Sunday, May 22, 2005

 

Invasion of Iraq: Declared Motives


America in Iraq – Why, Where and Where to? (2)

During the past two years, there has been much speculation regarding the US administration’s real motives in invading Iraq. In my previous post I categorized possible motives into ‘declared’ and ‘undeclared’ intentions. In this post, I will try and briefly address some of the more important ‘declared’ motives presented to the American and world public.

Original Declared Motives

The US administration’s official case for the invasion of Iraq rested on three main issues: Iraq’s weapon’s of mass destruction, links to international terror and the threat of Saddam’s regime.

What the US and British governments really thought of these claims has been recently revealed by an official document: Less than three weeks ago, on May 1st, The Times of London published a top-level British Government secret memo the authenticity of which is so far undisputed by the British government (and 89 Democratic members of the Congress took this memo seriously enough to write to President Bush asking for an explanation of the damning things it says).

The memo is available at www.downingstreetmemo.com is definitely worth reading in full. Also worth reading: article by Palast, an op-ed column by Krugman in the NY Times and an in-depth article by Juan Cole at Salon.

The memo summarizes a meeting attended by the British Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers and security advisers eight months before the invasion of Iraq, following a visit by the British MI-6 intelligence chief to Washington. The memo states:

“… Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

“… It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action… But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

That was in July 2002, eight months before the war. This is the most damning evidence that has emerged from the British government itself so far.

With this background, it is truly bewildering how the official resolute conviction was presented to the American public. In March 2003, only a few days before the invasion, President Bush went so far as to say:

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

These words portray so much confidence in that ‘intelligence’: “no doubt” (not even “little doubt”) … “some of the most lethal weapons ever devised”?? We now know most of that not-very-intelligent ‘intelligence’. We also know the facts.

The troubling question is: was the gentleman aware of all that effort to ‘fix the intelligence and the facts’? Was he himself misled or was he misleading people? Either way, the answer is not in his favor.

Present Declared Motives

Helping the Iraqi people, Freedom and Democracy definitely seem to be the current trumpeted objective of the Iraq war. We are repeatedly and persistently being told that this is the major objective of this campaign. The latest remarks I am aware of are Condoleezza Rice’s when she made a visit to Iraq last week:
"We are so grateful that there are Americans willing to sacrifice so the Middle East will be whole, and free and democratic and at peace".

Very noble! But was this what the Americans were told in the lead up to the war? The most reliable sources on official policy would be top figures of the administration: [I am grateful to Fast Pete of LSF for the link] So many people now pretend that it was all for Freedom and Democracy of the Iraqi people. However, senior administration policy makers are on record stating otherwise.

Take for example Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of Defense and the man who was in charge of post-invasion planning:
"Would anybody be thinking about using military power in Iraq in order to do a political experiment in Iraq in the hope that it would have positive political spillover effects throughout the region? The answer is no. That's not the kind of thing that leads a country like the United States to commit the kind of military forces that we're committing to this effort....There's no way. What we would be using military power for...would be the goals the President has talked about, particularly the elimination of the chemical and biological weapons, and preventing Iraq from getting nuclear weapons."

Or Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of Defense and one of the strongest advocates for the war on Iraq:
“There have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people....The third one by itself, as I think I said earlier, is a reason to help the Iraqis but it's not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk.”


Conclusions:

1. The questions of WMD, Terror links and the eminent threat of Saddam’s regime… were only excuses. Furthermore, they were known to be excuses by those who presented them to the people as legitimate and compelling reasons to go to war.

2. People were frequently puzzled how that flimsy evidence was ‘believed’ by those prestigious intelligence agencies. Now we know that it wasn’t! It was intentionally “fixed”.

3. The American public and the world were deliberately misled (on these issues at least).

4. Freedom and Democracy were not primary objectives worth risking American kids’ lives for… but welcome ‘by-products’.

The last point still has a little problem associated with it: Democracy is indeed a noble objective. However, it seems that to some people in the USA the word ‘democracy’ is confused with ‘friendly’ (which is not a bad thing in itself… but quite a different concept). But this is another thing for another day.


Comments:

Well, just to start the ball rolling on this one, could I suggest that there is a significant difference between the ostensible pre-invasion reasons for war, and the later rationalisation for the occupation.
Getting rid of the threat of WMD, severing links with Al Qaeda, and toppling the Saddam regime, are all essentially finite objectives, with an end in sight: i.e. by not finding any WMD, you have in effect got rid of them, by killing or capturing most of the major figures in the regime, and destroying or dismantling it, you have of necessity severed any links, since a non-existent regime can’t have links (and can’t plot future development of WMD either.)
However "bringing freedom and democracy" is a pretty open-ended sort of aim. Theoretically it’s already done: with the repressions of the old regime gone, and a supposedly elected government in place, Iraq is now officially free and democratic. But apparently what "bringing" really means is ensuring that the new government’s forces are strong enough, and the insurgent and terrorist threat sufficiently reduced, that Iraq meets some sort of acceptable standard of stability and internal security.
Isn’t that the real question now? How stable and secure does Iraq need to be before the US can leave? What is the standard - 20 IED’s or suicide bombings per day, 10 per day, none at all? When the power and water are back on? When the oil’s flowing freely?
The theory, one gathers, is that the Iraqi government will one day say, "OK, thanks US, we’ll take it from here," and all the bases will be dismantled, along with the Green Zone, and the boys and girls will go home.
Why do I find this difficult to envisage or believe?
Circular
 
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Hello Abu Khaleel,
Your summary of the 'declared motives' is conclusive. I have been itching to hear about the undeclared for quite a while, but I don't want to jump the gun!
"Why do I find this difficult to envisage or believe?"
Circular, I think it may be starting to happen even now.
 
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Abu Khaleel,

The Downing Street memo is dated July 23rd 2002, but some of what it says was leaked to the press at an earlier date. The public debate about Iraq, invasion and weapons of mass destruction was a repetition of a much more muted internal debate, evidence of which emerged sporadically in the British and American press: the purpose of Dick Cheney's tour in March 2002 was to drum up support for an invasion of Iraq... anonymous functionaries say that WMDs were settled upon as the one justification that everyone could agree about... anonymous intelligence officers express doubts about WMD evidence. Take for instance these two articles in the Guardian and the Observer:

Iraq: the myth and the reality, March 15, 2002

Should we go to war against Saddam?, March 17, 2002

The Guardian has a very nice searchable archive without access restrictions.
 
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Yes, Iraq does have a government in place now, but the way I see it is that the stability of Iraq is dependent upon one factor: the Armed Forces.

Who will be in charge of them, and where will his loyalties lie? It is anyone's guess. If his loyalty shifts, then down goes the government. If he is a looming threat because he wants to be another Saddam, then it is a different problem. Religion and tribal alliances could change the equation. These are considerations we in the West do not have to bother with, but in the ME, they can change the government's direction overnight.

We've never lived with those problems here, and therefore we do not understand what the average Iraqi, Iranian or Syrian has to live with all their lives. The average man in the ME faces many threats and dangers, and has to have a lot more guts than most Americans just to leave the house every day. It's heartbreaking just to think about it.

The wimps we have parading around cities in the U.S. with their pathetic signs have little idea of how life is lived in other countries. The kidnappings, the bombings, the inter-tribal rivalries, the religious conflicts, all come before normal dangers, such as accidents. My hat is off to Abu and other Iraqis.

I hope that we've done more good than harm there, but only time will tell. Saddam gone, that should be a huge plus...that is, unless someone worse comes along.
Howarde
 
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Circ:

The permanent bases issue is a red herring. I am really getting sick of explaining this. Please consider the following, if the U.S. truly wants to dominate Iraq by military means (a proposition I feel sure we will debate in some detail), large, permanent bases aren't really necessary and, in fact, are probably counterproductive.

To understand this point, you need to realize that there are already large U.S. bases and pre-positioned weapons caches in the region (Qatar and Kuwait). More of the same would probably not give much more of a military bang for the buck spent. You also need to remember that Rumsfield current strategy is to close redundant foreign bases and to station those troops within the U.S. See the following CS monitor article for more details: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0810/p06s02-wosc.html (also note the “new permanent” bases aren’t all that permanent being designed to be rapidly dismantled).

Further, if a foreign power, like the U.S. which has a technologically superior military, chooses the local proxy route to dominate a country, all it really needs are very close ties with the new military. Those ties can be cemented by providing military aid and access to American military technology. The ties can be further strengthened by providing training to each new generation of officers. You would also have to ensure that the military had a significant role in Iraqi politics and had good ties with the domestic security services.

Your permanent bases model is really a very crude method of foreign military domination. It also has the significant draw back of being so obvious that it will continue to stimulate local political opposition. Thus, even if the U.S. plans were to militarily dominate Iraq, once its proxy were firmly in place, it would be quite likely to chose to dismantle the bases and send almost everyone home (although it is likely that a small permanent military liaison staff would be stationed in country and periodic joint training exercises would cycle U.S. troops through Iraq on a temporary bases).

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Abu Khaleel:

It is quite likely that U.S. intelligence really believed that Saddam had some amount of chemical and biolgical weapons. This was not illogical, since they fairly easy to manufacture and hide, and since their use in combat would have greatly slowed the U.S. invasion. Further evidence that this was belieived is that U.S. military units ran around the heat of the Iraqi desert in suffocating chemical suits. Still further the adminstration seemed genuinely surprised and embarassed when it turned out that Saddam did not have any appreciable stocks of chemical or biological weapons. For quite some time after the invasion, they had seemed poised to justify the invasion to the world by finding at least some caches of such prohibited weapons.

