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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My explanation for the Iraq War

Prologue: I have been corresponding with a couple of people's e-mails regarding my "It wasn't about the Oil stupid" post. One of the people e-mailing me, Dave, asked me this question: "If it is not about oil, then what, in a nutshell, do you think it is about?". And the following is my response to him. Make sure you read it till the end before making judgments, ok? Now, let’s start with the things we agree on: we were both against the iraq war when it started, and neither one of us bought the whole WMD excuse to begin with. I was one of the people who opposed it when it first started in 2003, cause like every other middle-easterner I knew that the WMD charge is more or less bullshit. And we all know how people who thought so got vindicated in the end. All that is swell, and i am sure all of you who thought so got your "NANYANYANANA" moment and all , but let’s ignore it for a second. Let’s assume that unlike what the left believes, the U.S. doesn’t like dealing with fascist dictators, but in order to preserve its strategic interests it finds itself dealing and even supporting them over the years out of fear for a worse alternative. Let’s assume it realized that the intelligence and security apparatuses belonging to the regimes of such countries are so strong that an inside revolution for democracy ( which it would favor) is almost impossible to happen by itself. Let’s assume a middle-east democracy domino effect was a goal from the beginning ( reports of such plans existed since the mid 90’s) as a means to achieve that end. Now, let me ask you this: how do you get your nation to go to war for another nation’s sake? Well, if one would use the American WWII model, one would in a way get that nation to attack you in order to have justification in front of your people ( who as a rule don’t like going to wars) to join the war. If you wanna follow the Egyptian Israeli war model you would incite feeling of arab nationalism and patriotism among your people and urge them to join the war for the sake of their brothers in ethnicity and religion. Neither method would work in this specific case: the Iraqis would never be able to attack the USA and you can never sell such a war and commitment to the American people who share no real common history or kinship with Iraq. Add to that the fact that the man you chose to start with happens to be the guy who tried to assassinate the current President father. How do you do it? Well, you lie and you mislead. You lie and mislead really really well. You use the fear that your people might have from the middle-east region since 911 as way to get your plan through. Fear is an effective sales tool; you know this as well as I do. So they used it to start the momentum to go to war and you have to admit that it really worked on a lot of American people. But you also cite all the other reasons for such action, but you put the WMD one at the forefront. Now, are there other reasons why Bush might have chosen Iraq, besides the stupid “Blood for Oil” argument? Sure. One of them is to eliminate the reason for Bin Laden Jihad on the US : the American military presence in Saudi. After the first Gulf war, the first Bush could’ve taken out Saddam but chose not to, because he didn’t wanna get himself in the shit-storm that the American troops are in now. However, Saudi and Kuwait were vulnerable for another Attack if the US left since they have virtually no army. Hell, Kuwait has virtually no people. So they asked the US to stay because next door was a crazy fucker who wanted to take over their countries for whatever reason. That caused the Fatwa by Bin Laden and started the Jihad that many muslims saw justified. The only way for the US to get out of that problem was to leave Saudi, but they couldn’t as long as Saddam was still next door. So they had to take him out. And now there isn't a single US soldier in Saudi. You would think Osama would now stop his Jihad, but nope, he is still an asshole about it! It was expected and wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, cause by plotting 9/11 he crossed that point of no return and the US was now fully after his ass. Anyway… Then there is the psychological warfare aspect of it all on the arab psyche. Iraq is one of the biggest arab countries with one of the biggest militaries with Saddam on top of it surviving and striving and killing his own people all throughout the Clinton years. You seriously couldn’t find an arab leader that is worse then Saddam in terms of his dictatorship and viciousness. No one even comes close. So, if you take the big boy out, all the other leaders will start shaking in their boots and wondering if they are next. You get the people of Iraq- who had it worst then even the egyptians in the days of Nasser- to have democratic elections, and get them to get past their sectarian differences and agree and the rest of the arab public will start demanding a piece of that action. Plus, by taking that country over, you apply pressure on the next big two countries with dictatorships that you previously didn’t have the ability to pressure politically and economically: Syria and Iran. With you right there with troop presence on both of their borders, they have more of an incentive to act right towards their people when they start asking for democratic reforms. Democratic reforms take place, despotic rule gets overthrown, people in the Middle-east will have a reason to not be hating the US that much any longer. Economically and in terms of casualties, it also makes sense. On 9/11 the US lost 700 Billion in the stock market and 3000 lives, and that’s in one day. The economic recession that followed cost the US even more money, with people getting laid off, asking for unemployment, not making as much money and consequently not paying as much taxes. I repeat, all of this happened in one day. In comparison The US war in Iraq has cost so far 175 Billion and lost 1500 soldiers over the course of more then 2 years now . Applying a pragmatist point of view, the comparative costs of the Iraq War (which whole purpose and plan is to prevent another 9/11) are worth it and are a hell of a lot cheaper then another 9/11 for the US government and People. Also, not fighting the terrorists on American Soil: Big Bonus, maybe a little selfish but a Bonus nonetheless! The Arab countries are rich countries Dave, but they are 3rd world countries because they have regimes that are more interested in stealing from their countries then building them up. Ignorance and poverty are everywhere in an area that has a lot of wealth and one hell of a cultural history. In a democracy this wouldn’t be the case,it wouldn’t happen. In a democracy people wouldn’t be as angry or hateful and wouldn’t accept blaming the “evil jooooze” for all of their problems, like they do now. You take the power of choice from a person and you take away his sense of responsibility; you give it to them back and you got more responsible people who are more concerned with their welfare and making it then in blowing themselves up. This would lead for better economic conditions and a more peaceful atmosphere in the region, which makes everyone happy. It also makes the US happy cause better economic conditions means bigger GDP per capita in those countries which means more consumers who will be able to buy American goods, instead of burning stores that carry them. It’s an ambitious plan, but it is working so far. You won’t see the effect of it now, but my guess, by the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (2011), you will be viewing a completely different and improved middle-east. One that has people who don’t want to see Americans dead as much. You will no longer have to say that you are canadian when you do visit those countries. Wouldn’t that be a nice change?


