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The Buildup to War on Iraq; Reprocussions and Possiblities
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Glenn Kempf
Shrayom
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Joined: 16 Sep 2002
Posts: 257
Location: Chardon, OH, USA (temporary)/Tiólu, Kiarlon

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jburke wrote:
As for Iraq: I'd give my personal greenlight to ousting Saddam if only someone would come up with a well-researched plan for post-war occupation--say, like we had in Germany or Japan following WW II. Hell, we and Britian were planning the postwar world in 1944, long before we'd defeated anybody; that's the major reason that WW II had a far, far better denouement than WW I. But I feel we're going into Iraq like Rambo--shooting and blowing shit up, but with no overall plan about how the pieces should be glued back together.


Therein lies the problem: in Japan following WWII, as I understand, the U.S. effectively governed the country for the first few years--setting up the postwar government, overseeing the new constitution, etc. If we tried to play such an overwhelming role in a postwar Iraq, I think that it would blow up in our faces--the more so since anti-American sentiment is so high in Iraq and the Middle East now (this applies not even so much to the governments involved, but even more to the population at large.)

I agree that there needs to be a solid plan worked out ahead of time--one adapted to the region and the circumstances involved. (That's not to say that there aren't folks working on a plan, but it seems as though things have been moving in slow motion thus far, whereas military action could blow up at any time--depending primarily, however, on the U.S. reaction.)

p@,
Glenn
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ils
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ranskaldan wrote:
America is acting like a normal country instead of an idealistic angelic entity.


Sorry, but I think this misses the point. A stable international order depends on arbitrary, aggressive "pre-emptive" wars not being normal practise for any country. Nor is it "normal" practise for America to thoroughly dismantle the legal rights of its citizens in service of a war deliberately designed to be endless. To a certain extent, this behaviour is related to "realpolitik" as we've known it in the past, but the difference in degree is HUGE. This is an entirely different and in no way "normal" animal.
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ils
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jburke wrote:
Quote:
For some reason, we've yet to grow tired (as a government) of the role of global policeman. Perhaps because we're the only true superpower left.


I think as global policeman the U.S. actually fulfills the role originally intended for the U.N;


The "global policeman" analogy implies an interest in upholding law. The Bush Administration has been quite specific about its contempt for the restriction of its actions -- both on the international and the domestic stages -- by law. (The renunciation of the International Criminal Court being one example, the highly selective enthusiasm for upholding UN resolutions being another.)

This disinterest in international law rather precludes an assumption that the Bush Administration is interested in a "global policeman" role. "Global mafioso" might be closer to the actual model.
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zompist
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenn Kempf wrote:
Therein lies the problem: in Japan following WWII, as I understand, the U.S. effectively governed the country for the first few years--setting up the postwar government, overseeing the new constitution, etc. If we tried to play such an overwhelming role in a postwar Iraq, I think that it would blow up in our faces--the more so since anti-American sentiment is so high in Iraq and the Middle East now (this applies not even so much to the governments involved, but even more to the population at large.)


I think almost the opposite: I fear that we'll go in, blast our way to Baghdad, and tell some shaky puppet coalition "OK, you're in charge." And then leave, letting the place fall apart. (Or perhaps-- as has happened in Lebanon and Somalia-- stick around until a bunch of US soldiers are killed by terrorists, and then leave.)

On my rants page, I noted one guy's advice on how to make a lifelong friend: beat the heck out of him, then give him your hand up and take him out and buy him a beer.

One trouble with the pacifist position is that it lets the thugs of the world get out of hand-- bin Laden is on record as saying that the US wouldn't retaliate, or would just crumble, if attacked. So the beating up is sometimes necessary. On the other hand, so is the helping hand and the beer. There's a lot of talk right now about the beating up, but what's more important in the long run is the beer.
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ils
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zompist wrote:
One trouble with the pacifist position is that it lets the thugs of the world get out of hand-- bin Laden is on record as saying that the US wouldn't retaliate, or would just crumble, if attacked.


Of course, the trick here is not to get suckered into counterproductive military ventures in the illusion that you're doing something productive. If, for example, an enemy tries to provoke you into launching wars in various theatres that will ultimately hurt your interests and advance theirs, the correct approach is probably NOT to do what they want you to do.

If bin Laden is the issue: it's pretty clear by now -- as experts in the field were saying from the outset -- that terror networks can't be effectively dismantled by big, sexy military operations. They can only be fought by a combination of cooperative law enforcement and intelligent policy that doesn't play into the hands of the people recruiting terrorists.

If Hussein is the issue, it's worth asking

a) why now, when he's weaker and LESS of a threat than he's ever been;

b) why now, when the clearest threat to American lives is NOT conventional militaries of foreign states;

c) why now, when the civilian death toll and consequences for the region stand to be so steep;

d) why now, when no credible alternative government exists and the thugs waiting in the wings are as nasty as Hussein is, and often more anti-American;

e) why now, when the "WMD" argument and tie-ins with al-Qaida have been repeatedly proven mendacious?

