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furt
01-23-2004, 07:34 PM
Made ya look. Thread title is extreme hyperbole, strictly for advertising purposes. Take it serously and you will be mocked.


In this thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=235228&page=1&pp=50), Simon X has asked all comers to defend the "Democratic Domino Theory of the Middle East." Some have, but none seemingly with a great deal of enthusiasm. My own view, which I posted, was that I supported the current US policy because while it was obviously flawed, it was at least a comprehensive and coherent plan, and that while I had not heard any others, I'd like to.

It was suggested that asking for "better ideas," should be it's own thread, hence I have created one. The request is for all comers to furnish the outlines of a superior post-9/11 foreign policy. Here are the conditions:

1. It must eliminate the threat that Radical Islam poses to the United States (Or else make the case that there is no threat). In fact, to stay on point, I'd like it if the last sentance of any proposal included words to that effect (see my example below).

2. It must not be consistient with the American character. We're not going to put veils on women, give up our cars or adopt socialism.

3. It must be feasible. If you want to say "The US forces Israel to give up 100% of the West Bank by threatening to withdraw all aid" I'd say that's feasible; it might not work, but we can at least envison that as possibly happening. "Give the UN exclusive rights to all global oil reserves." is not feasible. All nations and groups act in their enlightened self-interest, except for the ones run by crazy people.

This goes also for military logistics. It is not possible to keep division-sized formations or carrier battle groups deployed in the field for more than a few months or so at a time without suffering severe loss of effectiveness (and expense).

4. It must have some detail. If you refer to "UN Troops," indicate which nations are going to furnish these troops. If you say "compromise" or "cease-fire" you must give some indication of what happens if one side proves intransigent or to be acting in bad faith.

5. It must be workable in its timeframes. No grand schemes that bear fruit in 2100.

6. You can dial the wayback machine to about 9/13/2001 and start doing things differently from that point onward, but no further. If you do, you must fairly account for events in the last two years. If you want to invade Saudi Arabia under a UN flag, explain how you got the approval that Bush didn't for Iraq (and not "I'm smarter").

7. Finally ... you must assume that (pre-invasion) your intelligence services are telling you that Iraq "probably" has some sort of WMD program and "possibly" has functional weapons.


The following is offered as a summary of current US policy, here for informational purposes and as an example of a plan that, IMO has about a 50/50 shot at working:

***
The Neo-cons' plan in <400 words

Situation:
Radical Islam is a looming mortal threat to the United States. Fundamentalism is growing in size and strength, and the destruction of the United States as we know it is a stated goal of many adherants. It's ability to harm the United States is currently limited, but will only increase with time, and may increase exponentially if extremist groups acquire WMD and/or the ability to control the global economy via the worldwide dependance on Middle Eastern oil.

The root cause of Radical Islam the frustration, shame and anger many Arabs and Muslims feel about their social/political/economic situations. Changing the political landscape of the Middle east is essential to improving the lives of Arabs. However, the autocratic regimes in the Middle East are not open to reform; indeed they generally foster anti-American sentiment in an effort to divert internal pressure away from themselves, staying in power by fostering the belief that Arab problems are solely attributable to outsiders (primarily the US and Israel, though often "the West" or "infidels" in general), and that their problems can only be addressed by attacking those outsiders.

Solution:
Therefore, these regimes must either be forced to reform themselves or be replaced with reformist regimes that will begin the long, slow process of bringing the Arab world into the 21st century. It is unlikely that economic or social pressure would be effective in bringing about a change in the Arab political landscape. Economic sanctions would likely harden anti-American sentiment. Increased economic aid would increase the sense of shame many Arabs feel about their situation; besides which such aid would be going to the very regimes that are already the problem. Targeted, limited use of American military power is the quickest way change the social and political landscape of the Middle East.

The obvious target for such action was Iraq; they were already an outlaw regime in violation of UN resolutions, they were a gross abuser of human rights, and they were suspected of developing WMD. Moreover, they have a relatively secular and educated population and significant natural resources.
Replacing the Iraqi regime creates the possibility for successful, modernized, liberal democratic Arab state.

If the Iraqis can create for themselves (with US help) a social/political/economic situation that is obviously superior to that in other Arab nations, it will act as a dramatic spur to reformist sentiments in those nations, disproving notions that Arabs cannot govern themselves, that Islam is incompatible with democracy, or that all of the Arabs world’s problems are attributable to outsiders. Internal pressure will mount for reform in Arab nations; hopefully this will come peacefully, though violent revoltions cannot be ruled out.

As Arab nations improve their situations, the anger and frustration that fuels terrorism will lessen, and as nations modernize, less-militant and restrictive brands of Islam will grow at the expense of extremism. Eventually, cut off at the roots, Radical Islam will disappear as a major social force and cease to be a threat to the US.

***

That's a broad summary that I think Paul Wolfowitz could live with. (Here's more. (http://denbeste.nu/essays/strategic_overview.shtml)). This is NOT "my" plan. If you want to attack it, go to the other thread. If you refer to me as a neo-con, a right-winger, a Republican or a Cowboys fan, I will regard it as a personal insult.

I've heard a hundred times that Bush and his people are morons. Let's see you do better.

tomndebb
01-24-2004, 02:37 PM
Any thesis that includes Ba'athist Iraq among "Radical Islam" so seriously misunderstands Middle East regional politics, Radical Islam, and mainstream Islam as to be divorced from any semblance of reality.

An alterntive to the Bushista program?
Active involvement in Afghanistan with the idea of actually getting that country to function (rather than ignoring it as the warlords, whose infighting allowed the Taliban to come to power, retake and divide the country among themselves, even forgetting to include Afghanistan in the budget until the last minute).
A serious effort to engage the Security Council in taking action to isolate Iraq rather than throwing away all the good will we had garnered from September 11 in a unilateral cowboy action that has caused several nations to withdraw from supporting us financially or with shared intelligence. (This would include not deliberately (and transparently) lying about what our intelligence actually said regarding Iraq's threat and capabilities.)
A genuine plan for any country we invade, rather than wide-eyed neo-con dreams that we will be hailed as liberators when we can't even get the country to function.
Avoiding the habit of our current regime of installing propaganda machines in place of a free press (since the people of the countries we invade are quite capable of recognizing government blather disguised as "news," having lived under it for many years).

II Gyan II
01-24-2004, 03:21 PM
7. Finally ... you must assume that (pre-invasion) your intelligence services are telling you that Iraq "probably" has some sort of WMD program and "possibly" has functional weapons.

That's if the intelligence services are even being sincere.

Powell has come around to the position that Iraq might not (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3426703.stm) have had any WMDs.

AskNott
01-24-2004, 03:21 PM
"Without a flaw?" Whatevah do y'all walk on? ;)

furt
01-24-2004, 03:50 PM
Any thesis that includes Ba'athist Iraq among "Radical Islam" so seriously misunderstands Middle East regional politics, Radical Islam, and mainstream Islam as to be divorced from any semblance of reality.It certainly would. Which is why the above does not.

Radical Islam does not directly govern any state except Iran. But it exerts great and growing influence in the whole Arab/Muslim world, and is fostered or at least tolerated by all the governements there. That is the problem. The fact that the people of Iraq are/were relatively secular was already mentioned. If you wanna debate Bush's plan, go to the other thread. Let's see what you've got:

Active involvement in Afghanistan with the idea of actually getting that country to function (rather than ignoring it as the warlords, whose infighting allowed the Taliban to come to power, retake and divide the country among themselves, even forgetting to include Afghanistan in the budget until the last minute).Okay, so more emphasis on getting Afghanistan to work. Is this an end in itself or does it lead somewhere? What does "active involvement" mean? This is what I'm talking about when I say detail. Do you want large numbers of American troops on the ground? More money?
A serious effort to engage the Security Council in taking action to isolate Iraq rather than throwing away all the good will we had garnered from September 11 in a unilateral cowboy action that has caused several nations to withdraw from supporting us financially or with shared intelligence.What does "isolate" mean? Do you want to keep the sanctions regime that was in place? How do you eliminate with the back-door deals that were already happening to avoid sanctions?
A genuine plan for any country we invade, rather than wide-eyed neo-con dreams that we will be hailed as liberators when we can't even get the country to function.So you do want to invade countries? Which ones? Under what pretext? You want to do a better job of schmoozing the French et al. OK, fine. But what if they (or the Russians) still refuse to go along, and veto a UNSC resolution? Do you call the whole thing off, or do you go ahead with whomever you can, unilaterally if need be? How would participating be in their interest?
Avoiding the habit of our current regime of installing propaganda machines in place of a free press.I wasn't aware that the dozens of newspapers currently were all controlled from Washington. Nevertheless, I will take that as one vote for getting "Voice of America" off the air. I'm sure that will help.