As to whether there was any imminent threat, I am quite convinced that they did not believe such a threat existed, yet played upon that fear (although often times indirectly, rather than being explicit) to jusitfy the invasion to domestic audiences in the U.S. and U.K.

Many of us in this country were not fooled by the threat rhetoric. We knew as soon as Bush began to beat the war drum in mid-1992 what was coming, even if we were initially shocked by the policy choice. Of course, Saddam could have capitualted and there would have been no invasion, but short of that, it is clear that Bush had made up his mind to invade by no later than mid-summer of '92.

The rest was window dressing to whip up domestic support and also, importantly, served as political cover for Tony Blair. Later, when a signficant number of troops had been moved into Kuwait in preparation for invasion, the die had been caste.

I recall debating with several friends and relatives whether Bush would back down in the face of international opposition, and later, in the face of the failure to receive security counsel approval. I was quite certain that, once the troops had positioned in Kuwait, there would be no turning back, unless Saddam capitulated. My anlysis on that issue turned out to be correct.
 
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Whoops. Last one was me.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark
1) If your remarks about bases are in response to my "find this difficult to envisage or believe" statement, perhaps I should clarify that what I meant by this is mainly that it’s a lot easier to do rather than undo something. In other words, the longer a large US military deployment continues in Iraq, the more it becomes, for the military and perhaps both governments, a "law of nature" or "fact of life." Parallel with Germany? I can’t see a hell of a difference between four very big bases and 14 smaller ones. The only long-term reason for either is for the world policeman to project power into the region. I’m not aware that any one nation has been elected to this role by the majority agreement of most of the world.
My disbelief is more about the possibility of Iraq, with all its problems, attaining a state of sufficient stability to allow a face-saving US withdrawal of most of its forces anytime soon. (In other words, with a reasonable assurance that chaos won’t descend too soon afterwards.) And this seems to be basically a law and order issue, of particular concern since although the Iraqi military may be making some progress, the Police by the sound of it still have a long way to go - sort of a race between the establishment of economic and civil viability in one lane versus sectarian division, corruption and general disillusion in the other.
2) Your statement to Abu about the invading troops wearing NBW gear seems obviously countered by saying that the troops were sold the same bill of goods as the public regarding the threat of unconventional weapons. However, maybe I’m disrespecting the leadership of your nation, but it seems to me that it may not have all been deliberate deception: I suspect that their faith-based and ideologically driven nature may have led them to believe what they wanted to believe, and to have assumed from the strength of their belief that the facts would come along later to back them up. Hence, as you say, some genuine embarrassment about the failure to find WMD?
And hence a continuing lack of realism in US foreign policy in general, under the present administration? I mean, my impression is that when Bush makes solemn noises about freedom and democracy, the world response in general now is a loud collective yawn?
Circular
 
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Let see if I was Bush or any other in the US administration.


We can’t keep the sanctions any longer, we would love to but these damn weapon inspectors say there is no WMD and that it has Iraq’s weapons under control. That’s not good for us. This means that this scenario could happen.
Sanctions are lifted, suddenly ordinary Iraqis get more strength. Saddam’s support have over the years of sanctions become lesser and lesser he has less control over his own country, it’s mostly Baghdad that he has under his grip. But Iraqis are fed up with him sooner or later they will be able to do a revolution and start a better new begging for themselves. It will be bloody but they will succeed no way back for them. So suddenly we will have Iraqis in power of all that oil in that region, disaster for us, and disaster for Israel. These Iraqis know very well that we the US and UK are the ones that pushed for sanctions to continue and continue and that we supported Saddam tougher with other counties and gave him weapons and kept quite about his mass graves. Iraqis know this so they will form sort of a government with polices that most likelty will have influences of Iraqis that are angry at the west for supporting Saddam and for the sanctions, this makes dangerous to us to have them strong. In other words it would be easy to understand that they will not let us get that oil that our way of life depends on. We put them under sanctions who know maybe they will put us under sanctions. I will not allow this.

So what can we do???? Ahhh lets attack them, ……. and write day and night that it’s thanks to the US that Iraqis are free. Sort of occupy it in the name of its for their own good. That way we will secure our control of oil in the long run.

That’s why we must attack Iraq now. Before Iraqis get the sanctions lifted and they start a revolution that will spread to all the countries where there are unelected leaders we support. We can not allow that. We will be in charge of the game
 
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That was by Nadia ; )
 
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Nadia:

On what bases do you assert that Saddam would lose his grip on power? He had a pretty efficient police state and firm control of the army as well as the security forces. This is all that is really needed to run a totalitarian state as Saddam's rise to power and his longevity amply illustrate. Like his model for constructing such systems, Joseph Stalin, he is likely to have died while still holding onto the reins of power. Unlike Stalin, Saddam had groomed his own sons to succeed him so there wasn't a lot of hope for improvement on his passing.

The type of "people power" revolution you envision requires that the despot in control lacks either the means or the will to massacre his political opponents. As we know from experience, Saddam lacked neither. The only way for an Iraqi rebellion to succeed would have been for him to lose control of the army through a military coup. While this scenario might have been possible, it is quite likely that a new military strongman would be quite similar to Saddam. Thus, your analysis is wholly unrealistic.

Circ:

It is quite likely that Saddam purposefully created ambiguity about his WMD capabilities to keep his mortal enemies in Iran off balance. That is speculation of both Hans Blix and Charles Duelfer, who ran the pre- and post invasion inspections programs, respectively (See http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7971281/ ). I am sure that Saddam also thought the ambiguity could have a deterrent effect on a U.S. invasion as well.

As we now know that Iran had hidden a secret nuclear development program for twenty years, Saddam's apparent fear of future conflict with a better armed Iran may not have been ill-founded. Thus, in his mind, Saddam may have been trapped into bluffing and playing games with inspectors that Blix reported (although Blix seems to think that the U.S. should have figured out that Saddam was bluffing, but admits that no inspection regime could ever guarantee that this was the case).

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark
You’re getting into geo-political theorising again, which is not really my scene. However, one thought has occurred to me in relation to my suggestion about the Bush administration’s belief-driven, reality-free approach to their initial casus belli.
I recall that throughout 2003, before I really got interested in Iraq, I confidently expected triumphant announcements from the US of discoveries of stocks of NBW materials. And I cynically anticipated that there would be a fuss over the probability that these had been planted or manufactured by the US, in lieu of discovery of the real thing, in order to justify the invasion. Surely this wouldn’t have been hard to arrange, given the immense stocks that the US has on hand? And in terms of your geo-political realpolitick approach to international dealings, this would perhaps have been a logical subterfuge on the part of the US - classic case of the ends justifying the means.
To my mind, the fact that this DIDN’T happen reinforces my contention that the administration wasn’t simply "sexing up the intelligence" prior to invasion, they really believed their own intuitions and expected the intelligence to eventually catch up with their expectations. By the time it became clear that it wasn’t going to, it was a bit late to attempt to plant some.
Similar to Wolfowitz’s confident expectation of the invaders being greeted with smiles and flowers - it was probably because of the persistence of this belief that it took Bremer so long to come up with any sort of coherent approach to defining aims for the occupation.
Tom Englehardt has a recent article (http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=2709) suggesting that, among other things, the US administration and military are still taking a "faith-based" approach to the reality of training up an Iraqi army effective for the conditions that actually prevail there.
Circular
 
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Nadia, where do you get the claim that the inspectors said there were no WMD in Iraq? That's utterly false. In fact, in U.N. resolution 1441, a detailed accounting was demanded of all WMD programs and material. Specifically mentioned was hundreds of tons of WMD chemicals in one facility which was SEEN by the inspectors immediately before being kicked out of the country a few years earlier. In the latest round of inspections after 1441, the inspectors only stated the WMDs were not at the sites they inspected, a tiny fraction of the total area of Iraq. They absolutely did not preclaim Iraq WMD free, in fact they were asking for 6 more months of pointless looking only where Saddam pointed.

The information WMD WAS there in the PAST was SOLID. While the information the WMDs were still there was 'thin', the information those known stockpiles were destroyed was NONEXISTENT. Add to that the testimony (Deufler Report) of his scientists and top officials that Saddam's plan was to bribe the sanctions into collapse (he was only months away from success), then resume all WMD programs full plow. You get a situation that requires any *responsible* leader to err on the side of removing a major threat.

It is so easy now to criticize, with all the knowledge of hindsight, but imagine if we had done nothing and waited a few months for heavily bribed (mostly) French, German, Russian, and Chinese officials to remove the sanctions. Even according to Bush's critics they were the only thing suppressing Saddam's WMD programs. Saddam would have resumed his mostly dormant programs (as was his stated plan), waited a few years to acquire nukes, then used them as insurance against Western retaliation to invade his neighbors, or (being very careful to prevent the source) started handing them off to terrorists who could destroy all of civilization with no cost to him. Looking at the current situation, with all the hope and positive change sweeping over oppressed Islamic societies, how can one say the potentially horrific likelehood was better than the difficult but hopeful current reality?

-chrisb
 
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Circ:

Tom Engelhardt's view of things seems more pessimistic than realistic to me.

Juan Cole's analysis of today seems more likely, while also being extremely pessimistic. His view is that the Sunni based insurgency is strong enough to last a very long time (15 years), but too weak to ultimately prevail. Accordingly, in Cole's view, the insurgency will have to face reality at some distant time in the future (similar to the Lebanese Christian militias) that the minority will no longer be able to rule the majority. The link is http://www.juancole.com/ .

