I Think I Finally Understand Iraq

Or, at least, the logic train that has put us in our present position. Bush’s press conference on Monday triggered my mini-epiphany, though I’ve been read the pro-war arguments on this board over the years, and I know these points have been made, but this is the form I had to put it in for it to make sense to me:

  1. Saddam had nothing to do with the planning and execution of 9/11, BUT

  2. Saddam’s rule in Iraq was a threat BECAUSE

  3. Since Saddam hated the U. S., he would be happy to use the resources of the country he controlled to fund and equip the next nine-eleven-style attack. THEREFORE,

  4. We had to invade Iraq and remove Saddam to prevent him from helping to orchestrate the next nine-eleven.

  5. Unfortunately, removing Saddam did not remove the threat as expected, BECAUSE

  6. We have not been able to guarantee that whoever ultimately takes control of Iraq would not use its resources to fund and equip the next nine-eleven. THEREFORE,

  7. We cannot withdraw our forces from Iraq until we can guarantee that whoever takes control of the country will not use its resources to fund and equip the next nine-eleven.

Personally, I think nos. four and seven are faulty conclusions, but I know there are others who disagree.

The question I throw out is: does this match everyone’s general understanding of the situation, or am I missing something?

2 and 3 are also wrong.

Can you elaborate a little? I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but I would like to see the reasoning behind this statement before I reply in depth.

Merely hating the U.S. doesn’t mean you’d stage or supply an attack on it. Saddam was pretty happy where he was, and with fighting the region. The questions are; what did Saddam have to gain from attacking the U.S.? Nothing, and in fact chances are he’d lose a lot. Was Saddam’s hatred for the U.S. enough to make him supply an attack despite this? Iffy. I’d say no. He was an egocentric bastard, as most dictators seem to be, and chances are he would think he’d get away with it; but likewise, his ego might not have allowed him to let any attack go unclaimed. I personally don’t think he would have.

My big epiphany lately had been the fact that it appears that the Iraqis themselves regard the US as occupiers and aren’t really “into” the great western way (think of the demonstrations in Bagdad against Israel). So here we are trying to “free” these people and keep other thugs from taking over, but I don’t get the impression it’s appreciated very much. Whenever we leave there’s gonna be a huge power grab either by Iran or some sect and it will be tragic that all this effort has been wasted, but I don’t see the Iraqi people suddenly “getting it” and a western syle democracy ever emerging. We’re stuck there being their law enforcement forever (and never appreciated).

I think it’s just all wrong.

Firstly, there are isn’t one great “We should go fight in Iraq” argument. And secondly, that isn’t one of any of them that I would imagine.

Off the top of my head, here are four different reasons for going to Iraq.

GW Bush’s Reason for Going to Iraq:

  1. Daddy should have finished that business over there with Sadham.
    …9/11 occurs…
  2. We can’t find Bin Laden, but we need a scapegoat.

1 + 2 = Get Sadham

The Strategic Reason for Going to Iraq:
The only way to fight terrorism is to remove the oppresive governments in the area and replace them with representative government, and to increase commerce/build a middle-class. The more countries you can do this in, the better you’re going to be and GW wants to, and 9/11 offers the chance to take Iraq. So eh…sure.

The Majority Populace’s Reason for Going to Iraq:
doesn’t much care which

My Reason for Being Ammenable to Going to Iraq:
Saddham murdered something like 400,000 people. If GW wants to go get rid of him, sure. And if we can prevent the next government of the country from being one which commits mass murder, then so far as I’m concerned short term rioting in the streets is not a valid reason to pull out–so long as we have any reason to believe that success is possible with our resources.

No, in order to change Iraq we would need to run the country and particularly the school curriculum and the military for at least the next 20 years. In school you would need to teach and use in-class games and such to demonstrate democracy and what it results in versus other governmental styles. And in the military, you would need to bump everyone back down to the same rank and then have Americans handle all the promotions so they got used to the idea of promotion based on ability rather than connections and graft.

I fear that Bush isn’t thinking of things like this though, so you’re right that most likely the country won’t have a very long future as we leave it. I mostly hope that whoever follows Bush has a brain and is willing to actually fix the place rather than pulling out and accepting it as a loss.


Certainly. On number 2, Saddam was absolutely no threat to the U.S., and only a very minor threat to its allies. On number 3, there is no evidence whatsoever that Saddam had even the slightest interest in funding major terrorist attacks against the U.S. He could, of course, have done so in the many years between GWI and GWII. But he didn’t.

Well, in my opinion, even if 3 was true, 4 didn’t necessarily follow. It doesn’t much matter if 3 was true or false if 4 was the wrong conclusion either way.

