Friday, July 07, 2006

Will We Be Asking The Same Question Forever?

I love Black Hawk Down. It has great acting, great sound and effects, and doesnt pull punches about the awful truth of what went on. And now, not that many years on, Somalia is a nightmare place where, as in many others, Sharia Law is beginning to squeeze the few remaining freedoms left from its people.

So what did America shed its blood for?

Let's look elsewhere. Well, there's Afghanistan, where the West used the Northern Alliance to do its dying and then turned its backs on them, believing that it would be better off with people who believe that apostasy should be punishable by death. So now it's our soldiers doing the dying instead, and apostasy is still punishable by death in the country we are shedding our blood to protect. I wonder how long before even those like me who thought 100% that the West should have gone into Afghanistan will be looking at the way nothing has changed and asking the above question.

Then there's Iraq. I never wanted the West to go into Iraq. I thought smashing the infrastructure of Global Islamic Terror into pulp was a great idea, but that invading Iraq to do it was an idiotic way to begin. Iran, Syria, 'Palestine'...yes. The world would be a far safer place if, for example, Mahmoud 'Wipe the Jooooz off the map' Ahmadinejihad had never had a chance to grab the reins of power in Iran. But Iraq? Big nooooo.

You know the question already. I'd actually quite like to hear the answers of those who would like to take the time and trouble to give them.

UPDATE: That's a lot of answers. Keep them coming guys and gals, I'm really enjoying the debate :)


Blogger Tom Tyler said...

Perhaps part of the reasons for invading Afghanistan and Iraq in the first place, was to provide the necessary air bases and multiple directions from which to launch an effective attack on Iran when the time comes. Think about it - the USA can now attack Iran from Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan. Coincidence, or good forward planning?
That's my theory, anyway.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Bruce said...

I'm in Australia, have an Honours degree and 20 years experience studying South Asia, specialising in religious conflict. Afghanistan, the base of Bin Laden, was the obvious place to start. Laden threatened to retreat, ultimately to Iraq, if chased out of Afgh. Pincer movement, cops at the front door with others at the back. What's hard to understand? What's more Afgh base gives leverage over Pakistan, also a possible threat. Iraq is right fuck-bang in the heart of Arabia, with the most secular and western-friendly populace of the region. You didn't know this? Sack the BBC. And drink bottled water. From the bizarre comments coming out of Europe these days the reservoirs may be spiked with acid or something.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Afghanistan, as I said, I agreed with. Morally, tactically. But now the West has allowed the creation of a new, Taliban-lite regime for...what, so we can have decent airbases to attack Iran from?

As far as Iraq's secular, western-friendly population, what the hell do you call al-Sadr and his Shia buddies? The Sunni displaced from power and prominence?

There is a western-friendly population in Iraq, of course. It has within its nominal borders a very large chunk of Iraq's oil, it is very anti-Islamic and indeed lost far more soldiers than the West did clearing Saddam's troops and Al-Ansar supporters from Northern Iraq. But noooo, once again because the Kurds dont make trouble and dont make a mess, they have been marginalised to keep Turkey happy.

But oh look, we've chosen to support a government which is now negotiating with the Sunni extremists and promising them amnesty, just like it did with al-Sadr's Shia (who by the way have pledged their full and violent support for Iran should the West invade - great place to launch an attack from then!).

Please keep commenting Bruce. I'd really like to have this debate with people who arent conducting from the point of view of 'Bushitlerburtonoilbloodpassmemycopyofdaskapitalplease'.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were enough reasons to invade Iraq in isolation (WMD, Hussein being a genocidal maniac etc)
But after 9/11 a decision was made to deal with the Islamic threat as a whole and as Tom and Bruce point out the invasion of Iraq provided a stunning blow to the solar plexus of the Arab world and source of the terrorist threat and positions the US very well to deal with e.g Iran should it need to.
The fact that the oil supply for most of the western world is protected was, I'm sure, a nice bonus

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Bruce said...

Really Dad, all these things were coming anyway. The West hasn't allowed it, any more than we formerly allowed Sovietism. This is the new war. Today its in Iraq, and right across Asia actually - very scary developments this year in Indonesia for example. But, tomorrow it may be in Bradford etc. It is happening beyond our control. We are only able to bring the inevitable struggle forward. Which is to our advantage.

In fact the only gripe I have is the British in 1947 creating Pakistan for a dangerous anti-democratic aristocrat class from Delhi (Moghul descendants) who did nothing to deserve it, and providing them with half the Indian Army, one of the world's best at that time, to maintain their power. As I watched the towers falling on 9/11, I was saying to my wife, 'Pakistan has got to go, Now!' But that's a big big task, perhaps beyond our current ability. What we discovered during the Iraq invasion (from Gaddafi) about Pak's spreading 'islamic' nukes, was simply the most frightening discovery in our lifetime. Iraq was worth it for that alone.