I know that Abu Khaleel has disagreed with Cole's analysis in the past, but conditions are constantly changing in Iraq. I wonder if he still disagrees with Cole, and if so, is it for the same reasons?

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Yay, Mark.
I was very impressed with Juan Cole’s analysis, so much so that I was tempted to abandon my pious moderation and post the whole damn thing on Abu’s Blog. Thanks for saving me from committing this offence.
Have you perused the contribution from "chrisb" above? Here’s a fellow "global strategy" thinker for you! If I follow his reasoning, the US invasion of Iraq RIGHT NOW, THIS MINUTE in 2003 was the only thing that has saved the world from annihilation at the hands of nuclear armed Islamic terrorists. Did I use the word "paranoia" in earlier posts?
Indonesia is, I believe, the largest Islamic nation. Must be bad guys. Shouldn’t you have a carrier group, and a shitload of Marines, stationed offshore JUST IN CASE? (Or you could put them in Northern Australia, among the crocs and snakes. That’d really help your recruitment rates!) South America is leaning left! Better get a carrier group down there!
There’s instability in Nigeria! Nigeria’s got oil! Carrier group! NZ’s got a objectionable cynic called Circular! Send in the Marines!
Boy, you guys are going to be busy! Sorry to make my point in a foolish way, but the sort of thinking exhibited by chrisb tends to irritate me.
What I would really, really like would be some sort of comment from our esteemed host on the Juan Cole article. Abu used to maintain that outsiders didn’t understand Sunni/Shiite relations in Iraq, and that the prospect of civil war was laughable. Does he still think this way?
Circular
 
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Circ,

Ease up on the hyperbole. Chris made a few very simple points that have been well established.

1. Everyone knows Saddam had WMD.
2. Everyone knows that Saddam used WMD.
3. Everyone knows that Saddam wanted nuclear weapons.
4. Up until the invasion (and post invasion assessments), no one knew if Saddam did or did not have WMD in 2003.
5. The sanctions were eroding.
6. Most reasonable people assume that Saddam would restart his programs as soon as he could.
7. Post 9/11 a nuclear armed Saddam would not be acceptable to US.
8. Saddam was provided ample opportunity to 'return to the fold' and he deliberately chose not to.

This has nothing to do with Nigeria or Kiwiland - although we will keep a carrier group nearby just in case...
 
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Circ:

Naw, we knuckle draggin' Yankees are waiting for you Kiwis and South Africans (I'm thinking you and Bruno as a tag team) to defang the tyrant du jour, Karimov of Uzibekistan. As one of your "socialist brothers" (Karimov's PDPU is the direct successor to the Uzibekistan Communist Party), I am sure you can talk him out of an further massacres. And while your at it, could you please persuade the government of Sudan into playing nice in Darfur.

Let me know when you finish those projects because there several others that may need the famed Kiwi/South African powers of persuasion. Of course, if the sweet talk doesn't work, there's always those nasty American's with all those aircraft carriers and marines to fall back on.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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OH NO!
Is this a Charles that I see before me, the handle towards my hand?
Come, let me clutch thee! I have you not, and yet I see thee still!
Where have you been, Bushbaby?
How about a comment from you on the Juan Cole article?

Mark
Are you sure you should use sarcasm and mockery on Abu Kahleel’s Blog? I never do! He might not approve!
But I thought we’d covered this regime change theme already? Is the UN, or come to that the US, or anyone including mighty NZ, in a position to say "this regime needs changing right now, that one better smarten up its ideas, this one scrapes by the test?" It’s not that simple. I don’t think you commented last time I made this point?
In any case, Chris and Charles are riding the Arab WMD hobby horse at the moment, not the regime change one. That’ll come next time round.
Circular
 
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Circ,

I missed you too. Sorry I've been buried in spreadsheets of Russian nuclear equipment exports and edam cheese imports and other such stuff - One must eat - right?

Speaking of eating, I have proof that kiwis export all of their dairy products to the poor Russians. Is every street in kiwiland named fonterra?

Juan Cole? I suppose I ought to look up his link again. I stopped reading him after the Iraqi elections. He was just so, so, so, what's the word? Its more than just pessimistic - he wants Iraq to fail so that he can be right. But he always seems wrong in the end. I will grant he is a bright fellow though I shouldn't have dropped him so quickly.

Regime change who? Are we supposed to be discussing regime change?
 
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We are all going off-topic, and I’m taking part in it!

I have just read the Juan Cole article. One of the best on the subject written in America ;) I don’t care what the gentleman’s political agenda is, but he is generally accurate in his reporting. I sometimes take issue with his assessments, but I can always find good substance in his position.

And yes, the sectarian thing is taking an ugly turn for the worst. I still cannot find (ordinary) people of either sect willing to kill each other or openly attacking each other. Watch the news critically! Are you willing to accept that the Badr Brigade and some of other “Sunni” armed forces have a foreign agenda component? It may surprise some people that part of their aim is not Iraq per se but the American presence in the region.

On Saturday I attended a meeting of people, tribal chiefs and activists in one of the most volatile areas in the country. The meeting (the third of its kind in a month) lasted for about two hours. These are real people who know each other; some of them were pro-resistance; some were pro-appeasement (of Americans or resistance). They agreed on a good ‘pact’ of guidelines to deal with the current turmoil. Perhaps I will have time to post something about it. I frankly cannot see these people killing each other… and they are not a small minority!

I repeat, I still cannot see these people taking part in a civil war or killing each other. But this does not mean that such things will not escalate. Others hold the main strings and call the shots. That impressive social weld has held for two years. But as I once wrote, we have a saying here: “repeated hammering breaks the weld”! I am deeply concerned; I can see some cracks in that weld, but still have considerable hope that there are enough sane and reasonable people around to avert the worst scenario.

Watch Moqtada! Regardless of what people think of that rascal or his ‘army’, the man strikes me as one of the few in the political scene with an Iraqi agenda… and the guy is a Shiite cleric… in name at least! I don’t subscribe to the man’s political or religious views or even approve of them, but I agree with his sectarian stance. And his shabby army, despised by most people, is largely down-trodden Iraqis who lived in this country under Saddam. There is also Jwad al Khalissi… another Shiite cleric with an Iraqi agenda. They are only two of many. These people, and many others, have been intentionally marginalized by the political process.

Please try and remember one important fact that should have been quite evident to the unbiased observer: There is no widespread popular animosity between Shiites and Sunnis or Arabs and Kurds in Iraq.

Why can’t people see that ordinary Iraqi people have resisted this ugly and persistent onslaught for the past two years, so impressively?
 
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Watch Moqtada?
That's not very reassuring for your American guests, Abu.
Didn't he just encourage mosques to have US (and Israeli) flags painted in their doorways for worshippers to trample on?
(But not Union Jacks, I note. Wonder why that was? Something to do with military tactical doctrines, perhaps? Chuckle.)
Surely the nightmare for the US military must be the need to avoid doing anything to upset Moqtada's "army." A new Najaf or Sadr City on top of the so-called Sunni insurgency would be the final nail in the Occupation's coffin, wouldn't it?
Naughty Circular
 
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"But not Union Jacks, I note. Wonder why that was?"

Divide and disrupt?

Abu Khaleel,

How about if US forces were to pick out a few cities - or even large neighborhoods in large cities - and announce that they will hand them over entirely to Iraqi forces.

This will test the theory that many flavors of insurgents target violence at US forces only. This could be the mechanism of disengagement. They could set timetables along the lines of: if 3 months no activity, then next major town disengaged, etc., etc. Once forces pulled back to bases, and 6-12 months after last city declared violence free (I mean deliberate terror attacks), then US begins scheduled draw down from country entirely. The process might take 2-3 years, but would at least give people some expectations.

If the insurgents continue attacking Iraqi forces, that would debunk the theory that they are only after the evil "occupiers." Since most Iraqis in principle want US to leave, this would alienate the insurgents from the people because they would see that it is the insurgents who are slowing down the disengagement process.
 
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Mark-In-Chi-Town wrote ”Thus, your analysis is wholly unrealistic.”

Remember it was my analysis if I WAS Bush or someone in his administration.

I still think that I would have this analysis if I was one of his aides or himself. Risk analysis of Iraq and the Persian Gulf I would have come up with that this might be one scenario and that as a person in the US government it was my responsibility to stop it from happening, with the justification that it would threaten US vital interests. Just remember what one of the US presidents once said, something like “that any attempt of outside power to control the region around the Persian Gulf would be seen as an attack on US interests and that such an act will be fought against with all means inclusive military violence” (Carter).
/by Nadia
 
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Nadia:

The Neocons may have some immoral intentions (of the ends justifying the means sort) and have made many mistakes in Iraq, but they are not quite as dense as you make them out to be.

As Rumsfield quite correctly stated, "oil is a fungible commodity." It is worth little to the seller without a buyer, or for that matter, robust demand to ensure a high enough price. Thus, no matter who is in power in Iraq or Saudi Arabia (unless they are a Meglomaniac like Saddam), they will make the rational decision to sell their oil on the world market at the highest sustainable price. This requires relatively stable production levels. Further to ensure stable demand for oil, it is in the self-interest of oil producing states to maintain their prices below the range that makes alternative energy sources cost competitive for as long as possible.

Such market realities are amply illustrated by the fact that Venzuela continues to sell the bulk of its oil to the United States despite the frosty relations between their governments. Chavez may be a demagogue, but he is neither stupid enough, nor unconcerned enough about the fate of his people to attempt a self defeating act like an embargo in order to score a few political points.