Let’s just remember that a lot of the “big brains” (and I use that term derisively) of the neoconservative movement (a) were advocating invading Iraq at least in 1996, if not sooner; and that (b) these selfsame “brains” held – and continue to hold – influential positions in the Bush Administration. Linky.

Invading Iraq was never about 9/11 or al Qaeda or even “revenge” for Gulf War I; it was and remains about (a) securing Iraq’s oil supplies for US interests and (b) establishing a permanent foothold in the region. Everything eise is just excuses to cover the long-term ambitions of the neocon nutjobs.

On the Thursday before Iraq was invaded I was having lunch with two American guys who I have known for a very long time.

They are pretty well connected, and one of them keeps up with his old pals from West Point - the Internet is handy.

They said: ‘What we need to do is to establish a permananent base in the area from which we can reach out and get those terrorists’

I was lost for words for a few seconds, then tried to point out that they were invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 so that they could do some domestic house cleaning on behalf of their good allies, the Saudi Government.

@Rufus Xavier, your argument reads well, my belief is that there were several motives held by different groups - none of which stacked up at the time.

(my bolding.) this sums up the difference between the two different philosophies about the Iraqi war. The pro-war side wants to fight terrorism; the anti-war side wants to arrest individual terrorists.The pro-war side sees Iraq as a base, from which the war against terror will continue. The anti-war side thinks that there can be no war against terror–only police actions to arrest individual people who happen to be terrorists.

The anti-war side relies on the most basic tenet of Western-style legal thought–holding individuals responsible for their specific actions.(this obviously works fine in western society, and the world is better off for it.) Therefore,it follows logically that we shouldn’t have touched Iraq because it was not directly involved in the actions we are trying to punish (9/11).
But the pro-war side , without explicitly stating it, is applying Middle-eastern style
thought to the Mid-east problem. Arab culture places the emphasis on society and not on the individual.
(examples : Many Arab societies encourage family-honor murders; a father may murder his daughter because she brought shame on the family’s reputation in society. And Saudi Arabian law explicity ranks society’s values as more important than an individual’s rights, hence public whippings for possession of alcohol)

The terrorists are, of course, using middle-east style thought, not western values. They are attacking all of Western society, not specific individuals.

And that is the key to the OP’s sudden “understanding Iraq”. Saddam as an individual leader may not be directly involved with the 4 planes flown on sept 11. But the war on terror is not directed at individuals–it is directed at the societies and cultures who support terrorism. It is being fought as part of the clash of civilizations, the fight against the axis of evil, etc.

Those who disagree with the war in Iraq usually also disagree with the idea that we are facing a clash of civilizations.
They may be right about the tactics ( that the war in Iraq is a mistake, and not an effective way to fight terror.)
But they are wrong in their basic assumption that radical Islamic jihad should be appeased.

Here’s an alternate explanation: in the Middle East, just prior to the war and in the early stages of it, there was a view – one with a certain amount of currency, apparently – that the United States was interested only in destroying Iraq, because Iraq had always been a strong and committed opponent of the state of Israel. I would imagine that if you held this view, nothing about the current state of affairs in Iraq would convince you that you had been wrong.

I doubt that there is such a basic assumption held by anyone now living or dead.

First of all, how would we “appease” radical Islamic Jihad? What do they want? How would we give it to them to appease them? And what civilization is ours “clashing” with?

At the same time, there was also a view, with some actual evidence, that Iran managed to manipulate the American intelligence community into believing that Saddam was an imminent threat, so that we would remove Iran’s biggest obstacle in expanding their power and influence in the middle east.

I would also imagine that if you held this view, nothing about the current state of affairs in Iraq (and Iran) would convince you that you had been wrong.

In fact, I’m trying to pin down the President’s public justifications for staying in Iraq now and invading in the first place. I believe the points I raised in the OP are consistent with his public pronouncements on the subject in Monday’s press conference, and possibly even before that.


Afghanistan was already invaded and stuff, wasn´t it as good an example to make of a shinning democracy in the region as any other country?

But the US didn´t botter to do it right with the first one, why should it spread half-assed, unstable democracy around?

Point (a) is the shorthand version. A more detailed explanation can be found here. Has more to do with minimising risk of fluctuating world oil prices.

You’re missing the whole next sentence. GW wanted Iraq, so…eh sure.

It shouldn’t create half-assed, unstable democracies.

Unfortunately, the guy at the top has fairly successively made only reactionary and stupid decisions. Knowing that about him in late 2001 and early 2002 would have changed a lot of things.