I don't see anything here that is substantially different from the current plan, except in details and execution. Given that any sane supporter would concede that there have been and will be occasional mistakes, I fail to see how you're suggesting anything substanitively different from the neo-cons. You seem to be saying that you'd do what they're doing, except you'd do it better; owing, I presume, to your obviously superior intelligence and moral fiber.

Ale
01-24-2004, 03:58 PM
I´m with Tomndebb, every time I hear that the plan is to turn Iraq into a Democracy so it spreads the gospel in the ME I wonder what´s wrong about Afganistan? I mean, there was a quite legitimate reason for going there; the world supported the invasion more or less unanimously, after all, the Taliban were hated as much as Saddam, there was an ongoing hell there under their rule which I dare to say was more oppessive that Iraq.
So, my plane would have been to stay in Afganistan, turn that god-forsaken (in a non-religious sense), fundamentalist-infested, into a democracy; if that could work there it could work anywere.

But noooo, the USA had to pull a Panama in Iraq. :smack:

furt
01-24-2004, 04:00 PM
That was meant to read "dozens of newspapers in Iraq."

Powell has come around to the position that Iraq might not (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3426703.stm) have had any WMDs.Hence the word "probably." I don't think anybody at all informed is going to say that concerns of WMD were made up from nothing ... those upset that "Bush lied" usually say that he exagerrated the threat, or said that we "knew" what we only "suspected."

Ale
01-24-2004, 04:01 PM
Ehhrr... I mean "my plan..."

II Gyan II
01-24-2004, 04:13 PM
That was meant to read "dozens of newspapers in Iraq."

Hence the word "probably." I don't think anybody at all informed is going to say that concerns of WMD were made up from nothing ... those upset that "Bush lied" usually say that he exagerrated the threat, or said that we "knew" what we only "suspected."

I disagree. I'm saying that my conclusion is, based on change in statements and actual developments, that Bush & Co. did not _sincerely_ suspect Iraq of having WMDs. Powell's latest statement shows him retreating only to a stance of uncertainty. But that's because he can't come out and flat out say the war was held for some other reasons, whatever they might be.

Ultimately, this all comes down to your basic worldview:


Politicians and leaders are more or less sincere people with maybe some personal faults and vices. Their decision-making framework conforms to a decent degree with commonly held public morals.
OR
Politicians and leaders who make it to the very top are sophisticated individuals with aspirations that may or may not coincide with the country's "best interests". Their framework is more attuned with their aspirations as long as it enables them to continue or improve their position.


You can have exceptions in both worldviews. The key to knowing which one you believe in, depends on who and how many you believe the exceptions are.

Knorf
01-24-2004, 04:16 PM
I don't think anybody at all informed is going to say that concerns of WMD were made up from nothing ... those upset that "Bush lied" usually say that he exagerrated the threat, or said that we "knew" what we only "suspected."

If when Bush said he "knew" something, when he was aware that what he said "knew" was really only "suspected," then he lied.

furt
01-24-2004, 04:43 PM
So, my plane would have been to stay in Afganistan, turn that god-forsaken (in a non-religious sense), fundamentalist-infested, into a democracy; if that could work there it could work anywere.Okay, so the neo-con plan, just switching countries. A credible alternative.

My critiques would be that:

I sure hope you're not someone who objects to losing soldiers in Iraq, because we'd be losing a hundred times more in Afghanistan. The climate and terrain (mountains v. pool-table Iraq) is massively against us and the resistance would be experienced and accustomed to guerrilla tactics. It would be very bloody. Remember the Russians.
It's not Arab. The psychological impact would not be the same in the minds of Syrians, Egyptians and Saudis who saw Saddam as a heroic resister. and they would be less inclined to embrace new ideas coming from Afghanistan.
Iraq was a more or less modern country run by a psycho. Afghanistan was chaos. Poor education, no economy, no skilled workers, no natural resources to speak of, not much of a history of ever being united or successful. If rebuilding and improving Iraq is a huge task that we may well fail at, doing the same in Afghanistan is much harder, and would take decades even with our undivided attention.
Geography.
a. Being landlocked and mountainous makes it harder to control the borders, and all supplies and equipment (including every single tank) would have to be flown in. What if Pakistan stops granting overflight rights?
b. Musharraf already had internal unrest; I submit a larger war would increase this pressure, especially when Taliban start trickling (or flooding) over that border into Pakistan. It's not hard to imagine a coup in there, with the Islamists taking charge; and then it's a whole new ballgame.
c. Iraq is closer to the real source of the problem, one the US is not yet ready to face: Saudi Arabia.

furt
01-24-2004, 04:51 PM
Gyan9: Fine. I withdraw #7, and we'll pretend that were you president, you would have had absolute knowledge of which intelligence reports to belive and which to ignore. Would you care to address the OP?

If when Bush said he "knew" something, when he was aware that what he said "knew" was really only "suspected," then he lied.Which is exactly the line of reasoning which I repeated and you quoted. Do you have anything constructive to contribute?

tomndebb
01-24-2004, 05:10 PM
I will take that as one vote for getting "Voice of America" off the air. I'm sure that will help. What nonsense!

Voice of America was not directly involved with Iraq. Instead the current regime established something called the IMM (and recruited a VoA executive to help establish it). He resigned in disgust after he found that the occupation forces insisted on him broadcasting nothing but happy news while denying him the resources to conduct a real news effort.

furt
01-24-2004, 06:43 PM
[QUOTE=tomndebb]What nonsense![\QUOTE]Fine, I retract my sarcastic jibe. care to address the rest?

Knorf
01-24-2004, 06:50 PM
Which is exactly the line of reasoning which I repeated and you quoted. Do you have anything constructive to contribute?
:rolleyes:

Have you stopped cheating on your income tax returns?


Your comment seemed geared toward undermining or casting doubt on whether what Bush said was a lie. There is no uncertainty about it: Bush and a number of the members of his administration did in fact lie about the justification for going to war in Iraq. They lied about what they knew, and they lied about what they did not know. The entire war has been predicated on a systematic deception of the American people.

tomndebb
01-24-2004, 07:20 PM
Fine, I retract my sarcastic jibe. care to address the rest? I have already addressed the general OP with less dishonesty the the current adminstration (and without getting into any sideshows that have nothing to do with "Radical Islam," such as Iraq). As long as your argument continues to conflate the separate issues of stopping al Qaida and and Bush's desire to "get" Hussein, there is no point in trying to make more explicit comments that will get lost in the clutter of the corrections necessary to set out a legitimate course of action.

furt
01-24-2004, 07:40 PM
Knorf, there are many threads addressing those issues. This is not one of them.

furt
01-24-2004, 07:47 PM
As long as your argument continues to conflate the separate issues of stopping al Qaida and and Bush's desire to "get" Hussein...I deliberately included the "situation" as the Neocons saw it as part of the OP, and from that explained how they decided on Iraq. If you see it differently, I once again invite you to explain how you see the post 9/11 world, and what you suggest doing about it.

So far you've cast aspersions and made snide remarks, but you've not explained anything that you'd have done that's substanitively different from Bush.

tomndebb
01-24-2004, 09:53 PM
but you've not explained anything that you'd have done that's substanitively different from Bush. On the contrary. I have indicated that--very different than Bush--I would not embark on unilateral crusades that alienated both potential allies and otherwise neutral parties, I would actually invest in securing the gains that we initially achieved (and are now throwing away) in Afghanistan, I would not pretend that invading Iraq had anything to do with "Radical Islam" or the sponsorship of worldwide terrorists (since Iraq was completely separate from the former and had not engaged in the later in around ten years), thus saving my resources to go after actual sponsors of world-wide terrorism. I would not tell blatant lies in an attempt to create a sideshow war, thus further destroying my ability to call upon the world community for assistance.

