Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Saddam and Bin Laden

Did Saddam Hussein cooperate with al-Qaeda to attack America? The Institute for Defense Analyses survey of Saddam Hussein's relationship to terrorist organizations, based on 600,000 captured documents, categorically concludes they can't find the connection -- there's "no smoking gun (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda" -- but thoroughly documents the Iraqi dictator's systematic use of terrorism to attack Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Iraqi dissidents all over the world and, when it suited him, American interests.

The lasting value of the IDA report will be as a portrait of a certain type of Middle Eastern state, for whom terrorism is a normal instrument of policy. Although the report is about Iraq, it could just as easily describe the basic structure of statecraft in Iran, Syria, Egypt, "Palestine" and Saudi Arabia.

Saddam's terror aparatus ran along two tracks. There were the "in-house" killers, composed of intelligence operatives, frequently supported by their diplomatic missions overseas and there were the contractors; some small outfits and others full-service providers in the way that major consulting firms are.

Captured documents show how murder was routinely staged out of Iraqi installations. So standardized was the killing process that Iraqi intelligence actually had quality control inspectors who would certify carbombs, for example, as "read for duty".

Readers will be surprised to learn that Saddam's in-house terror apparatus had developed the IED, EFPs and even the suicide bomber as early as a decade before 2003. There were competitions among the different Ba'ath districts, for example, to see who could recruit the most suicide bombers. Young men who were on Saddam's scholarships for example, were expected to participate in martyrdom training, thoughtfully scheduled for summer vacation.

Saddam's strategic use of terror was creative and flexible. It was used for both offensive and defensive purposes. To achieve this, Hussein maintained liaisons with all the major, many of the minor and sometimes some of the insignificant players in the terrorist world. They ran the gamut from Hamas to the wretched Mahmud Ghalib, who apparently ran a one-man cell in the Philippines attempting to keep tabs on American, Saudi and Israeli activities. He maintained a network of emissaries, agreements and arrangements among terrorist powers large and small eerily analogous to the diplomatic missions and treaties of the overt world.

The goal of Saddam's terror policy was primarily to enhance his regional power. He dreamed of a pan-Arab superstate with himself, naturally, at the head. He mobilized his in-house and contract army of killers to eliminate dissidents, destabilize rival potentates and often, as a substitute for conventional military power. Although the third rate Iraqi conventional forces were only good for discomfiting equally mediocre armies like those of Iran, terrorism gave him global reach.

But since terrorism was a typical tool in the region, as much in use by other countries as himself, a large measure of Saddam's efforts were devoted to using his terrorists to infiltrate other power's terrorists or to keep tabs on powerful independents. The IDA notes that nearly all the terror outfits in the region, including al-Qaeda, were essentially bidding for the same demographic pool of rootless, violent young men.

As one of the bigger players in the region, Hussein often functioned as a terror venture capitalist. He had the equivalent of business development consultants on the lookout for promising startups.

Saddam's intelligence services were always watchful for emerging movements. In December 1998, the IIS developed a new resource in the form of a small, radical Kurdish-based Islamic movement. In a series of memoranda, the IIS reported being impressed with the new terrorist organization's "readiness to target foreign organizations.. .Iranian border posts, and Kurdish parties ..."

New talent would be encouraged, and when suitable, offered a lucrative contract or promised support. Although Hamas is now associated with Iran, in the early 1990s it was a major supplier of services to Saddam; and Iraq's intelligence chiefs reported Hamas' fulsome declarations of loyalty to President Hussein. In the end, practical considerations were less important than ideology. Despite the fact that Saddam was characterized as being a secular socialist who was antipathetic to al-Qaeda, in fact Hussein dealt and built relationships with very same groups which al-Qaeda dealt with. The Islamic Scholars Group of Pakistan, Islamic Jihad, the Jam'iyat Ulama Pakistan were all listed by Saddam's intelligence agencies as groups with which they had warm relationships and cooperation.