For all of these reasons, a middle eastern "people power" movement of the sort you describe is not much of a strategic or economic threat. However, the spectre of a meglomaniac, like Saddam, controlling persian gulf area oil supplies would be a matter of grave concern, since the economic self-interst of the people of the middle east would not weigh heavily in his decision matrix on pricing or supplies. As the combined oil production of the persian gulf area is a sufficiently large percentage of world production to control world prices, Saddam could do great damage to the world economy on any whim.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark-In-Chi-Town "a middle eastern "people power" movement of the sort you describe is not much of a strategic or economic threat."

Well there I totaly disagree with you. As an aide in a US adminstration I would see these people as a threat to US intrests in the region.

Therefore I would attack Iraq in the name of US intrests. Financially/economicly occupy the country clererly to controll the country. And why not I would do it all over again and try to install "western friendly" "US friendly" people as we did in Iran when we overthraw a democratic elected leader because he was getting stupid ideas to give oil powe to the Iranian people. No we installed a "US friendly, western friendly Shah".
Just remember once again what one of the US presidents once said, something like “that any attempt of outside power to control the region around the Persian Gulf would be seen as an attack on US interests and that such an act will be fought against with all means inclusive military violence” (Carter). And if I was an person in the current US administration I would know that their wording in this matter is even stronger then Carter. Attack Iraq and that is what we did.
- Nadia
 
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Chrisb, what would you like to say to Powell and Rice with regards to their views about WMD here? /Nadia

Colin Powell, February 24, 2001: "[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq."

Condoleeza Rice, July 2001: "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."
 
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Nadia:

Please consider the following facts, which eviscerate your analysis. First, Carter is currently a "dove" that strongly opposed the Iraq war. Thus, his sentiments in 1980 are not really germane to current government policy. Second, his statement refers to "outside powers." You are discussing "people power" movements, which are quite different (more on that below). Third, the U.S. did not invade Iran when the popular Iranian revolution was hijacked by Khomeini and became both very repressive and exceptionally hostile to the U.S. If U.S. policy was as aggressive as you claim, Iran should have been invaded and brought under control long ago.

Are you too young to remember the cold war and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? Carter's comments were clearly directed at the Soviets. See the linked 1980 State of the Union Address in which the referenced comment appears. http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.org/documents/speeches/su80jec.phtml .

All of that aside, his statement is probably still current U.S. policy as to "outside powers." Thus, if the Russians or Chinese decided to invade the oil fields of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or if the Iranians invaded Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, I am relatively certain the U.S. would become involved. Such involvement would be prudent since it would be both legal as the posited invasions would be violations of international law and since the invasions, if successful, could alter the balance of power in the world.

The reasons such invasions would be major threats to the global economy are the same as for the scenario discussed above in which a megalomaniac, like Saddam, controlled Middle East oil supplies.

In contrast, for the same reasons set forth above, home grown people power movements are not likely to have the same effect on the world economy. Accordingly, your analysis, in my view, lacks persuasive force.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Poor Nadia, she’s been eviscerated by Mark (or so he claims.) Sounds painful and rather gory. No way to treat a lady, Mark.
Look, Abu, I can’t see much difference between "motives" and "intentions, expectations, plans." Why not turn the question around, and ask what the US didn’t intend, didn’t expect, didn’t plan for in their little Iraqi adventure?
(By the US I mean here the Administration, plus the neo-cons, plus whatever shadowy profiteering figures were lurking in the background. Plus the hopelessly credulous like Charles, and rather amoral patriots like Mark.)
1) Well for one thing, I don’t think they expected to find no trace of WMD at all, and no substantial link between Saddam and international terrorism aimed at the US. As I’ve suggested twice before, they were taken in by their own bullshit. I note that no-one has disputed this proposition.
2) I don’t think they expected their "liberation" to be greeted with so much scepticism, mistrust, resistance and hostility by their "liberatees," hence they made no real plans for the post-invasion phase. And after two years they still don’t grasp the very simple fact that their Army’s behaviour has needlessly enhanced much of this negative response. (Among Shiites as well as Sunnis - they haven’t just forgotten Najaf.)
3) But then I don’t think they ever planned for getting their Army bogged down in Iraq anyway. They somehow convinced themselves, going in, that the Iraqis would simply roll over and submit, that it would be a simple "in and out" job. Again, taken in by their own beliefs.
4) Which suggests that they never intended Iraq to become a permanently conquered colony or dependency of the USA. They thought it would be easy to install a US-friendly puppet regime, headed by ex-CIA stooges, which would facilitate their exploitation of the country and their extension of "hegemony" in the region.
5) They certainly never planned on an elderly cleric trumping their ace, exploiting Bush’s "freedom and democracy" rhetoric to produce an Islamic rather than secular regime which is strongly opposed to any sort of permanent US presence, and probably will end up aligned with Shiite Iran, the mortal enemy.
6) Clearly they didn’t anticipate that their efforts to dominate, exploit, and "reconstruct" in their corporate capitalist image would be thwarted by a resistance movement that has become increasingly widespread, skilled, effective and ruthless.
7) And they didn’t plan on eroding the morals and morale of their Army by not providing it with appropriate numbers, training or equipment to deal with this resistance, and by cynical misuse of the National Guard and "stop-loss" provisions, with totally predictable effects on recruitment.
8) They certainly didn’t plan on their Army being probably caught up in a civil war that they have unwittingly created by their blundering and arrogance. (Sorry Abu, but I’m pessimistic on that one. The new government seems to be repeating the essential US error, i.e. making no distinction between suspected and actual insurgents, just detaining the lot (Or blowing them away.) Throw in a bit of enhanced interrogation and you’ve made enemies for life?)
9) And presumably the US didn’t intend that after two years in Iraq, the world in general would have come to regard it as a "paper tiger," impotent to carry out its bullying threats, and led by an inarticulate and ignorant buffoon who is simply ignored on the world stage.
10) What were the US motives in Iraq, Abu? They wanted to demonstrate how a great nation could be led astray by a small bunch of complete bozos. And boy have they succeeded. Somebody tell me, what have they got right?
Circular (about 600 words, Abu. Feeling a bit liverish tonight.)
 
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Mark-In-Chi-Town, I really enjoy talking to you, sadly I am on a hurry at the moment but just wanted to add that with regards to Iran, the step the US took in the 80s was to support Saddam in his war against Iran. Off now, talk you to you later!
_ Nadia
 
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Anonymous wrote "The new government seems to be repeating the essential US error, i.e. making no distinction between suspected and actual insurgents, just detaining the lot (Or blowing them away.) Throw in a bit of enhanced interrogation and you’ve made enemies for life?)"
I would call it state terrorism that is exactly what they are doing. In my view it's a continuation of Saddam's way of ruling Iraq, torture, killing, blowing people away. No what so ever respect for the law or effort to real reliable courts to charge the people in. This government and the US are in my view acting very similar to Saddam.
- Nadia (now I really must go. Peace)
 
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"1) no trace of WMD at all, ... no substantial link between Saddam and international terrorism aimed at the US."

Well, certainly no stockpiles were found. But since Saddam didn't prove to the UNSC that he had disarmed 12 years after it was required, confirmation was necessary. Too bad Saddam chose the hard way. In any case, no one thought that he had given up his ambitions so containment would simply maintained the uncertainty that Saddam preferred.

And I like how you try to 'qualify' Saddam's support for terrorists. You are correct, there was no proof that Saddam had actively executed joint operations with terrorist groups against the US. But let's just forget about his links with those groups - and the fact that he supported other terrorist groups that were unified in common cause with the same terrorists that attacked the US.

"2) I don’t think they expected their "liberation" to be greeted with so much scepticism, mistrust, resistance and hostility by their "liberatees,""

The 'rape and pillage' sceptics succeeded in creating the necessary ambiguity required for the insurgency to be maintained. The insurgents and terrorists perpetuated this through deliberate acts of violence and sabotage hoping that violence would continue to escalate and things would reach a tipping point in their favor.

"they still don’t grasp the very simple fact that their Army’s behaviour has needlessly enhanced much of this negative response"

Unfortunately counterinsurgency is never clean. Ever. The only reason we are fighting - and not handing out flowers and candy (although we do that too), is because we are being attacked, and the Iraqis are being attacked. It is a deliberate tactic on the part of the insurgents to further alienate the civilians from the coalition. I'm sure if the terrorists preferred flowers and chocolates, the US would be giving them flowers and chocolates.

"3) But then I don’t think they ever planned for getting their Army bogged down in Iraq anyway."

As I recall from the beginning the military made it clear that this would be a long haul effort (does 5-10 years ring a bell?). No doubt they would have liked for the insurgents to participate in the democratic system, but I don't think that was the primary contingency for their planning.

"4) Which suggests that they never intended Iraq to become a permanently conquered colony or dependency of the USA."

Yeah - spread the word!

"They thought it would be easy to install a US-friendly puppet regime, headed by ex-CIA stooges, which would facilitate their exploitation of the country and their extension of "hegemony" in the region."

I spoke too soon. Well Circ, the one thing we all know about democracy - you never know who will win.

"5) They certainly never planned on an elderly cleric trumping their ace, exploiting Bush’s "freedom and democracy" rhetoric to produce an Islamic rather than secular regime which is strongly opposed to any sort of permanent US presence, and probably will end up aligned with Shiite Iran, the mortal enemy."

Maybe maybe maybe. I'd say the old man has done a hell of a good job keeping a lid on things.

