First let me prais ** Diceman ** for showing a degree of perception in regards to how such manouvers play out in terms of nationalism that a number of other posters present and past have not shown. Hating the guy in power doesn’t lead ipso facto to liking the idea of foreigners coming in to fuck with your country.
The reality that other folks nationalism seems to escape the red meat comic book politics crowd.
In regards to why not topple Saddam the answer is multiple:
Knowing exactly how much support Saddam has in Iraq is impossible because Saddam has a nasty habit of killing people who might suggest that they would prefer another leader. But this man is a sadistic, brutal oppressor who has kept the people under his thumb for a long time. Our experience with other such leaders is that the people will claim they love him, and then dance on his grave when he’s dead. If any of you want to make some quick money, I’m willing to bet $50 right now that if the U.S. topples Saddam, they’ll be met with cheers in the streets of Baghdad.
And I know Collounsbury sees himself as a model of complex, nuanced thought on the Middle East, and those of us who would prefer a more direct approach are ‘comic book readers’, but let’s face it - the ‘nuanced’ approach is the way we’ve BEEN dealing with the Middle East, and it hasn’t worked so well up 'till now, has it?
As for proximate cause - there’s plenty. For one thing, he’s in violation of numerous U.N. resolutions. For another, we’re sure he has weapons of mass destruction. Chemical certainly, biological certainly, ‘dirty nuclear’ conventional, probably, conventional nuclear weapons, probably not yet. But he will have them within five years.
He’s also the guy who tried to kill George Bush, who had his fingerprints on the first WTC attack in 1993, and who, apparently, has connections to the current terrorist attacks. And, he’s paying the Palestinians to bomb Israel, which is destabilizing the whole region.
If you want an analogy to a neighbor, how about this: You live next door to an obvious nutjob. You look in his window one night, and see that he’s burning his family alive. A week later, he tries to burn down his other neighbor’s house. And now you see him out on his roof building a flamethrower aimed at your house. Mind you, he hasn’t actually done anything to you (well, there was that time he tried to kill your dad at the mall…), but what are you going to do? Once the flamethrower is finished you’re out of options.
It’s also wrong to claim that there is no opposition in Iraq. There is, in fact, a very large one. The Iraqi National Congress has over 50,000 men in arms, led by hundreds of high-ranking officers that defected from Saddam’s armed forces. And there is every reason to believe that Iraq’s military will surrender quickly or perhaps even join the INC one they are assured of victory. 50,000 men, coupled with U.S. close air support and massive bombardment of Iraqi hardpoints, is probably all it will take. Saddam’s forces today are only about 40% as big as they were before the Gulf war, and his war-making capacity is severely diminished due to military embargoes.
As for the support of other Arab states, no one ever expected any of them to come out publically in support of an invasion of another Arab state. Privately, however, many of the more moderate states wouldn’t shed a tear over Saddam’s demise. And they respect power. Even if they complain bitterly, they won’t enter a shooting war with the U.S., and once Saddam has gone they will quickly fall back in line. I suspect that Cheney’s ‘unsucessful’ trip wasn’t so much designed to get public endorsements for actions on Iraq, but private commitments that these countries won’t actively interfere.
Saddam has to go. If we don’t do it now, we’ll have to do it five or ten years from now. And at that time, Iran will have hundreds or thousands of medium-range ballistic missiles, probably with nuclear warheads, Iraq may have the bomb, and the job will be much, much more difficult and dangerous to Israel, Turkey, and the souther EU countries that will be within range of MRBM’s.
Guinistasia - yep, that’s the tricky part for sure. And I’m certainly not going to try to downplay it.
For one thing, Iraq has been an effective counterbalance to the gigantic militaries of Syria and Iran. What happens if that military vanishes? Iraq’s military deterrent has to be maintained, while the country is rebuilt and a more progressive government cultivated. That will be difficult.
And of course, there is the risk that the resulting government will be another fanatical Islamic nation like Iran, and that’s the last thing the U.S. needs.
Then there’s Turkey. Turkey has serious concerns about a new, hostile Kurdish nation forming on its southern border. And Turkey has been one of the U.S.'s best allies in the region for decades. That issue will have to be addressed. Since the Iraqi National Congress is built largely of Kurdish forces, the U.S. will have some clout to broker a deal in that regard.