In fact, Saddam's intelligence people attempted to recruit a group called the Army of Muhammad (another startup) to assassinate members of the ruling house of Kuwait and determined they were really a front organization for al-Qaeda taking orders from their controllers in Yemen. As the IDA study emphasizes repeatedly, Saddam's men could no more avoid al-Qaeda than commercial representatives of rival companies bidding for the same clients could avoid using the same hotels. They were all in the same business and traveled in the same circles.

Saddam viewed these groups through the eyes of a pan-Arab revolutionary, while the leaders of the growing Islamist movements viewed them as potential affiliates for their Jihad. In other words, two movements, one pan-Arab and the other pan-Islamic, were seeking and developing supporters from the same demographic pool.

Which makes the lack of a strong al-Qaeda connection the more intriguing for its apparent absence. If Saddam Hussein could maintain liason with the relatively insignificant terror groups in the Philippines or the Islamic Scholars Group of Pakistan; if he could keep in close touch with Hamas, why did he not have a similarly well-developed relationship with al-Qaeda? Whatever Saddam's attitude to Bin Laden may have been, the Iraqi dictator would have realized that al-Qaeda was a major player in the business. He would have wanted at the minimum, to keep tabs on al-Qaeda in case it posed a threat to him. And despite Saddam's "secularism", which never got in the way of his relationships with other Islamic groups, there was a prima facie basis for limited cooperation with al-Qaeda. Before the US campaign in Afghanistan, Iran looked apprehensively on al-Qaeda's activity with the Taliban. Saddam, who had constantly been at odds with Teheran, and who used many of his terror assets to kill Shi'ite sheltering inside Iran, could not have been oblivious to the potential utility of al-Qaeda against Teheran. And, having several times attempted to kill Saudi Royals (as is documented in the IDA report), Saddam would naturally have appreicated al-Qaeda's contacts in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

My own view (and it is just based on a hunch) is that the final chapter in the Saddam/al-Qaeda saga has yet to be written. The IDA's characterization of the relationship between Saddam and Bin Laden's "terror cartels" as being similar to the Cali and Medellin drug empires rings false. The IDA report analogy is that "both [drug] cartels competed for a share of the illegal drug market. However, neither cartel was reluctant to cooperate with the other when it came to the pursuit of a common objective-expanding and facilitating their illicit trade" the implication being that both Saddam and Bin Laden behaved the same way. But al-Qaeda and Saddam's lines in the terror business were sufficiently differentiated for this comparison to fail. Al-Qaeda's business model emphasized Islamism and direct attack on America while Saddam's focused on building up a network of states in the Middle East. Both endeavors were complementary. Al Qaeda could fire the imagination of the entire Islamic world, but only Saddam's regional strategy could secure the petroleum resource from the West. Taken individually, neither Saddam nor Bin Laden's vision could carry the day. Taken together ... well that was another matter.

It may well prove to be the case that Saddam Hussein had no direct involvement in the September 11 attacks. And yet it may emerge that both Hussein and Bin Laden were partners in a strategic sense, each complementing the other.




The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.

38 Comments:

Blogger al fin said...

Excellent read, W. By identifying "the dog that did not bark" we find the clue--where to look.

Clearly Saddam could not afford to ignore Al Qaeda, nor could he afford to be ignorant of their activities.

Basic, minimal liasons were to be expected--at the least. The absence of documentation points to something deeper than superficial connectivity, and the need to cover up.

5/06/2008 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Lucid and perceptive commentary most appreciated. Themes of Arab secular nationalism (Saddam) vs. monomaniacal theocratic visions of a global Caliphate will likely be with us for some time, until Salafist/Wahabi Islamists' supply of petrodollars drains away. Allah be praised, that time is probably no more than 10 - 15 years off (say, 2025).