All those questions would need to be answered before a discussion of how to rebuild AFTER an invasion begin.

In a sense, of course, all of this is pretty much moot. The war effectively started months ago, and it's quite clear that the full-scale invasion will go ahead no matter what the result of the inspections process. But as the disaster unfolds and Americans start asking themselves, "Why is no-one impressed with us for invading Iraq? Why are Arabs mad at us?" it will be worth remembering those questions.

I'm not inclined to assume that Bush & Co. are too stupid to know all this. Rather, I'm inclined to assume they don't care, and are pursuing another goal.
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Glenn Kempf
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Location: Chardon, OH, USA (temporary)/Tiólu, Kiarlon

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2003 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zompist wrote:
Glenn Kempf wrote:
Therein lies the problem: in Japan following WWII, as I understand, the U.S. effectively governed the country for the first few years--setting up the postwar government, overseeing the new constitution, etc. If we tried to play such an overwhelming role in a postwar Iraq, I think that it would blow up in our faces--the more so since anti-American sentiment is so high in Iraq and the Middle East now (this applies not even so much to the governments involved, but even more to the population at large.)


I think almost the opposite: I fear that we'll go in, blast our way to Baghdad, and tell some shaky puppet coalition "OK, you're in charge." And then leave, letting the place fall apart. (Or perhaps-- as has happened in Lebanon and Somalia-- stick around until a bunch of US soldiers are killed by terrorists, and then leave.).


What I'm trying to say (probably not very well) is that something between the two extremes is needed: we can't just go in and take over, and dictate the way things will go (the MacArthur in Japan model), but we also can't blast in and out, and then leave the wreckage behind (the Lebanon/Somalia model?). Any viable postwar settlement would probably have to be between the two.

I agree about the beer--rebuilding after is even more important than tearing down. Zomp said earlier that we may come to regret not instituting a real Marshall Plan for the former USSR, and there's truth to that--the changes there may have led to more freedoms (in some cases) and an opening to the outside world, but they have also led to conflict, instability, and economic collapse, which the region is only starting to dig itself out of, and which benefited only a small minority. The West has helped, but only to a limited extent--sometimes to make things worse.

(In fact--to digress--there are conservative Russian politicians who sincerely believe that U.S. free-market advice was actually a trick aimed at destroying the Russian economy and leaving it dependent on the West, since that's largely what happened (some of these folks also accused Gorbachev and Yeltsin of being in CIA pay, with the job of ripping the country apart--something folks like me chalk up to incompetence and lack of control rather than malice.) On the other hand, much of the aid that has been given has been mismanaged or lost to corruption.)

On the other hand (I seem to have a lot of hands today), I also see ils' point that the U.S. has been acting highly arbitrarily with regard (or rather disregard) to international law--this is even more visible from the outside--which undermines our credibility. This doesn't mean that any U.S. action is unjustified, but the folks in charge should keep in mind what this means for the country's future (and already pretty trashed) reputation, in addition to the cost in lives and property.

p@,
Glenn
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Tuomas Koukkari



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Location: Helsinki, Finland

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The way I see it, matters such as Hussein's dictatorship, the possible (though at the moment quite small) threat Iraq poses to its neighbours, democracy or terrorism have little to do with the upcoming war. The main reasons seem to be flexing some muscles and gathering some loot (= oil). And, this being the case, I wish that Bush & Co would just spare us from the propaganda and do whatever they're going to do anyway. What I'm talking about is:

The U.S. states that Iraq posesses WMD and threatens to attack unless UN investigators are let into the country at once.
|
V
The UN investigators are let into the country, but they find nothing.
|
V
The U.S. accuses the investigators of incompentence and threatens to attack anyway.

And so forth and so forth and so forth etc.

I'm not sure if anyone outside the U.S. actually believes in this game, so there doesn't seem to be much point in it. However, I fear that in the States there are "patriots" who believe every single word their revered leader speaks. It was just yesterday that I saw a book called Because We Are Americans - What We Discovered on September 11th 2001 at the bookstore of an airport in Rome. The back cover quite clearly stated that people rushed into the flames to save their countrymen and unselfishly gave clothes, money and "even their very blood" to the victims because they are Americans. I can't help but to think that the one who wrote this meant that things like that wouldn't have happened elsewhere.
Now, there's nothing wrong with liking your country, but there seems to be a bit too much fanaticism in certain (I'm not saying all) Americans. But then, if they'd accept any desicion made by their government anyway, we come once again to the point where this propaganda is made only useless and irritating to the people who don't believe it.

I did have a point somewhere, but if you don't find it, I won't blame you. Never post anything without sleeping enough...
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