Thursday, February 27, 2003

According to this essay by Steven Den Beste on his blog USS Clueless, recent changes have allowed President Bush to be more frank about our plans:

I've long said that the real reason to conquer Iraq was to set off a chain reaction of liberalization in the Arab world (here, for instance). Many have asked me whether I thought this was really what the Bush administration was thinking, and if so why they hadn't gone public with it.

The answer is that I do believe they were thinking along these lines all along, but that for them to go public with it back then would have led to serious grief by making clear to such stalwarts as Saudi Arabia just what we really intended. I'm happy, therefore, that we've reached the point where we no longer think we require the good wishes of the Sauds, and thus Bush has indeed publicly stated the real goal for this war, and the only way in the long run we can really win it: liberalization of the Arabs. And, as mentioned above, Iraq will be used to create an example in the middle East of how it's done, and most of that process will be financed by sales of Iraq's oil.

President Bush has already made clear that our first move will be to keep the current government in place while changing a few people at the top. This has angered the Kurds and Shia, but it was difficult to think of another way to do it. The majority Shia might vote in an Iranian type theocracy if the country were made a democracy tomorrow. Even if they didn't, it seems likely they would be much too close to the Iranians for our liking. The Kurds would declare independence, and this might split Turkey as well as Iraq into civil war.

If Steven Den Beste is correct, I guess the questions can be divided up into two categories. How about the occupation? How are we going to keep the Shia and Kurds from revolting after we get rid of Saddam? Remember, there is only one model for keeping Iraq a single nation ever since it was cobbled together from three Ottoman provinces. Bloodshed. Do we have another one? If not, how much killing can we do and still set up a democracy?

Next group. Where are we going? If Bush doesn't want an American or Iraqi dictator, eventually it will come to the voting booth. How do we keep the majority Shia from either going the way of Iran or voting to kill all the Sunni's? I would like to think once the Shia have a prosperous free democracy they will vote to keep it, but we can't just assume so.

I'm not one hundred percent sure these questions are unanswerable. Could it be Bush has answers to all of them, or at least his administration? If Steven is right and Bush had to keep our current plans secret, perhaps there are more secrets. Certainly there are situations which require a president to keep certain things secret. Yet, there were people speculating about how our plans involved the Saudi's. (I wonder if any Saudi's read Steven's blog.) Since this is a democracy, I would be much happier if I heard more pro war people thinking in more detail about what we're going to do afterwards. Hoping Bush has an answer is one thing, assuming it is another. Steven Den Beste is probably one of the deepest pro war thinkers in the blogosphere, and he hasn't even touched on the mechanics of welding Shia, Sunni, and Kurds into a single democracy.

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