Over this next generation, we think the toppling of Saddam Hussein in favor of a quasi-representative, Constitutional regime in Baghdad will increasingly loom large. It boggles the mind that genocide enablers in our Congress and elsewhere would cheerfully consign this pivotal region to Killing Fields of Cambodia, Laos, wherever Hanoi's murderous thugs oozed in.

By 2012, if we can stay the course, Iraq will serve as object lesson to al Qaeda and its hellish ilk.

5/06/2008 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Pyrthroes: It boggles the mind that genocide enablers in our Congress and elsewhere would cheerfully consign this pivotal region to Killing Fields of Cambodia, Laos, wherever Hanoi's murderous thugs oozed in.

Is your concern for the well-being of the people in Iraq, or the "pivotal" strategic nature of Iraq? Because there are places like Myanmar and Sudan where the well-being of the people is in grave danger, but their homelands have not become pivotal. At least not yet. A refugee in Darfur may very well pound a tent-peg into the ground and get a blast of Texas Tea in his face. And then, overnight, we will have to send an expeditionary force to ensure humanitarian relief in that newly pivotal region.

5/06/2008 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I should have added that the IDA report characterizes a mode of activity, and warfare that exists wholly outside the Geneva convention. It's a portrait of a widely practiced mode of statecraft that's entirely "black".

As you read the report, with its hostages, false flag operations, assassinations, carbombs, prolonged torture, etc. you get a glimpse into a world that international lawyers simply don't know how to deal with. It's unregulated. A total jungle ruled only by cunning and force.

We fight these unregulated killers with our highly regulated soldiers and are surprised and sometimes outraged when only we appear in the dock. We shouldn't be surprised.

We have no law to cover this type of warfare and yet this is how things are done in a large and strategic part of the world. In short, we don't the institutional framework to deal with the categories of activity that states like Saddam's and organizations like Bin Laden's engage in.

Hence the observation that the IDA report is best read as a portrait of a world that's not supposed to exist, but does. Understanding this world is more important than understanding diplomatic niceties and protocol. Not knowing which fork to use can cause embarrassment. Not knowing how the world works can result in more dire consequences.

5/06/2008 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger j- said...

*A refugee in Darfur may very well pound a tent-peg into the ground and get a blast of Texas Tea in his face. And then, overnight, we will have to send an expeditionary force to ensure humanitarian relief in that newly pivotal region.*

It's always amusing when the [dis]loyal opposition brings up Darfur.

Look, if you want the Marines to land there and start killing Islamist murderers like the janjaweed, it would be fine with most of the readers here even without your hypothetical oil strike. Ten seconds after the Marines arrived, however, the anti-"Crusades" types on your side of the argument would immediately "reframe" the "debate" into non-stop squawking about Islamophobia, etc.

And if you think a tent peg is going to hit a gusher, well, you've been watching too many reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies.

5/06/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Reading the report, I was also struck by the degree to which Israel was both a lever and roadblock to the great totalitarian ambitions of the region's despots.

A lever in that the destruction of Israel was the one thing that apparently united everyone who disagreed on everything else. A roadblock in that Israel's existence constituted a fundamental check on the worst ambitions of the worst leaders imaginable.

A world without Israel would be a world where Saddam's or Osama's ambitions would actually be achievable. While the Jew lives their dream of glory dies. It occurred to me that one of the reasons the Jew was so hated was because he was in the way.

The contrast between Saddam's vision of the future and that of liberal democracy is so great that I can never look again upon a sincere Arab democrat wtihout feeling a sense of awe. To truly subscribe to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence is to to reject, root and branch, the ideology of the Saddams and the Bin Ladens.

5/06/2008 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Pyrthroes said:

"Themes of Arab secular nationalism (Saddam) vs. monomaniacal theocratic visions of a global Caliphate will likely be with us for some time, until Salafist/Wahabi Islamists' supply of petrodollars drains away. Allah be praised, that time is probably no more than 10 - 15 years off (say, 2025)."

