Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria Compared

I don't necessarily disagree with Laurie and Annie, I mean the Iraq war was expensive, messy, and we don't know yet if or what the long term benefits will be. And it sure would have been nice if the Southern Shiites and the Northern Kurds could have over thrown Saddam on their own, like the Egyptians and Libyans.   
"My opinion on the wars, especially Iraq war, is that is was a colossal waste of money. The $6 trillion could have been spent much more wisely (or not spent.)" Laurie
"Cost in dollars and lives to eliminate dictators in Egypt, Libya, Tunesia - very little." Laurie
"I'm firmly with Laurie on this. Iraq in particular was an entirely optional war." Annie 
And Lord knows we tried for 10+ years to help the people of Iraq to accomplish that goal.  Mudville Gazette Iraq Histories:
pre-1990     1991-1997      1998     1999     2000-2003

However the reality is that the Kurds and Shiites were unable to accomplish Saddam's removal on their own, even with us providing "No Fly Zones" and other support.   Even President Clinton supported the efforts during his whole time as President.

So in 2003, the USA had a very angry and belligerent dictator on a very rigid leash and there were 3 choices available from my perspective:
  1. Continue holding the leash forever like we have been in the Korean Peninsula conflict for ~60 years.  However that was problematic since Saudi Arabia was not as open to having American forces based there indefinitely like South Korea is.
  2. Release the leash and back away quickly, leaving our Kurdish and Shiite allies to Saddam's gentle mercy.  And hoping that Saddam was smart enough to not invade anyone again, or shoot more missiles at Israel.
  3. Attack in support of our Kurdish and Shiite allies, and force regime change.
Since we chose option 3 and accomplished that task very quickly.  Then we were faced with the next decision:
  1. Withdraw from Iraq ASAP and leave the people of Iraq to resolve the power void that was created when the Saddam regime was destroyed.  Possibly through civil war, Iranian intervention, diplomacy, etc.
  2. Stay to help rebuild and stabilize the country.  Help to ensure the democratic process had a chance.
Of course we did the honorable thing and stayed for compassionate and self serving reasons.

With all this said, I am curious what Laurie and Annie would have done differently?
(Let Saddam have Kuwait?, Pulled out immediately after Desert Storm?, Pulled out immediately after the Mission Accomplished speech was made?, Other)

And are we making the right choices regarding Syria?  Are we correct in not enforcing a "No Fly Zone" as people are dying?  (Link 2)

I agree that I wish all coups went as smoothly as those in Egypt and Libya, however that does not seem to be the case.  And as long as our national interests involve oil/ energy, we have a business case for being involved in the Middle East.  Even if some of us believe that we do not have a moral obligation.  Thoughts?


Laurie said...

I believe the pretext for going to war with in Iraq in 2003 was Saddam's supposed posession of WMD (which he didn't have.) I think the neocons were also willing to let many people mistakenly believe Saddam had something to do with 911(which he didn't.)

The invasion of Kuwait was in 1990 and Bush senior wisely ended the war with Iraq after only a month at a cost of only $10 Billion.

I don't see the benefit of starting a war in which 1,000,000 are killed because Saddam killed 500,000. This math does not make moral sense to me.

From the beginning I have thought this war was about access and profits from the Iraqi oil. I have sometimes wondered how the Iraqi war worked out for Americas's oil interests, if anyone has information on this. It is my impression that things did not go according to their rosy $ making plans.

As the US cannot solve every problem, they should not have meddled with our 10 year, multi trillion dollar war and let the Iraqis work things out in their own time. A per capita cost of $20,000 for the war is enough to buy all citizens a Toyota prius (or American hybrid) My new prius gets 50 mpg

John said...

So you would have pulled the troops out of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in 1994, and left Saddam to deal with the rebels?

Or would we still be maintaining the No Fly Zones?

Laurie said...

Whatever Clinton did in the middle east in 1994 was probably the right decision. He is a lot smarter and more knowledgeable than me. I also have confidence in Obama's decision making capability. With GWB, not so much.

This whole topic started with my surprise at your arguments in favor of the Iraq war. I wouldn't spend any time with links or rational meant to persuade me as my mind is made up. I did find this link interesting re public opinion on the Iraq war, as I thought even a higher % was in agreement with me.


John said...

Since Clinton supported and propogated the no fly zones. I assume your vague answer means we would still be maintaining the NFZ's and Saddam would still be in power. I wonder how many Iraqis would have died during the 10 years.