At 4/12/2005 08:45:00 AM, Anonymous richard said...

I think there is little room to argue that the war wasn't founded on lies. What did Iraq have to do with 911, for example? But having said that, Bush Jr. did the right thing, Saddam was a despot who killed many thousands of his own people simply because he wanted to. HE was the WMD, in plain sight.

I disagree with you on Iran, vehemently. With US forces on either side of Iran it hasn't done anything to mollify them or slow down any progress towards nuclear disarmament, and the diplomatic efforts by the European community are a joke. I almost liken it to Chamberlain and Hitler, "peace in our time". They come out and say Iran isn't enriching uranium then satellite photos are released of an enrichment plant, and then exiles release information, then the Iranians come out with an "oops, yes we forgot to tell you about that." As we should all know, cornering a dangerous animal doesn't make it peaceful, it makes it more dangerous and deadly. The argument that they need nuclear power is laughable, they sit on one of the largest gas/oil fields in the world. They recently set aside $2.5B to purchase nuclear weapons, and purchased nuclear-capable cruise missiles from Ukraine. Operating, and admitting to, laser-enhancement uranium enrichment facilities doesn't help to allay nuclear weapon fears, and we should all wonder why everyone is concentrating on ancient technology like centrifuges when laser-enhancement is clearly a more up-to-date method. Not only that but they openly develop intercontinental ballistic missiles. Does anyone here NOT believe they are aiming for nuclear weapons?

You said that "Arab" countries are rich (I quote that "Arab" because not ALL Middle-East countries are of "Arab" descent - Syria-Sumer, Iran-Persian, Lebanon-Phoenician, Egypt-Egyptian) - what is your basis for this? Because most Middle Eastern countries have oil? Or are there other cannot-do-without-resources, like copper, iron, platinum, gold, palladium, uranium etc?

At 4/12/2005 10:38:00 AM, Blogger Rosebuds said...

my only issue with the "WMD lie" is that everyone thought they it was true, your not lying if you beleived it at the time..not just Bush and his cabinet beleived it but Kerry, Clinton, Allbright, and every other senator or congressman who read the intelligence reports not to mention the Brits...and apparently even Saddam himself believed since one of his scientists recently revealed that they had destroyed the remaining anthrax and buried it on one of his palaces and were afraid to tell him!!!! Anyway everyone beleived it to be true so yes it was used as the primary argument to go to war because they could sell it to the American people to go to war. The other reasons Bush stated of regime change, freeing the Iraqi people, and spreading democracy in the middeleast to defeat terrorism would not have been enough for the American people to support going to war. If someone argues that Bush lied they also have to argue that so did everyone else, I don't remember anyone beleiving that he didn't...including all the middleeast governments.

At 4/12/2005 11:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The international intelligence community really believed Saddam had WMD. That no weapons were found, although some reports suggest he may have moved them to Syria, doesn't indicate a lie, it does indicate being wrong.

So why did the US go to Iraq? Al Quada's major grievance with the US was its presence in the Gulf and in the holy land of Saudi Arabia. The US was there because of Saddam. After 9-11, the US decided it was high time to get out of the middle-east and the way to do that was to remove the reason why it was there - Saddam.