But I think it can be done. After Saddam is gone, my ‘perfect world’ vision would be for the Jordanians and Turks to become involved in setting up a protectorate, and a coalition government to be formed in Baghdad consisted of representatives from the INC, along with input from Turkey and Jordan, who are the two most progressive regimes in the neighborhood. A friendly, secular, moderate Iraq with military alliances with Jordan, Turkey, and perhaps even Saudi Arabia would be a powerful force for moderation and good in the region.
There are also a number of potential leaders available from the ranks of Saddam’s military that has defected. One of his highest-ranking officers defected a while ago, and is actively working with the U.S. right now on plans to get rid of Saddam. This man has also been working with the INC, and claims that he can take that force all the way to Baghdad with U.S. help.
Sure, it’ll be tough. Yes, there will be lots of risks. But Saddam isn’t just a risk now, he’s a serious threat who threatens to destabilize the entire region and kill millions of people. As long as he’s there, he’ll also be a financial conduit for terrorists and probably a safe haven as well.
The claim that Saddam Hussein attempted to assassinate George Bush has been thoroughly debunked by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Here’s the cite:
Seymour Hersh, “A Case Not Closed [plot to assassinate Bush],” New Yorker, 69 (Nov. 1993): 80-92.
It’s been a while since I read the article, but the alleged conspirators in the assassination were found on a well-travelled Iraqi smuggling route with large quantities of cocaine and liquor. Not exactly choirboys, but not exactly a radical Islamic assassination squad either.
A lot of good comments. Since I just got back from drinking, I think I’ll just add my 2 cents and see where it goes:
It seems to me, the greatest legitimate reason for not removing Sadam is that a reasonable exit strategy has not yet been defined. Removing Sadam would be the easy part. Filling the power vacuum left by his departure would be the hard part.
To take the bad neighbor model step further, you have the neighbor with the flamethrower that Sam described. Only there are no police. The closest thing is a “neighborhood watch” without any weapons (the UN) and a really big baddass neighbor (the USA) and his drinking buddies (Britain and most of NATO) who generally likes to help his friends, but is not really a cop so he tends to act in his best interest. The neighbors want the psycho crack head (Sadam) out of the house, but they don’t wan’t the USAs frat buddy to move in. They also don’t want another crackhead who may point their flamethrower at them all of a sudden.
The problem is that if Sadam gets a hold of nuclear weapons, I suspect that allowing him to stay in the neighborhood would be far worse than any of the alternatives.
So in general I’m not a huge fan of the National Review, but I did find some of the analysis in the following articles of interest ( even when I didn’t entirely agree with them ). There is at least some useful and reasonably accurate background info. They form a five-part series:
I’ll imagine that just about everyone will find something in the above that they disagree with :). You’ll note Sam that he doesn’t think much of your idea of using the INC as a conventional force, which was something I was going to comment on myself. That’s an umbrella group that it would be a mistake to be wildly over-optimistic about. For one thing those various Kurdish factions pretty much loathe one another. As he notes, most of the armed resistance groups in Iraq are tribal or at least secessionist and are unlikely to share many goals with the U.S. forces.
I also think you Jordan/Turkey occupation scenario is fraught with problems, Jordan because of internal dissension from its Palestinian majority, Turkey because of the temptations of intervening overzealously in its own interest re: The Kurdish situation in northern Iraq.
Further any former senior officer from Saddam’s circle, is likely to be a real motherfucker ( not that we necessarily have a choice ).
I tend to agree broadly with Collounsbury’s cautionary reasoning ( in not his irascible choice of language ) and am not entirely convinced of Saddam’s potential threat in his current state of enfeeblement ( hell, on a purely physical level he’s no spring chicken - who knows if he’ll even last ten years ). But as a practical matter I suspect we’re on the fast track for this one. Given that, I think it is imperative that at the very least a better case be made before the international community. There really is no rush - He’s not going anywhere and the diplomatic situation must be shored up ( as the above analyst agrees, I believe ) before any action is taken.
