Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Divide and Conquer -

(Part II) Is Iraq More Important Than WMD And Spreading Democracy?

In the previous post, I was speculating on the goals of the enemy and their strategies. I made the following comment:

Those who decry Iraq have completely missed it's strategic importance in this war. Those that simply cry out for the capture or killing of Osama Bin Laden and dismiss Iraq as a distraction have no idea about strategies of global warfare. No idea about the make up and purpose of the enemy. No idea about their tactics, strategy or greater plan

And they have no idea what purposes Iraq serves for the enemy or can serve for us. I would like to discuss these concepts in the inner sanctum.

I was visiting a fellow blogger and reader here, Frater Bovious and noticed his post about predicting the problems with insurgency in Iraq as we prepared for war in February 2003.

(...)My concern is the lack of a defined measurable objective that is achievable, and final. The objective of "getting Hussein", really just a step in the process, does not define the endpoint. The primary question after the getting is "what then?"

(...)In fact, Uncle Buck, an almost mythical figure known only to a select few, can give cogent reasons as to why(...)

(...Uncle Buck speaks)Your inflammatory rhetoric has got me thinking...

War is not inevitable. It is not "forced upon us." It is something we choose (or not) as a sovereign nation that has a DUTY TO ITS CITIZENS to defend the national interest.

War is expensive. War is an ugly hell. If we go to war, people will die, the innocent along with the guilty. In my mind there are two main reasons for war:

1. Preserve our way of life as Americans.
2. Prevent greater bloodshed if nothing is done.(...)

(...)How much "proof" do we need to act against a perceived threat? I ask you: how many lives would have been spared in World War II if we had attached the Japanese fleet in 1940?

The individuals who actually start wars rarely do the dying; asking other people to go in harm's way is an awesome responsibility. Is it possible that President Bush has access to information that he can't share with Dan Rather? I think he has. Sometimes none of us can know the "right" decision until after it is made. This is when we pray to God for an ethical leader with some integrity and inner strength, not for an opinion poll watcher.

History will be our judge in this "war on terror."

That said: history teaches me that TALK not seen as serious and CERTAIN TO BE FOLLOWED BY ACTION is not only a waste of time, it damages our national security by revealing a weak political character. We would be wise to follow TR's advice to "speak softly and carry a big stick." If it becomes necessary to use that stick we better swing it with both hands, for everyone's sake.

Here's what is bothering me. I can see going after and destroying his capabilities to use chemical and biological weapons. I can see stopping his efforts to gain nuclear capability. But, do we really want Imperial America?

That may be an inevitable consequence of starting down this path. We will have to set up a provisional government, and then prop up whatever leader takes the place of Hussein. Doing such is not a long term solution. In fact the longer we are there, the more destabilizing I believe that will be to the rest of the region.

What are the long term plans, and their repercussions? How far down the road are we thinking? I've heard nothing about how ending this is defined. In fact, I recently read that "planners" had come late to the problem of "after the war"!

And another thing. Just how exactly does this address Osama Bin Laden? It seems we have forgotten about him. Is he in Iraq? Maybe he is. Or was. What country do we take over next?

These are very important points. I am not sure how to answer all of these questions, but I did reply to Frater with my thoughts on why Iraq has more importance than simply Saddam or WMD:

From my perspective, I personally did not understand the condition that Iraq was in. I mean the infrastructure, the complete and utter degradation of it's civil institutions.

I really thought, and obviously I hadn't researched the topic back then, that, if we did a constrained war and largely preserved their existing infrastructure, that we would be able to move through the process of setting up a government and providing services for the people and stabilizing the country.

Along with that, while I had thought that we would see some guerilla activity, I really believed that this would be limited and we would have more working room to accomplish the necessary projects to get the country up and running.

Of course, I will also tell you that I did not look at the really big strategic picture of the middle east and where [our] troops were stationed before. I am no longer shocked by our current situation or that we are not leaving there any time soon. Iraq has a lot more strategic purposes than offing the madman regime of Saddam.

Iraq is a staging area. These folks are saying "imperial America" by our desire to go there and stay there. I think this is more about "strategy" every day. Positioning our troops and supplies in an area surrounded by friendly countries in the ME (Tajikistan, uzbekistan, Turkey, etc). Iraq is the in road to the area. Saudi Arabia can no longer hold that distinction because they asked us to pull our troops and they are in a very tenuous place with more than half of their government controlled by pro-wahhabi groups.

I believe that Saudi Arabia has been in a low level civil war for many years. At least this last decade. Much of it was in shifting power struggles within the government with each side controlling some portion of the armed services. I believe that it makes it very probable that, at some point, the extreme side of their government is going to demand more recognition for it's roll in government just as surely as the less extreme (note "less extreme" not "non-extreme") portion of the government continues to try and modernize some portions of their society and government.

What will be the catalyst for a more defined struggle within SA will be the eventual demise of their current "king". He has been incompacitated for years and is getting older. He did not select his successor before he became incompacitated. That means the succession is in question and, when you have t[w]o powerful factions within the government, it is a given that there will be a serious issue when the time comes.

Also, it's very obvious that the positioning of Iraq as a friendly country between Iran and Syria gives us additional staging points to intercept or take other preventative or reactionary actions against Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia.