WMD was the only reason that would get agreement from the international community.

If the other countries were so much against the war, why didn;t any of them offer to take over the no-fly zones so the US could leave the region and stop pissing off more terrorists?

At 4/12/2005 11:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the WMD thing was more about bullshit than a lie. If they were lying about it it would mean that they knew there were no weapons.

I think it was bullshit, members of the Bush crew have wanted to destroy Saddam since the eighties, and they thought that when Saddam was disposed of it would be the begining of an/the Arab Spring. They discussed the possibility of WMD's in Iraq decided that there were probably WMD's and told everybody else that he definatly had them.

It wasn't a lie because they did not know the truth, but they were definatly bullshitting about the WMD's.


At 4/12/2005 12:42:00 PM, Blogger Happy Bushra said...

Once again great good post Sam, I think your take about the two approaches towards democracy in the ME are logical and realistic, keep up the good work...

At 4/12/2005 03:09:00 PM, Blogger Bushman said...

While I'm not sure if Bush outright made the intel services make up WMD excuses, or if he just used existing ones that were shakey because he wanted it to be true, or if he was genuinly fooled that they were true. Other than that you have it spot on.

Two things here are really a shame.
1. Its sad that we had to rely on the WMD thing to get this invasion started because it really will damage US credibility.
2. It iss sad that you have the clarity of thought to understand the situation so well when so many Americans can only splatter themselves with fake blood, wrap themselves in a palestenian flag, lay in the street in protest and yell "Bush is Hitler" and "No blood for oil".

I vote that we kidnap SandMonkey and force him to become a US citizen :)

At 4/12/2005 08:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sam. Great post. To Richard, I don't think the US presence in Iraq will intimidate the Mullahs in Iran to change their ways. However, I do think it gives the general public or opposition a little more confidence and a bigger desire as Iraq improves. I believe they will eventually bring that regime down by themselves.

At 4/12/2005 09:11:00 PM, Blogger doug said...

I just found your blog courtesy of "Iraq The Model".
Like others I don't believe that the WMD was a 'lie'.I almost wish it had been as at least then we could have relied upon the 'Intelligence' Agencies to actually KNOW something.

That said,I agreed 100% with your comments.I just hope that there are millions more like you who see that freedom and personal responsibility is the only true path out of the 'hopelessness' which infests the ME.

As for Europe(OLD EUROPE,anyway)-- ptui !!

At 4/12/2005 11:04:00 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Sam, I don't think the whole WMD thing was a lie. All the intelligence agencies all over the world were convinced it was true. It wasn't just American Intelligence, it was German, French, British, all of them (including many of the leaders in the middle east). But I agree, there were other considerations, the primary one being what you stated so well in your letter.

I'm not worried about American credibility. Look at the way the world is acting, like spoiled children. If we had found the WMDs do you think for a minute things would be different? No, they wouldn't, the spoiled children would just find something else to complain about.

At 4/13/2005 12:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SM said,
"Economically and in terms of casualties, it also makes sense. On 9/11 the US lost 700 Billion in the stock market and 3000 lives, and that’s in one day."

The 911 attack was shock to the American psyche and we're a changed people because of it.
Before the attack Americans lived in a sort of a sleepy denial, but 911 was like the crossing of the proverbial Rubicon.

No longer will world events be played under pre-911 rules.
I believe this fundamental change contributed to the decision to take Saddam down. No longer could America afford to just play defense, when in doubt take the battle to the enemy.

Who really knows all the most closely held intel? Do you think congress even knows? Would you trust the Beltway blabber machines?

That said, before the Iraq war I wasn't too thrilled by the prospects of a ground war or worst of all an OCCUPATION.

I thought the greatest risk (fear)would likely be a civil war spreading to neighboring countries with lots more causalities, American and Iraqi.....

Well Events in Iraq are looking up..my worst fears were wrong.

I salute all the Iraqis and Coalitions partners who have sacrificed and given the whole Middle East a chance.

Patrice Lumumba

At 4/13/2005 12:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice post!

A few thoughts...Geography was another reason I think. Iraq borders Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. NO OTHER COUNTRY borders so many important coutries causing trouble.

I read a post on an obscure blog by someone who claimed to have access to top people who said it was an iceburg theory...that the ME was frozen...and not solving its problems and so this would start melting the iceburg....not sure if this is true...but it was an interesting post.

I have a funny suspician..again...I'm not sure if its true..more and more evidence seems to come out regarding Iraqi involvement in the Oklahoma bombing. Clinton might have covered it up so he wouldn't have to do anything about it....

