04 January 2007

Invading Iraq, killing bin Laden

I want to respond to the comment by Chell on the posting below, but the comment format isn't really suited to a comprehensive reply, so here's a separate posting.

Ya know, the only problem I have with all of this is who we targeted and for what reason. I'm not crying over Saddam's execution. I'm just angry that we have spent so very much human life, time, money, not focusing on Osama bin Laden. Where is he?? What happened here because of him and his followers was a nightmare that many will have to live for the rest of their days.

As I see it, there were three reasons for invading Iraq:

(1) To overthrow the most brutal government in the world, for humanitarian reasons.

(2) To abort the WMD development programs which most governments at that time agreed Saddam probably had -- the disagreement was over what to do about it.

(3) To install a democratic government in a major Muslim Arab country, hopefully inspiring other Middle Eastern peoples to also create democratic, prosperous societies which would alleviate the conditions which Bush believed were responsible for the rise of terrorism.

If one accepts their own premises, (2) and (3) were certainly integral to the so-called War on Terror (a name I don't accept -- terrorism is a tactic, whereas the enemy is Islamic imperialism). Saddam was certainly supporting terrorism, even if not al-Qa'idah specifically. He was doing everything possible to give the impression that he had WMD programs (probably because he was trying to intimidate Iran). If I had been in Bush's place, knowing what he knew then, I would have invaded based on (2) and to some extent (1).

Bush and his people vastly underestimated the difficulties of (3) and never did adequate planning, a disgraceful oversight which may have doomed us to ignominious failure (though I think it's too early to say so yet). I think they were misled by the fairly easy transition to democracy in much of eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. Remove Saddam, and Iraq would stand revealed as another Poland. Well, it's not another Poland or even another Belarus. Bush's circle didn't understand Islamic culture and wouldn't listen to people who did.

As for bin Laden, killing those responsible for Sept. 11 is a lower priority than preventing another (and worse) Sept. 11, but clearly it is a priority. Remember, many other top al-Qa'idah figures have been killed. I think we came close to killing bin Laden at Tora Bora. As for why we still haven't killed him, hunting down one well-hidden individual can be difficult. Major Nazi war criminals remained at large for years after World War II. Most likely he is hiding in Pakistan and any operation with a good chance of getting him would inflict so much damage on that country that the Pakistani government would fall, something Bush does not want to risk. At any rate, he will be hunted and in constant fear of betrayal as long as he lives, and his health is said to be poor. I do not think he has gone entirely unpunished.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with most of what you posted. And the point where I disagree came and went too long ago to make any difference now. It was when the Bush "regime" (I know, them's fightin' words to some, but, well, this darned opinionated keyboard! ha! delete this post if it offends you) used 9/11 and some unproven, ultimately untrue claims about WMD programs and facilities to rile many Americans into backing the attack on Iraq. Meanwhile, Osama slipped even deeper into the shadows. There's no going back in time, so arguing about all that at this time only deepens the divide between Americans who stand on opposite sides of that debate. Yes, if one were to believe the WMD stuff, if it truly had been tied in with the terrorists that attacked us on our soil, it would have made plenty of sense to attack Iraq. Yes, it would have made sense to help a country escape a brutal government- with proper planning, and our own country not in need of those resources to defend against and track down the ones who attacked us. As far as trying to install, and install for long term, a democratic government in that neck of the woods, IMO we're morons. That's just not a good fit. Also, a country doesn't have to be governed in the same manner as we are to be peaceful, productive, or even a pleasant place to call home. Sorry to take up so much space here, but also, I think you're right about Osama not going unpunished. His power and his quality of life have diminished, and he must certainly live in constant fear. Good.

04 January, 2007 23:40  

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