Sorry about flippant tone of former post but I get very frustrated. I have Indo-Brit contacts, non-Muslims, who nonetheless believe the most weird things. It is very worrying.

I am short of time but I'll come back and discuss this with you again. I'm actually a fan, and a DSDad too. Keep it up.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Bruce said...

When I say Iraq has the most secular western friendly and you say what about the Shiites... You see the problem I hope. I am not talking perfection, just relative tactical plus and minus. Syria, Iran, Pakistan, all are possible targets, but in each the entire populace would have opposed invasion, which is simply not the case in Iraq, even now. And southern Shia give us some leverage (spies?) into Iran, which is a plus not a minus.

The irony is that we once created Saudi yet they may be the source of the trouble. Taking it back as a hostage would be easy, but is the doomsday option. Would send shockwaves thru the world. Tasks in ascending order of difficulty in my view begin Afghanistan, then Iraq, then a big jump in risk and impact after that. However bad Iraq appears it is nothing compared to the rest.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The major problem with Iraq is that it is not a proper country, boundries were drawn up by UK & France. People are diverse Kurds, Sunnis, Shias, Assyrians, Armenians etc. There will be no peace through democracy, better get out let them sort it out for themselves. No strength through diversity there!

3:00 PM  
Blogger dearieme said...

A "stunning blow"? They look pretty unstunned to me.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the world would be a better place if we left the middle east alone all together, Isreal are good at sticking it to the muzzies without our help, we should not interfere and let them sort it out.
Winner takes all, maybe not a very agreable solution for the far right who have a history of sideing with muzzies against jews, but its would certainly stop our troops going to their deaths in foreign lands.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Dangerouslysubversivedad said...


Just Search 'Kurds' on this Blog for many, many rants on this theme.


To a large extent I have to agree.


No doing the party line thing. Bad boy.


I dont feel that posturing for several months to allow Saddam to ship his WMDs to the countries we would presumably be attacking next such as Syria was exactly a stunning blow. And we're seeing how the huge threat of the US Army on its border is having precisely zero influence on Iran's pursuit of nukes and stated intentions to wipe out the Jews. IMHO they are laughing at us because we chose completely the wrong target.


In Syria and Pakistan I'd agree that the population would need 'violent pacification'. In Iran this is not the case. There are ethnic tensions in Iran that are easily exploited, and a number of opposition organisations just itching for liberatipon. IMHO the population are NOT as united behind the mad mullahs as many think.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I supported both the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.

As for why Iraq - it's simple. It is impossible to fight a defensive war against terrorism. Sooner or later they'll get through somewhere and you have a 9/11, 7/7, USS Cole or Tanzanian Embassy.

Bush did the right thing by taking the fight to the terrorists. Afghanistan was no good - too remote and not no one really gives a stuff. Iran would have been good - but they had no good justification at the time. Iraq was ideal. Already had a UN mandate - despite what people say - and they had a perfect despot enemy in Saddam despised by his own people to justify it further. So Iraq it was. And contrary to what the MSM tell us, it is going very well. The conflict has attracted thousands of jihadis who have gone - and they have been killed in their thousands. After some four years the number of US deaths is still fewer than in one terrorist attack on the US.

On 9/11 three and ahalf thousand US citizens were killed while the enemy lost just 19 of their jihadis. On 7/7 it was 57 UK citizens for 4 jihadis. That's a great strike rate for the jihadis. Since the Afghan/Iraq wars it's around 40,000 jihadis for 2500 US/UK soldiers. That's a much better strike rate for our side. It could be even better if we stopped pussy footing around trying to "arrest" them and just shot them dead - but then the liberal handwringers get all upset.

Keep it up GWB, you're doing one hell of a good job.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

''A "stunning blow"? They look pretty unstunned to me.''
Well it made Gaddaffi shit himself for a start and the saudis are awfully quiet now. It was long overdue reminder that SHOULD the US have the resolve there will be only one winner in this war.

''I dont feel that posturing for several months''
AKA building a coalition and attemping to get UN approval for the invasion.Yes it took too long but that's international diplomacy for you.

''having precisely zero influence on Iran's pursuit of nukes and stated intentions to wipe out the Jews.''

Talk is cheap.
And I imagine the Israelis will have some input on questions of their continued survival.