Just a few thoughts....

At 4/13/2005 01:30:00 AM, Anonymous Ruth said...

Sam, I really like your blog and this posting as well.

Just wanted to offer my 2 cents adding to your thoughts.

Deterrence might also have been a consideration.

After 9/11 the US government had to realize that it was perceived a paper tiger in much of the Islamic world. Running from Beirouth, running in Somalia, not taking Saddam Hussein down in ’91, not really reacting neither to the first attack of the WTC nor to the bombings of its African embassies or warships in Aden and many more incidents in the same strain had added up. In order to regain deterrence the USA had to prove its might. What better candidate than Iraq? Technically it was in breach of the UN sanctions resulting from the ’91 war. I think it was Powell then who persuaded Bush to try for an official UN go-ahead. That’s when the argument of WMD gained weight although it was not the only argument. BTW the good people of old Europe believed in it probably even more than the US administration. Why it was one of the prime arguments against the war! Conveniently most of them have by now forgotten their apocalyptic predictions but I still remember. Since I am writing from Israel I also remember shlepping the gas mask everywhere and working out emergency plans for the kindergarden my kids attended.

Keep up the good work!

At 4/13/2005 03:05:00 AM, Blogger Kelli said...

From my understanding Bush was always after Saddam, even before 9/11. Saddam had been avoiding UN inspectors, who were pretty whimpy if you ask me, for 10 years. He was totally hiding something. I dunno if it was WMD or chemical warfare. But it was worth hiding and we know he's slippery.

The lame thing about politics is to do anything you have to move in these stupid chess moves. You cant just double jump or go forward. Certain pieces can only move in certain directions. It makes for a lot of BS to do what you want to do.

Thats not a justification its just how I've noticed things to be. Straighforward is not really how anything is done. I do have to give Bush credit though, he has always been up front about nabbing Hussein and he did.

I think all this will change the ME but I think things could get a lot uglier before they become US friendly.

At 4/13/2005 06:03:00 AM, Anonymous Hellme said...

I think you're being a little bit too judgmental SM, but then again, this is your blog, so fair play. Here are my comments anyway:

- Why would the current (or any) US (or any) administration favour a democractic Iraq (or Middle East)? You believe that a democratic ME wouldn't feel so negatively about the US and hence would do more to improve US interests in the region. Please tell me - improve US interest so that what happens? American boycott movements are a joke, and during the war, people still ate at McDonald's, still watched American TV, still listened to American music. What, exactly could the US want more from the region, if the reasons it wants the ME to be democratic are based on self-interest? I for one, don't think the reasons are altruistic, but I don't think a democratic ME would serve any American interests either - more on that in a while.

- If you submit that the Bush administration lied and misled Americans into the war, why is it any different *in principle* to any other despotic regime? This is a theoritical question, ofcourse I know the practical differences, but do you think anyone, including Americans, should succumb to a government that lies, regardless of how 'good' and 'wholesome' the motivations are?

- You oversimplify Bin Laden's case. This isn't about US military presence on Saudi soil - this is about what he considers American hegemony and the subjegation of Arabs. This is about Masjed Al Aqsa, American support for Israel (sorry, had to be said) and obviously, US presence in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Now, I think Bin Laden should be captured, tortured, chopped up into little pieces and then fed to his followers, but I think your assumption that Bush wanted to eliminate Bin Laden's argument by eliminating Saddam is a little naive.

- The US was doing a pretty good job wollaping Iraqi ass with troops in Kuwait. It could've reduced its force in Saudi without influencing its ability to deal with Saddam if it wanted to. It also has stations in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. I know reaction time to an Iraqi threat isn't the only reason, but I think that argument is a little weak.

- "Democratic reforms take place, despotic rule gets overthrown, people in the Middle-east will have a reason to not be hating the US that much any longer."

Do you actually believe that? Do you believe that Arabs are going to look an Iraq and think 'I want some of that'? Do you think the average Egyptian - your bawab - would ever say that? What is the relationship between free and fair elections, and US influence?

- If the Bush administration thought that it could 'liberate' Iraq at whatever cost, which would mean it could stop having to worry about another 9/11, it needs a serious wake up call. Mubarak said it right the first time: this war has bred a million Bin Ladens, because the Iraq war - unlike other forms of political/economic intervention - has become an Arab 'issue'. If you want to do a proper calculation, please bear in mind the cost of Homeland Security, immigration procedures, 'diplomacy payouts', the effects the war has had on business and international relations, and what not.