Be careful what you wish for. Peak Oil will eventually wreck the Middle East's economy but be pretty hard on our own economy as well. Also, I believe things will get nasty sooner, i.e. 2020.

The analysis of Saddam in Wretchard's original post is correct. In my opinion, Saddam started out as a utopian idealist but ended up a cynical tyrant. Saddam's original political model was an Arab version of national socialism that evolved in Egypt during Nasser's time. Read the Wikipedia article about the Baath Party. The decay and collapse of Baathism more or less paralleled Saddam's metamorphosis from an idealist into a savage tyrant. It's interesting to note that Baathism was a response to the failure of the Ottoman Empire's Islamic theocracy. Baathists were mostly secular and saw Islamic fascists as their natural enemies. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (al Qaeda's ancestor) was largely a reply to Baathism. It's both ironic and typical of the Middle East that Saddam saw these mortal enemies as tools towards advancing his own political interests.

Saddam was a very dangerous man. He could easily have become a Middle Eastern dictator in the same league as Joseph Stalin, Mao or Hitler. Saddam failed mainly because his political objectives had a head-on collision with the economic interests of the United States.

Off-Topic: I'm reading a fascinating historical novel by Robert Harris, titled "Imperium". It's about the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero. Cicero was a very interesting man. Harris has done an excellent job of presently the high points of Cicero's political career. I strongly recommend this book.

5/06/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Testing said...

teresita: Is your concern for the well-being of the people in Iraq, or the "pivotal" strategic nature of Iraq? Because there are places like Myanmar and Sudan where the well-being of the people is in grave danger, but their homelands have not become pivotal.

So help me understand what you are saying. Is it that the US should stop genocide where US strategic interests are NOT at stake, but should let genocide continue where US strategic interests are at stake? Or are you saying the US should stop all genocides no matter where they occur? Or should the US stop no genocide?

5/06/2008 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/06/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

The 2002 War Authorization (which Hillary voted for) required the President to formally certify a link between Iraq and 9-11 and also formally certify that diplomacy alone was not stopping the WMD threat. Bush then told Hanz Blix to stop looking for WMDs and evacuate Iraq immediately. Then we went to war. Five years later, even Bush admits there was no evidence of WMDs and no link to 9-11. He filed a false government report, but perhaps not deliberately. But that means the original War Authorization (only Congress has the power to declare war) is no longer in effect; indeed, it has never been operative. I don't accuse Bush of deliberately lying, but I do believe he was duped by Saddam.

5/06/2008 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Thrasymachus said...

We did have a way to deal with this, but Frank Church put an end to that.

5/06/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Katchoo said:

"The 2002 War Authorization (which Hillary voted for) required the President to formally certify ... that diplomacy alone was not stopping the WMD threat.... I don't accuse Bush of deliberately lying, but I do believe he was duped by Saddam."

Saddam used chemical weapons (Sarin and mustard gas) extensively in the Iran-Iraq War, in the Kurdish genocide and stockpiled chemical weapons in Kuwait during the Persian Gulf war. Saddam's nuclear program stopped mainly because the Israelis destroyed his Osiraq reactor. The nondiscovery of WMDs in Iraq was a huge surprise. Some say that Saddam himself was surprised.

Saying "Bush lied" causes moonbats to feel moral. The more they repeat this the more moral they feel.

5/06/2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger numerian said...

Wretchard - what do you make of this?
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/photos/3rd-infantry-saddam-911.jpg

5/06/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

numerian,

It's been shown that the "airplane attack" idea has been around for some time. It is at least as old as Operation Bojinka.

There are probably lots of "business ideas" floating around in the terrorist world, like the schoolyard attack, the nursery massacre, the biological warfare threat, etc. The limiting factor is probably execution. There's no shortage of malice.

It's not unlikely that the Husseins, Assads and Khameinis of the world are constantly having to review terror "project proposals". They'll back a horse if they think it'll win.