I am not sanguine about the results - I fear not a military defeat ( pretty damn unlikely ), but a geopolitical disaster, with not only an eroding mess in Iraq, but a rampant rise in regional anti-Americanism ( which is already way to high ). But with any luck, I’ll be wrong .
But if you’re going to do it, at least do it right ( i.e. carefully and methodically - by the way Sam, I also disagree we’ve been ‘nuanced’ in our dealings with Iraq - Bush senior and Clinton were ham-fisted and inept IMHO - but that’s fodder for another thread ).
Sam, the only problem is that the INC is notoriously corrupt and even they don’t intend on having Western-style freedoms in a liberated Iraq. A good comparison for the INC would be with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. The NA was a bunch of misogynistic tribal wackos, but they weren’t the Taliban and that’s what counted. The INC might be corrupt, out of touch with the Iraqi people (they’ve been spending most of their time in Washington for over 12 years), and untrustworthy, but simply because the don’t like Saddam the U.S. wants to use them. “The enemy of your enemy is your friend” is an idea that one doesn’t want to have to depend up to move into Iraq.
A few months ago I watched a special (60 minutes? so take it FWIW) and an analyst stated that many Arab leaders would be happy if Saddam Hussein was removed by a covert operation but not one that killed another half million muslims.
He also said it would be difficult to justify publicly to the Arab world. The WMD argument does not hold much water for them because Israel has WMD, and of course many don’t believe Hussein is connected to 911, heck many don’t believe Bin Laden is connected to 911.
Ehhhh, well if we mean this literally, yes one will be able to find some folks cheering for CNN. Jus like Kaboul. What that means for the government 1 year down the road is another fucking matter, or six miles outside of the capitol for that matter.
If you mean that you think that a US installed gov’t after a massive military campaign will have ordinary Iraqi support, well maybe Kurdi support but otherwise I’ll cover your $50 and up you double. I also refer you to your ‘analysis’ of the Axis of Evil effects on the region and specifically Iran, and think about what actually happened.
If we do our homework and build on this as a longer term policy, then yes, it can work. But running impetuously into this to satisfy Wolfie old boy’s feverish imagination and impatience is not the way to do this.
I am the model of complex and nuanced thought on the Mid East. Whether I am ** right ** is another question of course, but I do know what the fuck I am talking about. (I’ll lay claim to a better track record than the average analyst but goddamn that’s such a piss poor record it’s like claiming I’m not an ignorant slut.)
As for the approach, well I rather think it’s worked rather well. It hasn’t achieved the model comic book results of miraculous transformations but then the real world has precious few of those.
For you Sam. For you and the loopy ignorant bastids you read. For a larger percentage of observers, no. It’s a strained argument, at best. And a fucking distraction from the motherfuckers who are really dangerous. Al-Qaeda. I have a deep and abiding respect for the hard motherfuckers I’ve known in connection with Islamist orgs and I see these fuckers as the real threat. No state, no hard target. Iraq is an easy throwaway, one-off transaction that doesn’t address a bleeding balance sheet. Enron style business.
Overthrow Saddam and what do you fucking get?
Right now you get a fucking mess, for what? Because scaremongers want to blow him up into a larger-than-life threat?
I grant you willingly he has a core of people capable of developing the first two given an opp. Actual applicable loads of the first two, maybe yes, maybe no. Immaterial as he could ramp up things when the pressure’s off. However, lots of folks are in that game. (BTW I don’t know that it’s certain he has deliverable bio-weapons, but I grant that he would be able to ramp it up to deliverable [theatre] weapons in good time*)
In re Nuclear, it’s not at all clear where he really is in re an actual nuclear device. No question the man wants like a college Froshie wants a lay, but that does not make it happen. 5 years, I say bullshit. 15, maybe. 10, better odds, but he still needs major facilities to make the thing and he gets whacked if he does.
Assertion A is unconfirmed to my knowledge if not actually false
Assertion B is by third hand connections, to my knowledge much as Woolesley would like to tie Ramzi up with Saddam
Assertion C has not held up to scrutiny, this time fourth hand connections by the same axe grinders.
Bullshit case in other words.
