War in Iraq: What are the alternatives?

I know we’ve had a ton of Iraq threads lately (79 in the last 3 months, going by titles only), and I looked through them, but didn’t seem to find anything discussing this in particular.

Today we get this:

Now, I have to admit I’m still on the fence on the whole Iraqi war thing, but I have to wonder: It seems like the threat of war (the “stick”) is the only thing keeping the inspectors working in the first place. If Saddam knows that there’s not going to be a war even if he doesn’t cooperate, what incentive is there for him to let them continue working? There are already huge sanctions against them. Or is the “carrot” the removal of sanctions once the inspectors don’t find anything?

The fundamental difference between the recent French/Russian proposals and the Bush solution is not whether force is threatened; both propositions require threat of force. The difference is in the particular apllication of force which is threatened. Bush threatens full invasion. Alternatives would threaten military strikes against specific, limited targets within Iraq. Bush proposes conquest and occupation of Iraq; most of the world would prefer forced disarmament and an intact (but changed) Iraq. Bush insists on imposing “regime change” and artificially installing a radically different political system in Iraq from outside. Others question the wisdom and legality of such an effort.

If it were a simple equation “War and no Saddam Hussein” versus “No War and a Strengthened Saddam Hussein”, then the choice would be clear. But as always, it is not so simple.

If Saddam Hussein thinks that, whatever he does, Iraq will be invaded, we’ll have a dangerous dictator with nothing to lose and therefore a much greater chance of his using any weapons he might have. Right now the rhetoric coming from the US and UK governments is such that, as a diplomat was quoted as saying “they’ll only be satisfied if Saddam Hussein appears on internation television eating athrax to prove its destruction.” The threat of war can be used as a means to force Iraq into compliance but what we have currently is a decision already made and Bush & Blair trying very hard to come up with some decent reasons as to why to pursue their chosen course of action.



From what I understand is that France only supports more inspections with US troops poised to attack. But it has made made it painfully clear to the entire world that military action, esp war, is a non starter. Yet de Villepin states “The American and British military presence in the region lends support to our collective resolve.”

Now tell me, if you were a dictator of Saddam’s calliber that has made it a vocation to ignore the UN whenever you can, what would you say to such “serious consequences”?

I posted this on another forum when I was asked what would I do.

I would approach this situation from a much different angle. I would use (to coin a phrase) the mother of all squeezes. With the US military presence I would launch no bombs, kill no Iraqi troops unless coalition forces were fired upon, let the Iraqi government know that they are not going to be attacked unless the Iraqi’s attack first and shut down the country, move troops (UN coalition including the French, German, Russian Spanish and the rest) to Baghdad and surround it. Use the UN for humanitarian relief with food and medicine for the Iraqi people and let an aggressive inspection team go to work. Saddamn would have no other choice and if he did attack this coalition it would be him starting any war and not the US. This would be much better than dropping bombs and killing civilians and would show the world that we are a true and compassionate world leader rather than the big bully on the block. But his would never happen because george and the PNAC are hell bent on war, death and control of the Middle East.

Same one I’ve given you before, Saen. (Pay particular attention to the very last sentence.) Even the cites you provided show France’s willingness to support force, just not war.


thanks for the link. I was looking for it for another thread. But forgot where it was a google let me down.

Are yu talking about this sentence?

I have already stated that they wanted the military might of the US to stay there indefinately.

'Member this?

Ah maybe it’s the “combination of a clear program of action” that has you asserting their aggresiveness. Let me show you why I think that would be disengenuous on thier part.


And I can list many others where France has refused to say anything about a deadline or what recourse they feel necessary after their “180 days” are up.

Now if you insist that supporting the status quo proves Frances acceptance of military strikes by the US and UK patroling the no-fly zone (if you recall my previous post showed where France opted out of doing it themselves), I will just have to remind you taht we had a discussion on what I thaught the status quo was good for.

I suspect that some part of France’s antsiness has to do with their reluctance to let the US strongarm (or appear to strongarm) them into taking part in a military endeavor over which they have no control. I have no cite for this, of course, and it is only one aspect of a complex international situation, but nevertheless it explains some of their behavior. If true, they would probably only sign up to military action where they could do so without even the appearance of coercion by the US (or UK), and retained some control over planning and action.

