I’m an American who hates the idea of the U.S. (along with “the coalition of the willing”) launching a war in Iraq, but fears that containment - which, from reading these boards, seems the preferred course of action articulated by the anti-war proponents - is not much of a long-term solution.
I start with four major assumptions - please correct me if I’m wrong:
The world wants Saddam to disarm (as expressed by UNSC Resolution #1441).
In order for robust inspections under UN auspices to bring about Saddam’s peaceful disarmament, a massive invasion force (made up mostly of U.S. troops) must be stationed on Iraq’s borders, permanently poised to invade. (Again, please correct me if I’m wrong.) It seems reasonable to assert that no matter what you think about Bush’s decision to deploy hundreds of thousands of US troops to the region, the presence of these troops is the main (if not sole) reason that Saddam is now “moving in the right direction” as Blix, El Baradei, et. al. now say.
Considering Saddam’s reluctance to cooperate, my guess it will take probably 5-10 years for the inspectors to complete Saddam’s peaceful disarmament to the UN’s satisfaction (admittedly, it’s a rough guess). That is, unless American pressure on Iraq decreases - in that case, it will take longer.
Disarming Saddam peacefully does not mean Saddam (or the Baathists) are toppled from power.
Therefore, let’s say the U.S. has a change of heart and decides to adhere to the anti-war wishes of the world community. Bush decides that containment is the best policy.
Does this mean that hundreds of thousands of mostly American troops (as well as UK, Australian, Canadian, etc.) will have to be permanently ensconsed in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Turkey? If history is a guide, I imagine the permanent presence of hundreds of thousands of mostly non-Muslim troops will really piss off the people of these hosting countries and become juicy recruiting material for al Qaeda.
I imagine that if the inspections take 5-10 years, by the year 2008, popular pressure to evict the American infidels will soar, and the hosting governments will encourage anti-American sentiment to take the heat off themselves. I have a pretty good idea of what that leads to (see “2001, 11 September”).
Therefore, we can either step down (and give the tacit go-ahead for Saddam, or Uday or Qusay to rearm) or become a permanent military presence in the region with all the risks that entails.
Also, what do you think will be the effect on troop morale?
Does this also mean sanctions have to continue, and that the US will play the fall guy for all the innocent Iraqi deaths that ensue (which also makes great recruiting material for bin Laden). I fancy myself a decent human being, and I have a really hard time endorsing sanctions as a legitimate way to punish Saddam - obviously, it hurts innocent Iraqis more than anyone.
I appreciate any and all responses. Thanks.