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Author Topic: A personal choice . . .
Old Guy
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posted 02-18-2003 02:00 PM     Profile for Old Guy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
A personal choice

I have spent a good deal of time thinking about the situation existing in Iraq, trying to come to a conclusion about how we should proceed. Unlike some, I believe my opinion counts – even if not until the next election. This little tract is an attempt to come to grips with the logic of the thing, inasmuch as logic can be applied.

George W. Bush

I am not a fan of Dubya. My wife, the registered Democrat, is far more of a GW Bush supporter than me. I think he started his presidency as a non-choice, given the closeness of the race. But, I believe he has transformed himself in the last 18 months in ways that would not have been possible without 9/11 and the succeeding events. However, I also think that the actions he has taken reflect the realities of the unfolding situation and those same actions, differing only in degree, would have been taken by Al Gore.

It is also not unusual for events to drive a presidency. Indeed, the best presidents are those who have adapted to circumstances and led the country through various crises. In this respect Dubya has adapted to suit conditions. He has also surrounded himself with reliable, intelligent people – regardless of what I think of some of them. That there are wide variations in what his advisors want to do is a good thing. He seems to be able to allow considerable dissent and to use those differences in formulating a course of action. He has also shown the ability to change his mind, albeit grudgingly. Not bad for a supposed ‘lightweight’. Still, he has faults. Too much of his domestic agenda is driven by big business and the far right. I hasten to add, however, that we haven’t actually seen how that agenda fares in Congress. Also, it behooves us to remember that if the Democrats controlled all both the Presidency and Congress, we’d be seeing their pet agendas on parade.

Removing Saddam

Saddam isn’t going away unless someone makes him leave. His record speaks poorly for any voluntary improvement in his behavior. Actually, like many bloody-minded types, he has put himself into a position of having little choice in his future actions. Taking retirement isn’t an option. Even if he managed to survive the announcement his long term prospects would be poor. He is surrounded by brutal people. A future Iraqi government is likely to execute a good many of them for crimes against the Iraqi people. Some of them are smart enough to see that one way of surviving would be to get rid of old Saddam and cut a deal with whoever they can.

Can any type of embargo work? Based on the last twelve years I would have to say not. The restrictions have gotten progressively less onerous both officially and unofficially. Much oil flowing from Iraq is going out illegally and the money from both those sales and legal transactions is going to feed Saddam’s ego and to his military, not to the people of Iraq.

What are the consequences of just walking away? That’s the real option here. We either take him out and try to set up something better for the Iraqis or we just wash our hands and leave. Any non-removal option I’ve seen proposed merely continues the ineffective control measures or speaks of inspection and enforcement activities that Saddam can never agree to. A brutal leader must always maintain his façade of strength or he runs the risk of betrayal.


We can’t keep large military forces in the region indefinitely. The cost is simply too high.

If we pull out with Saddam still in power he has the financial wherewithal to buy whatever his black little heart desires in the way of military hardware. The only thing standing between any country and nuclear weapons is money. High-precision machine tools, some form of fissionable material and time are all that are required. Does anyone truly believe he can’t get enough enriched U-235 or plutonium to make a few bombs? Chemical and biological weapons he already has – unless we’re prepared to disbelieve his own actions and pronouncements.

An Iraq, controlled by Saddam or someone like him, can then blackmail everyone in the area into whatever course of action he might dream up. Much mention has been made of Israel and his threats in that direction. While not discounting those intentions, I believe a more serious threat exists in his being able to force many oil-poor nations, like Japan, to do his bidding. The US could probably live with him cutting off our sources of Mideast oil. Japan and Western Europe are far more vulnerable – at least for the short term. Even supplies of oil to Europe from Russia would be threatened by a heavily armed Iraq sitting directly south of the necessary pipeline routes.

None of this is particularly difficult to envision and it’s easy to see why France and Germany fear upsetting the Iraqi applecart – aside from their other reasons. A change of government in Iraq and possible instability in the region is dangerous.

What about Israel? Forget the danger to them of a nuclear-armed Iraq. I believe they would take direct and effective measures to eliminate that danger. Even with their own nukes, if that was necessary. So you see, regardless of the thoughts given above, I’m not particularly concerned with Saddam obtaining nuclear technology or even of his developing or buying better delivery systems for other WMD. There is not doubt in my mind that his activities and intentions will bring a deadly response from Israel. They will have no choice.

The Moral Imperative

We helped put Saddam in power. The anti-war crowd loves to crow about this one. Well, it happens to be true, although the blame or credit, if you will, belongs to many other nations as well, including Britain, France and Germany. The old Soviet Union must share any blame, as must the current Russian government. If we’re partly at fault, in my mind that means we have a moral duty to eliminate the butcher and try to help the Iraqi people take a different path.

