Iraq - Occupation

Daniel Tom Toles hit on the “we will torch you if you go for nuclear weapons” argument pretty well.

It sets off this chain reaction

We are not powerful enough to invade all the WMD aspirants. We’ve committed six of the armies ten divisions to the invasion of Iraq. We don’t have enough special forces or enough planes in the in air refueling fleet.

I almost don’t want to post again seeing how well my earlier post went over. I’m not sure I can top that.

In fairness to Daniel I did treat the neoconservative position summarily and dismissively. However a showy strategy based on direct military action against any possible possessers of WMD is also essentially, as the guest points out, an invitation to attack a whole lotta folks in what amounts to projecting our power all over the place. And two important words left out of his description are ‘unilaterally’ and ‘preemptively’. There was an earlier study paper done by the B Team, in particular Wolfowitz, that suggested this way of handling business back during Bush I. When leaked to the media (which I have to assume was somewhat better educated or more intellectually alert back then) this caused quite a firestorm of controversy and even outrage. The administration denounced the concepts and stressed the primacy of working with established coalitions and international institutions. Commentary about maintaining our primacy in the world (and while assymetrical threats were an important part of the document all potential threats are included), unilateralism and preemptive warfare was dropped in a rewrite (ironically foisted upon Dick Cheney - then Secretary of Defense).

As guest points out with his colorful, if black and white, cartoons - we can’t be everywhere deterring everyone. And the more we hop around the puddle trying to squash tadpoles the muddier the waters are going to get. We’re big. We make big splashes and cast big shadows once the threats, the rhetoric, and the preemptive strikes start going around. It’s largely insane to think we’ll be able to keep anyone from doing anything by threat of force if our own actions so alienate the rest of the world community we don’t have many friends willing to back us up. Coalition of the willing? None of the countries on our first go round, even before it starts, can honestly say they’re representing their own populations by siding with us. The U.N. isn’t working? NATO’s giving you hives? So you break it and remake…something else? What precisely? The Warsaw Pact? 70% of Eastern European opinion is against this war even if their governments for reasons noble or venal are coming along with us.

How well is the next preemptive war going to go? How long can a strategy based on naked American primacy and power last?

Brian - because you followed those simplistic “comic” strips, it sounded just as good if not better. :wink:

Both powerful questions, Brian. I’ve been dwelling on each of these for months.

Rebuttal of Brian Rucker’s two posts:

I think you’re painting a somewhat accurate picture of half the story. By discounting WMDs altogether, you are also throwing out the second half. It’s not a smokescreen, it’s a real policy that the West has been enforcing for 500 years; that is, to develop better weapons while simultaneously denying them to non-Western countries. It’s not a bad policy when viewed from the perspective of Western = democratic. Mark my words, we will indeed find the WMDs that we’ve been talking about, or their freshly destroyed remains.

But taking this point by point:

  1. I find it difficult to believe that Bush appointed all these “B team” guys and then proceeded to ignore them. What this implies, I don’t know. I’d love for a god damned investigation of 9-11, though.

  2. Saudi Arabia needs to be dealt with, and if that’s a side benefit of occupying Iraq, then this is not a bad move. They really are connected to terrorists and this is a perfectly legitimate extension of the “War on Terror”. (I’m referring to putting pressure on them to clean up their act, not invading.)

  3. Saddam and Al-Qaeda are not mortal enemies; they aren’t buddies either. It’s by no means clear to me that just because they don’t like eachother and just because some people claim it’s impossible, that they can’t still come to an agreement regarding killing Americans. Furthermore, Al-Qaeda is not the only organization of fuckheads who want to nuke us. Further furthermore, Iraq doesn’t have to willingly help them: even with tight security there are no absolute garauntees that stuff can’t be stolen or misappropriated, and in the case of Iraq, where despite the supposedly non-religeous government most people are devotely Muslim and some are undoubtedly zealots, we can consider them pretty far from “tight security”.

  4. It’s a false premise that invading Iraq obligates us logically to invade other dictatorships that are trying to develop WMDs. As has been pointed out several times, the situations are drastically different. Invading Korea would be a much more difficult task. Monumental in fact. And Korea is surrounded by powerful countries that at the very least shouldn’t be happy to see them arm themselves with nukes. There’s every possibility that China and/or Russia can help us put the screws to these guys. Also, those countries would object much more strongly (read: maybe violently) to the use of force in their little neighborhood. Anyway, if either of them want to be world powers, they should at least take an interest in what’s happening right next door.

  5. It’s also false that this opperation is without precedent. The Cuban Missile Crisis was very much about a pre-emtive strike (granted, it would have triggered a nuclear war, but at the time we didn’t know about the tactical nukes in Cuba, only the strategic ones). Nobody questions the wisdom of taking a stand now, since it all worked out and civilization didn’t end. Also, the Spanish-American war was dubious at best. And there have been inumerable smaller operations in the Americas that were pretty shitty. This is not a defense of the current operation, of course, merely a response to your statement about this being the first pre-emptive war of conquest . . . someone more familiar with the Spanish-American War can maybe clear up any similarities or differences. Also, I doubt that “conquest” is what we’re after here. But maybe if I knew exactly what you meant by that term, I’d be more certain.

  6. The fact that we can’t be everywhere detering everyone is not necessarily a reason to not be somewhere detering someone.

  7. NATO’s and the UN’s demise is being reported a bit prematurely. Also we do have allies in this war. Japan is with us. Spain is also, and they will send specialist troops. The UK is obviously on our side. Even France has said they will join us in the event that WMDs are used on us, which at least will hopefully make Saddam think twice about it, if he hasn’t already decided that such a move would make things worse (if possible) for him.

  8. As for the countries representing their populations, this is a bit tricky. First you have polls, of which there are many, and what they supposedly show. Change the wording of the question and you’ve got a very different answer. Also, since the governments are duly elected, it’s hard to justify this argument. There’s a certain amount of trust that has to be given to officials, and when they breach that trust they need to be removed either by not re-electing them or impeaching them. But the House of Commons and the House of Representatives ostensibly DO represent the people, so I’m forced to disagree with this argument.

Just my two cents.

I don’t think the Cuban Missile crisis is the best comparison to make. This is not a crisis of superpowers nor is it about an immediate threat to the existence of man. Further the Kennedy administration put their best effort into a diplomatic solution, there was none of the lust for combat.
The contention that this war prevents terrorism or kills the possibility of Iraq passing NBC weapons to Al Queda are the weaker arguments to draw on. It remains far easier to get them in one of the former Soviet republics. Hell, Haliberton is missing some uranium from a storage shed in Nigeria.
Make the case for war on humanitarian grounds, that is where you are safest.