If you are unable to see how those are specific tasks that differ from the Bush regime, then we are at an impasse. (If you genuinely believe that my proposals are the same as Bush's actions, then I would have to conclude that you have not followed the news of the last 16 months.)

If you truly believed that we needed to replace an autocratic regime with a democratic one, then the place should have been Afghanistan, where we had a legitimate reason to invade, we had the support of the international community, and we had the grudging acceptance of the Middle East. Instead, Bush declared that we were not in the business of "nation building" and promptly waged a war against iraq that violated all the conditions that made Afghanistan a legitimate target (and violated the UN Charter, to boot) and promptly decide to "build a nation" in Iraq.
(Ironically, it has been the UN that, just this week, has been able to fashion a tentative compromise among various Sunni and Shia leaders that will allow the U.S.'s hand-picked, thief-led ruling coalition to make some headway toward permitting democratic reforms in Iraq. This action was taken by the UN, despite the fact that the U.S. wanted the UN simply to send money and low-level functionaries to carry out (failing) U.S. programs while denying the UN the authority to carry out the mission that they have managed to work out without U.S. "permission.")

Ale
01-24-2004, 11:16 PM
Okay, so the neo-con plan, just switching countries. A credible alternative.

My critiques would be that:

I sure hope you're not someone who objects to losing soldiers in Iraq, because we'd be losing a hundred times more in Afghanistan. The climate and terrain (mountains v. pool-table Iraq) is massively against us and the resistance would be experienced and accustomed to guerrilla tactics. It would be very bloody. Remember the Russians.

Wait, I thought the country had already been invaded and ocupied, without many casualties (less than in Iraq)
Granted, the terrain plays in favour of the guerrilas, but I don´t see in the news suicide bombings day in day out in Afganistan, as it´s happening in Iraq; what I´m trying to say is that, now that both countries are more or less in the same state of occupation the facts show that Iraq is a more dangerous place.


It's not Arab. The psychological impact would not be the same in the minds of Syrians, Egyptians and Saudis who saw Saddam as a heroic resister. and they would be less inclined to embrace new ideas coming from Afghanistan.
Iraq was a more or less modern country run by a psycho. Afghanistan was chaos. Poor education, no economy, no skilled workers, no natural resources to speak of, not much of a history of ever being united or successful. If rebuilding and improving Iraq is a huge task that we may well fail at, doing the same in Afghanistan is much harder, and would take decades even with our undivided attention.

I don´t care if it´s Arab or not; it was a cradle and safe-heaven of fundamentalism, if the goal is to show how a fundamentalist society can improve changing into a democracy, Afganistan would be the best candidate.


Geography.
a. Being landlocked and mountainous makes it harder to control the borders, and all supplies and equipment (including every single tank) would have to be flown in. What if Pakistan stops granting overflight rights?
b. Musharraf already had internal unrest; I submit a larger war would increase this pressure, especially when Taliban start trickling (or flooding) over that border into Pakistan. It's not hard to imagine a coup in there, with the Islamists taking charge; and then it's a whole new ballgame.
c. Iraq is closer to the real source of the problem, one the US is not yet ready to face: Saudi Arabia.


I agree with A and B, however C stinks like hell.

furt
01-24-2004, 11:21 PM
My point is that I don't want "Well, I wouldn't do X." I want to hear concrete, outlines of what you would do. I'm not asking you to use Bush's plan as a template; I'm asking you to go back 2 1/2 years and start from there. All options are open to you: You can nuke the entire Muslim world, you can invade Saudi Arabia, you can abandon US support of Israel, you can decide that 9/11 was a one-off, it won't happen again and do nothing. Given a vast array of options, what would you chose? I am not looking for criticism or critiques of the Bush plan, which is what you are offering. There is a thread for that. I want to know if anyone has a better plan. The burden of proof in this thread is not on the neo-cons to show their plan is perfect: it is already granted that it is not. The question is: do you have a better idea, not in the details, but on a grand strategic level?

I don't think a paragraph or two outlining a step-by-step plan, as I have done in the OP is such an unreasonable request. If you want to say that you agree with any part of the "neo-con plan" as I presented it, you can just cut and paste it and change what you don't like.

I have indicated that--very different than Bush--I would not embark on unilateral crusades that alienated both potential allies and otherwise neutral parties, Ok, so you'd be nicer. Does this mean that you would not invade any countries? Or that you would do so only under certain conditions (NATO or UN approval, etc.)? Would you act unilaterally if you had to?

If you are unable to see how those are specific tasks that differ from the Bush regimeThese are details. If you say you'd have tried harder to get the UN involved in Iraq, but would still have gone in solo if need be, that's a relatively minor distinction, not a fundamental difference of policy. If you say you'd never have invaded without UN approval, or you'd invade Saudi Arabia instead, or you'd get Israel to crack down much harder on the Palestinians, or assassinate leaders all over the Arab world ... that's a fundamental difference.

I would not pretend that invading Iraq had anything to do with "Radical Islam" or the sponsorship of worldwide terrorists (since Iraq was completely separate from the former and had not engaged in the later in around ten years), thus saving my resources to go after actual sponsors of world-wide terrorism.If you feel that Saddam mailing checks to suicide bombers was not a problem, fine. If you find the "situation" description above inaccurate write a new one, then write what you'd do about it.

If you truly believed that we needed to replace an autocratic regime with a democratic one, then the place should have been Afghanistan, where we had a legitimate reason to invade, we had the support of the international community, and we had the grudging acceptance of the Middle East.
The question is, is that what you believe? Are you suggesting more ground troops and full-scale nation-building there? If so, we're getting somewhere. Kindly address the points I raised to Ale, and we can move forward. If you are not suggesting that, what are you suggesting be done? If you merely want to critique the policy already in place, this is not the thread for it.

I don't know how to say it any more plainly. Perhaps I should say I am looking for "what-ifs" or "alternate histories." You are in the oval office, it's 9/11, and the President is asking you to outline what the next decade of US foreign policy should be. What do you say?

pervert
01-24-2004, 11:51 PM
If I may, I would also suggest that activities in Afghanistan have not been substantially hindered by activities in Iraq. It seems expensive when you hear the raw numbers, but the fact is that we have enough money to help both nations.

Certainly Iraq has garnered more media coverage. But that does not equate to more attention.

Having said that, I would propose the following plan.

I would have asked congress for an express declaration of war against Afghanistan. I believe this would have had the advantage of imposing more definate rules of behavior. It would have reduced the ability of critics charges of making up new rules. It would also have the advantage of putting nations on notice that harboring people like Al Qaeda puts them on a short list for war with the United States of America.

At the same time, I would have worked very hard to help any countries which had been intransigent regarding terrorism in the past and which decided to make a good faith effort to reform now. I'm thinking of Pakistan here. But the idea may apply to Lybia soon. This is one of the things that I think Bush has done quite well.

I'm not sure whether or not I would have invaded Iraq. I'm not sure what evidence Bush had, good or not, which might have convinced me Iraq was a sufficient threat to need invading. However, if we take as a given that I did agree with the assesment that Iraq had WMD and might use them through third parties for terrorist activities, then I would have been willing to invade unilaterally or not. Again, I would have asked for an express declaration of war. Using that word. I might also have tried harder to get UN agreement, but If I felt that Iraq posed a threat, I would have acted unilaterally if the UN refused.

I realize this is pretty close to the plan you laid out. There are only a few minor revisions. I think they are important. But I realize they are not widely considered much different than what happened.

furt
01-25-2004, 12:20 AM
Wait, I thought the country had already been invaded and ocupied, without many casualties (less than in Iraq)
Granted, the terrain plays in favour of the guerrilas, but I don´t see in the news suicide bombings day in day out in Afganistan, as it´s happening in Iraq; what I´m trying to say is that, now that both countries are more or less in the same state of occupation the facts show that Iraq is a more dangerous place.But they're not remotely in the same state at all. We are physically in control of the ground in Iraq. In Afghanistan, we have camps from which we venture out, but beyond the perimiters of those bases, our contol is limited. We've never made a effort to fully occupy the countryside there; there's less than a full division currently in Afghanistan and I don't think we ever had more than a few thousand actually on the ground. In Iraq its over 150,000.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/global-deployments.ht
The Karzai government has undisputed authority in Kabul, and things are going well there; but outside the city, the warlords have a lot of control (And the Taliban still has some influence). In the nature and scale of the resistance, Afganistan is much more like Vietnam, whereas Iraq is more like Watts or Compton in the weeks after Rodney King.

