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Iraq – A Long term Perspective


Riggo-toni

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Well, we’ve debated the WMDs and the Terrorist links ad nauseam. What I’d like to offer here is my $.02 over the potential long-term benefits, as well as pitfalls of our actions. I stated even prior to the war beginning, that it would be several years before we can truly measure the success or failure of Gulf War II. I still think that’s true. It’s kind of like the NFL draft. Courtney Brown looked awfully imposing the first year, only to fizzle out. Stephen Davis rode the pine for several years before leading the NFC in rushing.

We do have several immediate benefits, however, with the overthrow of Saddam.

1) We have significantly weakened Yasser Arafat and his Fatah organization. Fatah got the bulk of its funds from Saddam via Abu Abbas. Unfortunately, Hamas is still getting $$$ from the sleazy Saudis among others, but international pressure is starting to slow this down somewhat as well.

2) We have effectively ended the PLF (Abu Nidal’s organization), and finally brought Abu Abbas to justice. Granted, the PLF has not been particularly active since the 80s, but I’m sure the Klingelhoffer family is sleeping a little better these days.

3) We’ve managed to discredit Al Jazeera and other pro-Arab TV networks. All these networks kept blasting out anti-US propaganda and extolling the prowess of valiant Iraqi resistance. Flash ahead a couple weeks, and suddenly they’re not just eating crow; they’re choking on it. Images of Iraqis stomping on Saddam icons and cheering US soldiers pulling down statues of an obviously despised despot just days after these stations spewed out nonsense about Iraqis ready to expel the occupiers was plain proof how far detached from reality these broadcasts were.

For longer term benefits, we have robbed terrorist organizations like Al Quaeda of several of their major propaganda and recruiting tools.

1) Bin Laden consistently proclaimed that the US could be easily defeated because we retreat at the first hint of bloodshed. Sweeping victories in Afghanistan and Iraq have exposed this fallacy for the lie that it was. When called upon, the US military can act decisively and overwhelmingly. Memories of tepid efforts in Somalia or Lebanon have now fallen by the wayside.

2) A victory in Iraq allows us to honorably withdraw our troops from Saudi Arabia.

3) Anger over the effects of sanctions on Iraq are gone. It is now up to us to provide the Iraqis with a better standard of living. It will be an expensive reconstruction to be sure, but just as the Marshall Plan proved its worth is preventing the spread of communism into Western Europe, a rebuilt prosperous Iraq will go a long way towards improving the US’s image in the Arab street.

4) If we manage to foster a secure peaceful Iraqi republic based on some form of democracy, we will help discredit the biggest criticism of the US in the Middle East – that we support dictators and are the sole reason Arab nations have not secured freedom nor prosperity. It is unfortunately a very remote chance in my estimation; I’d put the odds at around 3 to 1 against it.

The biggest pitfall is what happens if democracy fails. We really can’t know when the proper time is to get out of Iraq, or even if there ever will be a right time. Leave too soon and the country could descend into anarchy, allowing another cruel despot to take control; or worse, the country descends into an Afghan-esque chaotic civil war. Such an environment would be a tremendous breeding ground for terrorist havens. If we stay too long, we become the enemy. We are viewed as colonizers instead of liberators. We find ourselves in the same dilemma as Israel did in Lebanon – we can’t leave because it will look like we’re running away; we can’t stay because it’s just not worth the losses. We end up fueling even more Arab hatred than before.

In all likelihood, we are liable to lose at least another hundred or more soldiers over the coming year. This number could become even more tragic if there is a successful suicide bombing like the one that killed over 200 of our brave soldiers in Lebanon back in the 80s.

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riggo-toni, I'ld add two thoughts to the list:

- the alterred startegic situation allows for more "leverage" to be brought to bear on the Israeli-Palestinian "conflict". The influence vectors move in many more directions now.

-This still remains a high stakes gamble which is more likely to fail than succeed.

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The Saudis are probably gonna be forced in coming weeks to say at the least that they have some bad saudis among them but they support the US.

Yeah I wouldnt hold my breath but the success in Iraq has put Saudi, Iran and Syria on notice

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