''we chose completely the wrong target''
Bollocks I'm afraid as has been explained to you by others already.(Tom)
Remember that Iran was one of the Axis of Evil mentioned by Bush.
Are you suggesting he forgot he said it or mistook Iraq for Iran?
Iraq gave the US the opportunity to get close to Iran.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Anonymous 1:

Agree on the impossibility of a defensive war against terrorism. But still yet to see the slightest evidence that Saddam was sponsoring even a fraction of the world's terrorism that either Iran, Syria, 'Palestine', Pakistani elements or Saudi Wahhabia is doing.

I agree that the Iraq invasion has created a long-term 'Meeting Engagement' situation whereby the Jihadis are committing themselves more and more into stand-up fights where they are being slaughtered. I disagree that Iraq was the necessary target for this to happen. If it had been Iran not only would the situation be the same but the threat from the Iraqi Sunnis would have been neutralised because they would NEVER have come to the aid of the Shia regime in Iran. Wrong target, worst of both worlds because we have TWO oppositions to fight at once. Yes, its wiping them out faster but it also means we will be mired longer when we need to be striking at the very extreme threat of Iran.

I TOTALLY agree about the idiocy of conducting a war like some kind of police force. The sight of British soldiers being forced to respond to mortar fire and petrol bombs with riot shields and batons makes my blood boil.


Seeing as you chose not to be overly polite, I'm minded to act the same way. If you think the 'saudis' are quiet, you obviously havent noticed the way they have been buying up media shares and donating huge amounts to US universities which then continue the 'University Jihad' against the West and then sponsor radical Islamists - even ex-Taliban officialdom! - to enter the States. The Saudis do not have military means to fight the US, but they have unlimited monies with which to fight the propaganda war and are doing this VERY effectively.

Talk about killing Jews may be cheap, but getting closer and closer to building nukes isnt. This is the most important threat to our security which exists worldwide, and it should have been squashed before it began - but no, this 'nation-hopping' nonsense began and here we are intending to launch an invasion from a country which still has in many areas a hostile population. I still fail to see why the target could not simply have been Iran in the first place.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assuming, for arguments sake, that the Bush Admin actually believed Saddam had WMD, the move into Iraq was logical because Saddam had used WMD in the past and he had a long history of thumbing his nose at the West.

Now that we know that Iraq had no WMD, it can easily be said that going in there was a mistake.

The major reason for Iraq, however, was not Bush. It was Saddam's own idiocy combined with the poor quality of Western intelligence.

Once we went in to Iraq, we certainly could not have walked out because it would become another state w/o a government- the perfect hotbed for terror.

Thus, Saddam's stupid game of chicken with the USA & Britain (why did he engage in brinksmanship when he had nothing? moron.) backfired with bad consequences for the USA, Britain, and most of all himself.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dad - you're right that Iran would have been better - maybe even ideal - but at the time they could never have justified it. And in this crazy upside down world where Western states are expected to abide by almost impossible standards while murderous regimes get to sit on "Human rights" councils and pass judgement, this is considered necessary. For now.

As for Saddam's links to terrorism - there is certainly evidence that there were meetings between Saddam and Al Qaeda representatives as early as 1999. Sure, he was no big deal compared to Syria or Iran - but he was still a terrorist sponsor.

Like I said, I support both wars - but I don't have any illusions about the outcome. As soon as we leave both countries - maybe even before - they'll start turning back into despot regimes.

And despite my support for the military action, I also believe our leaders should be held to account for the criminal way they treat our brave soldiers - who go into battle with crap rifles, missing vital equipment and patrolling in ridiculously unsuitable vehicles that put their lives at risk. And if that's not bad enough, they have to fight with one arm tied behind their back and one eye on the human rights vulture lawyers waiting to pounce.

Sorry for the long post. Great blog, btw. Keep it up.

11:38 PM  
Blogger Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Mr List Administrator,

We know Saddam HAD the WMDs, as he had already used them against the Kurds. The question really is should the invasion have gone ahead in the knowledge that he had had six months to remove them over the border?

Anonymous No. whatever (make up names if you like people, call yourselves Mrs Poopyhead if you like, just give me something to tell you apart here!),

I couldnt agree more.

6:41 PM  
Blogger JohnM said...

You need to recall the context of the time.

1. Inspections. Saddam had been flouting UN inspections for several years. The only reason they went back at the end was precisely because of US pressure. It was the threat of military action that caused Saddam to readmit those inspectors.

2. Sanctions. Sanctions were all but a busted flush at the time. Even if we ignore the Oil for Food scandal, pressure was growing for sanctions to be lifted. For example, Saddam was taking great pains to ensure that Western media showed convoys of hearses carrying "dead children". CNN, the BBC et al all showed this stuff without questioning either whether it was true or not. Nor was there any examination into Saddam's culpability. Only a minority of media outlets complained that Saddam was building palaces at the same time as his people starved.