"6) Clearly they didn’t anticipate that their efforts to dominate, exploit, and "reconstruct"...[bla bla bla]

Yes, market liberalization is a terrible thing and has led to the impoversihment of countless millions... What they really needed was some solid central planning. Yeah - that's it!

"7) And they didn’t plan on eroding the morals and morale of their Army"

Talked to any soldiers Circ? Sure there are gripes (what soldier in what army at what time doesn't have gripes), but I haven't seen any evidence that the soldiers in combat are not committed to the mission, or that the gripes have led to deterioration of their combat capability.

"8) a civil war that they have unwittingly created by their blundering and arrogance."

The factors that would lead to a civil war have nothing to do with any specific tactics of the US. If some group wants to disregard the democratic process and maintain (or establish) its domination over the the rest - be it ethnic or religious, that will be the fundamental cause. Don't be silly circ.

"making no distinction between suspected and actual insurgents, just detaining the lot (Or blowing them away.)"

Do tell Circ, how would you conduct the counterinsurgency? They have had elections. Everyone was invited to participate. The same holds true for future elections (right around the corner). If people prefer violence, it must be faced with violence. There is no clean way to do it.

"9) ...the world in general would have come to regard it as a "paper tiger," impotent to carry out its bullying threats, and led by an inarticulate and ignorant buffoon who is simply ignored on the world stage."

Hmmmmm. Me thinks you exaggerate. But its one hell of a 'brave face' you are putting on. Your paper tiger has toppled the taliban and saddam (each of those tasks required some weeks of effort). We were able to simultaneously launch the largest logistics effort (more than everyone else combined) in the aftermath of the tsunami, and we still have more projectable combat power in reserve than most other militaries combined as well. Many countries that could be considered neutral/hostile to US are engaged in supporting the US under the 'with us or against us' policy.

Countries aren't being forced to cooperate. Many traditional allies have shunned the US and refuse to help Iraq out of spite (how moral!). Tens of millions around the world hate and despise this country (they try to lay it on Bush but in fact it has been going on for decades).

"10) What were the [anti] US motives in Iraq, Abu?"

Well, they certainly have nothing to do with support for democracy, opposition to dictatorship, or help for the Iraqis. Congrats Circ!
 
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Mark,

It looks to me like you are conceding to Nadia’s main thesis. It doesn’t matter whom Carter had in mind. He was stating a constant US policy. And Carter, as you rightly say, was a relative dove!

Then you go on to state that if the Russians or Chinese decided to invade the oil field, etc.. the US would become involved and that such involvement would be prudent and legal as “… posited invasions would be violations of international law and since the invasions, if successful, could alter the balance of power in the world.”

Isn’t that a rather one sided view and totally dismissive of other interests in the world? Isn’t that what the Russians and the Chinese see the US doing now? Are they justified in doing their best to make the America’s venture fail?

Circular,

Don’t worry too much about the world count! It seems that we are having a reasonable debate. I guess anyone who can quote Macbeth so aptly should be entitled to some latitude ;)

Regarding your assertions, they boil down to a totally unbelievable degree of incompetence. I really can’t believe that! No even Doug Feith can be that incompetent. This would make major world events that are likely to shape this century… simply a farce!

On the other hand, there does seem to be a consistent stream of reports (including that Downing Street memo) that there was some determined aversion to post-invasion planning. I find that extremely troubling. I am working on something to explain that. And I want you to keep those points of yours in mind when we come to it. Interested? I’m sure you’d find that more preferable to a discussion of religion!

Regarding your and Nadia’s last point, I admit that I have been guilty of taking all that talk about South American style death squads too lightly! One cleric was taken away last week by the police and tortured using an electric drill (on his head and arms) before being killed! His body was given in a mess of a state to his kin. The whole thing was designed to produce sectarian outrage… and it did!
 
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Charles,
1)"..Well, certainly no stockpiles were found." (A minor point, surely.)
1a.)"You are correct, there was no proof that Saddam had actively executed joint operations with terrorist groups against the US." But let's just forget about his links with those groups - and the fact that he supported other terrorist groups that were unified in common cause with the same terrorists that attacked the US.
(Yes, lets forget all those bullshit links!)

"2)...The 'rape and pillage' sceptics succeeded in creating the necessary ambiguity required for the insurgency to be maintained. The insurgents and terrorists perpetuated this through deliberate acts of violence and sabotage hoping that violence would continue to escalate and things would reach a tipping point in their favor."
Ah, so the sceptics by their lack of faith caused the insurgency. What will it take for you to admit that Bush's plans were entirely shit, and couldn't work in a million years.
'13:2 And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.'
You are a fool one hundred times over, Charles.

"Unfortunately counterinsurgency is never clean."
Do you like having your hands are covered in Iraqi blood? Do you know anything about war?
"3) ...As I recall from the beginning the military made it clear that this would be a long haul effort (does 5-10 years ring a bell?). No doubt they would have liked for the insurgents to participate in the democratic system, but I don't think that was the primary contingency for their planning.
LOL...5-10 years, is that why Rumsfeld said that only 50000 troops were needed?
Everyone knows that Bush's failed plan was to convert Iraq into a military camp complete with the 'world's largest embassy'.
"4)...I spoke too soon. Well Circ, the one thing we all know about democracy - you never know who will win."
Bush rolled crooked 'democracy dice', choosing to disenfranchaise millions of Sunnis to meet a stupid calender date.
"5)...Maybe maybe maybe. I'd say the old man has done a hell of a good job keeping a lid on things.
Sistani saved Boooosh's ass, probably be cause he knows he will out last him just like he outlasted Saddam.

6).."Yes, market liberalization is a terrible thing and has led to the impoversihment of countless millions... What they really needed was some solid central planning. Yeah - that's it!"
Iraq's oil(its only export-unless you count dates)was property of the Iraqi people, but Bush's freemarketeers wanted it..he failed at that grab too.

"7) ...Talked to any soldiers Circ? Sure there are gripes (what soldier in what army at what time doesn't have gripes), but I haven't seen any evidence that the soldiers in combat are not committed to the mission, or that the gripes have led to deterioration of their combat capability." The US Army is not meeting its recruiting goals, and the troop tours are routinely extended. Real damage is being done to the US military by Bush's 'ideas'.

"8).. If some group wants to disregard the democratic process and maintain (or establish) its domination over the the rest - be it ethnic or religious, that will be the fundamental cause. "
Iraqis don't see it your way as 'divide and rule' is typical occupier(Turkish, British,etc.) behavior in their experience. You should check the Iraqi blogs.

".... how would you conduct the counterinsurgency? ... There is no clean way to do it."
Why is Bush conducting a civil war? To save his political 'reputation' with a military victory. Who knows, it could work. But it is an infamous crime to make war in Iraq for such a reason.

"9)... Countries aren't being forced to cooperate. Many traditional allies have shunned the US and refuse to help Iraq out of spite (how moral!). Tens of millions around the world hate and despise this country (they try to lay it on Bush but in fact it has been going on for decades).
So Mongolia and Bulgaria are in Iraq for 'democracy' and not money.
You are beyond stupid.

"10) What [are] the [anti] US motives in Iraq, Abu?"
To stop the psychopath Bush and his worldwide crusade against 'enemies'. You mean you couldn't figure that one out?
 
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Circ,

No need for insults and profanity. Your a kiwi - remember?

I'm sorry but I won't wish you luck in your inglorious crusade against "HitlerBush." But I respect that you will at least admit your true aim.

It isn't morality. It's not to help the Iraqis. Its not to promote tolerance or prosperity. Its not to relieve oppression.

I find it ironic how so called liberals find it so easy to cast those sentiments aside so readily in their quest to stop the evil Bush (the latest flavor of the week)!

What the world really needs is more central planning and strong leaders like Saddam, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot.

Bravo Sir! Bravo!
 
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Charles
I hope you're not confusing me with th anonymous poster immediately above who called you a "fool a hundred times over." That wasn't me.
Hey, maybe he's onto something, though!
I won't reply to your latest because I'm having trouble with Blogspot - blogs take forever to load, Abu's comments area is not refreshing and I have to go to Post A Comment to read the latest contributions.
Sometimes it doesn't seem worth the trouble.
Circular
 
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Circ,

Oooops. My apologies.
 
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Mark --

[mark] “Such market realities are amply illustrated by the fact that Venzuela continues to sell the bulk of its oil to the United States despite the frosty relations between their governments. Chavez may be a demagogue, but he is neither stupid enough, nor unconcerned enough about the fate of his people to attempt a self defeating act like an embargo in order to score a few political points.

For all of these reasons, a middle eastern "people power" movement of the sort you describe is not much of a strategic or economic threat. However, the spectre of a meglomaniac, like Saddam, controlling persian gulf area oil supplies would be a matter of grave concern, since the economic self-interst of the people of the middle east would not weigh heavily in his decision matrix on pricing or supplies.”

Yes, you are correct on the market realities that will force oil-producing countries to sell oil on the global markets. I am with you here.

No, I don’t agree with you that (a) Saddam, unfettered and in power, would be able to necessarily control Gulf Oil and (b) I don’t agree that he would be unaffected by the economic interest of the Iraqi people.

Gulf countries have, if they so wish, the money and manpower to make territorial ambitions of an unfettered Saddam extremely expensive, if not unfeasible … if they want to. Israel for example is numerically small but militarily powerful.

Secondly, it is a well known fact that in addition to the coercive measures of his regime, Saddam was quite concerned in promoting the economic well being of his people, as he feared a popular backlash to the privations of war (Iran Iraq war that is). He imported all sorts of foreign goods during the period, and this was part of the reason that Iraq was so deeply mired in debt after the war with Iran ended – because he made the mistake of trying to have both guns AND butter.

