Wednesday, February 12, 2003

This is from the right wing Washington Times.

Some conservatives remain wary — and are willing to say so publicly — about President Bush's threats of war against Iraq.

I hope you click through to read the whole article, but here's the last paragraph just in case.

Military historian William S. Lind, director of the Free Congress Foundation's Center for Cultural Conservatism, has concluded that the "administration's Iraq policy is more liberal than conservative. It is Wilsonian, an attempt to export democracy on the tips of American bayonets, which never works — not in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia or Kosovo."

So what now? I've been haunted by the feeling for some months that most people didn't understand exactly how difficult what we are trying to do will be, but I no longer feel that is the case. If many intelligent people still favor war, we must now look elsewhere for the reason. The blog is a good place to start.

Now, I'm willing to say that I accept the risks and consequences and an Iraqi invasion. I know that when we invade US soldiers & Iraqi civilians are going to die. I also recognize that it's going to be expensive and our troops are going to be stuck there for years, possibly decades. Furthermore, I accept the much more limited risk that that there could be massive casualties, nukes launched, or that Saudi Arabia could fall.

That being said, is the anti-war crowd willing to claim responsibility for the negative end-results of their position? Are they willing to say, "Yes, it's fine with us if Saddam Hussein and quite possibly down the road Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia acquire nuclear weapons?" Are they going to take responsibility for terrorists getting their hands on nukes provided by one of these regimes and using them on an American city? If five years from now Iraq launches a nuke at Israel and Israel responds by launching two dozen nukes at Iraq (perhaps at all of the countries that surround Israel), is the anti-war crowd going to stand up and admit that, "If only we would have invaded Iraq, this wouldn't have happened?"

I'm not willing to do that if there's any alternative, so I feel a need for at least one of two things. Either a post invasion plan that seems more likely to weaken Al Qaeda than power a recruiting drive, or a plan that doesn't involve invading Iraq but will be more effective than doing nothing or continuing as we are.

This is getting a bit long, so I'll just look at the first one today. The first major danger in Iraq is that many Shia will want revenge on Sunni (especially members of the Baath party) who participated in Saddam's atrocities. In many cases they will have good cause - yet we must protect all those whom we don't plan to arrest and put on trial. Otherwise we have a precedent for lynch mob justice, and a large group who will fight to the death even after the country is occupied, because they know they can be killed at will otherwise.

Many of the dissidents who want to be the new government of Iraq are Shia, some with ties to Iran. They haven't demonstrated the ability to form a government, and are not elected representatives of the people of Iraq. Nevertheless there could be roles for some of them, who have shown they have something to contribute. Let them use their local knowledge and connections to help us avoid vigilante killings. Those who do should have a role in the administration, although Americans will be on top initially.

The second problem will probably be the Kurds. They have become accustomed to a quasi-independent government under the shelter of the no-fly zones. Turkey is already massing troops to make sure they don't become a fully autonomous nation, setting an example of rebellion for Turkish Kurds. Since Turkey will not accept this and the United States has no plans to fight Turkey, we should negotiate before the hour strikes with representatives of both Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds. I sure hope the Kurdish leader who got killed recently wasn't involved in something like this, but even if his loss makes it harder it needs to be done.

I hope even the most devoted respecters of Bush's administration won't assume he has this so much in hand that nobody else needs worry about it. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee doesn't seem to think so.

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