Sunday, March 12, 2006

Long delayed annotation to tigerhawk's response to USS Clueless

Intro: A few months ago, I had planned to write a response to tigerhawk's annotation to Steven Den Beste's widely site strategic overview of the Iraq War written back in November. Not sure why it's taken me 3+ months since I started, but my original goal was to send a copy to tigerhawk - now months later, that seems a bit silly.

Originally when I read Tigerhawk's posting, I wished that instead of a point-by-point update to Beste's original post, Tigerhawk had just addressed the most important arguments. I had considered making that suggestion, but I remember Beste's statement in his final post concerning "helpful Email"

Far too much of it was from people who knew better than me what I should have
written, and wanted to tell me how to rewrite it.
in that spirit, here's my annotation.

Argument: The key issues addressed by Beste were:
  1. What is the root cause of the war? Why is the US fighting the war? Why were we attacked?
  2. Our response
What is the root cause of the war? Why were we attacked? Beste's arguments are correct....
...but a key factor not mentioned was our meddling - nations do resent the US being the arbiter of how folks should live.


This is the weakest part of the argument. Stability-for-the-sake-of-stability is not dead.

To be fair, Bush has given both rhetoric and some soft power support to democratization in Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries, but on balance, the status quo still holds, and no sham election in Egypt can change that fact.

What we should have done:
  1. End foreign aid. If we really do believe that the status quo must change, then we should stop supporting non-democratic governments. Ending foreign aid would hardly mean that we should "stop supporting Israel and throw it to the wolves". Israel can survive without our aid- they now have peace treaties with both Jordan and Egypt, and Iraq is no longer a threat to them. We would no longer be in a position of supporting non-democratic rulers, and Israel would be forced to make some quick & hard decisions concerning their occupation of Palestine. Any debt owed to our government should be written off as part of ending foreign aid.
  2. For Iraq - if you were honestly worried that our containment was no longer successful - we could have kept UN inspectors there for years & time has shown that Beste was wrong to state "the new inspections were a joke." Blix & his team used the best of our intelligence to find no NBC weaponry, and at most the likelihood that Saddam had stored some Chemical and Biological weapons. What we found out after the war was that the only CBW's he possessed were some left over artillery shells from the late 80's. We could also have expanded the no-fly zone to cover the entire country if we wished, and pushed for international recognition of Kurdistan.
  3. We moved our troops out of Saudi Arabia to appease Bin Laden & his followers. No more infidel troops on holy soil. But we could have accomplished this goal without a war. Turkey, Kuwait and Qatar and the UAE would have hosted our troops if necessary.

What we should do now:

  1. Give 1 year notice that we'll be leaving Iraq. The existing government then has to figure out what they'll need to survive. As part of our farewell, a lump sum payment of $100B line of credit to help them get on their feet.
  2. End foreign aid ($100B above is a one time payment for damages incurred).
  3. End the legal limbo for detainees in Gitmo.
  4. Stop holding hands and blowing air kisses to leaders of countries that are not free.

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