During the sanctions yes, he used them as an excuse to maintain his lifestyle without sacrificing anything to the needs of the Iraqi people, because there was an easily (and mostly true) blamable source of the misery - sanctions. However, history does record that before the 1991 war, and sanctions, and even under the repression of Saddam, Iraqis were generally very well off and incomparably better off than they are under US administration. Saddam provided many things for free that one has to pay for in the West, with education being a single but telling example.
 
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Hmm, I just read through that last post and it sounds as if I'm an apologist for Hussein in the last sentences. This is not the fact; what I am pointing out is that in the early 1980's, when Iraq had monetary reserves of $ 35 Billion, Saddam did in fact increase public spending to give the impression that it was 'business as usual' in Iraq, and that the war would not impact on the Iraqi standard of living. This was based on the gamble that the war would be short, and when that fallacy was debunked, and the reserves fell to abysmal levels, this spending spree was halted. Nevertheless, the additional point I'm also trying to shoehorn in here is that there is no comparison between the Iraqi living standards in, say, the early 1980's and 2005.
 
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Abu Khaleel:

You asked the following questions: 1) Isn’t that a rather one sided view and totally dismissive of other interests in the world? 2) Isn’t that what the Russians and the Chinese see the US doing now? 3) Are they justified in doing their best to make the America’s venture fail?

Answer 1: No. Your question presumes that the U.S.'s interest significantly diverge from those of most other countries. This is a fallacy.

Most people in most nations, despite the rantings of Naomi Klein and other anti-globalization types, have benefited and will continue to benefits from increased world trade, particularly since, labor and environmental standards for third world countries are likely to continue to improve over time. The U.S. military, especially its Navy, are the guarantors of maintaining the open sea lanes that such trade requires. Similarly, U.S. interests in Iraqi oil, specifically and in Middle Eastern Oil more generally, are not to monopolize it, but to ensure that it is available to international markets at rational market prices. Thus, unless the Chinese intend to invade the Middle East and appropriate its oil, its interests are served by U.S. action as China is a large consumer of oil with a rapidly growing appetite for that commodity.

2) No. There is big difference. Carter's policy was intended to stop outside invaders from monopolizing Middle East Oil supplies. This is both a rationale and morally defensible policy since, if a military industrial power like Russia or China (or the U.S. for that matter) had control of that commodity it could enrich itself to the determinant of its rivals and could build a nearly invincible military (which to some extent could be built with its rivals money). Also, such a power could attempt to manipulate prices in an economically irrational manner to hurt competing nation states thereby causing global economic recessions, which often results in famine in the least developed countries.

As the threat Carter (as well as subsequent U.S. administrations) were addressing was one based on the Soviet’s nationalizing, cutting off or otherwise limiting Middle East oil supplies to the west. Your question only makes some semblance of sense, if one presumes that the U.S. plans to nationalize, at least Iraq's oil for its own benefit, or to cut off or otherwise limit the flow of Middle East oil to Russia and China. This seems exceptionally unlikely.

3.) No. In terms of economic self interest, the Chinese and U.S. interests are closely aligned since both are heavy consumers of oil. Russian, on the other hand, is a net exporter of oil and has relatively high production costs relative to Iraq. It would be in their best interest to destabilize Iraq for as long as possible to prevent it from increasing its oil production levels.

In terms of strategic interests, unless the Russians and Chinese are convinced the U.S. intends to nationalize Iraqi oil, there are insufficient strategic benefits for them to risk direct confrontation with the U.S. by “doing there best to oppose its efforts in Iraq.” However, if they did indeed believed that the U.S. intended to nationalize Middle East oil or to cut off or limit flows to their countries, from a strategic stand point, it would probably be worth them banding together to fight WWIII against the U.S. The fact that they are staying on the side lines evidences that they do not share your implicit view of an impending American plot to control Middle East oil in a manner detrimental to their national interests.

The frequently raise accusation that the Iraq war was undertaken to enrich U.S. corporations is equally spurious. Unless the oil is stolen outright from Iraq with no payment to the Iraqi government or its people, the massive outlays (hundreds of billions) for the invasion and occupation cannot come anywhere near to being justified. Further, as most of the oil companies and corporations that may stand to benefit are publicly traded internationally, there is no guarantee that the profits from such a scheme would stay within the U.S.

Your three questions imply a belief in an American plan to exploit Iraqi oil for U.S. national purposes which has not been born out by the facts on the ground. Iraqi oil has not been nationalized by the U.S., nor do there appear to be any plans to do so. Short of that radical step, the conspiracy theories positing a “blood for oil” motivation for Bush Administration's decision to invade Iraq make little economic sense.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Bruno:

Saddam was personally responsible for the deaths of (a) ten of thousands of victims of his Anfal campaign against the Kurds as well as (b) the thousands of Iraqi's that dared publicly dissent from his regime. He also bears at least partial responsibility for the million killed as a result of the disastrous hubris he displayed in invading Iran (although Iran's regime bears substantial responsibility for the deaths in the later part of the war after repulsing the Iraq army and continuing the fight into Iraq). He further bears substantial responsibility for the deaths and suffering caused by his equally disastrous decision to invade Kuwait and thereafter his selfish decision to desperately cling to power (rather than accept a cushy exile somewhere) so that international sanctions were required to provide some level of assurance that he might be deterred from further military adventures.

If one puts aside all of the emotional and physical burdens that his victim's and their families were forced to bear as a result of Saddam’s decisions, it is indisputable that most Iraqis, then living, were better off just prior to the Gulf War under Saddam's repressive regime than they are presently.

However, it is hardly a fair comparison between pre-Gulf War Iraq and the present day. This is because Iraq is currently in the middle of an active guerilla war that followed years of international sanctions. A more fair comparison would be between the Iraq of 1986 or 1987 during an active phase of the Iran/Iraq war. I picked the middle of that war since the effects of that prolonged war more nearly approximate the devastating effects on the Iraqi economy of the defeat in the Gulf War followed by years of international sanctions.

I suspect that after the guerilla war is over (unless a brutal, Baathist crony of Saddam is the victor), Iraqis will be better off after several year of rebuilding than they were under any significant portion of Saddam's rule. If they end up with a functional democratic system (including, at least, the rule of law, freedom of assembly, expression and religion as well as protection for minority and individual rights), it is my hunch is that they will be far better off than anytime in the last several hundred years due largely to given Iraq's significant oil wealth, educated citizenry and relatively small population.

Of course, if you are correct in the theory that you apparently endorse that the U.S. intends to dominate Iraq and steal much of its oil wealth, things will not be much different than under Saddam since such a plan would require significant political repression to suppress popular discontent with such exploitation. On the other hand, if the U.S. plan is merely to maintain permanent bases in Iraq as in Japan or Germany, it is quite likely that Iraq would prosper just as those countries have after U.S. occupation (especially given Iraq's advantages discussed above and the significant resources that could be diverted from defense spending since Iraq would be under the U.S. defense umbrella).

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark --

Interesting replies. I found the one that you made to Abu Khaleel the most insightful, so I’ll comment on that first.
[Mark] “Your question presumes that the U.S.'s interest significantly diverge from those of most other countries. This is a fallacy. “

Well, that point is really debatable. Historically the US (and also other countries, yes I know) has used force to protect the business interests of its companies, to the detriment of the native populace of the countries in question. The Chiquita bananas saga is a case in point.

To me the stance of the US at the moment (you’re with us or against us) is hardly taking the interests of other countries into account. It seems as if there is always a fundamental clash of ideologies whenever the US is involved, usually with the US on the side of the individualistic freebooting elements of a society, against the communally minded opposition. Often it seems as though the US is determined to break the peoples of the world down into an amorphous mass of individuals with weak communal / national identities. This may not be conscious policy, but it seems real enough.

[mark] “The U.S. military, especially its Navy, are the guarantors of maintaining the open sea lanes that such trade requires.”

Or, of course, the deniers of sea lanes to countries that act unfavourably towards the US.

[mark] “if a military industrial power like Russia or China (or the U.S. for that matter) had control of that commodity it could enrich itself to the determinant of its rivals and could build a nearly invincible military (which to some extent could be built with its rivals money). Also, such a power could attempt to manipulate prices in an economically irrational manner to hurt competing nation states thereby causing global economic recessions, which often results in famine in the least developed countries.”

Exactly. You are quite persuasive in laying out an argument for the need to control the Middle East’s oil fields ;) This is exactly what I suspect the US is up to. And yes, it ties in perfectly with Neoconservative plans to “maintain and extend American pre-eminence” over the rest of the globe.

The most insightful argument that you have laid out is the seeming inaction of China and Russia over developments in the Gulf. Surely, as you say, if this was the American plan, then these two would band together and fight back ?

To me the answer is not that simple.

First and foremost, we must bear in mind that the USA, in a serious (non nuclear) war, probably has enough firepower to take them both on and wipe them off the map. Costly? Very. But certainly doable.
Quite simply, they do not have the (non nuclear) firepower to do it, and they know it. The risk of open war with the US is still nuclear holocaust, don’t forget, and there everybody loses.