Obviously, it'd be different if those divisions were in Afghanistan ... but I don't know if it'd be better.

I don´t care if it´s Arab or not; it was a cradle and safe-heaven of fundamentalism, if the goal is to show how a fundamentalist society can improve changing into a democracy, Afganistan would be the best candidate.Well, it certainly has nowhere to go but up ...

I agree with A and B, however C stinks like hell.Well, yes. And I don't think another invasion is in the cards. But in the long term, something's gotta change. That's where the money comes from.

furt
01-25-2004, 01:12 AM
I would have asked congress for an express declaration of war against Afghanistan. [and Iraq]Agreed, as a matter of principle and law. This non-war war crap started in the cold war and I am amazed that Congress does not put its foot down. It might have helped in the PR department.

However, if we take as a given that I did agree with the assesment that Iraq had WMD FTR, I said to assume you had mixed reports (as it now appears the admin did), but as a hypothetical, what if you had found the no-WMD reports more plausible? Still invade?

pervert
01-25-2004, 01:46 AM
but as a hypothetical, what if you had found the no-WMD reports more plausible? Still invade?Well, I could have missed something. But if I, as President, believed that Iraq did not infact posses any WMDs, then the threat via terrorism would seem to evaporate. At least as it is related to Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorism. I think I could make a case (post invasion) that invading Iraq provides other benifits to the US. It certainly seems to have sent a good message to other rogue nations. I'm not sure, however, that such a reason would have been enough to go in. I'm waffling a bit because I have to admit that the anger factor is pretty strong. That is, after 9/11, it might only have taken a single Iraqi air defence battery firing on an American plane to change my mind.

Saddam was being most intransigent for over a decade before we invaded. 9/11 changed America's tolerance for such things. However, I'm not sure what I would have done if I believed Iraq possesed no WMDs.

On another note, the inability for Congress to deal with the non war war crap was established a long time before the cold war. Teddy gave us that. I did not agree with the War Powers Act as a solution to this problem. However, I do think we need a solution.


I'd like to make an observation about our control of Afghanistan also. America is not in physical control of the ground. However, we are in control of alot of the money flowing into that country. If the warlords want to be part of the process for allocating that money, they will have to send representiatives to Kabul and at least pretend to take part in the central government. It may not be necessary to take physical control of the country. In Iraq, however, we had to defeat much more of the in place military. We also had to remove from power more of the government (such as it was). In Afghanistan, they already had a functioning opposition military. All we had to do was help them win the civil war. That adds a different dimension to what sort of intervention they need compared to what Iraq needs.

codzilla
01-25-2004, 01:48 AM
President Bush has never said clearly and sufficiently that the bad guys were radical Muslim’s, since it’s not a very P.C. thing to say. If I were President I would have tried to educate the country about Islam a little more. Remember how Senator Edwards stammered through his question about Islam in the debate the other night. We need to make real clear that these terrorists are not orthodox members of the Islamic faith; we’re talking about the 5-10% on the extreme. After being clear about that, I would explain that 5-10% of one billion+ people are a whole lot of people! So I would have explained how this is going to be a long and hard fight, I’ll give President Bush credit on this one because he has been saying that with some consistency.

The education of Americans concerning Islam would have been the first step and started on Sept. 13th 2001. My administration would also be different than the President on the Arab-Israeli Conflict. I would put real pressure on PM Sharon to discourage settlers. Having settlers move into the West Bank or Gaza Strip only hinders the War. I would again have to talk real clearly about how Israel’s policies are the focal point of many of these Terrorists. In order to subdue the terrorist’s propaganda I think we need to have another camp at Camp David and threaten Israel with loss of aid if they don’t get serious about making peace with the Palestine’s.

Winning the War on Terror also requires going to war. I would have pushed the UN for help on this process. But I would have also put pressure on the UN to reform. President Bush is right; the UN is on the verge on becoming “irrelevant,” only not for the reasons Bush gave. It was created 50 years ago when the world wasn’t facing an era of globalization—wars are not going to be fought in traditional Nation States anymore. Therefore my administration would have used Afghanistan and Iraq to urge the UN to reform its own structure (ideas for that are a different post).

Afghanistan was the right thing to do, although I would have gone through the UN and required Congress to Declare War to set a correct tone for the rest of the war (and again it will be a long fight). Iraq was appropriate for several reasons. I trust President Bush’s assessment that spreading democracy throughout the ME is important as evidence of the Presidents policy just look at how Afghanistan just wrote a surprisingly progressive Constitution. Iraq could be a very good vessel to achieve this goal, my administration would make sure they succeeded, not with these caucus style boulder dash Bush is suggesting but with a real democracy. So what if the shiite’s become the majority? In any good federalist system the “Tyranny of the Majority” is preventable, just translate a few million copies of The Federalist Papers.

That's it, its past my bedtime.

eponymous
01-25-2004, 06:17 PM
NOTE: below is draft of my "Mid-East" policy. I reserve the right to elaborate and add finer points of detail at a later date :).

Situation: Attack on US by militant, radical Islamic terrorists (e.g. 9-11). This is but the most extreme example of the rising threat that Radical Islam poses to the national interests and security of the United States. Therefore, the US must pursue a policy that addresses this threat.

Ultimate Goal: The elimination of Radical Islam as a threat to both the national interests and security of the United States.

Feasibility of Ultimate Goal: Total elimination of the threat may not be entirely possible. Therefore, important objectives in helping to achieve the ultimate goal are 1) threat containment and 2) threat dilution. The objectives of threat containment and dilution should be seen as sub-policies in the broader goal of the elimination of Radical Islam as a threat to both national interests and security of US.

Background Information on Situation – Issue #1: The root cause of Radical Islam is the frustration, shame and anger many Arabs and Muslims feel about their social/political/economic situations.

Initial Analysis – Issue #1: Identify the factors most important that give rise to the frustration, shame, anger that many Arabs and Muslims have that makes it necessary for them to turn to Radical Islam. Analysis and assessment may reveal that this policy will need to address several factors in concert with one another (political, economic, social, cultural, etc.).

Assessment of Analysis – Issue #1: Initial assessment indicates that both political and economic considerations are crucial factors in understanding the frustration, anger, and shame that many Arabs and Muslims have which allows for Radical Islam to take hold and grow in those countries.

Resolution of Issue #1 – A two-pronged approach emphasizing both economic and political considerations should be undertaken to get at the root cause of the rising threat of Radical Islam.

Feasibility of Resolution – Issue #1: Total elimination of root causes (political and economic factors) may not be entirely possible. Need to analyze and assess those countries/situations where the two-pronged economic/political approach is most feasible. It will probably be necessary (initially) to pursue a policy of threat containment or threat dilution using the two-pronged economic/political approach.

Background information on Situation – Issue #2: Both economic and political factors are the crucial variables in understanding the rise of Radical Islam. Therefore, changing both the economic and political landscape in those countries where Radical Islam is present is vital in achieving our ultimate objective. However, many countries where this looming threat has been identified have been unwilling or unable to make the necessary political and economic changes in order to stem its growth and influence.

Initial Analysis – Issue #2: Identify the underlying reasons for why those countries where Radical Islam is on the rise have been unwilling or unable to make the necessary changes to stem its growth. Analysis and assessment may reveal that the US (in some countries cases) has been influential (in varying degrees) in perpetuating the current political and economic landscape of those countries.

Assessment of Analysis – Issue #2: Initial assessment indicates that the there is a large perception that the US is in some way responsible for the economic/political situation in those countries where radical Islam is on the rise. While this perception may or may not be correct, it is a factor that needs to be addressed. Therefore, the two-pronged economic/political approach in achieving our ultimate goal needs to have the widest support possible. Ideally, both in those countries where we want the economic and political landscape to change, as well among the wider international community (It may not be feasible to garner support from the wider international community, but every effort should be made to ensure the widest support possible).

Resolution of Issue #2: We (the US) want political and economic change to occur in those places where Radical Islam is present and growing. But we need to counter the perception that the US (rightly or wrongly) has perpetuated the current economic and political situation in those countries where Radical Islam exists. So we need to have as much support as possible. How do we do this?