When the US hit Afghanistan they "got into the water". That is to say, became able to influence events directly. This is good, but it's not enough. Somehow the whole basis of this terrorist politics must be dismantled. And it has to be taken down at two ends. The first end is that of their support groups, who vicariously cheer on terrorism. The second is to attack the operational infrastructure of terrorism.

On the day bold young Middle Eastern men think it's a better challenge to cure cancer than kill the Emir Kuwait we will have won.

5/06/2008 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Wretchard said...

"I should have added that the IDA report characterizes a mode of activity, and warfare that exists wholly outside the Geneva convention. It's a portrait of a widely practiced mode of statecraft that's entirely 'black.'"

People seem to understand their lives according to 'schema,' in the language of psychology, or as part of 'narrative,' to use the language of literary theorists.

As Wretchard notes, "In short, we don't the institutional framework to deal with the categories of activity that states like Saddam's and organizations like Bin Laden's engage in." Indeed, Western opinion has to a considerable extent internalized the schema of anti-Semitism and/or of Marxist critique of liberal capitalism as the default means for understanding the perpetual violence and hatred of the Middle East, Columbia, fill-in-the-blank country.

The IDA report shines a bright light on the machinations of Middle East; or perhaps we might say that it lifts the stage curtain on what has been happening backstage of the action.

Gradually public opinion can change. Prior to the surge, probably only G. Bush was willing to push ahead with an Iraq project. What else could he do? Now there is public assent to the value of the surge ("not that the nincompoop Bush had anything to do with it"). If the surge had not worked, you can imagine what narrative would now be dominant. Perhaps the IDA report would have lingered in the shadows, if it emerged at all.

Sen. Lieberman was brilliant in comparing liberal response to terrorist threats as "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."

Liberal critique of the U.S. war on terror reminds me of the WWI British insisting on playing by the rules in the midst of a new kind of warfare. Yes, they are butchering us, but we won't lower ourselves to their level. And, besides, "they lack our altruism" ("Breaker Morant"), and aren't such values what is really important?

In the same way, terrorists want to use our communications and legal system against us; and the liberal response is "let's keep to the highest standards regarding individual liberty and privacy, because these are values that are supremely important, even if we end up leaving ourselves open to attack. . . . And besides, Bush is a nincompoop!"

5/06/2008 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

Wretchard, you suggest one reason the Jew was hated was that he was in the way. Of the original Palestine Mandate. Israel received only 17% while Arab Jordan received 77%. Syria's Golan Heights represented another 1%. The Gaza Strip was assigned to Egypt. The total area of 6,220 sq km under the legitimate, UN-authorized control of Israel (not counting territory won in subsequent Arab-Israeli wars) is only 0.04% of the total area of the Arab world plus Iran. Yet the Jew was somehow still "in the way" and this required several attempts by he Arabs to cast them into the Med.

5/06/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

Amend that last, the West Bank was the final 5% of the land, and it was administered by Jordan, and then became more or less autonomous under the Palestinians.

5/06/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

I guess Teresita forgot all about US intervention in both Somalia and Bosnia- two areas which have no oil at all.

Kind of throws a throws a wrench at that whole "blood for oil" nonsense.

5/06/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger putnam said...

Stephen Renico,

You have to realize that Teresita wants to be a "Wrechard with a heart", and I think she may have something for him.

That is the only reason I can see why she would continually be blessing us with her "I really care and you fascists don't" attitude.

5/06/2008 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I have elsewhere observed that Saddam's Iraq and Iran were competing interests when it came to terrorism both in and out of in the ME. The current Iranian president still is a person of interest in a German murder investigation.

What I find interesting is the power, created by invading Kuwait and the resulting dust up and isolation of Iraq, was only partially filled by AlQ, as Sunni terror interests were put on hold by US activity in the Gulf.