Secondly, we can look at the current situation in Iraq. The US is embroiled in a bloody battle which, if one counts the so-called “non combat” casualties, has probably inflicted around 30 000 casualties on the US military and its non Iraqi allies. The outcome at this stage is far from certain, given that the Resistance is still going strong, and that the recruitment for the US military cannot keep pace with the numbers needed. Next year will be very interesting, if current trends continue. Basically, unless the US can dramatically increase the strength of its Iraqi allies, it is in deep trouble. (Maybe the South Koreans are going to get their wish and see US troops withdrawn to Iraq?) At this stage, with other powerful anti US players like Iran and to a lesser extent, Syria, waiting in the wings, the Russians and Chinese can afford to relax for a while. Iran, if I recall correctly, has significant ties to China, and would serve well as a proxy.

Thirdly, we must consider the fact that Russia has considerable oil and gas reserves of its own, coupled with the option of nuclear energy if prices get out of hand. The initial idea of “starving the Soviets of oil” which was one of the reasons that the US came to the ME in the first place, has long been discredited. The Chinese are far more vulnerable, which is why they are trying to source their oil from alternative places like Venezuela, for example. Still, it’s too early in the game, IMHO, for these players to make any big moves. (Covert stuff, on the other hand, could well be an option. Odd how many planes and helicopters have been shot down in the last week or so. Has somebody been naughty and supplied the Resistance with fresh stocks of Strelas? Hmmm.)

Fourthly, there is the aspect of trade and economy to consider. Now, I’m not an economist, and this is just a theory, but to my knowledge the low value of the Chinese currency coupled with the completely ridiculous prices they export at is inflicting a slowdown on US exports and the economy in general. (Not just the US, I may add; here in South Africa our local industries are being bludgeoned severely by Chinese imports.) Can the US afford to bleed billions of dollars into the Iraqi desert when that money could be better spent at home, perhaps as subsidies? Given the economic climate? Is this an alternative form of warfare, economic warfare, that is being waged by China? On the other hand, for honesty’s sake, I have to mention that military recruitment in the US is suffering partly because of improving economic conditions at home, so this point can be debated.

[mark] “The frequently raise [d] accusation that the Iraq war was undertaken to enrich U.S. corporations is equally spurious.”

Ummm. Here I beg to differ.

Iraqi oil revenues flow straight into the Development Fund for Iraq, and the final decision as to the disbursement of those revenues is at the discretion of the USA. It is a fact that American companies were paid out of the DFI. It is furthermore a fact that +- 11 Billion dollars of US money that was supposed to be set aside for Iraqi reconstruction was instead invested on Wall Street. (I’m not sure if this is still the case or not) It is also a fact that the Finance Minister Abdel Mahdi, was keen, (as were his US sponsors in the CPA) to privatize Iraqi oil and lay it open to exploitation by US firms, and to reduce / eliminate oil contracts signed under Saddam with French and Russian firms.

This is quite apart from the fact that all the big contracts were given exclusively to US / British companies and that indeed, companies from other countries were barred from even bidding in the reconstruction process. This is a bidding process for reconstructing Iraq that was conducted by foreign invaders who actually have no right to decide anything of the sort on behalf of the Iraqi people.

[mark] “Further, as most of the oil companies and corporations that may stand to benefit are publicly traded internationally, there is no guarantee that the profits from such a scheme would stay within the U.S.”

That’s a better point. However, the questions arise as to WHERE do these companies pay taxes (I’m guessing the US) and to WHO the majority shareholders are (another guess: Americans) and as to whether they are selling their shares (guess: no). Another (side) issue is how much of the profit that is made is translated into dividends for share holders. I’m rather green when it comes to finance, but I’m learning rapidly that the person that does the books and that initially receives the money can in fact make it disappear in all sorts of creative ways.

Still, your point is more penetrating than the others, given that I lack the necessary background in finance to really dispute or confirm it properly. This would be quite interesting to follow up on; in fact, I might just do that. Thanks.



On my own reply: We are pretty much in accord on the outlook of Iraq in the 1980’s and today. One’s well-being primarily hinged on whether one was pro or anti Saddam. My statement was initially driven by the statistics that show an ever increasing death rate, which is even higher now than under sanctions.

Yes, a democratic Iraq will be better than under Saddam, if the sectarian differences are resolved. No, I don’t believe that the US came to Iraq to install a democracy.

And, given unfettered exploitation of Iraqi oil fields, the country could possibly be prosperous even under a US proxy regime. It still wouldn’t be free though.

For the record, I don’t believe that the US is out to inflict misery on people deliberately. But I do believe that if it does not get its way it will certainly inflict misery to achieve its objectives.
 
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Bruno:

We agree on quite a few things; here are others that we disagree on. First, joint Chinese/Soviet forces would have a tremendous logistical advantage over the U.S. military since the length of their supply lines would be far shorter than the U.S. lines. Further, the U.S. nuclear threat is offset by the Russians still formidable nuclear arsenal. If you factor in Iran as a proxy, the supply, logistics and strategic depth of a Sino/Soviet/Iranian axis make it quite likely they could prevail in an armed non-nuclear conflict unless the Europeans openly and vigorously allied with the U.S. Such an European/U.S. alliance for the purpose of essentially controlling/stealing Middle East oil seems extremely unlikely. Thus, one cannot escape the logical conclusion that the Russians and Chinese do not interpret the Iraqi invasion as an opening gambit in an American plan toward control of Middle East oil. Also, related to this point, you can't have it both ways, either the U.S. military supremacy is so overwhelming that the next two largest powers are intimidated by it, or the U.S. military is insufficiently strong to handle the military challenge of the rag-tag insurgents of Iraq. Take your pick, but logically, you can't have both.

Second, when was the last time the U.S. closed down a significant portion of the international sea lanes? Answer: WWII. As a free-trading mercantile power, such a move, in times of peace, would be self-defeating. Did you forget that Soviet merchant vessels were free to ply the open seas throughout the cold war (with the exception of a brief time during the Cuban missile crisis).

Third, if America's interest is primarily mercantile and nationalistic as you posit, why not just blockade China? The Europeans, Japanese, Russians and certainly the Taiwanese would probably be more than happy to thwart the emergence of China as a competitive industrial power. Answer: The American public would not support a massive war effort (the Chinese would certainly be justified in treating a blockade as an act of war) for the sole purpose of enhancing its economy. The days of overt colonial adventures for purely commercial gains have long passed.

Fourth, even the PNAC, which is on the far right of American political thought, acknowledges that the rise of China is inevitable. There main thesis regarding China seems to be that providing security guarantees to its neighbors is the best way to ensure that China's rise is a peaceful one. See http://newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf p. 19.

Fifth, there remains an important question that you have skirted. Are the Germans and Japanese free despite the presence of U.S. bases? Don't both of those countries have relatively more "collectivist" systems than the U.S.? Have they not opposed U.S. policy when it had suited them? Where, then, is the jackboot of the vaunted American Imperium to crush that opposition? Perhaps, your characterization is inaccurate.

Sixth, if the real U.S. goal is control of oil markets, why bother with Iraq when Saudi Arabia is the real prize in terms of current output and reserves? Because of the huge scale of Saudi oil production, control of it would give the U.S. the power to regulate world oil prices. If your suppositions are correct that the U.S. could easily defeat the Russians and Chinese and that the U.S. has designs on controlling Middle East Oil, why would the U.S. chose to continue to pay the Saudis when its tanks and airplanes are parked right next store? Your argument just isn't logical. Unless, by control, you merely mean that the U.S. provides a security guarantee that no hostile foreign power will be allowed to invade the Middle East to control its oil. This merely means that the U.S. is ensuring that the people of the Middle East can count on continuing to receive payments for oil from the U.S. and other industrialized nations. If that is the control you speak of, what the heck is so very wrong with it?

Seventh, the oil contracts signed by Chinese French and Russian companies were largely intended as bribes for blocking U.S. efforts to institute "smart sanctions" and as levers to gain long term support for Saddam's attempts to get sanctions lifted. Those efforts to purchase influence with security counsel members did yield some limited successes. Why would the U.S. or any future Iraqi government want to reward those nations and companies who most closely cooperated with Saddam's regime? They gambled on the survival of a despot and lost so I have zero sympathy for them.

Eighth, as to rebuilding contracts, as I recall a number of those countries were offered a chance to bid, if they were willing to join with the U.S. and carrying a share of the financial or security burden in Iraq. Most declined. Further, the contracts that France, China, Russia, et al. were shut out of were the 18 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds and did not include contracts funded from other sources. See, http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-12-10-eu-contract_x.htm . The U.S. has used the leverage provided by contract bidding to induce reconstruction and debt forgiveness for Iraq (Canada allowed to bid after pledging $300 million at the Madrid Conference for financing of Iraq's reconstruction).

Ninth, there was certainly mismanagement by CPA officials of both Iraqi and U.S. funds. Your incorrect about U.S, control of the Iraq Development Fund (IDF) as it was turned over to Iraqi Interim Government last year and the recent audit shows that is was subject to much the same criticism for sloppy accounting. See, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N31668285.htm . Some level of mismanagement of funds is to be expected when a very large organization is created from scratch in an emergency situation, but the levels in both cases seem excessive. The audits indicate that sloppiness, inexperience and haste were the reasons for most of the mismanagement, rather than outright fraud. Hopefully, the newly elected Iraqi government can get its financial act together.