Not that the fucker is not a bad mofo, he’s a goddamned thug, but he has a mafia don’s highly evolved sense of survival when faced with the FBI. Sure he’d love it if the FBI went away, but he knows they ain’t gonna do so.
As emotionally safisfying as it is to characterize one’s enemies as nutjobs, Saddam is not. He’s a calculating, criminal fuck, but nut job he’s not.
Muammar, he’s a loopy fuck – mind you I’ve listen to both in Arabic, live [aside, Muammar is quite poetic, I have a soft spot for the mumu wearing loony toon, Saddam is fucking NYC Don and sounds like, IMO] – and he could do all kinds of shit to be frank although he seems to have chilled of late.
Well if we’re going for bad analogies we’d want to note that actually we don’t fucking live in the neighborhood, our problematic friends do and that for all the threats, precious few are carried through.
Who claimed there was no opposition? There’s no Northern Alliance, period.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. And you wonder why I used the adjectival phrase ‘comic book’? So Sam, what territory does the INC control? The hundreds of troops, nay thousands, where are they? (cough, cough) Their charismatic pull is where?
Ah, you point to Kurdish regions? Sorry, bzzzt. No unity at all (could be overcome, but: thoroughly infiltrated by Saddam – Saddam ain’t Mullah Omar, the semi-literate backwoods by. He’s a mean dirty fighter) Outside of Kurdish regions. Oh, no territory at all? No real fighting force at all? Not a real fucking army at all?
Those reasons would be what?
The same ones that led you to think that Iranians would welcome being characterized as part of an Axis of Evil or that this would leverage positive change for the reformers. Excuse me while I go and laugh up my sleeve.
Ah yes, the same fearsome forces about to develop major WMD cap? But a mere semi-fictional 50 K troops with no known secure base will topple? Oh Kuwait you say? Ahem, well there’s a few logistical details – such as the recent Arab Summit.
Right, Sam. The neo-con red-meat hard-on for Saddam crowd comic book ‘Afghanistan’ scenario – details and massive on-the-ground-differences.
Ah yes, Chenney et al were really pushing this last month. It flew like a fucking lead kite if you recall.
Guess what Sam, the motherfucker’s dead in the fucking water, and taking on water. Arab states are not going to support a piss-poor policy with little to no upside for them.
No real solution for Iraq, not a whisper of long-term commitment, no sign that the US has mastered the Afghan situation nor that the much-promised development dollars are flowing. No we gots our Pentagon folks with their hard-ons running round looking for target rich environments. When we get follow through in Aghanistan, when there is some actual progress in I-P land, then there may be movement, else we can kiss the black and white comic book vision of battling evil good bye.
See, the leaders of the region realize without a real joined up plan for succession and a sign that Bush ibn Bush will actually keep his attention on the problem, they ain’t gonna sign up for political suicide no matter how much the neo-con agitprop spins it as a good deal, cause it’s fucking ripe carcass of a deal.
Yeah dem Sand Niggers sure do respects dat power, you puts dem in their place and they sure do respect Massa now. All I can say to this racist ass argument is its fucking racist and fucking stupid. I sick of this kind of bullshit analysis. It’s not a motherfucking matter of entering into a shooting war, it’s a matter of just saying no to US use of the motherfucking bases and territorial waters.
As for quickly falling back in line, check your fucking history. Seething resentment breeds Iran, 1979. The same dumb fucking assholes who argued for that policy are arguing this one. Dumb myopic fucks. Woolesly et al know fuck all about the region and they’re continuing in a dumb fucking tradition.
The fucking problem isn’t winning a war against Saddam, it’s the motherfucking aftermath goddamit. We do not have the same fucking history with Iraq as Afghanistan. As averse as the myopic goddamned quasi-Leninist neocons are to actually looking at the on-the-ground history as opposed to self-serving abstractions, the situations are very, very different.
If our intelligence people are using this time to start building something to go in say a year or three, then that is good. One has to invest in relations in this region. You don’t fucking waltz in and do a deal and expect it to hold, you build relations. In Afghanistan we had real relations from the Sov era, a reservoir of good will. (Despite the talk, I don’t get the sense that we really got blamed for the mujahideen fucking each other over in 1991-1995/6, that was really purely Afghan (with Paki involvement of course)). Iraq, no.