By the way, how long would you have maintained the stale mate? 60 years like Korea?

Is this what you believe we should have done? Or am I interpretting your comments incorrectly?

Laurie said...

You have interpreted my vagueness correctly. It seems likely to me that in the past 10 years more people have died in the war than would have been killed by Saddam.

I guess I could be persuaded that in the long run there is a possibility that over all the people of Iraq have benefited from getting rid of Saddam, if they are able to maintain some level of peaceful stability. But this best case result was not worth the tremendous cost. Think of all the good $3 trillion could do in the world. I believe the world still has about a billion hungry people many/most of them children.

So do you think we should invade Syria next?

John said...

Some links regarding the Clinton years. And amazingly his support of Bush's decision. Even I did not see that coming...

Snopes WMD Quotes
Clinton Speech
NBC Clinton's Victory in Iraq
DU Clinton and Iraq

John said...

Probably no need to invade Syria since they don't seem to be much of an oil producing country and they have not attacked any of our allies.

I think creating a "No Fly Zone" over the country may be a good compromise. (ie keep the fight fair)

As for Iraq, remember that relatively few people died in the actual American attacks. It was during the police action when the Iraqi's began killing each other. I guess I wouldn't blame that on the presence of American forces.

However you are probably correct that fewer people would have died if Saddam had stayed in power. They would have been mostly the Kurds in the North and the Shiites in the South.

Tell me more about where you think the $3 Trillion went? I am guessing a lot went into rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure.

John said...

By the way, where does that 1 million dead number come from. This link is critical of the war and has a much lower fatality stat...

Iraq War Costs

John said...

Here is the Harvard report. It reads a bit more like an opinion piece than a analysis. Harvard Report

I understand the future medical and benefit cost arguments. And how this will constrain the future military discretionary funds.

What I don't understand is where their data is that there will be "no peace dividend". It seems to me that oil output has been stable and consistent, which is good for everyone.

The Taliban and Al Qaeda have been pretty well contained. No big attacks in the USA.

I kind of think these are some pretty big peace dividends for the USA and the rest of the world.

Laurie said...

Iraq’s Shocking Human Toll: About 1 Million Killed, 4.5 Million Displaced, 1-2 Million Widows, 5 Million Orphans

cut these numbers in half and that's still a lot of misery

There may have been no attack in the last ten yrs wo the wars. We will never know. And there will likely will be an attack again on some future date, even with the wars.

So you seem to still rate the Iraq war as the right decision. It seems opinion on this may mostly follow the party line split, with swing voters joining those who regard the war as a mistake.

John said...

Right or wrong... I really don't know... Even with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I am not sure what we should have done differently. Each choice could have had terrible consequences.

Imagine what they would be saying if the "No Fly Zone" was still in place? Or if we had pulled out and Saddam was back to killing the rebels? Or Saddam had launched weapons of mass destruction into Israel? Or AlQaeda was still fully operational with 2 countries to operate openly out of? Or the Taliban was still oppressing women? Or if many of those enemy combatants had made it to America instead of being secured or killed over seas?

It is usually easy to be a Monday morning quarterback. And in this case I find it pretty difficult, unlike many of the critics.

I just find it interesting that folks are so focused on the negative consequences only. With no discussion of the positives.

I guess people are funny that way. By the way, I even support what Clinton did during his Presidency, I never have been a very good party line person...

Laurie said...

about "I never have been a very good party line person..."

I am curious if you have ever voted for a democrat in your life.

about Clinton- if I had paid more attention I probably would have been against the Iraq sanctions that resulted in so many deaths, so I take back my statement of complete confidence in his decisions.

about WMD - Saddam didn't have them so the Israel scenario is unlikely and as for Al Qaeda they weren't in Iraq. I think there are other countries where remnants of Al Qaeda are more of a threat. And what about Iran, the Iraq war seems to have made them stronger.

John said...

Yes I did vote a DFL candidate. I voted for Terri Bonoff.

The challenge is that no one really knew for sure what Saddam had in his arsenal due to all the games he played with the inspectors. That is until we went in and did the complete inventory. That is why Clinton and Bush were aligned against Iraq. You now have the benefit of confirmed data they simply did not have when they had to make their decisions.

I am not sure if the Iraq war made Iran "stronger". However they are definitely more visible now that we have not been worrying about Iraq (Saddam) and Afganistan (Taliban)...

Now if we can deal with North Korea, Iran will be even more visible as the only openly hostile country that wants to attack us and our allies. Man that would be nice.