- "The Arab countries are rich countries Dave, but they are 3rd world countries because they have regimes that are more interested in stealing from their countries then building them up."

Another oversimplification. This part of the world is certainly not as rich as other parts are, and as one of your readers puts it, not all Arab countries are indeed resource rich. The despotism of their governments isn't the only reason they are 3rd world countries. Assuming that 'democratic' governments would mean economic posperity is, in my opinion, wrong. It'll make economic progress easier, but it certainly won't make us developed countries.

- Why are you assuming that nuclear power in some hands is good, in others is bad? If this is about the leaders, will the US allow Iran nuclear weapons and WMDs if its current leadership was changed? Why does the US and Israel have WMDs, but not the rest of the world?

- "You take the power of choice from a person and you take away his sense of responsibility; you give it to them back and you got more responsible people who are more concerned with their welfare and making it then in blowing themselves up."

I disagree. People still need to learn what that responsibility means, and what to do with it.

At the end of the day, I'm the biggest supporter of a democratic ME. However, the goal in this case does not justify the method. In my opinion, and based on my own judgments, it's done more harm than good. Now, I'm not some rabid anti-American zealot foaming at the mouth to see some infidel blood. I'm worried that democracy, in its current guise, with the MEs current condition is bound to mean Islamic governments. That is in no one's favour, but even if the US has a plan to deal with it, as an individual with a right to vote, I don't want an Islamic government. I therefore have the right to observe, and comment, when foreign powers claim that they are looking out for what they assume is 'my best interest.'

In any case, you present an interesting argument. I just don't agree with most of it, but it's compelling nevertheless.

At 4/14/2005 08:53:00 PM, Blogger Solomon2 said...

A nice, independent voice in the Why is the U.S. in Iraq mode.

Let me also address the issue of why the U.S. claimed WMDs first and foremost in the War Against Saddam. Had the U.S. claimed to be fighting for democracy and decency, it (1) might deny the U.S. allies among the other Arab regimes, all of whom would feel threatened, and (2) no one would have believed President Bush -- not because they wouldn't have believed him, of course, but because it was so comforting to believe in other things.

At 11/08/2005 08:45:00 AM, Anonymous Andrew Brehm said...

This must be one of the best articles explaining the reasoning behind the war.

The cost/benefit analysis is a very good point!

At 2/15/2006 12:34:00 AM, Blogger Christine said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2/15/2006 12:37:00 AM, Blogger Christine said...

Ok, so I realize you wrote this article almost a year ago. Unfortunately and fortunately I recently discovered you and it. First of all, I agree with most here. The thought and reasoning behind this post is great.

I also want to point out another benefit that this war has had. And even though things are still rather shaky in Iraq right now, I believe these benefits will continue. The relationships that have been built up between people and the ME are rather astounding. I also believe that there has been an ongoing education going on. An education that has created a lot more understanding between people around the world than what existed before.

I also feel that one of the side benefits you mentioned is starting to see fruit. Other's in the ME are beginning to see, hear and understand what democracy and freedom are about. Obviously, this is only the first baby steps. But, with so many young people like yourself and BP, the word is spreading. Your honesty in all of your posts can and will do much more for others than all of the politicians in the world. You are doing a really good thing and you have every reason to be proud and reach for the stars.

Thank you for what you are doing for me and for those like me who come here to learn and understand.


At 2/23/2006 10:21:00 AM, Blogger scandiwoman said...

'Blood for oil' is not entirely literal. The word 'oil' connotes money in general so you do largely agree that the motivations are mostly financial. In your best scenario Bush wants to spread democracy to then take over the markets, make a buck.
Secondly, what motivated the US to save Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the first place? Wouldn't be oil now, would it?
I am not a person of absolutes, I tend to lie somewhere in the middle because the world is often rather gray, but when it comes to Bush and his supporters, they just seem so insanely driven by money this kind of greed is so astonishing. As I said, things are usually gray, and ousting Saddam was good but whatever Bush and co.'s actions are (whether they are good or bad) they are always motivated by money -lots of it (and they are no Robin Hoods).

At 7/21/2006 11:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

[quote]You won’t see the effect of it now, but my guess, by the 10th anniversary of 9/11 (2011), you will be viewing a completely different and improved middle-east. One that has people who don’t want to see Americans dead as much.[/quote]

As your last arguement, it looks like that's the one you think is most powerful or the one you yourself like most. And, it's one big box of crap. Defining how the Middle East will have improved by how they like Americans more than now... I'm laughing my ass off.

And the war is for the oil as much as it is for your sick president Bush's feel of superiority or whatever his screwed-up personality is seeking.


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