In a sense, I suppose someone could look at this as imperialistic as it puts the US squarely in the middle of the ME and able to control certain situations. And it would be blind of some to ignore that these countries are the major exporters of oil. Oil, that,if interrupted by fighting in those countries, would put the world (note: "world" not just the "US") in a serious predicament.

But again, there is a simple look at this situation. These countries are also the supporters and exporters of terrorists who have their own agenda for gaining power in the region. That power is contingent on, regardless of our actual presence there, attacking the US and it's interests around the world to insure that we are weakened and unable to interfere in their plans.

This struggle is not "david and goliath" (with the US as Goliath), but more along the lines of fighting the spread of fascism or communism in Europe.

maybe some would say we are acting as the "world policeman". But, these factions already attacked us and we should not take this threat lightly.

So, we have an issue with how the war is going. This article is concerned about our "exit" strategy. The Democrats have been hammering on this for sometime. The President continually says that we will not leave until the "job is done" without giving us a plan for troop withdrawal. I think that the reason for not giving such a plan is because this thing is bigger than taking out Saddam's regime as a potential threat. This is also about the other potential threats from the area and staging our troops in the area to handle them.

Frater replied...

Kat, thanks for the comment. I've been thinking about reasons why we should have done what we did in Iraq, regardless of the stated reasons. It is a multi-faceted argument, but you have caused several ideas to coalesce in my mind. The strategic fact of where Iraq is cannot be ignored.

It all really depends on if you think Islamifascism is a long term dangerous problem, or not. To me that question was answered in 9-11. I've heard people describe 9/11 as a "security lapse" and minimize what happened. I don't know how to minimize it. The world is changed, and not for the better. The fact of the world trade centers collapsing is a source of pride and celebration among a significant part of the world.

Islamofascism IS a longterm, dangerous problem in my book. This region, along with it's slow and ponderous movements towards modernization, also has a growing contingent of radicalized Islamists. They have been there and growing for many years. It seems since we dared go to Kuwait and throw out Saddam that this group is growing by leaps and bounds. It certainly existed before 9/11. It existed before the first WTC bombing in 1993. We have just chosen to ignore it and treat it as a marginal group without any real capabilities of challenging us at our own peril. We were wrong.

Now these folks and their groups are dug in like a tick on a camel's ass. No. Not A tick. A tick infestation complimented by some fleas and barely effected by the occasional scratch. Now we are in need of some serious flea and tick dip. And, like all treatments, it's harsh and smelly and the treatment can be bad for the camel and the owner if applied too liberally or applied too conservatively.

Other Thoughts On Iraq's Strategic Purpose: Enemy In Our Rear

Some other thoughts had occurred to me about other purposes. For instance, the 9/11 report documents repeated contact between Saddam's regime and Al Qaida. There is no definitive proof that Saddam supported Al Qaida in their plans for 9/11. There are certain intelligence reports that indicate he may have helped train them. He certainly had any number of "mujihadeen" in his "fedeyeen" militia. He certainly allowed Zarqawi to be treated in THE major Ba'athi hospital in Baghdad after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Zarqawi certainly set up camp with the Ansar Al-Islam fanatics in Kurdish Iraq.

There are those that say that Zarqawi's presence in Kurdish Iraq proves that Saddam had no control over them. I find this to be rather naive thinking. Ansar Al-Islam took part in any number of raids and battles against the peshmerga of Kurdish Iraq. In particular Kirkuk and Mosul where Saddam was attempting "Arabization" of the area by moving the Kurds and replacing them with "Arabs" from either within Iraq or immigrants from Saudi Arabia and Palestine. Ansar Al-Islam did not attack Saddam. Further, claims that he was "secular" and did not lean towards "Islamism" are also naive and forgetful. Since the day that Clinton signed the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, Saddam has been slowly and more surely proclaiming is "Islamic" virtues and imploring his "Islamic" comrades to help him against the "evil Americans" which he did and so did "Baghdad Bob", right up to and during the war. Very much a plea to the "the enemy of my enemy" to be his friend. And again, the success of his recruiting for "fedeyeen" that was full of foreigners, tells me that he was quite capable of garnering their support.

It would not seem out of the realm of possibilities that Ansar al Islam, this off shoot of Al Qaida, had a "no contest" hand shake on their ability to exist and operate in Iraq. Particularly if it met Saddam's goals of screwing with the Kurds.

That means that Saddam, along with giving thousands to Palestinian homicide bomber's families, if left to exist as we fight on our war against terrorism, would be a very real threat, an enemy, in our rear area. Not a good place to allow the enemy to be. When looking at the region, you would consider topographical information and where your next battle might be and go forth immediately to obtain a certain flag point or goal and keep the enemy from using that territory as their own hiding place or for staging the next battleground. I believe this occurred directly after the invasion of Afghanistan as it was and we were already behind the eight ball.

Iraq meets a number of criteria for invasion and it's purposes.

Next post, we will discuss naming the enemy and giving it a distinct name, rallying point, the folks that don't want to know and why we may need to continue ".

Special thanks again to Frater Bovious for allowing me to re-print this section.

Go check him out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice article. incompacitated?