Friday, September 27, 2002


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The following is something I sent to a mailing list in response to one person's questions about America's policy on Iraq.


Here's my spin on things....


The overarching theme of George W. Bush's foreign policy
objectives is that the United States ought to be able to act
unilaterally and without international consensus. This is totally a
self-interested decision; as the world's only superpower, it has
nothing tangible to gain by submitting itself for approval by the
international community. Few are willing to just give up a position of
dealing from strength. The mainstream left wing is fond of pointing to
the money trail that links much of the current administration to the
American oil industry. In a way, that obscures the point of Bush's
actions. There are strong ideological motivations for opposing the
principle of international cooperation exemplified by the push for
such things as a war crimes tribunal or the Kyoto Protocol,
irrespective of how the opinions of "big business." I think there are
at least some who would be willing to go to war even if it went
against business interests.


Saddam Hussein, I think we can all agree, is a potential
future threat. How far down the road until that potential is realized
is up for debate. The Bush tem had hoped that the international
consensus could be funnelled into anti-Iraq sentiment, but failed
miserably to link the Hussein regime in any way to al-Qaeda. Expecting
to find the smoking gun, the U.S. rushed into the breach. However,
unable to build up an Amen Corner, America stands almost alone.

There is a fear of appearing weak. Weakness invites predators.
For example, Israel cannot afford any stance that makes it appear weak
or giving in, as that historically leads to attacks. For that reason,
the only way that I feel there is a possibility of resolution in the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for the United States forcing a
resolution by holding a gun to the head of Israel, so to speak, as the
only country with the reputation that allows Israel to back down.


A unilateral mission to overthrow Saddam Hussein seemed at one
point to be the clearest, easiest way to overturn the precedent of
international mandates for military missions set by such efforts as
the Persian Gulf War. It still is, and I expect the current
administration to continue pursuing a policy of 'regime change" as the
best avenue towards creating a Pax Americana with the U.S. free to act
at will. The phrasing "making the world safe for democracy" only makes
sense within Bush's foreign policy objectives if understands the
mental reservation used, and that the goal is ""making the world safe
for [American] democracy." That is not to express a desire to promote
American-style democracy, but to express a desire to protect the
democracy known as America.


If my conclusions are correct, I can think of at least one way
to make the Bush foreign policy team apoplectic while giving them
exactly what they demand. Give them a strongly-worded UN resolution
authorizing "regime change" the moment that weapons inspectors are in
any way stymied, resisted, or harmed, but attach the condition that
Saddam Hussein must be captured and brought before an international
tribunal.


My stance on Iraq is this: I am perfectly willing to sell
Saddam Hussein up the river, to achieve other goals. If I were the
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait, I would express a willingness to not
only support but take part in military action in Iraq, with the price
of a full American push for a Palestinian state and a role in creating
the political architecture of a post-Saddam Iraq. Well, I am not any
of those states, so my own personal agenda is a bit different, but you
get the picture. There are things that can be done, all of it of
course under the table. We can't get the perfect world we want, so we
need to prioritize and choose what facets we want to pursue based in
part on what is most attainable.

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