Kilroy Was Here
January 09, 2003
Inside the Mind of GWB on Iraq
The case for war with Iraq seems to grow weaker with each passing day. First, the North Korean crisis presents troubling inconsistencies in the administration's public case for Iraq. Second, weapons inspections with Iraq are turning up no evidence that Iraq is currently creating weapons of mass destruction, and the White House is loathe to present any evidence that contradicts this. Third, the administration continues to try and tie the impending war with Iraq with the War with Al Qaeda even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

So, any critically thinking person has to ask "What gives here?"

If I were your casual reactionary liberal, I would invoke the evil of stupidity (or the stupidity of evil) and how it relates to GWB.... and then I'd talk about Blood for Oil.

But I don't think that His Technicality is a psychopath or a greedy, oil-loving bastard, and I don't think those that work for him are idiots. So I have to think that the administration has some plan and has the benefit of the American people in their heart (misguided as it may be). So what could that plan be?

So, I tried to imagine a line of reasoning that would lead back to an intense desire to invade a Iraq, and this is what I came up with.

First, the main threat from the Middle East in the form of terrorism comes from the increasing threat of Islamic radicalism. So, to try to make the world safer for Americans, you need to reduce this threat.

The two most influential countries in the Middle East are Egypt and Saudi Arabia. However, currently we don't have a lot of leverage over either Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is our main supplier of oil, and relations with Egypt have hit a hard plateau.

Furthermore, Iran is one of the most virulent, anti-American theocracies in the Middle East, and Syria is another Baathist dictatorship in the vein of Iraq. The impending threat of Syria is an unspoken factor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Iran has consistently been thought to be one of the major supporters of internaitonal terrorism.

So, why Iraq?

Well, number one, Iraq is weak. Unlike North Korea, the US military believes it can steamroll the Iraq military with minimal casualties. Why? Because they did it before.

Once Iraq is defeated, the US can install a friendly regime and move the Prince Sultan Air Base from Saudi Arabia into Iraq. Iraq is centrally located in the region and would provide the US with a good base of any operations throughout the Middle East.

Second, the administration believes, like Bernard Lewis, that the Arab culture would respect the show of force by the US and, rather than inflame the Middle East, a successful invasion of Iraq would calm the region.

Third, a friendly democratic regime in Iraq would prompt the overthrow of the Iran theocracy by moderate, democratic leaning students. The US could then provide heavy encouragement and funding to the students from this base of operations. A similar argument could go for the overthrow of Syria.

Fourth, access to the Iraqi oil fields will make us less dependent on the Saudi oil reserves. We can then use our growing influence in the Gulf to persuade both Saudi Arabia to crack down on Islamic extremists, curb anti-Israeli propaganda, and promote greater democracy, especially the creation of secular parties.

Finally, for the foreseeable future, no regime in the Middle East looks poised to make the kind of reversal to a friendly, democratic regime that the US would need to bring this scenario to fruition.

Voila! A more stable Middle East and a reduction in terror. Kind of a reverse domino strategy, and Iraq is the key to the situation.

So why does the administration consistently talk up the weapons of mass destruction angle, rather than this long term peace in the Middle East scenario?

The nuclear threat of Sadaam is an easier sell to the American public (and to our coalition partners). "Nukes are bad, and Sadaam is crazy/evil" is much easier to communicate than this long term stability a democratic regime can provide to the military.

So, all this seems to be very rational. Why would a citizen oppose this future policy?

First, human beings are not very good at prediction and assessment of risk. This particular plan is complicated and it seems to me that there could be several scenarios along the way that could derail this progression of events and leave us in a worse situation than where we currently are.

Secondly, in the short term, this scenario exposes the US homeland to greater risk of terrorist attack by Sadaam and Al Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction (chemical poisons, biological agents, and even nuclear weapons). Even the CIA analysts claim that invasion of Iraq increases risk of a traumatic terrorist incidence in the US.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, this type of statecraft smacks of the 19th century European diplomacy that seems to violate the moral tenets of the United States. Most American citizens, I believe, support each nation in its sovereignty and belief to self-determination. If this is the administration's plan, it violates that ethic.

However, the situation is complicated. (More complicated than the current rhetoric.) It's unfortunate that our government thinks that we cannot have an open ended public debate on this, but I can understand the practical reasons why not.

In the end, I suppose the only judge for this action will be history and the success of this operation. But God help us if the foreign policy wonks in Washington have calculated wrong.

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