proffered by Kiwi diplos, but simply Buchanan's proposal. I'm inclined to wish it had appeared six weeks ago -- or better yet, six months.

Jos, I don't see the issue with Saddam; there's almost nothing on the table he'd like. Before last summer he was actually contemplating weaselling out of the sanctions, without resuming inspections. Heck, 18 months ago the talk was "smart sanctions", code for "put the money in cousin Ahmed's Swiss bank account". Essentially he was already evicted from Kurdistan. One doesn't see him backing out of the oil fields easily, but then, one wouldn't have seen him backing up from Hans Blix either until he needed Blix as his new best friend. The Kosovo precedent is there, as well, and it eventually got Milosevic in the docket.

Now, a truly proactive and creative UN could even conceivably go so far as to decredential the present Iraqi representatives in favor of one selected by a tripartite federal commission, giving the Kurds and Shi'as a 1/3 vote each. I can dream. Really, the other part of an ideal solution would be the one that was floated to have the country of Iraq just lousy not only with weapons inspectors, but with human rights inspectors. An occupied southern zone would be an excellent place for them to begin compiling information, and it would fit in with the ultimate American goal of regime change by leading to a removal and prosecution of Saddam (and perhaps his charming sons). A really crafty Bush administration could have backed such a move even under the current setup, if only because human rights inspectors would be many times more likely to find current violations. (Don't get me wrong though: I absolutely believe that SH has not given up on his dream of the Arab bomb, and never will. We'll never be able to trust him for more than a couple of years without having inspectors up his pants.)

Even as is, though, this would go significantly toward many of the American goals said to be beyond Iraq, such as the democratization and cutting off the money propping up the Palestinian terror groups. It wouldn't cut off France and Russia, eliminating whatever economic incentives allegedly underpinning their opposition. It would put the US administration on the spot regarding their true goals, having this on the table: choose this, or choose war? I don't believe that more than a tiny contingent of neocons really "wants a war" because it would be good for the economy / GOP re-election prospects / the American soul / you name it. But nobody's actually put a realistic proposal like this on the table that would put that choice into focus -- all we get is France effectively standing up for the sovereign rights of one of the world's worst despots, which is such an easily marginalized position France must surely only be pursuing it for broader strategic reasons.

y2karl, I must be allowed sarcasm, especially when confronted with wilful idiocy -- though not yours, I hasten to add. (And I'm still posting much less than I was, barring a recent spurt due to illness and lack of work.) There really wasn't another choice for a "Clinton had a bent penis" link, trust me, and it was soooo called for in that thread.

Without derailing what's going on here, that's an interesting point: the foundation theory of international relations, of course, is realism or realpolitik, which essentially says that nationals are usually rational actors pursuing essential interests. One contradiction that is rarely grasped, as I have pointed out here before, is that the United Nations is paradoxically to its image as a bastion of lefty touchy-feely internationalism is that it remains one of the most profoundly realpolitik institutions on the planet. Where else would your interests be assumed to be equally represented whether your president is Nelson Mandela or Saddam Hussein? I don't think realpolitik explains everything about IR, of course, and that's because humans are still running the show, so you can't assume they're right when they're really just guessing what their national interests really are. You also can't always assume that they're playing the same game you are, or that because you think it's in everyone's best interest to avoid war, that it really is; you have to be a little more utilitarian when evaluating places like the UNSC.

As for Trotsky, well, he was one smart dude for a Red. (Tease.) Really, though, that observation is more truism than insight; that is, observant of America's strategic place in the world, more defined by geography and history than we think. And maybe Trotsky saw the Jacksonian America.
posted by dhartung at 10:06 PM on March 12, 2003

technically they would have to go through an intermediary, as NZ is not presently a member of the council

That's what I thought. Thanks dhartung.

It would put the US administration on the spot regarding their true goals, having this on the table: choose this, or choose war?... But nobody's actually put a realistic proposal like this on the table that would put that choice into focus

Well said.
posted by homunculus at 10:39 PM on March 12, 2003

Well, to tell the truth, Dan, I just tossed in the Trotsky quote to annoy the redbaiters, 'cause it crossed my path today...

And Jacksonian America did wonders for the Cherokee Nation, let it be noted.