Is a more representative form of government possible in Iraq? I think so. The Iraqis are not the same as any other Arab country. We have a tendency to act as if Egyptians, Syrians, Saudis, Algerians and everyone else in the Middle East (except Israelis) are cut from the same cloth and act in the same way. That simply isn’t true. Iraq is a literate country and has a large expatriate populations, many of whom have been living for decades in freedom. While it will be difficult to get all the Iraqi groups to act together it isn’t impossible or even unlikely. And any chance is far better than the alternative.

Possible instability in the region is over-stated, in my opinion. We’re not talking about an area known for stability in the first place. The Arab governments in the region are probably more threatened by the possibility of a representative government than anything else. There is a growing movement within the Arab world that sees the corruption and radicalism of existing governments as the true problem behind Middle Eastern poverty and backwardness. Instability may not be a bad thing in the long run.

Terrorist Links

My considered opinion is that Saddam has probably supported terrorist networks with funds, information and possibly with safe havens. The safe haven/training camp issue is the least likely, I think, based on the simple fact that terrorists have had plenty of other places for such facilities. However, the US-led invasion of Afghanistan altered things and might have led to the establishment of camps inside Iraq. None of this stuff is provable until we can examine the internal records of the Saddam regime. We may be in for some real surprises.

What Now?

This is certainly one of those times that try people’s souls. We are in for a period of much shouting and confusion. Conflicting tales will be broadcast as fact. There will be Iraqi offers of cooperation which will always prove to have unworkable conditions. Public opinion polls will whipsaw the political climate. In short, the situation will grow even more chaotic.

Military preparations should be reasonably complete by Mid-March. Whether the coalition will strike before that is an open question. I think not, but that’s pure speculation.

Should we strike? I believe we must. Morally, it is our duty. Politically, we must pursue other avenues, unlikely though they may be. I saw an anti-war sign the other day that read something like this: “Respond to evil with non-resistance and it will fade away.” The millions of Jews who once lived in Europe had no means of resistance.


Jim


Posts: 1769 | From: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged
Admin
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posted 02-18-2003 02:34 PM     Profile for Admin   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Thought provoking, indeed.

Thanks for the insights.

--------------------

Douglas Helmer
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Zhukov
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posted 02-20-2003 07:48 AM     Profile for Zhukov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
With all due respect, OG:

According to the Guardian (Feb. 17), the World Health Organization has estimated that a war against Iraq will result in 100,000 direct Iraqi casualties, 400,000 Iraqis stricken by disease and displacement, and 10,000,000 Iraqis plunged into hunger.

This dwarfs the effects of any weapon of mass destruction that the Iraqi regime may possess.

In no way would my conscience allow me to support this.

It's wrong.


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Gunny
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posted 02-20-2003 09:48 AM     Profile for Gunny     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Sorry Zhuk, with all due respect Bro, did your Guardian tell you how many of his own people Saddam has gased or tortured to death over the last 30 years? In my guestimation, this man ranks right in there with Hitler AND Stalin. He and his regime needs to go.

My two cents.

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Takes a college boy to break it....


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Donster
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posted 02-20-2003 10:01 AM     Profile for Donster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
If Saddam had stepped down after the Gulf War, his countrymen would have not suffered thru food shortages, etc. Yet he ignores this by spending billions on arms and weapons develpment. Then tells his people that it is the United States and the UN's fault.

He has slaughtered his own people, slaughtered Kuwaiti's, some who are still missing since the Gulf War. He sent hundreds of thousands of his countrymen to their deaths in the war with Iran.

And as far as I am concerned, the WHO's estimate is so blown out of proportion
it boarders on the ridiculous.

Oh and kudos to OG for your above post!

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"Its a dog eat dog world out there, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear!"


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Zhukov
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posted 02-20-2003 01:12 PM     Profile for Zhukov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
We had our chance to take him out 12 years ago, and we blinked.

What has changed since then to warrant an all-out assault on the country? Nothing. If anything we've made the standard of living of innocent Iraqis even more wretched with twelve years of punitive sanctions.

Why didn't we go in as soon as we found out that he was gassing his own people? Can you answer me that? We've known about this for years.

France and Germany are right. Containment of the regime while UN inspections are allowed to perform their inspections properly.

Ultimately, we need to find a more imaginative solution to regime change in Iraq. The military solution will indicate that we have failed.

Why aren't we pushing for internal revolt by arming Saddam's opponents? We were awfully good at building resistance networks and entire secret armies during the Second World War against the Nazis. Regime change through an internal struggle would be much less destabilizing to the region.

Don't you guys have any idea how inflammatory it will be for Western forces to invade that region? It will launch an army of would-be Osamas dead-set on bringing us down. Don't you see that???????