The greater slack was taken up by Syria, Hezbollah and Iran, and indications are their plays are being rejected in Lebanon, Basra and Sadr City (The jury hasn't even been convened, much less sellected, in Gaza). KSA's Wahabi citizen's interests in AlQ are coming in for a hard confrontation with reality. The Black political realities are failing to achieve any of the ends desired, and dancing with the devil (Bin Laden) came with a high price.

I is my opinion, the current culture is waning, having been brought to the light of day, and shown to be little better than the ravings of a spoiled child or worse the advanced machinations of a criminally inclined gang of car salesmen. What is erected in its place, what is selected in its stead, will be the measure of the war on terror's success or failure. It is with a recognition of the high irony of the situation that I conclude the Legacy of the GWOT will be forever the legacy of the next President of the United States.

"HOT POTATO"

5/06/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Stephen Renico: I guess Teresita forgot all about US intervention in both Somalia and Bosnia- two areas which have no oil at all.

America's involvement in Somalia was as part of a multinational force carrying out United Nations Security Council Resolution 794. It was put together by President George Herbert Walker Bush after he had already lost the election to Clinton, but before he stepped down, and Clinton carried on until the Mogadishu raid the following October. It was derided by conservatives as more "New World Order Nationbuilding". The Bosnia involvement was within the NATO framework and was generally successful, but at any rate, I'm not making the claim that we only like to trade "blood for oil", I'm objecting to sugarcoating the use of force in pursuing economic interests by using humanitarian whitewash.


Putnam: You have to realize that Teresita wants to be a "Wrechard with a heart", and I think she may have something for him.

Right ethnicity, wrong gender.

That is the only reason I can see why she would continually be blessing us with her "I really care and you fascists don't" attitude.

I haven't called anyone here a fascist recently. But if the jackboot fits...

5/06/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

The other aspect of Saddam's use of terror is that it encouraged more of it. He provided yet another, and very wealthy, customer. This encouraged more supply to meet that demand.

His use of terror made it easier, too, because the more of it there was, the easier it was for the Left to decide that it was a normal, healthy reaction to years of abuse by the West.

And when something gets easier, you do more of it.

John Kerry and the others who wish to put terrorism the the Law Enforcement box became used to it, like a frog being boiled slowly.

That is why we had to start draining the swamp somewhere.

5/06/2008 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

We seem to have entered an unusual period in which many of Wretchard's most compelling insights appear in the comments on his own posts.

5/06/2008 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard --

You point to something critical. Men like Saddam, and the world of advancement by killing (see also, Pablo Escobar, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahari, and likely, Ahmadinejad) is totally foreign to most Westerners.

No political leader, media person, commentator, or the like understands advancing by killing people for a living. As Saddam did, an Assassin for the Baath. Or Ahmadinejad, torturer/killer for Khomeni.

They can't understand it, and so fall into traps. Thinking "peace" is achievable with just the "right deal." The last generation that dealt with death, killing, and dying has left the stage, and even Israel lacks this kind of experience. Peace can be deadly in a bad neighborhood.

Globalization of course extends that neighborhood virtually from Yemen to say, downtown Manhattan.

Next, you mentioned that peace will come when Arab young men find curing cancer a better bet than the local Emir.

Wretchard, such a day will NEVER come, in our lifetimes. In fact, men will kill and die to ensure such a day NEVER comes.

The people of the ME (Israel excepted) are tribal. They are not interested in anything besides killing. They are not fit for anything else culturally, lacking the cooperation across tribal/kin boundaries, ability to work hard at tasks sometimes for decades, live modestly, refrain from killing when "honor" is stained, and so on. Nearly no man in the Middle East would dream of, in late middle age, accepting some Nobel Award for curing cancer with his equally middle aged wife in the wings, even if his name was on everyone's lips.

Instead, they all dream of being the "Big Man," the Saddam, the killer everyone fears, who takes what he wants when he wants. Who acts as a terrible storm of pure will. Erasing everything and everyone in his path.