[I also refer you to Byman, Daniel “After the Storm: US Policy Towards Iraq Since 1991” Political Science Quarterly v. 115, 4 (2000) for a far more balanced view than you get in your neocon rags.
I suspect that Cheney’s ‘unsucessful’ trip wasn’t so much designed to get public endorsements for actions on Iraq, but private commitments that these countries won’t actively interfere.
Yeah, right Sam, spin the record, spin it like a fucking NY DJ. The tune is still lame and still bullshit.
He got public rejection from folks who don’t like to put their fucking asses on the fucking line. You can ignore the realities and history of public discourse in the region to spin like you like, or you can pay attention to what the record shows, without lame ass quotes around failure. Hint Sam, if you know the Arab world you know that direct contradiction of a statement is huge fucking deal. It’s not done unless you fucking mean it. Well, Arab League was a huge fucking NO. No ifs ands or buts. To get the Gulfies out of their habitual dissembling is not mean feat, and Ibn Bush did so, in the exact fucking opposite direction that their incompetent diplomacy wanted, exact fucking opposite. The whole agree in private spin is pure stinking bullshit.
I’ve heard enough public and private talk to characterize Chenney’s tour as a big plop in the toilet.
Yeah, yeah heard the same lame ass rant about Castro too.
“Probably” – read maybe, outside chance.
Iraq, “may have” = in their wet dreams if they get real lucky.
There’s a real threat, but 5 years is not the time frame. Ten maybe if they have a good run and then it’s still nascent.
Intelligent strategy: Saddam is a long range problem. Solidify current goal, deal with al-Qaeda specific issues, build rep with Arab states as fair player while leveraging change in re more popular governments. Set Iraq goal as dependent on healing I-P conflict and setting up situation where Saddamesque fulminations sound like the shrill crap they are.
Bad, Dumb verging on Moronic Strategy: Pull a bunch of clumsy unilateral actions to unnecessarily undermine relations with allies –e.g. piss on closest ally Blair in re Steel issue making him look like a fucking fool to his own party – beat the Iraq drum like a moron making a number of claims in re 11 Sept which prove unsupportable, ignore exploding I-P problem until it just gets so bad you can’t ignore. Intervene in such an obvious moment driven matter that you look foolish and opportunistic even to friends. Pursue policies which look callous to Arab deaths……
Guess which one we follow with Ibn Bush?
As for the exit strategy, well goddamn it that very fucking thinking is the fucking problem. You can’t fucking exit, no matter what the noodle heads think: As in Afghanistan a replacement regime is going to need mucho cash (although of course the oil will help, but Iraqi fields need serious investment not to see a near term production decline) and mucho support, else they turn into Saddam II, only they’re be our oppressive “Friends” and we get the same motherfucking problem again, goddamn it. Anyone recall the early 80s – think a little. And that if we’re lucky that the fuckers we put in don’t get overthrown. These overthrows don’t solve the problem, the change it. Now, if one has a good grasp of it the dependent consequences, then maybe one can design a good policy with the recognition that such an intervention does not represent an “exit motherfucking strategy” but rather a long term investment which has the potential downside of adding anti-American fuel to the fire. Exit strategy my goddamned ass.
(*: To be frank I am rather concerned about bio weapons. You recall our arguments about the Anthrax Man issue. You recall my opining that the advances in bio-tech are increasing the threat? Let me share this: I have a sense that our [my corp masters] tech transfers in re skills in re private sector could be fungible in less-than-savory areas. Bio-tech is advancing rapidly, tech costs are going down, skills are being disseminated.)
Toppling Saddam is a good idea, but this is a lousy time to do it.
The administration would be smarter to take a long-time approach. In particular, finishing Afghanistan first. I believe a track record of successfully stablizing that country - would go a long way toward changing the minds of the Arab states.
The power of the U.S. is unquestioned; its ability to take responsibility for its actions, however, is. We haven’t followed through successfully since Japan and the rebuilding of Europe - all the evidence on the table suggests to Generic Arab Leader that Iraq will be left a mess.