1. Afghanistan – Here the option initially is one of immediate political change. Because of the 9-11 attack, the US has the widest support for use of the military to implement such a change. Once the change has taken place, then there must be a concerted effort (both politically and economically) that the new, democratic government thrives and grows. We must follow-through with our assurances with the Afghanis that we will support them (politically, economically, and militarily). The UN and other nations can be called upon to support us in this endeavor.

2. The Middle-East (and Arab Muslims) appears to be another region that requires our initial attention. A major political issue of the region is the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. As a sub-policy of initiating change in those countries we want to change, the US initiates a two-state solution to the Palestinian and Israeli situation. Make it clear that the US will support and defend the right of Israel of exist as a country. It will ASLO support the creation, establishment, and defense of an independent, democratic Palestine. This will garner support from the Europeans, but most importantly from the United Nations.

But along with helping establish an independent Palestine, we will concurrently provide the necessary economic support that will allow the newly, democratic Palestine to thrive. We won’t necessarily need to shoulder the entire economic burden, because we will have the support of the Europeans (and the UN) as well.

In addition, the United States would be involved in establishing or promoting a Middle-Eastern Trade Alliance. Lynchpin countries here would be Israel and Palestine. It might be necessary to include other countries from other regions (say, maybe Turkey or other countries from Europe or Asia such as Japan). But the idea here is to help promote economic growth and development for the alliance (something similar with respect to NAFTA, for example).

3. Iraq – continue to put pressure on the Iraqi regime to comply with UN resolutions and inspections. Make it clear that the US and the rest of the world will not stand for its continued intransigence, that it will use military force (with the approval and justification of the UN and the rest of the world). Also, make it clear that the US will not be satisfied with the status quo – that Saddam needs to step down and a new form of government needs to be put in place. Actively assist and fund those groups that will help get rid of Saddam. As a last resort, start making the necessary military build-up in order to let Iraq (and the rest of the world) know we mean business.

4. Pakistan – continued support of Musharaf (unfortunately). Probably will need to follow a policy of threat dilution and containment most vigorously here (since the Pakistanis have nukes).

5. Saudi Arabia – continued support of Saudi family (unfortunately). Probably will need to follow a policy of threat dilution and containment. However, one way to foster change in Saudi Arabia would be for the US to pursue a policy of reduced oil importation. Make it in the best interests economically for the Saudi’s to make the necessary changes (or at the very least support us in our policy of threat dilution and containment).

6. Iran – take the necessary steps in order to facilitate the changes that are already taking place. Don’t call Iran “part of the Axis of Evil.” Use overt channels to the Iranian reformist that we support them in their efforts to democratize and liberalize. Use covert channels to help fund those groups that are actively seeking changes.

Feasibility of Resolution – Issue #2

On Afghanistan – political change quite feasible (widest possible support and justification, particularly use of military to implement change). Economically, more difficult to assess. Could be throwing money at a problem with no real potential for lasting change.

On Israel-Palestine – has the greatest upside potential. It signals to the world that the US is determined to see both the security of Israel and the establishment of a democratic Palestine. US would need to be heavily involved in the process as well as in the support and defense of a free, democratic Palestine. Would diffuse the Israeli-Palestinian issue in much of the Arab world. Arabs wouldn’t necessarily like Israel still being in existence, but they then couldn’t point out that we only support the Israelis – we would vigorously support BOTH. This would send a message that we will support and defend Arab democracies. Would be backed up with wide support from Europe and UN.

Coupled with the political support of a free, democratic Palestine, would be a policy of economic growth and development for Palestine within a broader Mid-East economic development strategy. This would signal to the Arab world (and the rest of the world) that we are serious in seeing a free, democratic Palestine prosper and grow economically.

On Iraq – political change quite feasible (widest possible support and justification, particularly use of military or threat of military to implement change). However, there are potential political pitfalls. Replacing the regime with a democratic government will be difficult to implement and sustain over time. Will require sufficient military force (if used) to maintain the peace and to quell attempts to foment disorder. Will also require assistance from other nations and numerous international organizations. Economically, it will require a massive infusion of money and capital. Can be done if many countries are involved to spread the costs around, and also in conjunction with establishing some sort of Mid-East Economic trade/economic development alliance.

On Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia – currently, direct political change is unfeasible. Covert methods of supporting democratic reforms will need to take place, especially in the case of Iran. Economic reforms may have some impact in Pakistan (to support Musharaf); Likewise for Saudi Arabia (in our move away from imported oil and our involvement in a Mid-East trade/development alliance).

Course of Action – Overall, the establishment of a free, democratic Palestine, supported and defended by the United States and in concert with a plan of economic development of Palestine (within a broader framework of an economic trade/development alliance throughout the Mid-East) would appear be a viable strategy to meet the overall objective.
It addresses both the economic and political concerns of the Palestinians; it would garner the widest support possible from the rest of the world (both politically and economically); it would send a message to the rest of the Arab world that the US is serious and committed to a free, democratic, stable, and economically prosperous Palestine (thus diffusing the perception that the US is somehow responsible for much of the ills in the region).

This course of action would probably work best if the other areas of concern were addressed concurrently as well (Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran) but this might not be politically or economically feasible from the US standpoint. Militarily, we have the widest support and justification for political change in Afghanistan, so this should be our first priority militarily (we’ll probably need to forego massive economic aid, but enough necessary for dilution and containment). The sub-policies of threat dilution and containment via covert means would probably be sufficient until an economically and politically viable Palestine comes into existence.

London_Calling
01-25-2004, 07:42 PM
It was suggested that asking for "better ideas," should be it's own thread, hence I have created one. The request is for all comers to furnish the outlines of a superior post-9/11 foreign policy. Here are the conditions:


Embrace multi-lateralism instead of Isolationism, cooperation instead of coercion, adhere to International Rules of Law rather than an adopt ad-hoc, self-serving party political postures, take the funding of pseudo-politicians away from corporations so US policy reflects the interests of the electorate, and not their employers (nope, they’re no the same thing), require the US media, by law, to contribute to the well-being of the democracy by offering unbiased information – but we have a First Amedment ! Congrats, so do we - so that the people understand what is being done in their name and why.


When you've done that get back to me; I'll be in ward 10, with the bouncy wallpaper.

furt
01-26-2004, 07:56 PM
I would put real pressure on PM Sharon to discourage settlers. Having settlers move into the West Bank or Gaza Strip only hinders the War. I would again have to talk real clearly about how Israel’s policies are the focal point of many of these Terrorists. In order to subdue the terrorist’s propaganda I think we need to have another camp at Camp David and threaten Israel with loss of aid if they don’t get serious about making peace with the Palestine’s. Okay, squeeze the Israelis. Are you really ready to cut off aid, or just threaten it? What sort of deal would you want, and what are you going to do if/when the PLO breaks it? What's your leverage over them?

Therefore my administration would have used Afghanistan and Iraq to urge the UN to reform its own structure (ideas for that are a different post)."No, we don't want to. Your proposed changes are only designed to make Amrica more powerful."

[/QUOTE]In any good federalist system the “Tyranny of the Majority” is preventable, just translate a few million copies of The Federalist Papers. [/QUOTE]Unfortunately, I think you're quite the optimist....

furt
01-26-2004, 10:12 PM
epy, my thanks for a thorough effort! I hope I can do justice to it...

However I must admit that what strikes me, again, are the similiarities, rather than the differences with Bush. More effort to bring in the UN and the French and Germans, and a bit more effort to make the Brits and the rest feel good about being in; that's kind of a near-universal sentiment. And of course it's always hard to know some things; we may well already be providing covert aid to Iranian dissidents.

To deal with the major differences in a jumbled order:

Feasibility of Ultimate Goal: Total elimination of the threat may not be entirely possible. Therefore, important objectives in helping to achieve the ultimate goal are 1) threat containment and 2) threat dilution. The objectives of threat containment and dilution should be seen as sub-policies in the broader goal of the elimination of Radical Islam as a threat to both national interests and security of US. Hm. As a political matter, I don't think the US would be ready to "accept" any level of threat, even if sober analysis says so. That might be a good thing (sober analysis can be wrong), but more to the point, even if the top levels of government had concluded we could only hope to contain the threat, they wouldn't say so publicly.