This is the consequence of stupid tribalism, polygamy, "Big Man-ism" and the like that forms the fundamental basis for Arab and Muslim society. And will be defended to the death.

Changing that is the work of centuries, if indeed it can be done. I have serious doubts.

Wiser I think to recognize the killer orientation of tribes, and keep them occupied with internal feuds as much as possible. Play one off the other.

5/06/2008 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Buckets said...

Good stuff here. Like pyrthroes, it struck me to wonder (I'm in an optimistic mood) about the future of Iraq. Things look good on the ground, the Sunnis are returning to the fold, and Petraus and Maliki seem pretty focused on smashing the Iranian-backed Special Groups.

So what happens if this whole crazy thing actually works out? What are the implications of a Pro-American, unified, somewhat religiously tolerant, democratic-ish state in the heart of Arab despotism and Islamic radicalism? Will Iraq be another Israel, an island of sanity amidst a Hobbesian sea, or will it have a profound influence on the development of Middle Eastern states? Would a successful Iraq shift the paradigm? If we fail in Iraq, there is no question we will be forced to return to the region eventually - only the next time we won't be concerned with the niceties of nation-building, we will be there only to kill, raze, and destroy. Is it possible for us, then, to acknowledge the millions of Arab lives the U.S. may have saved with this invasion?

Perhaps I'm just in a good mood today, but I marvel to think after all the world's hatred and vitriol has been spewed upon Bush and the U.S. in the last five years, the invasion of Iraq might turn out to be the most humane act in the history of international relations. At enormous cost in American blood and treasure, we built and protected instead of razed and destroyed. If Iraq does change the region positively, Bush will still never be vindicated, the families that have lost servicemembers may never be comforted, and yet untold lives may have been saved. A more compassionate imperial power there has never been.

5/06/2008 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger section9 said...


Wiser I think to recognize the killer orientation of tribes, and keep them occupied with internal feuds as much as possible. Play one off the other.


And lacking that, we have atomic weapons.

5/06/2008 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

"If Iraq does change the region positively, Bush will still never be vindicated, the families that have lost servicemembers may never be comforted, and yet untold lives may have been saved."

When Americans landed on the moon, the world was astonished immediately. If Iraq does turn out for the better, the world will be just as astonished, only with an intervening delay.

5/06/2008 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Saddam was to 9-11 as Mussolini was to Pearl Harbor. No direct involvement, but incapable of not providing various forms of aid and comfort.

Both of them made the mistake of standing where we were shooting.

Occupying Iraq is good positional warfare. Simply being there denies the enemy what he must have for victory. Namely a caliphate that is hermetically sealed from our culture while providing a privileged sanctuary for their coercive proseltying.

Main danger of positional warfare is what happens if you lose that important position.

I have in mind a very important 1942 position called Bataan. The consequences of its loss are felt to this day. Losing Iraq would, in my judgement, be far worse.

5/06/2008 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger weswinger said...

whiskey_199: Your last point on "Big Man-ism" made the scales fall from my eyes. Their boy M0-hammed was the original Big Man to which all subsequent have been compared. You've gotta have some sympathy and admit that's one tough act to follow!

5/07/2008 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

Teresita,

I'm not sure why you decided to give a summary of the Somalia and Bosnia conflicts. Since I'm the one who mentioned them, I knew this already.

I'm not making the claim that we only like to trade "blood for oil", I'm objecting to sugarcoating the use of force in pursuing economic interests by using humanitarian whitewash.

So, you're not making the claim that we only like to trade "blood for oil", you're just making the unfounded claim that the US is doing it now in Iraq.

Even if we were going there solely for oil, which isn't true, I really wouldn't care.

5/07/2008 01:30:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Stephen Renico: So, you're not making the claim that we only like to trade "blood for oil", you're just making the unfounded claim that the US is doing it now in Iraq.