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"Didja ever notice that guy who pulls out right in front of you, then slows down to 30? Then whenever you get to a passing zone, he speeds up... Then the double solids return, and he's back to 30. And keeps his left turn signal on the whole time? Hitler was much worse than that guy" -- overheard on plastic.com


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Old Guy
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posted 02-20-2003 01:18 PM     Profile for Old Guy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Zhukov,

I'm amazed that you quoted the Guardian. It is very nearly the most virulent anti-American newspaper in Britain - ranking right up there with the Independent.

I read news articles in English, Canadian and Australian newpapers fairly regularly in an attempt to understand more about any particular situation. However, I also try to balance things by reading more than one source for specific information.

The WHO estimates given are 'worst-case scenarios', which are interesting and even useful in making a decision, but hardly the sort of thing one uses as the only basis for action or non-action.

Saddam has killed between 1M and 1.5M people in the last twenty years. He has shown an absolute willingness to use WMD even against his own people. I submit that he is a future threat to the lives of that many more people at a minimum if he actually manages to buy or develop reliable delivery systems for his existing WMD weaponry.

If he were to succeed in obtaining nuclear weapons then one or two million deaths is merely a good starting point for the size of the resulting catastrophe.

I hope the Iraqi takeover can be done with minimal casualties to our troops and Iraq's population. Like you, I am fearful of Saddam's ability to harm his people, but using that as an excuse for non-action is to evade our own moral responsiblities to the people of Iraq. We also have an obligation to generations of human beings who will never be born if this butcher isn't stopped.

There are no perfect options here. We must make choices and I believe doing nothing is the wrong choice - one that will lead only to more danger and suffering.

Whoops! Didn't see your second post.

Going over the failures of the past is an exercise in hand-wringing that does no good except as a guide (hopefully) for future actions. We made mistakes, but so did a lot of other folks, starting with the French and British when they drew up the boundaries of this oddball collection of countries. Our responsiblity is to act now, not in the past.

Saddam has gleefully failed to cooperate with UN sanctions and inspectors and managed to continue development of his biological and chemical agents, if not his nuke program. Inspection will only work in the presence of a cooperative regime. Saddam will never agree to UN ground forces within Iraq backing up the inspectors because that would be to admit defeat. And even 7,000 or so inspectors in the early 90s failed to find stuff he later admitted having.

Sanctions haven't worked. Inspections can't and won't work, given Saddam's continuing to be in power. Many attempts have been made from within and without Iraq to overthrow him, but his security forces have been able to thwart all of those to date. This is a police state par excellence.

Finally, don't make the mistake of believing that an Arab is an Arab is an Arab. The Iraqi population is the most literate in the area and offers all sorts of possibilities for the future - without Saddam.

Jim


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Zhukov
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posted 02-20-2003 01:38 PM     Profile for Zhukov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Grrrrr.

Look, the statistics are those of the WHO, not the Guardian. And why do you assume that I read only one news source simply because you don't like it?

Secondly, being anti-war does imply that one prefers status-quo (or 'non-action' as you call it). Of course, once one starts proposing diplomatic or non-military solutions to the problem, the pro-war people bring up the spectre of 'appeasement' and 'Munich'. Well, Saddam is no Hitler and the analogy doesn't hold.

We have the time to contain the Iraqi regime and come up with a palatable solution that will result in regime change without the loss of tens of thousands of lives. Saddam isn't about to do anything to anyone -- and if he did we would be justified in blasting him into oblivion. Until then, no.

Anyway, I've said my piece. I'm outta here.


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Donster
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posted 02-20-2003 02:02 PM     Profile for Donster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Zhuk my friend!

Just remember it was the UN that didn't want to go any further in the Gulf War, not the US.

But I agree this should of been taken care of way back then.

And as for starting "Osama wannabes" I feel that once Saddam is dead, yes dead, and his sons, then the US, Britain and its supporters,(maybe even the UN if it pulls its head out of is arse) can really do two things:

1. Help set up a stable, tyrant free government. This will be looked on by the other governments in the area as not ruled by the west, but by Iraq itself. And they can see that we are not the "colonialists" that they perceive. This will reduce further hostility.

2. Take care of the people of Iraq. Feed em, clothe them. Get them medical help. Show them what a free society can be like to live in. That alone can spread like wildfire throughout the region.

Religous nuts like Osama will pop up no matter what happens. But if they see that the world is gonna stomp on them like the bugs they are, it may well lessen the numbers willing to take the risk.


quote:
If anything we've made the standard of living of innocent Iraqis even more wretched with twelve years of punitive sanctions.