(Sorry; that’s not a very GD thing to say.)

Here are four alternatives:

  1. The UN agrees to a new resolution, and the imminent threat of force might make Saddam change his mind. If the peaceniks had considered that back in October, we might not be in our current predicament.

  2. Saddam could immediately and unconditionally disarm, or at least take affirmative steps to show that he is doing so. Do you think the scud missles he is moving into western Iraq to fire at Israel conform to the mandates of the UN? Of course the inspectors haven’t found them, but that is another story.

  3. Saddam could leave the country and spare his people a lot of economic, political and physical pain and suffering. He could live a life of ease and comfort in the South of France (given his relationship with Chirac, I am sure he would allow it), and the entire world would be better off. The number of lives he would save would almost make up for the number of lives he has taken. He is worth billions, so life would no be too onerous.

  4. Chirac could go talk to his “good friend” Saddam Hussein and persuade him to do the right thing, thereby averting the war he has claims he does not want.

The following are not alternatives, in my opinion:

  1. Doing nothing.

  2. Further inspections without some definite sign of compliance by Iraq. (For those who advocate tougher inspections, at what point could you honestly declare that the inspections are complete and the UNMOVIC guarantees that Iraq has no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons? Saddam has spent twelve years playing the hiding game. Do you really think that two or three thousand people could search and secure every square inch of a country the size of California?)

  3. Waiting until the weather gets worse. If this can’t be resolved, we should not put US or UK troops at any more risk then absolutely necessary.

  4. Keeping US and UK troops in the region indefinitely at their cost, while the rest of the UN gets a free ride. This is an economic hardship and keeping the soldiers in a constant state of readiness for years while inspections go on is impossible.

Chirac has made it perfectly clear that he will not support a war or any type of military intervention. Not now, not later, not ever. The reason some people doubt this is the case is because it is the exact opposite of what France promised the US during the negotiations for UNSCR 1441. Ironically, aside from Saddam, it is the French who have made war inevitable by their insistence that there be no war. Maybe at some point, people will begin to see that when dealing with tyrannical dictators and madmen, watering down the possibility of force only emboldens them.

The current situation is unstable. The U.S. doesn’t really have the resources to maintain a rotating force of 250,000 soldiers in Kuwait. Some of the carriers in the Gulf are already overextended - one of them has been at sea for something like 9 months already.

If a war doesn’t happen soon, the U.S. will be forced to draw down its forces in the Gulf. And as soon as Saddam believes that the remaining force isn’t prepared for an immediate invasion, the games will intensify. He’ll gamble that the U.S. won’t have the political will to build up another huge force after shooting a blank the first time, and he’ll do the same crap that caused the inspectors to leave in 1998.

This is what Saddam and the French are counting on. And make no mistake - France does NOT want Iraq to disarm. Before the latest escalations, France was pushing hard to get the no-fly zones removed and the sanctions against Iraq lifted.

France has almost 50 billion dollars in oil contracts with Iraq - contracts which cannot be filled until the sanctions are lifted. Anyone who thinks France has any interest at all in regime change is fooling themselves.

And France doesn’t even want Saddam disarmed, because France has been selling arms to Iraq. What France wants is to break the back of the U.S./Britain coalition, leave Saddam in power, and then work to remove the sanctions. This will get France even more preferential business deals in Iraq, and elevate France’s status in the world to major player. IN the process, France damages Britain’s stature in the EU and raises its own, giving it the ability to shape the economic and political direction of Europe.

And the overall scheme of France’s, in my opinion, is to be the center of a coalition of countries which together act as a balance against U.S. military and economic power.

So the options are to go to war now, or to draw this out into a year-long political duel similar to what’s been going on now. And no matter what the inspectors find, or what Saddam does, France will block military action. A month from now, a year from now, it doesn’t matter.

So there’s no point playing this game any longer. Either give up and go home, and suffer a humilating loss while leaving a victorious madman in power, or fight the war, and soon.

In addition, France