Many of the people who claimed that war was wrong were the same people who were campaigning for sanctions to be lifted. Many countries were prepared to break the sanctions regime, particularly France, Germany and Russia. There are even accusations against Britain and the US.

The cumulative pressure was growing to drop sanctions.

3. We must factor in the effect of US deployment in the middle East.

If the US had withdrawn post deployment, this would have been likely to encourage Saddam and Islamists. They would have seen this as a defeat for Bush. We only have to look at what happened after US withdrawal from the Lebanon and Somalia.

Alternatively Bush might not have deployed in the middle East. In this circumstance, then some alternative options might be possible but I'll come back to them. The immediate effect is that it is unlikely that Saddam would have moved to try and placate Bush. We definitely have no weapons inspection.

In either case, it is unlikely that sanctions would have lasted much longer. At some point, it would seem reasonable to suppose that Saddam would resume any WMD program if he hadn't been doing so already.

4. Momentum. It is arguable that Bush's failure to go to war immediately gave Saddam time to hide or export his WMDs. Against that Bush had just won in Afghanistan and was ready to move onto the next target while support was high. He delayed mainly because Blair wanted him to obtain UN support before moving. In the end that was counterproductive in many ways. Nevertheless such support was unlikely to increase in the medium term. Ally this to the fact that the attack would have to occur before summer, and it was a case of now or never.

5. Terrorism 1. Saddam was heavily involved with financing terrorism in the middle East. Historically, this was more Nationalist than Islamist, but it is unlikely that Saddam was unaware of the way the wind was blowing.

5. Terrorism 2. It seems that Saddam was involved in several meetings with Al-Quaeda. This is consistent with Saddam lending tacit support only, (up to that time). However, with the US humiliated by a withdrawal and Saddam emboldened by the collapse of sanctions, it is extremely plausible to assume that such links would have been strengthened. It is likely that Al-Quaeda would have created bases inside Iraq and possibly be given access to chemical and biological weapons. It is often said that Osama Bin Laden was opposed to Saddam, and was seeking to topple him. Even if true, after losing his base in Afghanistan, Osama would have reached some accomodation. After all Islamists who theoretically despise the West were perfectly happy to come to London to organise. Osamma basing himself in Saddam's Iraq is frankly rather more likely.

6. Effect on Afghanistan. As it stands Afghanistan is an island in a sea of hostile and semi hostile states. Islamist freedom fighters are currently mainly drawn to Iraq to fight and die. In the absence of Iraq, it is likely that they would been drawn instead to Afghanistan. The same constant drip drip of negative media coverage would still exist if Iraq had never happened - it would instead (as it is increasingly is) be focused on that country. Under such circumstances, we might have lost that country once again to the head hackers.

7. If we lose the war, it will not be through defeat in the middle East - we will lose it here and in America. It will be lost in the Guardian and the New York Times. will be lost on CNN and the BBC. As we learned in Vietnam, the enemy can lose on the battefield every day yet still win in the second front of the media.

8. Alternatives.
(a) Do more to support the Kurds, perhaps to the extent of independence.
It's hard to see how this would have succeeded without violence exceeding current levels. Moreover, such an action would have severely upset the Turks, perhaps to the extent of them dropping out of Nato. Saddam would have remained a long term threat as would Al-Quaeda, leading to long term Western support.
(b) Alternatively, Iran would face an Iraq with a reduced Sunni minority. It may have attempted to intervene. It would be hard to see how the US could let Iran win, even though it wanted Saddam to lose.
(c) Support the Shia against Saddam. Bush senior encouraged Iraqis to rise up against Saddam in the 1990s and failed to sufficiently support the subsequent uprising. It is hard to see the Shia succeeding unless the US chose to back some local strongman. It would seem that post 9-11, the Bush administration have tried to move away from the "he may be a son-of-a-bitch but he's our son-of-a-bitch" doctrine.
(d) Attack Iran or Syria. At that time, there was no causus belli that would have justified attacking either of those countries. True, there had been in the past but the moment had passed. Consequently, international support for either of those ventures would have been even harder to generate.
(e) Attack N Korea. Little support for such action in 2003 from S Korea or Japan. Then as now it would create problems with China and possibly Russia.
(f) Do nothing. Hard to see how Saddam or anyone else would be contained. Instead of one country in the middle East going for nuclear weapons, we might today be looking at three or four.

9. Conclusion
War is never a positive choice. At best it is the least worst option. In 2003 we found an Iraq that was heavily involved in terror and was currently breaking its international obligations. It represented an opportunity for changing regimes to usher in a better Iraq and ultimately a better middle East.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Devil's Kitchen said...


If you want my opinions on why we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, they can be found here (with a follow-up here).

Essentially, neither of them was Iran.


8:49 PM  

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