Monday, April 07, 2003

Under Three Weeks

So, here we are, just under three weeks into this conflict. We've had lots of shift in press opinion (negative, positive, extremely negative, now positive again) and little shift in public opinion, at least here in the States. We're seeing some bizarre things especially on the Iraqi side of the propaganda war -- except that all along I've said that the Iraqi strategy would have to be all propaganda -- and the longer they can stretch the war out (more deaths, more support from Arab nations viewing them as courageous), the better propaganda they'll have. Clearly their military is rag-tag and disorganized. So they'll say anything to keep the people fighting, knowing full well those fighters are very likely signing their own death warrants by fighting.

One thing I find odd is war critics out of one side of their mouths condemning the fact that we didn't go past the UN objective in 1991 of liberating Kuwait and left Iraq's internal affairs to Iraq once that was accomplished (resulting in the mass slaughter of Shiites and Kurds) and out of the other side of their mouths condemning the fact that this time we're going in despite the U.N.'s ... we should say "non-approval" instead of "dis-approval" and doing what we think is right. Many around the world who mistake resolve for arrogance.

The farther we get into this, it appears more and more that the Bush administration was basically right about this. Of course, the Bush administration isn't the first to talk about the necessity of regime change in Iraq. Bill Clinton addressed the nation saying the same thing in December, 1998.

For those of you who still don't understand why we needed to do this, let's review:

  • In 1991, Iraq invaded Kuwait with the intention of annexing it to Iraq.
  • The UN ordered Iraq out, but of course, Iraq refused.
  • Forces, mostly US forces, went in to expel him and did so.
  • Saddam signed a cease-fire agreement to keep himself in power, agreeing to get rid of long range missiles and Chem/Bio/Nuclear weapons.
  • The US encouraged but did not get involved in an uprising to topple the regime, letting the Iraqi people decide their future for themselves. They failed tragically. The US has been criticized for not assisting, largely by the same folks who don't want us assisting now.
  • Following mass Iraqi extermination in the north and south, the UN imposed (largely by use of US and UK forces) two "no-fly" zones to inhibit the regime from the kind of mass murder it committed.
  • In order to enforce these zones and keep Iraq in check and keep any teeth behind UN Weapons Inspections, US and UK troops remained stationed in the middle east, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
  • The fact that Western Infidels had military bases in the sacred land of Saudi Arabia incensed many Muslim Arabs. One of them was Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi himself.
  • Saddam meanwhile practiced a game of denial and deception, threatening the lives of UN Weapons Inspectors, harassing them, and leading them around by the nose
  • Saddam Hussein continues pushing his limits and only backing down when the threat of military action (again, by way of the US) is eminent.
  • When Saddam felt enough military pressure was off, he kicked the weapons inspectors out altogether.
  • Clinton followed with a limited military response
  • In a few military police actions around the world involving the UN (Somalia), the US pulled out after suffering a few casualties. This further emboldened Osama Bin Laden's Al Quaida
  • Al Quaida continued attacking US interests around the world. It tried bombing the World Trade Center from the parking garage below. That attempt failed. The US tried to treat it as a criminal action rather than an act of war with limited short-term success, but without much of an eye to the long-term Al Quaida strategy.
  • The world does not peruse Bin Laden in any kind of organized, committed fashion. He finds refuge in Afghanistan, sheltered by a brutal fanatical religious regime sympathetic to his cause. Like mold in a dark, warm, wet spot, Al Quaida thrives, permanently entwining itself with the Afghan government.
  • Continued US military presence in Saudi Arabia & Iraq fuels the Arab point of view that the US is an imperialist country bent on taking over the middle east... the abundant conspiracy theorists continue to tie this to the belief that Israel intends to take over the middle east and the US intends to back it. Widespread public hatred for the US continues to build.
  • 9/11 Al Quaida finally succeeds in blowing up the World Trade Center in New York, intentionally targeting and killing over 3,000 civilians -- also kills a couple hundred at the Pentagon with another airplane. But for the heroic struggles of passengers aboard another plane, the White House would likely have been hit as well.
  • Like Dec 8, 1941 -- the Sleeping Giant of the United States awakens. It realizes it can no longer afford to let enemies like Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein fester until they can hatch whatever plans they will. Afghanistan is sanitized. Al Quaida's roots there are obliterated. A largely grateful Afghan population rejoices -- right in the face of Arab opinion that they were in fact not oppressed and the US was simply waging a war on Islam.
  • A main source of Arab anger (besides Israeli support) is the US's strong presence in the region. The main reason for that prolonged presence was to contain Saddam Hussein. Before we pull out of the middle east, it needs to be stabilized so there's no reason for us to be there in the first place. Step number 1, regime change in Iraq.

So those reasons are, in summary

  • Remove the current main regional threat in the Middle East -- Saddam Hussein's regime
  • Remove the means of that threat (WMD) -- mostly to help prove to the world how much of a threat he was
  • This gets rid of the main reason we have so much presence in the region in the first place, and we can pull out, helping calm Arab opinion, and showing them that they were wrong about imperialist motives
  • Help the people of Iraq establish a free, democratic government to help improve their lives, and to show the rest of the middle east what can be when your people are free
  • Show other bad guys in the world that we will come kick their butts -- they can't just kill with impunity.

That's all for now.