Iraq – continue to put pressure on the Iraqi regime to comply with UN resolutions and inspections. Make it clear that the US and the rest of the world will not stand for its continued intransigence, that it will use military force (with the approval and justification of the UN and the rest of the world). Also, make it clear that the US will not be satisfied with the status quo – that Saddam needs to step down and a new form of government needs to be put in place. Actively assist and fund those groups that will help get rid of Saddam. As a last resort, start making the necessary military build-up in order to let Iraq (and the rest of the world) know we mean business.C'mon, you're hedging. There weren’t any active anti-Saddam groups (thanks to Bush 41’s screw-up after GW 1), and I think it’s highly unlikely he was going to leave unless somebody forcibly deposed him. For that matter, it’s very questionable he’d have agreed to South Africa-style, fully transparent inspections; he only agreed to what he did b/c of 200,000 troops on his doorstep. But any gun owner will tell you you never pull it out unless you're ready to fire it, and you don’t point it at someone if you’re not ready to kill them. Would the buildup take place even without UN approval? And what do you do if/when the UN won’t consent to an invasion? Pack up and go home, or go ahead with who’s willing?

In addition, the United States would be involved in establishing or promoting a Middle-Eastern Trade Alliance. Lynchpin countries here would be Israel and Palestine. It might be necessary to include other countries from other regions (say, maybe Turkey or other countries from Europe or Asia such as Japan). But the idea here is to help promote economic growth and development for the alliance (something similar with respect to NAFTA, for example).Now there's an idea. We already have a special deal with Jordan, so it’s not like it’s unheard of. In addition to fostering economic growth, it would have the effect of getting businesspeople involved in one-on-one personal relationships that would make it harder for the Radicals to sell the “Americans hate you” line. It would certainly give a lot of potential suicide bombers second thoughts if their father just got a good job at the new American-owned factory.

Turkey doesn’t need this; they’re aiming to be part of the EU, and I don’t think we’d want the EU involved … a big benefit of this (IMO) would be that the trade realtionship, while mutually fair, would be uneven given the size of the economies and would give the US leverage. Get it started on a small scale, and businesses there will start to depend on the trade arrangement, and it will be both a carrot and stick: start toward free speech, free press, etc. and the agreement gets expanded. Go backwards and risk having it curtailed.

The biggest problems are going to be political:

1) These dictators are not idiots, and they’re going to guess where such an agreement would lead. Many would just decline to accept. OTOH, I’d think Egypt, Qatar and some of the others would sign up, and would be soon be the envy of the neighbors, leading to pressure for change. We really, really, need to support Moderate Islam better.
2) “Exporting jobs” is already a political issue here. It might be a hard sell.
3) The Grand Fenwick (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6302783968/002-1965090-2160019?v=glance#product-details) hazard. If we’re so super nice to the people that want to kill us, what does that say to the people in, say, China, who would love to have a FTA with us but never get one.

Saudi Arabia – continued support of Saudi family (unfortunately). Probably will need to follow a policy of threat dilution and containment. However, one way to foster change in Saudi Arabia would be for the US to pursue a policy of reduced oil importation. Make it in the best interests economically for the Saudi’s to make the necessary changes (or at the very least support us in our policy of threat dilution and containment).We need the House of Saud for now, but I really believe that part of the plan is to get Iraq’s oil industry back up and exporting so that by 2010 or so we have leverage to start squeezing them.

This is, IMO the biggest mistake that’s been made. I was saying within a month after 9/11 that we needed a Manhattan Project for energy independence. People were looking for a way to feel a part of the war effort. 10 cents a gallon on noncommercial use wouldn’t break us; on the contrary, I think it’d make us feel like we were doing our part. Most of the oil companies already are “energy” companies and have investments in wind power, etc. We just need to start making it economically viable for them to do it. Give them tax incentives for clean energy sources, and remind them of the great PR benefits (“Shell Solar: Keeping America Free” TM) I think we could make huge strides.

The sooner we get free of the Saudi’s grip, and they from the artificial wealth that the oil has brought and is poisoning their culture, the better for everyone.

But along with helping establish an independent Palestine, we will concurrently provide the necessary economic support that will allow the newly, democratic Palestine to thrive. We won’t necessarily need to shoulder the entire economic burden, because we will have the support of the Europeans (and the UN) as well ...

On Israel-Palestine – has the greatest upside potential. It signals to the world that the US is determined to see both the security of Israel and the establishment of a democratic Palestine. US would need to be heavily involved in the process as well as in the support and defense of a free, democratic Palestine. Would diffuse the Israeli-Palestinian issue in much of the Arab world. Arabs wouldn’t necessarily like Israel still being in existence, but they then couldn’t point out that we only support the Israelis – we would vigorously support BOTH. This would send a message that we will support and defend Arab democracies. Would be backed up with wide support from Europe and UN. Not sure about that last part. Politicans often will want to keep an issue in play, because it gives them a weapon they can use whereas solving the problem takes it away; and I think this is exactly the dynamic for many Arab (and other) nations. Unrest in Palestine is their tool for diverting energy away from themselves. Neither a “victory” for either side nor a peace deal is in their best interests; the status quo is. In the same way, I think SOME groups and individuals in the EU and UN would be all too happy to see the US get involved in a diplomatic Vietnam, as we put more and more energy and prestige into a problem that may well be unfixable.

We’ve gotten signatures on paper several times, but by know we ought to know that that doesn’t mean anything. What do you do if/when they break it. We obviously have leverage with the Israelis, but I don’t know that we do with the Palestinians. What are we prepared to do if/when the PLO breaks its word?

Bush has already stated that an independant Palestinian state is a goal, the first president ever to say so; and nobody seemed to care. I’m not at all convinced that enough people there – on both sides – are willing to make real concessions for peace. Until that happens, I don’t see what the hell we or anyone else on the outside can do. I'd be very leery of making anything conditional on "and after we fix Palestine..." because that just creates incentives for people to make sure we never do.

Still, you make some very constructive contributions toward a non-Bush foreign policy, eponymous. Let’s see if the rest of us can build on them.

furt
01-26-2004, 10:41 PM
Of course, that won't seem include London_Calling, who it seems will content himself with empty bumper-sticker sloganeering:
Embrace multi-lateralism instead of Isolationism, cooperation instead of coercion,
Where are the rest of the anti-Bush/anti-war crowd?

SimonX, you invited me to open this thread ...
elucidator, Diogenes, Scylla, we know you're out there.

London_Calling
01-27-2004, 04:56 AM
"Embrace multi-lateralism instead of Isolationism, cooperation instead of coercion" - this is "sloganeering" ?

I'm "anti-war" - who knew ?

Desmostylus
01-27-2004, 06:31 AM
I'm "anti-war" - who knew ?Betcha Scylla didn't know either.

Better order some more of the bouncy wallpaper.

London_Calling
01-27-2004, 07:28 AM
Pretty sure he didn’t.

Ftr: More exactly ‘pro’ regime change actually, and for very different basket of reasons than that of the conservative brotherhood; kind of like Colin Powell with a strange accent – it partly comes from spending too much time listening to political opponents saying “you can’t do that” without proposing genuinely viable alternatives.

And, as the record here shows, I was vehement in disbelieving the entire WMD crap from the very first.

Carry on.

eponymous
01-27-2004, 02:35 PM
Furt,

A follow-up on your comments:

However I must admit that what strikes me, again, are the similarities, rather than the differences with Bush. More effort to bring in the UN and the French and Germans, and a bit more effort to make the Brits and the rest feel good about being in; that's kind of a near-universal sentiment. And of course it's always hard to know some things; we may well already be providing covert aid to Iranian dissidents.

Well, to be fair, I was just following the guidelines you set out; to wit, dealing with the rising threat of Radical Islam. Before Clinton left office (if I remember correctly), he had detailed information handed over to the Bush administration outlining the seriousness of the threat to US interests and national security. As I understand it, more money was to be earmarked to the intelligence agencies (as well as establishing some sort of homeland defense). So if we are to take the threat seriously, then we need to formulate a policy that addresses the threat in a realistic manner. Since the threat appears to stem over a wide geographic area and involves multiple nation-states, then it would make sense to address the threat with the widest support possible (utilizing all of our economic, military, political/diplomatic, intelligence resources to the fullest).