You never did answer my question about Mr. Public Relations King Rumsfeld, let it be noted as well. I think that even you must be given pause by his ineptitude at times.
posted by y2karl at 11:26 PM on March 12, 2003

You sure Donald Rumsfeld was being inept? I think he knew just what he was doing, which was to nip in the bud the prospect of a British Veto on the coming war. Which he did, very effectively.
posted by grahamwell at 3:04 AM on March 13, 2003

I am not sure how well thought out an analysis could be if it includes the following:

Under a new UN resolution tabled in place of the one being proposed by the US and Britain, coalition troops would be authorised to occupy Iraqi territory under the no-fly zones established in the north and south of the country by previous UN edicts.
By extending the mandate, these would become no-parking zones for Iraqi military forces, which are already subjected to daily bombardment in the air suppression campaign leading up to an invasion.

There is no such UN mandate, and IMHO anyone who is not aware of this fact isn't familiar enough with the situation in Iraq to offer suggestions as to how the crisis can be best resolved.
posted by talos at 4:11 AM on March 13, 2003

Good catch, talos. I actually meant to include something in my post about how this would finally legalize the no-fly zones, but didn't flesh that angle out. Nevertheless, they aren't strictly illegal either, and the US/UK position is that they were established under, if not by, authoritative UN resolution. I don't think this slip-up matters much, as this is mainly a thought experiment, and it's much too late regardless; I think Buchanan's Plan C has much to recommend it as I've outlined above, not the least because it would force both sides to take less ambiguous positions.

It's clearly modeled on Kosovo, so there's no reason to believe it couldn't work from an international politics standpoint. (With reservations that Kosovo, with its own government, its own currency {dollars/euros, vs. whatever Serbia uses}, its own military, still has no legal sovereignty, which a forthright UN should have immediately granted. So I don't trust the UN to do the right thing here regardless; Kosovo only happened the way it did because NATO handed the international body a fait accompli.) It "avoids" war, which is presumably the horrible thing that most people are actually opposing, rather than the oil-field takeover; it ends the sanctions; it makes human rights a cornerstone of the policy. Jeez, what's not to recommend? We're not in a position here where some 25-year Iraq expert, with remarkably clean (unbiased) hands, will come down from the mountain with the Perfect Fucking Solution anyway.

Karl, regarding Rummy, you have to know that I do not excoriate his ineptness: I celebrate his eptitude. He is the plain-spoken American par excellence, the one whose few well-chosen words get gaggles of Euros all in a tizzy. As an American I have to respect and admire that; if I didn't get it I would be halfway to being European, because they surely don't. It's a cultural gap that goes all the way back to Tocqueville. Does it create situations that matter that much in the larger scheme of things? I sincerely doubt that anything he says would do that, especially when we have the counterexample of senior German ministers comparing us to Nazis. C'mon. We'll act all cold to the Krauts for a while, but any real policy rift is only because of substantive decisions they make, not because of a few ill-chosen press-conference words. Or maybe they weren't that illy chosen, y'know?
posted by dhartung at 12:52 PM on March 13, 2003

If Kosovo is a success-story... well I wouldn't want to see a real failure.
when we have the counterexample of senior German ministers comparing us to Nazis.
Said minister was sacked in no time however. And she didn't really compare "you" (this "us" thing is rather misleading BTW) to Nazis. She didn't even compare Bush himself- just his methods to Hitler's. Ms Däubler-Gmelin said this exactly:
"Bush wants to divert attention from domestic difficulties. That is a popular method. Hitler has done that before.''
She also in the same interview made the following correct statement that if insider trading laws had been in force in the 1980s when President Bush was involved in the oil business "then Bush would be in prison today".

To claim that somehow Rumsfeld is "the plain-spoken American par excellence", is an insult to all plain-spoken Americans not on a religious/ideological power trip.
I mean if it's about getting gaggles of Euros all in a tizzy, then by that same standard Däubler-Gmelin's eptitude should be celebrated as well, seeing as to how she got gaggles of US conservatives all in a tizzy.
It really isn't that much of a cultural gap though, people with similar ideologies of power and (smaller versions of) empire exist in Europe as well. It's just that European politics try to marginalize the local extreme-right. Lepen is cut out of the same cloth as Rumsfeld - and so is Zirinovsky.
posted by talos at 4:33 AM on March 14, 2003

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