It’s certainly reasonable to think about an exit strategy before attacking Iraq. However, this is too minor and uncertain an issue to be determinative. As in Afghanistan, the UN and other countries will no doubt help form and maintain a new government. I think it’s likely to be successful. It’s my understanding that Iraqis are a lot more sophisticated than Afghans. (No doubt Collounsbury will correct me on this point if need be.)
Even if the new government is problematic, we gain the all the following:[list=1]
[li]Iraq stops supporting terrorism in the Middle East (e.g., rewarding suicide bombers’ families.)[/li][li]Removing the military threat of Iraq allows other Middle East countries more freedom to develop sensible policies[/li][li]It automatically puts pressure on countries giving us less support than they might, e.g. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait[/li][li]It means that Saddam won’t be around to attack or to blackmail the world with nuclear weapons (which he will surely have sooner or later.)[/li][li]It inspires our allies and frightens our adversaries by demonstrating that the US is deadly serious about the war on terror.[/li][/list=1]
Even if we were to grant that Bush is an incompetent dolt (he’s not), he has not eliminated basic rights (freedom of speech, press), he has not embarked on a ruinous foreign policy that has made us a global pariah, there is no secret police, he has not gotten us into 2 bloody wars with massive casualties and nothing to show for it, he has not gassed his own fucking citizens, and most importantly he has not installed himself as absolute dictator for life.
When we liberate Iraq, the people will rejoice.
But don’t worry, you’ll find something else to hate America for.
Collounsbury? Izzat you? Your posts usually wear a three piece suit and carry a briefcase full of dessicated stats! When you cut loose you’re an ass-kicking mofo! Whatever you were “on” when you posted go get some more now! Rock on, Ignorant Slut! (Any truth to the rumor about you and Doris Kearns Goodwin? Enquiring mimes, and all that…)
Sammy, don’t keep us in suspense! Marshall your entire awesome arsenal of facts and dismember Collounsbury’s argument point by point! Yessiree, Bob, cant hardly wait!
And december, buckle down. You’re up for an ass-whomping that Tae Bo just won’t cover.
I should add that when we talk about Toppling Saddam ‘now’, we’re really talking about starting a process with that goal as the end. The U.S. will not and cannot do anything about Saddam right now, because assets are not in place. It’s going to take a few months to replace all the JDAM munitions that were dropped in Afghanistan. It will take time to re-position command-and-control out of Saudi Arabia (something that’s going on right now). It will take time to mobilize troops and activate air transport facilities. (although there are apparently already 35,000-45,000 troops already in the area after a quiet buildup). They may even want to wait for delivery of some more helicopters, which I understand are in rather short supply.
If Bush called up the commander in charge of the invasion tomorrow and said, “Green Light - attack Saddam as soon as you think you are prepared to do it effectively”, we probably still wouldn’t see an attack for 6-8 months, and maybe much longer. I haven’t been following military matters as much as I used to, so I’m not sure what the actual state of it is with respect to an operation like this.
Sam Stone, both Collunsbury and I have shown how the Iraqi National Congress is not trustworthy. Would you care to explain how the US can manage to get defections and inside help now that that notion is dismissed?
And back to the OP, here’s what I have against removing Saddam from power: it’s the U.S. that would be doing it, and the US has really fucked up in the Middle East in the past. The US overthrew the democratically elected government of Mossadeq in Iran, ushering in the shah who became a tyrant (Amnesty International named his secret service, SAVAK, the world’s foremost human rights violators), and yet the US thought it was “liberating” Iran because it stopped Mossadeq from nationalizing the oil industry there. The placement of the inept, corrupt Shah led to the rabidly anti-Americanism of the Islamic Revolution. We shot ourselves in the foot there, and would probably do it again in Iraq. Plus, the U.S. has already shown with Afghanistan that it doesn’t intend on sticking around and creating a stable government after toppling the bad government.
Saddam is really a problem, but we need a coalition of nations with a clear understanding of the area to do anything. And I’m still convinced that with adequate espionage (on the ground, not electronic) the West could apprehend Saddam without the need for armed conflict.