Hm. As a political matter, I don't think the US would be ready to "accept" any level of threat, even if sober analysis says so. That might be a good thing (sober analysis can be wrong), but more to the point, even if the top levels of government had concluded we could only hope to contain the threat, they wouldn't say so publicly.

Possibly, as an internal (US) political matter. There are ways to word this in the policy that make it clear (at least to those that have formulated the policy) that the ultimate objective of threat elimination is a long-term project (spanning multiple-administrations and years); Threat containment and dilution should nevertheless be part of the policy, because it addresses the long-term project in a realistic manner.

Think of the above in the same light as the threat of Communism. The ultimate goal was eliminating that the threat of Communism posed to the national interests and security of the US. But I guarantee there were elements of containment and dilution as part of the policy (proxy wars, covert action, propping up/installing governments that were favorable to US interests, etc). Of course the manner in which we (the US) pursued the threat of Communism could be argued for why we now face the different threat of Radical Islam, but I (or we) would be getting far off course from the discussion.

C'mon, you're hedging. There weren’t any active anti-Saddam groups (thanks to Bush 41’s screw-up after GW 1), and I think it’s highly unlikely he was going to leave unless somebody forcibly deposed him. For that matter, it’s very questionable he’d have agreed to South Africa-style, fully transparent inspections; he only agreed to what he did b/c of 200,000 troops on his doorstep. But any gun owner will tell you you never pull it out unless you're ready to fire it, and you don’t point it at someone if you’re not ready to kill them. Would the buildup take place even without UN approval? And what do you do if/when the UN won’t consent to an invasion? Pack up and go home, or go ahead with who’s willing?

I don’t think I’m hedging at all. I think it’s fairly realistic given the circumstances at that time. In establishing the policy, a policy of containment with Iraq would be continued. Keep pressing for UN inspections. Keep pressing for good intel on the probability/possibility of WMD in Iraq. It’s in our interests (and other countries) as well to keep pushing for inspections.

And if elect to choose the military option, there are ways to signal to Iraq (and the rest of the world) that we mean business. Start initiating the necessary processes towards increasing the size of our military (as well as ramp up funding and recruitment of our intelligence agencies). Dust off the various military mobilization plans and begin the process whereby the required forces to 1) fight a war 2) secure the peace. You don’t need to start mobilizing straight away. But there are actions the one can undertake that make it clear to all those involved that the US means business.

I agree that one shouldn’t pull out a gun if you aren’t prepared to use it. But you don’t bring a knife to a potential gunfight. The previous Gulf War laid the foundation that if the US is to go to war, then we will all use the necessary force to meet our objectives, and then some. No ”Rumification” of a minimal force to fight and secure the peace in Iraq. You listen to your military and intel community on what it would take to fight and secure the peace in Iraq.

You don’t need UN approval for increased military and intel spending. You don’t need UN approval to start going through the process of mobilization and deployment, “getting your ducks all lined up” (so to speak), that in the event of mobilization and deployment everything’s ready to go. You don’t need UN approval for Colin Powell to make the diplomatic rounds telling everyone that we mean business. A potential war is in the air. We want inspections; the UN wants inspections. Make the pressure relentless on Saddam.

As to the matter there weren’t any active anti-Saddam groups in Iraq after the first Gulf War, I would have to disagree with this assessment. I think it all depends on what is meant by active anti-Saddam groups. I seem to recall there were plans by the CIA to topple Saddam in a coup, but was nixed. So there WERE people within Iraq that were willing to bring down Saddam.

Turkey doesn’t need this; they’re aiming to be part of the EU, and I don’t think we’d want the EU involved … a big benefit of this (IMO) would be that the trade realtionship, while mutually fair, would be uneven given the size of the economies and would give the US leverage. Get it started on a small scale, and businesses there will start to depend on the trade arrangement, and it will be both a carrot and stick: start toward free speech, free press, etc. and the agreement gets expanded. Go backwards and risk having it curtailed.

The more I think about this, the more I think Turkey is an important element in the entire process, both from an economic and political perspective. Turkey is a secular, Muslim nation. Economically, while lagging behind the rest of Europe, is quite a bit better than many of the countries in the Middle East (from the perspective of having a fairly diversified economy and not entirely reliant on one commodity).

Ideally, Turkey wants to become part of the EU. But its overall economic conditions (coupled with other issues) have made it difficult for them to achieve that goal. If we were to bring Turkey on board with the Mid-East trade/development alliance it would beneficial in the following ways:

1) Turkey would have the opportunity to increase their economic standing vis-à-vis the EU. It would help make them more attractive (economically) in becoming a member of the EU.

2) It would also help Turkey politically, as they would be on board in seeing a democratic, stable, and economically prosperous Palestine. Plus, it also helps counter Iran geopolitically. Turkey would therefore have some political/economic clout in influencing the Turkic speaking peoples of Central Asia.

3) Turkey would also be helpful to us in dealing with the Kurds. That is, make it economically advantageous for Turkey in remedying this situation (or at the very least, not making it worse). Now, I agree this would be difficult, but at some point in time the Kurdish issue will have to be addressed. Better to have Turkey involved (and on our side rather than the Europeans) early in the process as much as possible.

4) If the Europeans are really serious in wanting Turkey as part of the EU, then it would behoove them to act accordingly to court Turkey. What in essence we would be doing is to help position Turkey as an important geopolitical player in the region. Either way, Turkey makes out.

1) These dictators are not idiots, and they’re going to guess where such an agreement would lead. Many would just decline to accept. OTOH, I’d think Egypt, Qatar and some of the others would sign up, and would be soon be the envy of the neighbors, leading to pressure for change. We really, really, need to support Moderate Islam better. 2) “Exporting jobs” is already a political issue here. It might be a hard sell.
3) The Grand Fenwick hazard. If we’re so super nice to the people that want to kill us, what does that say to the people in, say, China, who would love to have a FTA with us but never get one.

Well, you might be right, but there are only a few dictators (Saddam, Asad, ???) that would initially reject it. But the more countries involved, the better. Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, the small Gulf States – all are currently allies/nominally friendly to the US, so that addresses #3 above. #2 is difficult, to be sure, but here’s where the EU players can get involved. It’s in their best interests economically and politically to see a growing and prosperous Middle East. It helps lessen the growing concern of Middle-Easterners migrating to Europe in search of better economic opportunities. Invest in the Middle-East so the people living there want to stay there.

We need the House of Saud for now, but I really believe that part of the plan is to get Iraq’s oil industry back up and exporting so that by 2010 or so we have leverage to start squeezing them.

True, but you statement above assumes that the US is directly involved in helping Iraq get its oil industry back up. This assumes that some sort of regime change has taken place already.

This is, IMO the biggest mistake that’s been made. I was saying within a month after 9/11 that we needed a Manhattan Project for energy independence. People were looking for a way to feel a part of the war effort. 10 cents a gallon on noncommercial use wouldn’t break us; on the contrary, I think it’d make us feel like we were doing our part. Most of the oil companies already are “energy” companies and have investments in wind power, etc. We just need to start making it economically viable for them to do it. Give them tax incentives for clean energy sources, and remind them of the great PR benefits (“Shell Solar: Keeping America Free” TM) I think we could make huge strides.

The sooner we get free of the Saudi’s grip, and they from the artificial wealth that the oil has brought and is poisoning their culture, the better for everyone.

Agreed – very good point. We would be signaling to the Saudi’s (and the rest of the “oil players”) that we are committed to wean ourselves of the “oil drug.” Here’s where economic leverage would work to our advantage. Make it in the Saudi’s economic best interests to begin the process of change. They might not take to it (although I think it could work if they want to become part of the Mid-East trade/development alliance). But it does give the US an advantage in implementing our policy, nonetheless.

Neither a “victory” for either side nor a peace deal is in their best interests; the status quo is. In the same way, I think SOME groups and individuals in the EU and UN would be all too happy to see the US get involved in a diplomatic Vietnam, as we put more and more energy and prestige into a problem that may well be unfixable.

Well, it could be argued that we already are in a “diplomatic Vietnam”, so to speak vis-à-vis Iraq.