We've made? No Saddam has. All he had to do twelve years ago was live up to his agreement that ended the Gulf War, the war he started by invading Kuwait. If he had done this, the sanctions would have been lifted. But no, he did not. So his people have suffered by his hand, not the UN.

quote:
France and Germany are right. Containment of the regime while UN inspections are allowed to perform their inspections properly.


I totally disagree. Containment went out the window along time ago. And the key word here is "properly" allowed to perform their inspections. So you beleive that is happening? They still have not told what and who and where the known weapons were destroyed. Do you honestly trust the Iraqi Government?

quote:
Why aren't we pushing for internal revolt by arming Saddam's opponents?

Good point. And from what I have read, we have, and continue to do so. Units on the ground in the North of Iraq. But this guy has proved to be hard to get at.

--------------------

"Its a dog eat dog world out there, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear!"


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Gunny
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posted 02-20-2003 02:10 PM     Profile for Gunny     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Zhuk, Bro, first, have you seen the make up of the SO-CALLED inspection team? That team was set up to find NOTHING. Now, considering the teams are actually doing what they are supposed to do, how many inspectors do you think it would take to do a proper job of inspecting Iraq?

Next point. What was set forth 12 years ago demanded the immediate disclosure of WMDs and the immediate destruction of same. That were terms of the cease fire. So, until he kicked the inspectors out, instead of disarming, what did he do? He played the same shell game with the UN that he plays now. What should we do? Bury our heads until he can hit us with something nasty?

Last point. Moral responsibility. As OG pointed out, we put him there. For thirty years the WORLD has turned it's collective head to what has happened there. It's past time to make up for a moral lapse and do what's right. I do believe Mr. Churchill said something to the effect that America always does what's right, it just takes them a while. Time to do what is right.

Sorry folks, I aint as elegant in putting to words what I feel as is OG.

--------------------

Takes a college boy to break it....


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Donster
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posted 02-20-2003 02:52 PM     Profile for Donster   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Zhuk,

I'm not for war either. Just feel that this time, it is the right way to go.

I am also for the rights of the war protesters to say what they feel too. But I just wish they would protest to Saddam, plead with him to do the right thing, instead of beating up on the US and Britian.
Its not our fault. Just my opinion of course.

--------------------

"Its a dog eat dog world out there, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear!"


Posts: 10794 | From: Cedar Rapids, Iowa USA | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged
Old Guy
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posted 02-20-2003 03:19 PM     Profile for Old Guy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
C'mon, Zhukov,

I may have misinterpreted your WHO reference, but you invited it by speaking of the Guardian, that rag so dedicated to balanced reporting.

I've worked my way through all the arguments you bring up and am marginally satisfied with my take on the matter. The entire situation could change in the next few weeks.

Bad things can happen, no matter what we do now. You could turn out to be right in some of your fears. If we take out Saddam now, we'll never know if my fears are justified. If we don't . . . well, I don't want to be right.

I also know you didn't intend to suggest doing nothing. Unfortunately, the things you suggest have been tried and tried to death. Saddam will never cooperate and his continued presence as ruler of Iraq simply means more and more punishment for his people and a gradually increasing prospect of danger to the Middle East and the world.

No one here has impugned your integrity or made light of your thinking, except possibly by accident. We just don't agree. I have yet to walk away from my computer thinking "That dumb cluck! Doesn't he see the dangers?" If you have, then you're the one not open to discussion.

If reasonable adults can't agree to disagree, then what does that say about our culture?

I made the original post because I thought the issues involved might be of use to others. I make no claim to anything but a personal choice in the matter and I did not attempt to put down everything I had considered - just the ones I felt were most important.

Even the WHO study has validity in the decision process. To me, it's major flaw is the assumption of the worst case. A good many on the other side of this issue believe we will succeed with few casualties. That too, is a possible, though unlikely assumption.

I suspect we will be in for any number of twists and turns. Even if the Iraqi army collapses, which I think is likely, Saddam, in his death throes - so to speak - can strike back in horrific ways. My belief is that the forces arrayed in the area will try to deter those possibilities. I hope they succeed.

Jim


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Stag
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posted 02-20-2003 04:24 PM     Profile for Stag     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Zhukov:
.

Why aren't we pushing for internal revolt by arming Saddam's opponents? We were awfully good at building resistance networks and entire secret armies during the Second World War against the Nazis. Regime change through an internal struggle would be much less destabilizing to the region.


Just an observation here. It may have worked in WW2, but during Iran/Iraq, Didn't the US Government do exactly that? The problem is, They were helping Saddam at the time.

In Afghanistan, during the Russki involvement, wasn't one of the factions the US were assisting the Taliban?

I think this war will be the only way left to go, but the peace had better contain something like the Marshall Plan, or the nightmare scenario may just well play out.

--------------------

4013+


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