What would have happened had Saddam died of natural cuses, or deposed by Iraqis?

This is a strictly theoretical question, of course, but I can’t help but think that the current power struggle and regional violence would still have happened no matter what. Saddam held Iraq together through fear, intimidation, and the strength of his own will. What would have happened then? Would it have been a peaceful transition, or would it have been a Yugoslavia-type fragmentation and civil war? Would the UN have been enlisted to act as peacekeepers?

In no way am I trying to justify the invasion, but realistically, don’t you think things would have turned out much the same as they are now? Given the importance of that region worldwide, I don’t think any country with the means to intercede would have failed to do so.

My opinion is that we would be mired in much the same situation we’re in now, only it would be more justifiable to some. Thoughts, anyone?

Well, they wouldn’t have had their infrastructure destroyed by foreign bombs, and they would have been able to get jobs without us freezing them out of their own economy. On the other hand, they wouldn’t have the hatred of the foreign invaders to unify them as much as they are unified. Just to make things even more exciting, the lack of a US military presence would increase the chance of the neighbors intervening, for good or ill.

Basically, I think the answer would be : Chaos. But at least it wouldn’t be our problem, and if we or someone did intervene later, doing so to stop the fighting would work much better than invading to kill Saddam, grab the oil fields and set up military bases.

You’re probably right but at least it wouldn’t have been OUR problem.

It may very well have still been our problem, given that US foreign policy dislikes chaos in that region as a matter of course, but it wouldn’t, at least, have been our FAULT…

I don’t think it would have been the same. Had saddam been deposed, I would assume he would have required a strong faction with the ability to keep things in order (in all likehood an internal coup). As for his death, I would assume this event had been planned for and the reigns might very well have been handed more or less peacefully to his successor.

Of course, there’s no way to know, and it could have resulted in/ be caused by a civil war. But I’ve no reason to assume so. The war, accompanied by the immediate dissolution of governmental authority (from the highest level to the local police station) created peculiar circumstances and it can’t be assumed that Irak was sitting on a barrel of nitroglycerine about to go BOOOM at the smallest tremor. I know that the situation was volatile and unstable in irak before the war, but not necessarily that volatile.

Maybe Irak would have followed the Yugoslavian road, maybe the succession would have been as easy as it has been in neighboring Syria. There’s no way to tell.

Had he simply died, I think that his sons were tipped to succeed him- now, one was apparently a pyschopath (in the strict sense of the word)- but was that Uday or Qusay? I always thought, however, that incremental regime change was hopeful. After all, Saddam barely controlled either the Kurdish North or the Shi’ite South, and it might have been that eventually the country would have disintegrated into three regions anyway (I still think this is going to happen). I mean, the idea of “Iraq” is, at best, 80 years old, and absent Saddam’s control (which would have slackened no matter how he departed, naturally, deposed or invaded) I don’t think that three such diverse ethnicities with such a history of conflict can hold the country together.

Say that to Lebanon, however I’d think there would be a bloody civil war and then the eventual intervention of neighbouring powers carving up spheres of influence, whilst maintaining the pretence of national unity.

Just to add a brief comment : I don’t think you can remove a so enormous part of the equation (the war in Irak) and just assume that, lacking it, everything else would have been the same. It’s a little like saying : lacking WWII, would the history of the world during the second part of the 20th century have been similar? Well, maybe. But it’s quite preposterous to assume so.

That’s why it was posed as a theoretical question, in the same manner that people posit regularly about the viability of Hitler’s proposed invasion of England.

I agree, though I believe that in either case there would have been a very brief (and very bloody) struggle at the top. I don’t think it would have lasted long enough to enable restlessness to take hold in the country.

It would have been a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

If Saddam had been overthrown by Iraqis, it would have been by a powerful internal group, someone ready to hold onto the reins of power. When the US artificially accelerated regime change, there were no home grown groups ready to take command. All that dicking around with government by Chalabi , fighting between various exile organizations, puppet governments and the paralysis that lead to the current civil war could have been avoided.
There might still have been massive unrest, but that’s by no means certain.

Died? Probably the same as North Korean. The son(s) take(s) over. I doubt much would change.

Deposed? Bloody civil war that would probably spill over into Turkey and Iran at the very least. There’s no way the US and the Brits would not have gotten involved, what with the no-fly zones set up. And al Qaeda would be flooding in just as now. It takes time to mobilize an army, and if the US (or anyone else) was not prepared, the fighting would go no for months before real intervention were possible.

I would tend to agree. There would still be the possibility of a civil breakdown if his sons ended up lacking the ability/support necessary to hold the system together. But given an intact military, with its numerous parallel security apparati designed to check one another, as well as the backing of the entrenched burecratic elite ( i.e. the Ba’ath Party ) whose best interest would be business as usual, I would say stable transition would be the most likely outcome.

Another obvious parallel would the succession of Bashir al-Assad in Syria. Granted Bashir is a rather quieter, smarter, less polarizing figure than the Hussein boys were and the Assads have always been cleverer at public manipulation. Nonetheless, I think odds would favor a quiet transition, with likely the normal odd purge or three of stray government/military officers.

Hard to say on this one. Probably depends on just how well the coup were executed. If Saddam, his sons and other key supporters were immediately and more or less simultaneously neutralized with little fuss, I think it might be essentially an identical scenario to the above. Only with a junta or a different strongman taking the reigns. Again the interest of the Ba’ath apparatus, such as it was, would be in stability.

Obviously the above would be a difficult thing to pull off. If a faction fight developed, with army and paramilitary units pickng sides, it obviously could get ugly. However, again, if the coup ringleaders were able to at least kill SH and to otherwise quickly get the upper hand ( i.e. isolating resistance to a few key centers outside the capital, like Tikrit ), then I still think any disorder would be more likely to be limited and controlled.

It was the destruction of the Iraqi military and the ruling party apparatus that really allowed the power vacume necessary for current political fragmentation in such a short period of time. IMHO, anyway.

  • Tamerlane

His sons would have attempted to take the throne. In particular, Uday. And he was the smart one. He probably would have been just as ruthless as Dad, but possibly more effective. He had a reputation for being a formidable foe and very intelligent. Qusay, on the other hand, was more of a loose cannon. Both were vicious bastards, but Uday was vicious as part of a strategy (he’d feed his enemy’s family into a meat grinder in order to quell insurrection), but Qusay was vicious just for the sake of being vicious (he’d feed you into a meat grinder just for yucks, or kill you for looking at him funny, even if you were a friend of Dad’s).

Had those two not been in the picture, the most likely scenario is that there would have been an internal struggle in the Ba’ath leadership, and someone would have risen out of it to lead the country. Then there would have been purges of the factions that lost, and everything rolls merrily along.

There wasn’t much chance of a ‘good’ regime change in Iraq. The Ba’ath had Iraq locked up pretty tight.

I think you may have Uday and Qusay backwards there.

Oops. You’re right. Transposed 'em in my brain. Qusay was the smart vicious one, and Uday was the insane vicious one.