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Friday, November 07, 2003

I'm going to do something a bit different here. I've been re-reading an article in the Atlantic Monthly from November 2002 called "The 51st State" which deals with the question of what the U.S. ought to do in post-war Iraq. This article has set off a number of random thoughts, some which may have merit and some which may not. Instead of editing those thoughts (like I normally do, mostly by doing a sanity check), I'm going to give you, the reader, the raw data. So, here it is - random reflections:

1.) It seems weird to me that the U.S. isn't doing more to secure Iraq's borders itself. That is why, I think, it's trying so hard publicly to force the countries around Iraq to do it. Could it be because the U.S. doesn't have enough troops? I think this is, among other indicators, a big admission that the U.S. hasn't dedicated anywhere near enough troops to post-war Iraq and that the occupation itself is vastly understaffed.

2.) What if Saudi Arabia was somehow behind the attacks on Iraq's oil resources? It's pure "what if" speculation, but nevertheless it does make a certain amount of sense for Saudi Arabia to be concerned about Iraq's oil exporting capability. After all, we all know why the U.S. has been so aquiescent towards the Saudis -- will there be a U.S. - Saudi conflict in the future? I tend to think more and more that this is a possibility. But again, that's just speculation. By "more and more" I mean maybe an increase from a zero percent chance to a ten percent chance.

3.) From the article -- "The overall cost of U.S. military operations during the Gulf War came to some $61 billion." I think the U.S. current outing will be a bit more expensive than that. Remember, of the $87 billion in the recent aid bill, only $20 billion is for reconstruction.

4.) A quote from the article:

'The longer-term consequences would flow from having undertaken a war that every country in the region except Israel officially opposed. Chris Sanders, the consultant who used to work in Saudi Arabia, says that unless the United States can drum up some Arab allies, an attack on Iraq "will accomplish what otherwise would have been impossible—a bloc of regional opposition that transcends the very real differences of interests and opinions that had kept a unified Arab bloc from arising." Sanders adds dryly, "If I were an American strategic thinker, I would imagine that not to be in my interest."'

5.) Another quote. Here, I believe, is the historical script that Bush is reading from:

'"This could be a golden opportunity to begin to change the face of the Arab world," James Woolsey, a former CIA director who is one of the most visible advocates of war, told me. "Just as what we did in Germany changed the face of Central and Eastern Europe, here we have got a golden chance." In this view, the fall of the Soviet empire really did mark what Francis Fukuyama called "the end of history": the democratic-capitalist model showed its superiority over other social systems. . . .'

'Woolsey continued with his point: "But if you look at what we and our allies have done with the three world wars of the twentieth century—two hot, one cold—and what we've done in the interstices, we've already achieved this for two thirds of the world. Eighty-five years ago, when we went into World War I, there were eight or ten democracies at the time. Now it's around a hundred and twenty—some free, some partly free. An order of magnitude! The compromises we made along the way, whether allying with Stalin or Franco or Pinochet, we have gotten around to fixing, and their successor regimes are democracies.'

'"Around half of the states of sub-Saharan Africa are democratic. Half of the twenty-plus non-Arab Muslim states. We have all of Europe except Belarus and occasionally parts of the Balkans. If you look back at what has happened in less than a century, then getting the Arab world plus Iran moving in the same direction looks a lot less awesome. It's not Americanizing the world. It's Athenizing it. And it is doable."'

I would judge off-hand, based on Russia's current political situation, that we're experiencing more of a "transition" of history than it's end. Tyranny is simply changing faces -- what will it look like next? I'd say it's extremism (as it always has been), whether that's Islamic or Christian or Repblican or Democrat or Green or Buddist or whatever, the real tyrant is extremisim and that isn't going away.

6.) Quote from Rumsfeld:

'At a Pentagon briefing a few days later Rumsfeld asked rhetorically, "Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if Iraq were similar to Afghanistan—if a bad regime was thrown out, people were liberated, food could come in, borders could be opened, repression could stop, prisons could be opened? I mean, it would be fabulous."'

Yup, Afghanistan is fabulous.

And now back to our regularly scheduled lurking.

Andrew 12:22 AM : |


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