We’ve gotten signatures on paper several times, but by know we ought to know that that doesn’t mean anything. What do you do if/when they break it. We obviously have leverage with the Israelis, but I don’t know that we do with the Palestinians. What are we prepared to do if/when the PLO breaks its word?

It will be in the best interests of the Palestinians not to break their word. In other words, the creation and establishment of an independent, democratic Palestine is a fait accompli. It WILL happen. Make it clear to Yasar Arafat that the stated policy of the US is the establishment of a free, democratic Palestine. And that the US will defend this entity politically and militarily. If Yasar Arafat want to go down in history as the man responsible for the establishment of a free, democratic, and prosperous Palestine (backed by US military defense, if necessary), he would be stupid not to be involved. Because we’re going to give him and the Palestinians what they want – an independent Palestine.

As part of this process, we will have to drag Israel kicking and screaming into accepting an independent, democratic, and free Palestine. The good news is that we will continue to support and defend Israel (both politically and economically). It will also be in Israel’s best interest economically because they will an integral part of the entire process, especially the Mid-East trade/development alliance.

What I see as a possible (unfortunate) development is Jordan becoming the free, democratic Palestine. Unfortunate in that the Jordanians have been close friends and allies to the US for quite some time. But if we (the US) are serious in addressing the threat of Radical Islam, then from a long-term, geopolitical position then this may have to occur. I’m not happy with the prospect, though.

Bush has already stated that an independent Palestinian state is a goal, the first president ever to say so; and nobody seemed to care. I’m not at all convinced that enough people there – on both sides – are willing to make real concessions for peace. Until that happens, I don’t see what the hell we or anyone else on the outside can do. I'd be very leery of making anything conditional on "and after we fix Palestine..." because that just creates incentives for people to make sure we never do.

Bush may have made the statement, but it really doesn’t amount to squat if he doesn’t do anything to bring about an independent Palestine. In other words, follow through. The policy I’ve outlined would make the US an integral part of the process – both politically and economically.

msmith537
01-27-2004, 05:27 PM
[QUOTE=Ale]I´m with Tomndebb, every time I hear that the plan is to turn Iraq into a Democracy so it spreads the gospel in the ME I wonder what´s wrong about Afganistan? I mean, there was a quite legitimate reason for going there; the world supported the invasion more or less unanimously, after all, the Taliban were hated as much as Saddam, there was an ongoing hell there under their rule which I dare to say was more oppessive that Iraq.
[QUOTE]


Because no one gives 2 shits about Afghanistan. While it's strategic value as a haven for terrorists is important, it pales in comparison to the necessity of securing strategic resources like oil found in places like Iraq and Saudi Arabia. WE specifically don't have to own them, however madmen and extremists who wish us nothing but ill should not either.

For those people who think oil is not worth lives, don't think of it as "just oil". Think of it as "civilization as you know it NOT grinding to a primitive halt".

Squink
01-27-2004, 07:08 PM
Because no one gives 2 shits about Afghanistan. While it's strategic value as a haven for terrorists is important, it pales in comparison to the necessity of securing strategic resources like oil found in places like Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Let's not forget that Afghanistan lies on one of the best pipeline routes for oil and gas from central Asia and the Caspian: Cheaper Oil with Afghanistan Pipeline (http://www.totse.com/en/politics/the_world_beyond_the_usa/162013.html)

The potential there is large enough that a great many people give as many as 3 or 4 shits about the future of Afghanistan:Originally, it was to pass through Mazar-e-Sharief, Kabul and Lahore . But the route was changed to make extension to India easier. Commonly known as TAP (Turkmenisatn-Afghanistan-Pakistan), the pipeline is projected to supply 0.6 bcf (billion cubic feet) of gas to Pakistan and 1.6 bcf to India , if and when New Delhi decides to join in. Pakistan is expected to use most of the gas for generating power and $350 million a year in transit fees. And that's just the natural gas pipeline (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/417033.cms).

furt
02-03-2004, 01:21 AM
Apolgies for skipping out on my own thread. real life intruded ...

Well, to be fair, I was just following the guidelines you set out; to wit, dealing with the rising threat of Radical Islam. Oh, it wasn't a criticism. I was just hoping that someone out there would start throwing up absolutely different (yet plausible) ideas ... appears that there aren't any...

I don’t think I’m hedging at all. I think it’s fairly realistic given the circumstances at that time. In establishing the policy, a policy of containment with Iraq would be continued. Keep pressing for UN inspections. ...
You don’t need to start mobilizing straight away. But there are actions the one can undertake that make it clear to all those involved that the US means business. ...
You don’t need UN approval for increased military and intel spending. ... You don’t need UN approval for Colin Powell to make the diplomatic rounds telling everyone that we mean business. A potential war is in the air. We want inspections; the UN wants inspections. Make the pressure relentless on Saddam.Well, what I'm hearing is that you're talking about a much longer, slower ramp-up. Build up to it over a period of 2 or 3 years instead of just 15 months or whatever it was. The downsides of this, as I see it, is that increases SH's ability to play peekaboo, giving way a bit when the pressure is on, then standing firm a few months later. It would take an extrordinary amount of focus to build a coalition over that long a period of time. The potential payoff, obviously, would have been more "international support." Except that I'm still not sure we'd have gotten that anyway. Granted, Bush and co. botched the diplomacy better (unless forcing a with-us-or-agin-us showdown was intentional); but I honestly don't think we can say that France and Germany would have come on board if we'd just kissed a little more ass. There may be pluses and minuses to allowing them to think that we'd never dream of going in without them, but I don't see the wisdom of actually letting them have that veto power. I don't know if you agree.

The more I think about this, the more I think Turkey is an important element in the entire process, both from an economic and political perspective.Yes, I suppose you're right, but my native pessimism says that it is exactly because Turkey is what we'd like the rest of the ME to be that I'm leery of mucking with them. I'm fearful of therowing good money (as it were) after bad.

True, but you statement above assumes that the US is directly involved in helping Iraq get its oil industry back up. This assumes that some sort of regime change has taken place already.Well, yes. I'm convinced that Iraq had to be step #2 after Afghanistan.

It will be in the best interests of the Palestinians not to break their word. ... If Yasar Arafat want to go down in history as the man responsible for the establishment of a free, democratic, and prosperous Palestine (backed by US military defense, if necessary), he would be stupid not to be involved. Because we’re going to give him and the Palestinians what they want – an independent Palestine.I don't think Arafat wants "a Palestine." I think he, and his generation of PLO leadership are too committed to the idea of getting everything and they won't settle for half a loaf. They'll talk peace to the US, as they did at Oslo, but there's no change in their domestic rhetoric, no serious effort to convice the hardliners that they need to give up the dream of destroying Israel. I don't think they're acting in the realistic, rational interest of the Palestinians; I think they are driven usually by the same sort of ideological fervor that sends the idiots in pickups after American tanks in Iraq. Would anyone acting in rational self-interest foster suicide bombing as a productive strategy?

As part of this process, we will have to drag Israel kicking and screaming into accepting an independent, democratic, and free Palestine. Oh, I think Israel is well on the way to making this a reality all on their own. They're building that wall, and it wouldn't surprise me if when it's done they relinquish all claim to the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians will have their state whether they want it or not.

Bush may have made the statement, but it really doesn’t amount to squat if he doesn’t do anything to bring about an independent Palestine. In other words, follow through. The policy I’ve outlined would make the US an integral part of the process – both politically and economically.Which is exactly what I don't want. There are too many forces that simply do not want the Palestine situation solved. The Saudis don't want it solved. the Syrians don't want it solved. So long as it is "in play," they can use it to diffuse or raise tensions as they like, they can use it to tell the US that they aren't the problem. "Yes," they say, "we'll be happy to discuss the need for reform across the Middle East. But first you must solve the Palestinian question." And then they mail a check to a suicide bomber and send along a box of anti-Jewish school curriculum.The Islamists sure don't want it solved. They can use it as exhibit 1-A that the US wants to kill all Muslims.

Which sucks, but unless we have some sort of credible leverage with the PLO, any deal amounts to a "trust me;" and I see nothing in Arafat's history that suggests that as a wise move. On the other hand, any possible leverage would backfire -- what are going to do? Sanctions? Exile Arafat? Take all restraints off Israel? All of them would be disasters, and nobody would see it as anything but the US' fault.