Tenth, and most importantly, how does one make a long term military occupation of the Iraq and/or the Greater Middle East oil producing nations (assuming active local resistance) pay for itself without the conqueror nationalizing at least the oil assets of those countries? Bush's Iraq adventure has cost U.S. tax payers in the neighborhood of 200 billion dollars which is roughly ten times what Iraq was taking in per year under the oil for food program (Saudi Arabia’s income for oil in 2002 was $60 Billion). Assuming a fifteen year insurgency (per Juan Cole) in at least Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait (leaving Iran out since it is clearly too large, populous and has too few oil reserves to be economically feasible), please tell me how you make such a long term U.S. military occupation (conservatively, $1,500 Billion) of those countries pay for itself absent the Soviet/Nazi/Maoist tactics of slave labor camps and appropriation of all worthwhile personal and national assets. Your assertion of a U.S. plans to monopolize Middle East oil rests on an unstated assumption that the U.S. public will follow leaders (after all we will be their cannon fodder) that undertake such genocidal, totalitarian policies on a massive scale. This supposition is utterly ridiculous as current U.S. polls show public support for even the current Iraq invasion continues to wane.

Mark-In-Chi-Town
 
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Mark --

What you say about the Sino-Russian logistical advantages amongst other things is true. Nevertheless, let us admit that a clash between power blocs of such magnitude could be seen in the context of a World War Three scenario rather than the typical regional war like Vietnam or Afghanistan, where great powers fight each other by proxy. Such a WW3 scenario would be an apocalyptic all-out struggle that could, even if the nuclear option is not exercised, leave little of value for an eventual victor to control.

[mark] “Also, related to this point, you can't have it both ways, either the U.S. military supremacy is so overwhelming that the next two largest powers are intimidated by it, or the U.S. military is insufficiently strong to handle the military challenge of the rag-tag insurgents of Iraq. Take your pick, but logically, you can't have both.”

Um, yes you can.

This is the crucial distinction between the scenario that you envision – ie- the Sino-Russians would go to war to prevent US control of oil resources – and my scenario, where they indulge in the usual war – by – proxy that great powers like to indulge in. There is a distinct difference between direct confrontation and proxy confrontation. The US military IS insufficiently strong to handle the Iraqi insurgents in THIS scenario. That is why they are turning to an Iraqi solution to the problem in the form of Kurdish and Shiite militias etc. In a Great Power conflict, you would immediately have a draft, a conversion of a regular economy to a war economy and measures that would drastically affect the personal freedom of citizens. In such a scenario the US could shunt half a million more troops to Iraq and take care of the resistance through sheer force. The US is HARDLY on a Major War footing. It is in a peacetime footing, and has run into problems in Iraq because of it.

Simply put, the war in Iraq has, by even optimistic pro US estimates, around 5 years to a decade to play out at the minimum before the resistance is beaten. Pessimists feel that short of genocide, resistance to the US in Iraq would never be stopped. The game is just getting warmed up – that’s what I’m saying. For the Russians and Chinese to interfere directly, and possibly risk just such a US/EU alliance and major war would be both premature and foolish.


[mark] “Second, when was the last time the U.S. closed down a significant portion of the international sea lanes? Answer: WWII.”

Look, I’m not making the argument that the US routinely resorts to force on the high seas in order to blockade people. The ACTUAL point here is that you are asking the rest of the world to trust wholeheartedly in the US to never abuse its power as the undisputed master of the seas. I’m merely pointing out that that power can be misused. For example, when Iraqi warplanes were sinking Iranian oil tankers, I don’t recall the US Navy springing in to protect them. Yet, when Iran retaliated in sort, it did. My point: the US Navy is a primarily tool of the US Administration and “keeping shipping lanes open” is secondary to enforcing US policy.

When the vote is extended to peoples living outside the borders of the US, THEN I’ll accept the US armed forces as an impartial tool.


[mark] “Third, if America's interest is primarily mercantile and nationalistic as you posit, why not just blockade China? Answer: The American public would not support a massive war effort (the Chinese would certainly be justified in treating a blockade as an act of war) for the sole purpose of enhancing its economy.”

Quite right. See my answer to your first point above. A smaller war effort, however, seems to be acceptable in Iraq.


[mark] “Fifth, there remains an important question that you have skirted. Are the Germans and Japanese free despite the presence of U.S. bases? Don't both of those countries have relatively more "collectivist" systems than the U.S.? Have they not opposed U.S. policy when it had suited them? Where, then, is the jackboot of the vaunted American Imperium to crush that opposition? Perhaps, your characterization is inaccurate.”

An important point.

It is answerable in the context of the emergence of Germany and Japan from the ashes of WW2, where the single unarguable threat facing all three nations was that of the USSR. It therefore made sense for Germany and Japan to accept the US defence umbrella and keep troops on their soil. Of course, they have also been remoulded into American versions of their former selves in the process, and thus their interests to this day are aligned with the US. There is therefore no real argument that US troops are “occupying” anybody – in this case. Although, to be fair, I consider the imposed and pacifist Japanese constitution to have a coercive element to it, because the limitations on the armed force that Japan can employ means that it necessarily must seek a senior partner like the US.

When you say “opposed US policy”, you mean weak diplomatic protests, which is HARDLY the same as raising one’s fist against the US.

[mark] “Sixth, if the real U.S. goal is control of oil markets, why bother with Iraq when Saudi Arabia is the real prize in terms of current output and reserves?”

(1) The Italian company ENI conducted some interesting surveys in which they projected Iraqi reserves as being higher than Saudi Arabia’s. We may yet be in for some surprises. (2) Saudi Arabia is already aligned with the US. American objectives with regards to Saudi Arabia would be to ensure that the US friendly House of Saud is not overthrown in lieu of a more radical anti US regime, which would, incidentally, reflect the will of the populace there.


[mark] “Seventh, the oil contracts signed by Chinese French and Russian companies were largely intended as bribes for blocking U.S. efforts to institute "smart sanctions" … ”

I wouldn’t be surprised.

On the other hand, US companies that have gained contracts in Iraq were courtesy of war and dead Iraqis, so it should not come as a surprise that I have even less sympathy for them. I might be a little more understanding of the US position if the British and Americans had not manipulated the Sanctions regime in order to punish the Iraqi people, as opposed to restricting the Iraqi arms programs that they were intended to stop.

[mark] “Eighth, as to rebuilding contracts, as I recall a number of those countries were offered a chance to bid, if they were willing to join with the U.S. and carrying a share of the financial or security burden in Iraq.”

Are you seriously making a case that a significant portion of contracts went to anybody other than US (or British) companies? *I* recall that the vast majority of contracts went to US companies, especially Halliburton and Bechtel, which did not even have to bid. Other US companies like (if I remember correctly) Bearing Point actually wrote the tenders that they were “bidding” for. Let’s be serious here.

In any case, the fundamental fact remains that: AMERICANS decided that IRAQIS would want their country reconstructed by US companies to US specifications at prices that the US would set that would be paid for with IRAQI money. Where I come from that’s called daylight robbery.

I could cut and paste a raft of excerpts if you really like, that substantiate my position quite clearly.

Finally, on the DFI, I, nor any serious observer, really considers the Interim Government run by CIA asset Iyad Allawi as anything close to a sovereign government. It’s funny that you mention the CPA, because it’s a fact that they doled out BILLIONS in Iraqi funds via the PRB to American companies doing reconstruction work. And I guess it’s just tough titty for the Iraqis of a genuine elected government, if they change their minds on those contracts, because UN resolution 1546, which was drafted by the US and Britain and passed unanimously by the Security Council on June 8, states that the new government must honor all contracts awarded by the CPA.

I refer you to:

Iraq’s 'Sovereign' Government to Have Little Control Over Oil Money
Chris Shumway - NewStandard - June 22, 2004

The resolution [1546] also declares that the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), a mostly non-Iraqi body established by the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank [wolfowitz] , will continue its "activities monitoring" and auditing the DFI until a permanent constitution is drafted and a constitutionally elected government is in place. According to the UN's timetable, such events aren't expected to occur until December 31, 2005.

Given these limitations on the Iraqi government's ability to control oil revenues, the biggest potential source of funding for infrastructure rebuilding in the near term will likely be the money allocated by the US Congress, according to Michael Schwartz, a sociology professor who has analyzed the structure of Iraq's new government and written extensively on the dynamics of popular protest and insurgency movements. While much of the $18 billion has yet to be awarded, US officials maintain complete discretion over the distribution of the money, giving Washington a potentially decisive voice in future Iraqi affairs despite official rhetoric to the contrary.

Writing for the weblog TomDisptach.com, Schwartz contends that the US will "almost fully control the resources necessary to rebuild and maintain [Iraq's] infrastructure and the economy, potentially for years to come." "At some point, oil revenues may be sufficiently disencumbered to provide the economic basis for an independent Iraqi government, but before that occurs, the financial leverage of the U.S. will be overwhelming," Schwartz writes.


On your final point: the question of whether the US occupation of Iraq is economically viable or not. This I have come across before, btw. Fundamentally, we are forced to return to the INITIAL sums and costs that the Neocons so confidently predicted would suffice – costs which were not even near current sums. It is their intent and calculations when they still had a choice in the matter that counts, not what they are spending now.

I put it to you that it never was their intention for the current situation to occur. Their intention was a quick victory, hordes of celebrating Iraqis that would be so grateful at the removal of Saddam that they would acquiesce to the imposition of some relatively benign, but pro US administration. After which the oil production would be ramped up, power flipped back on, and general economic prosperity would settle in thanks due to the Capitalist shock therapy given to Iraq. Iraq would become dependent on US companies for construction and resupply of critical components, as per the plan, and the wealthy US financiers would snap up Iraqi assets for a song, ensuring legal control of the Iraqi economy.

Sure, it might not be a bad place to live in … but it sure as hell would not be FREE, nor would it remain “Iraqi”, as its culture would become subsumed through US commercialism.

These tactics are not genocidal, they are far more insidious and cost effective.

Why wipe out a populace when they can work for you, am I right?
 
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