Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Strategic Beauty Of The Iraqi Campaign

Do you play chess? The battle against Hussein is such a fabulous move in the war against Arab Fascism because it works on so many levels. It's like moving your knight into a position where it is triply protected and it attacks five enemy pieces including the King and the Queen.

The case for battle against Hussein is thus:

1. We were already at war against him.
2. The ongoing war against him was tying up American resources anyway.
3. Iraq was a problem that hadn't been solved.
4. The solutions we were trying were showing few signs of working and there was increasing pressure to abandon them.
5. Keeping a large number of US troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to keep pressure on Hussein was expensive, unlikely to correct his WMD problem, very unlikely to result in his overthrow and even more unlikely to result in his replacement with a significantly better government.
6. Many of our troops were based in Saudi Arabia. This both upset Muslims who didn't want kufr in the Holy Land and demoralized our troops since the Saudi's treat kufr like excrement.
7. Iraq had WMD's and had used them in the past. They may have destroyed them before the war, but nobody on the left or right, in Europe or America believed this at the time.
8. Iraq supported terrorists with logistics, training and cash, including Al Quaeda.
9. Saudi Arabia is the biggest supporter of Islamic terrorism, especially ideologically.
10. Saudi Arabia had been our ally for many years and had fought alongside us in the first Gulf War.
11. As a democracy it is difficult and takes time to consider an ally to be an enemy.
12. Attacking Saudi Arabia could easily escalate in a major world-wide war with Islamic nations, and could go nuclear.
13. Saudi Arabia does have all that oil.
14. OTOH almost everyone hated Hussein.
15. Having all the Iraqi oil online will make the Saudi oil less crucial and it will lower oil prices which cuts their ability to fund terrorists and it will boost our economy which makes paying for the war easier.
16. It puts pressure on Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt.
17. It pays off fabulously well in a humanitarian way.
18. It allows us to address a root cause of Islamic hatred by ceasing to support repressive dictators and bringing the very best thing we've got, democracy, to the Arab world. This is a worthy, positive goal to shedding our blood and spending our money. Not just fighting Communism or fighting Fascism, but promoting democracy.
19. I really hate 'He may be a dictator, but he's our dictator'. If you bring up Uzbekistan, please realize that I don't like their government and wish we could dump them but we can't do everything at once.
20. We've actually been pretty good at midwifing democracies when we stick with it. Sometimes it takes a long time. Here's a list: The Philippines, Western Europe (which was very iffy after WWII), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
21. We're also very good at creating repressive dictatorships when we bug out before victory: North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Angola, Somalia and Afghanistan.

The battle against Hussein has risks. The second biggest is that we bug out before mutual victory. The biggest is that when we bug out prematurely we end up with something much worse. Mutual victory is a good government in Iraq with a healthy relationship with the US.

The biggest problem with Iraq is that it is a war. To many this is like saying the biggest problem with my plan for personal wealth is that it involves a murder. They are completely repulsed by war. My reply is that we were already at war with Iraq. It was just a low level war with a large amount of red on red civilian casualties (Hussein's strategy seemed to be to kill more of his own people to claim we were creating a human right tragedy).

I had read about and considered all this before the war, which is why my opinion changed from unsure to blood-thirsty war-monger. I don't think Bush deceived us, because I don't feel deceived. To me it seems like a no-brainer, but then I'm not actually a very good chess player, nor do I seem to have written any respected military histories.

I've never had to promote or sell a war to a republic. In addition, Bush could not emphasize all these points because they could have driven other countries into the Iraqi camp. Perhaps his sales job could have been better. It seems to me that Tony Blair is good at that sort of thing, and look at what a hard time he is having.

Is your stand against the Iraqi campaign a no-brainer for you? Are you repulsed by war? Do you have trust issues with Bush? Do you dispute most of my claims? Since there are so many positives, I think you have to discredit a lot of them as well as come up with some big negatives to convince me the Iraqi campaign is a mistake.

Steve Malynn points out that 1-8, 16-18, 21 and 22 of my points above are expressly addressed in the Joint Resolution that authorized force in Iraq. (I don't know where he got number 22.)

I've often heard cries for liberals to provide counter strategy if they don't like Bush's. It is very difficult to come up with a different strategy because, well, strategy is really hard. I do hear doves, both liberal and conservative, make intelligent arguments against the Iraqi campaign. Note that there is a difference between 1) intelligent, 2) convincing and 3) absolutely free of logical errors. #2 is harder. #3 is way harder. Not sure I've ever seen #3 on any side. Jerry Pournelle, who has written important works on military strategy, has some excellent arguments against it, which can be summarized as follows: This march (accidental or not) towards an American Empire will doom the Republic and make serfs of our descendants.

Jerry also offers alternative strategies.

Jerry cannot, however, be described as a leftist. Too bad more leftists don't read his stuff.

Note: I pulled this from the comment thread of two posts by Dean Esmay. I know this post isn't well written but I like it anyway.