That is correct, but I do not use the "blood for oil" sound-bite of the hard Left. I merely express the somewhat cynical view that most of our overseas interventions are centered around US economic interests, beginning with the war with Spain when we first carved out our Empire. We entered the First World War after Kaiser Bill sank seven of our merchant ships. The Axis entered war against Japan in the wake of Pearl Harbor but leading up to that was a fierce competition between both sides to lock up the economic assets of the Pacific Rim. The entire Cold War, including the handful of hot times (Korea, Vietnam) was a struggle by the US to gain world dominance for the free market system. But I see Wretchard's wisdom in limiting participation to three posts per thread, otherwise people would get into pissing contests which would derail the discussion.

5/07/2008 04:15:00 AM  
Blogger putnam said...

Teresita:

I haven't called anyone here a fascist recently. But if the jackboot fits...

Sorry jackboots when out 50 years ago, but your che tee-shirt and kafijja are far more chic.

when we first carved out our Empire

I guess in your book that makes G.W. Bush our emperor, and barry his heir apparent.

5/07/2008 05:08:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

You need to look at how many documemnts the researchers looked at. Reviewed does not mean rea.

Start with 600,000 documents, all of which were cataloged. The catalog was searched and the resultant documents were read. I cannt find the link but I am pretty sure the article stated that at the end of the day only 200documents were read.

"In my opinion, Saddam started out as a utopian idealist but ended up a cynical tyrant."

From what I have read the guy was a thug assasin for the Baath party. He got ahead by killing people.

Bush 1 sent the marines into Somalia as part of a humanitarian mission. Clinton agreed with the UN to change the mission then denied them heavy armor.Clinton pulled out the troops.

Teressita 5/07/2008 04:15:00 AM:

Your description of US military involvement in international affairs is so simplistic that I can only assume you wrote it to ensure a large number of rebutals. It is not worth rebutting (Sorry if your post was designed to boost the blogs numbers)

5/07/2008 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger elfman2 (display name was "Bill") said...

Did Saddam Hussein cooperate with al-Qaeda to attack America? The Institute for Defense Analyses survey of Saddam Hussein's relationship to terrorist organizations, based on 600,000 captured documents

All that conclusion states is that captured documents don't prove that he attacked America with al Qaeda (something no-one in the administration ever claimed.) It doesn't state that he didn't work with al Qaeda to attack other targets or offer them general support. It doesn't even say that other evidence doesn't prove a closer relationship, but I doubt there was one. Saddam never wanted to give us an excuse to take him out, but he didn't anticipate 9-11's effect on America with the Bush doctrine.

5/07/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Saddam involved in overseas terrorism? You don't say? Two words: Oklahoma City.

http://www.aim.org/aim-report/aim-report-an-islamist-connection-to-okc-bombing-april-b/

Something has always struck me as just not right with the whole OK city affair. Granted a little tin-foil hat, but the nagging feeling that there is more to the story just won't go away.

"Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is."

5/07/2008 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

That is correct, but I do not use the "blood for oil" sound-bite of the hard Left. I merely express the somewhat cynical view that most of our overseas interventions are centered around US economic interests, beginning with the war with Spain when we first carved out our Empire.

We started before that. Just ask the Cherokee and Sioux.

As I said before, I really don't care. I'm not a liberal, so I don't apologize for the things my country does to become powerful.

5/07/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2008/05/re-saddam-and-bin-laden.html

5/07/2008 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Backliner said...

The absence of a visible link between Saddam and ALQ in the IDA analysis is not surprising. Knowing that ALQ was dedicated to an attack on the US, Saddam could not risk a direct contact for the simple reason that he would pay a far greater price than ALQ should ALQ attack the US. Though he indeed fished the same black waters, he was careful to never share a boat with ALQ.

The underworld described in the documents researched by IDA leads to an obvious conclusion: fire is best fought by fire. The "slippery slope" argument is for lawyers, not counterterrorist operators. We are all born on the slippery slope; aS T.S. Eliot put it "birth, copulation, and death."

5/08/2008 07:41:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger