Iraq - The Grand Plan?

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the events of the last few months with interest. I’ve tried to be really careful not to fall into either the kneejerk pro-war camp or the kneejerk anti-war camp but there’s been something niggling at me for a while now. Something that seems not quite right with this whole Iraq thing and I think I’ve finally figured out what it is.

A couple of things have been puzzling me right from the start of this whole Iraq business:

  1. We have long known that the US wanted regime change in Iraq but why the sudden urgency?

  2. The arguments used by the government in favour of invasion (WMD, Iraqi links to terrorism) have always seemed unconvincing, almost as if they aren’t the real reason for war, just the pretext.

  3. The decision to switch the focus of events from the war on terror to Iraq has puzzled a lot of people (me included).

I think I may have finally come up with a theory which answers all three of these questions. I was musing on this subject a couple of days ago when it hit me like a bolt of lightning and I thought “oh is that what they’re up to”.

There’s no “new” information in this theory, I’ve just jiggled around with information we already know and come up with a plausible explanation of why we’re invading Iraq. If this theory is true then it could be that a lot of people are missing the wood for the trees.

The Theory

Forget about WMD (they probably don’t have any), forget about Iraqi links to terrorism (there are probably no such links). All this is just one big red herring.

Forget, also, all the conspiracy theory ideas - “it’s all about oil”, “it’s a grudge match - Junior wants to avenge his father”, “America wants to take over the middle east”. Some (or all) of these ideas may have a grain of truth to them but they aren’t what’s really going on.

So what’s really going on?

The aims of America and Britain in pursuing this war are threefold, and somewhat jaw-dropping in their sheer scope which is why no politician will ever come out publicly and admit any of this. The first aim is nothing less than:

The democratisation of the middle east

There have been rumblings in recent years about the youth of Iran demanding more democracy and even in Saudi, they have recently made noises about introducing democratic reforms once the US soldiers have left. The Kurds in Northern Iraq have already set up their own mini-secular democratic state.

The major obstacle to change in the middle east is Iraq. As long as Iran has Saddam next door, they are unlikely to countenance the idea of making any major changes but if Iraq were to become a stable democracy then the pressure for change in other countries in the region may become unstoppable.

We would see a domino effect similar to that which occurred in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union as one middle eastern country after another democratised.

The second aim is equally as awesome:

The destruction of al Qaida

How will removing Saddam destroy al Qaida? When OBL made his fatwa against the US he cited three “statements on which everyone can agree”. These three statements were:

  1. That the US is hurting muslims by enforcing the sanctions on Iraq

  2. That the US is defiling muslims by stationing troops in the Gulf area

  3. That the US is hurting muslims by supporting Israel against the Palestinians

Well, consider:

Once Saddam is removed the sanctions will be lifted - strike one

With Saddam gone the need for troops in the area will be much less urgent and Saudi has already said that it will soon ask the troops to leave it’s territory - strike two

With Iraq being a stable democracy, that will leave only one issue outstanding in the middle east, Israel. With less lunatics in power in the region the chances of movement on the Israel problem becomes much more likely - strike three

Once there is movement on these three issues then al Qaida will have nothing left apart from bullshit religious guff about restoring the Caliphate which most muslims take no notice of. Al Qaida will have been marginalised and their constituency will become much smaller.

The mere fact of democratisation in the area will give arabs a peaceful outlet for disaffection and will reduce the number of people who are attracted to these type of groups.

The third aim of the war is:

The resolution of the Palestinian situation

Saddam prolongs the conflict by giving money to the families of suicide bombers. As I mentioned above, once Saddam is gone the Israel situation will be thrown into sharp relief being the last major problem in the region. The domino effect of countries in the area democratising can only have a moderating influence on the conflict. Britain will be pushing the US to help find a solution “Hey, we backed you over Iraq, now you back us over Israel”.
The above three aims are all well and good but the day Saddam gets his hands on a nuke is the day it will all become a pipe-dream. Once Saddam gets a nuke, we will never get rid of him. He’ll be there threatening Israel for the rest of our lives. He’ll be there until the day he dies, and then his mad sons will take over. He’ll order the inspectors out of the country and possibly rebuild the nuclear reactor (who’s gonna stop him?).

And it doesn’t end there. Once Saddam has a nuke then Iran will have to have one too and maybe other countries will feel they have to have them as well. The domino effect will work the other way and we’ll be left with a huge nuclear standoff across the whole middle east. The whole house of cards that is nuclear non-proliferation will come tumbling down.

This nuclear standoff will never go away because no country will voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons unless all the other countries do too. This is the kind of scenario that could lead to WW3.

But it doesn’t have to be this way and it can all be avoided by the simple expedient of removing Saddam before it’s too late.


  • the democratisation of the middle east
  • the elimination of al Qaida
  • the resolution of the Palestinian problem

And it all starts right here, right now with the liberation of Iraq.

So, the above is my theory. It may not pan out quite the way I have described but my contention is that those are the aims. Not all this baloney about WMD or links to terrorism, that no one seriously believes.

This theory would explain my unanswered questions above:

  • it would explain the urgency
  • it would explain why politicians can’t come right out and tell us what they’re really trying to do but instead they come up with this stuff about WMD
  • it would explain the apparent shift of focus from the war on terror to the war on Iraq. There is no shift in focus, it’s all part of the same deal

I could be completely wrong with all this of course but hey, it sounds good to me.

You’ve just explained the wider justification for the war, which is that it will help all the things you mentioned.

However, I have to take exception to this:

At this point, anyone who doubts that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction is in serious denial. Even France and Germany and the U.N. admit this now. It was the strongest part of Powell’s presentation. There can be no doubt that there are huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. There is no doubt that there are at least 50 SCUD missiles, and perhaps thousands of Al Samoud 2 missiles which have been modified to have a range longer than allowed by the U.N. (so says missile experts who were brought in by the U.N. this week).

As for connections to terrorists, again, there can be no doubt about this. Saddam has given safe haven to many terrorists, including people like Abu Nidal. There is no doubt about this. There is also no doubt that Saddam has been funding terror against Israel. No one disputes this.

On the narrower question of al-Qaida in particular, that’s still an open question in my book, but I lean towards accepting Powell’s evidence as reasonable proof. But you have to remember that al-Qaida is not the only enemy of the U.S. Hezbollah and Hamas are at least as dangerous, and possibly more so. And Hamas has already claimed that it will consider all Americans as targets if Iraq is invaded, and has called on all affiliated terror groups to attack Americans wherever they are.

Oops. I should clarify something I said:

I don’t mean to suggest that this is a certainty. It is a reasonable scenario. But just as battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy, suppositions about how a war will ultimately play out have large uncertainties. A lot will depend on how the war is carried out, how hard Iraq fights, how many civilians are killed, whether Israel gets into the fight, etc.

It’s important to plan for the worst when advocating war. Assuming that everything will work out perfectly and the Middle East will wind up a big happy Democracy is not smart. The worst-case scenario is that the fight goes on for a long time in Iraq, and the ongoing fight inflames radicals throughout the world and causes a number of terrorist attacks. In the end, hundreds of thousands could die both in Iraq and elsewhere, and the war could end with the Middle East being even a bigger mess than it is now. The Kurds could rise up in the North and declare an independent state, for example.

I’ve made the decision that, on balance, the war is necessary. I also believe the odds favor a positive political outcome. Iraq will make a fine example for other rogue states (you can bet North Korea is paying very close attention to what happens), and a democratic Iraq could be the catalyst that causes a democratic uprising in Iran. With democracies in Iraq and Iran, the U.S. can afford to isolate Saudi Arabia and force them to straighten up and fly right.

I would agree with most of your theory. There is, however, an alternative to accomplish these goals without invading Iraq and dealing with all of the side effects of anti American sentiment, terrorist attacks, etc. Invade Israel. Our Arab oil buddies would be forever grateful. The terrorist would call us heroes and wave the American flag. Palestine would be free. The complaint of US presence would cease. We would save 3 billion in foreign aid every year. It would be a disarmament of monumental porportion and rid the region of 10 times the WMDs in Iraq. Think about it. Invade Israel.


I have trouble envisioning a Democratic Iraq. Where is the historical basis? I see at least 3 factions that have drastically different political agendas. And even if there was a Democracy built in Iraq, what would keep the rest of the Middle Eastern radicals (and current gov’ts for that matter) from just calling it a US puppet state?

BTW, there already is a Mid East Muslim democrcay (Turkey) and it hasn’t done much for democracising the neighborhood. And before anyone trashes the quality of Turkish democracy, if we got Iraq anywhere near the Turkish level, it would be a miracle.


Maybe you should open a thread along those lines.

With all due respect, but in your dreams. We will forever be American infidels.

There’s also the little matter of Israel being able to kick our ass. Sure, the U.S. could invade, but not without massive destruction on both sides. Israel has many nuclear weapons. Israel has a ballistic missile sub. Missile has all the advanced weaponry and smart bombs the U.S. has. And Israel is on home territory.

But it’s a fantasy anyway, and an anti-semitic one at that. Israel is one of the U.S.'s strongest allies. Israel is a democracy with western values in a very tough spot. The U.S. is about as likely to invade Israel as it is to invade Canada.

Just an alternative to clear up all of the problems mentioned in the OP Sam. There is always more than one way to skin a cat. You should retract that remark about anti-semitic.

You’re right. My apologies.

Invade Canada? Hmm… now there’s a thought. Maybe then we’ll finally get the GOOD half of Niagara Falls.


Jojo, the democratisation of the middle east seems possible and was something that I hadn’t thought of, but I have questions regarding your other two points. Regarding the destruction of Al Qaeda, wouldn’t the United States further inflame the muslim radicals by putting more soldiers into the middle east. They’ll be there for a while, as Iraq turning into a stable democracy will probably be only slightly easier than doing the same to Afghanistan, and they’ll be viewed as a conquering army, despite their reasons.

This will also domino against Israel by empowering the muslim radicals. The United States will be viewed as a bigger enemy than before, seriously jeopardising any position as mediator between the two sides. Lastly, suicide bombers will continue even without Saddams payoffs. Assuming noone else picks up paying the families, their religious/moral reasons will still be there. I’m not saying that what they do is acceptable by any means, but if I was nutty enough to want to strap a bomb to my chest and walk into downtown, money would not be a big concern.

Whether Iraq democratizes (or even stabilizes) after the US invasion will depend to a significant extent upon whether the US launches a serious reconstruction effort (as in the Marshall plan) or whether they decide to do it on the cheap like they appear to be doing in Afghanistan.

Jojo what is unique about your idea is that you made it appeal to the anti-war crowd by saying there were no WMDs or ties to al Qaida. The idea of the democratization of Iraq may be easier than some of the other posters think, because the people of Iraq are among the most educated in the region. However, the fact that there are three groups that don’t get along very well, will work against it. Al Qaida may make a move on Saudi Arabia, after Saddam is gone. In fact that is why the Saudis want all infidels out so that al Qaida can’t use us to stir the people up against them. It isn’t going to be a tea party, but as you point out there are a lot of pluses to getting rid of Saddam. “No WMDs and no ties to al Quida” was as brilliant as it was wrong, though.

Whaddyu mean, the GOOD half? Why, in the big city of Niagara Falls, NY, we’ve got, um…

OK, I see your point. We’ll start mustering at Fort Niagara immediately.

Jojo: I think that your points are excellent. As an eternal optimist, it seems to me that there is every hope of Iraqi becoming stable, democratic and prosperous. Iraq is currently a secular state, its people are well educated and when the oil-dollars start rolling in Iraq will be one of the fastest growing economies the world has ever seen.

ok, responding to points made.

Sam and kniz,

I think you’ve misunderstood what I’m saying about WMD. My fault, not yours, I didn’t make myself clear enough.

I’m not saying they don’t have any. It seems likely they do have some. My point is: it doesn’t matter because that isn’t why we are going to war. We aren’t going to war in order to rid Iraq of WMD despite what the politicians are saying. All this debate that’s going on about WMD is just the pretext, the trigger. The real aims of the war are those I outlined above.

Sam, you said we need to be ready for the worst case scenario. You’re right but that isn’t relevant to what I’m saying. What I am talking about are the aims of Britain and America in going into this, not how it all may or may not turn out. However it turns out, this is how Britain and America hope and think it will turn out - that’s why they are doing it.

Hank Fescue, your idea about invading Israel unfortunately has a flaw. You said:

Invading Israel would not accomplish all these goals. It may accomplish goal 3 (solving the Palestinian problem) but it would not accomplish goals 1 and 2 (democratising the middle east and destroying al Qaida). In fact it would be a retrogressive step because it would set the cause of democratisation back years, it would leave Saddam in power and al Qaida would still have things to whine about, so they wouldn’t go away.

So, nice try but, I’m afraid, no dice :slight_smile:

John Mace said:

Yes but then all countries in the world have different groups in them with different agendas. This doesn’t stop them being democracies. In fact, that’s the whole point of democracy - to provide representation for different viewpoints without the need for violence.

Don’t be such a pessimist. It’s entirely possible that the Iraqis have seen enough violence and oppression in the past thirty years. It’s just possible that they really will want to have a go at this new-fangled democracy thing.

You use the example of Turkey but Turkey are quite an insular country. They don’t really have much involvement with their neighbours in the middle east, they are kind of on the outside of all the action. Iraq is different, Iraq is right in the thick of it, Iraq could be pivotal.

Harborwolf said:

In the short term, yes. Undoubtedly. There is no way of getting away from this, there is no way round it. There will be more terrorist incidents for sure. But then, whatever we do there will be more terrorist incidents. The only way to stop terrorist incidents from happening is to remove al Qaida’s raison d’etre. And this can only be done in the long term.

But it might not be all that long term. Just a few years. Once we start to see the benefits of a democratic Iraq and a lessening of tension in Israel the terrorist incidents will start to tail off and eventually they may disappear altogether because al Qaida will have no reason to exist anymore.

I agree with you here. Suicide bombers aren’t in it for the money. But the money does help prolong the conflict. A hardline dictatorship in Iraq also helps prolong the conflict. Remove the money, remove the hardline dictatorship and a solution to the Israel situation becomes more likely.

Don’t get me wrong the Israel situation is immensely complicated. I’m not saying it’s all going to be solved in one easy step, like waving a magic wand. I’m just saying that my theory in the OP is that removal of Saddam is a step in the right direction.

flowbark said:

Agreed but then Iraq does have a few things that Afghanistan lacks:

  • oil
  • a potentially booming economy
  • geographic strategic importance
  • a well educated, sophisticated, western leaning population

This is sad. Afghanistan has every bit as much right to peace as Iraq but the realistic fact is that Iraq is in a different situation than Afghanistan.

G. Cornelius

Thank you. I always like to try to understand what’s going on behind all the politicians words and bluster and this Iraq thing was driving me crazy. I couldn’t understand what it was really all about until the theory outlined in the OP occurred to me. I’m quite pleased with it (as a theory), if I do say so myself.

Hopefully, Saddam will just realise that the game is up and go into exile thus we achieve all the war aims without the need for war.

I don’t buy that America wants to democratize the middle east.
We need enemies to fight against.
What would this do to our military budget then eh?
Gotta have opposing teams, always.

posted by Jojo

That seems to be assuming that everything goes well in Iraq. For starters, terrorists, islamic fundamentalists, etc. will have a much easier time going after our troops and generally making a mess in Iraq than they do here. That will draw out the process in Iraq and weaken resolve at home. Add to that the cost of keeping troops there and the odds of the United States Military staying the course in Iraq, particularly when elections roll around, drops. Next there is the possibility of military action needed in North Korea, or another terrorist attack in the United States. No, this situation is far too complicated for this to end as neatly as you think it will

Also, you are giving the present administration far more patience and resolve than I think they are capable of. Given the way they are charging into this conflict, I can’t imagine them even thinking of the long haul when it comes to stabilizing the region.


I can’t really see this happening for several reasons:

  • terrorists aren’t like an army, they can’t fight like an army by attacking troops. Terrorists use unconvential, non-linear warfare. They might get away with shooting the odd soldier here and there maybe, but they certainly aren’t going to be able to mount any serious attack that would destabilise the US and UK armies.

  • attacking an army whilst it’s engaged in an actual war must be one of the hardest things to do. The army would be on full alert at all times. How are these terrorists going to get in an attack?

  • there aren’t any terrorists in Iraq far as we know, apart from possibly the ones in Kurdish Northern Iraq (who I suspect will be bombed in the first 24 hours of any conflict)

  • such Islamic fundamentalists as there are in Iraq will be on America’s side, they hate Saddam too.

This is partly my point. I too was confused at the way they seem to be charging into this conflict. Why the urgency? The only answer I can think of is because they want to get rid of the sanctions and establish a democracy in Iraq as quickly as possible. This would be the most effective way of combatting al Qaida (as well as Saddam himself, of course). The only other way to combat al Qaida is to track down each and every terrorist in the world, an impossible task. The only way to really defeat al Qaida (long term) is to remove their power base.

This means removing the things that rile even moderate muslims. Top of the list of the things that rile muslims are the sanctions against Iraq. Remove the sanctions and you remove an ongoing festering sore that has been getting muslims more and more angry with every passing year. The sanctions against Iraq have been one of Bin Laden’s most powerful rallying calls. ok a war won’t be popular either but in a few years the war’ll just be a one-off event in history, rather than an ongoing thing like the sanctions.

Better to have a quick one off war and get rid of the sanctions than leave the sanctions in place where they will serve as an ongoing powerful recruitment tool for the fanatics. They are never going to get rid of the sanctions while Saddam is there, so the al Qaida problem will just get worse and worse as time goes on. But remove the sanctions and there is a chance that the war will just become a forgotten detail in history, especially if Iraq democratises and becomes wealthy.

The contention of the OP was that they will have no choice but to be there for the long haul (at least as long as it takes to get a functional government going). US troops won’t necessarily have to be there that long. Once Saddam is gone and a new regime in place, the Iraqi army will be able to maintain order just as they do now.

Remember the idea of this war isn’t just to get rid of Saddam and then go home straight away and to Hell with what happens next. The idea is to spread democracy to the middle east. It’s not a question of America not having the patience, what more worthwhile thing could they possibly do instead than spread democracy, eliminate al Qaida and solve the Israel conflict?

I think they’ll have the patience, alright.

Interestingly I heard Bush give a speech earlier today when he actually alluded to all this. He said something along the lines of:

“We are not just going there to remove a dictator, we are going there to give the Iraqis the gift of freedom”

This doesn’t sound like they intend to replace one dictator with another “more friendly” one. It sounds to me like they have in mind the kind of thing I talk about in the OP. But in the end, who knows? Maybe you’re right and I’m wrong, we’ll find out soon enough I suppose.