Thoughts on Iraq

Greetings again loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is taking this time to comment on the situation in which the US finds itself in Iraq. To begin, your Maximum Leader was an early supporter of the war against Saddam Hussein. Indeed, your Maximum Leader (in those days before his blog page) had a very long and ongoing discussion via e-mail with his Poet Laureate and Minister for Air and Space Power about the need (or lack of need) for war. Without being too egoistic, your Maximum Leader will quote his own old e-mail messages to bring you all up to speed on some of the arguements he made for war.

The basic civic building block of the modern world has been (and for a long while will continue to be) the nation-state. As we all know the Latin root of
the word Cvilization is the word for City. All modern civilizations started as City-States, which were essentially a concentrated group of people who
shared similar cultural traits like ethnicity, language, religion, and social mores. These City-States grew up over the centuries into the modern
nation-state. These nation-states act together, essentially, as people act together. That is to say there is a strong degree of self-interest motivating
actions. Nations would become freinds and allies out of interest and would war out of self-interest as well. The first Nation-state to be born out of an
abstract ideal, and not to have evolved out of some earlier form, is the US. This is my first point.

I should state that it is clear that the US is the inheritor of a particular Anglo-Western tradition, and you could make an arguement that we did evolve
from England/Britain. But, I am a firm believer in what is called in History as the “School of American Exceptionalism.” This is to say that there are
certain ideas and beliefs we hold dear that are “exceptions” to the regular order of things. This school of thought is not popular in academe today (due
mainly to those weirdo francophile deconstructionists), but has many adherents outside of the Ivory Tower.

What makes us different is that though we came from the Anglo-Western tradition, we shed much of the weighty baggage of the Anglo-Western tradition
that didn’t seem to fit with the abstract ideals we claimed to be our guiding lights. These are the famous lines of Jefferson from the Declaration of
Independence that both haunt and motivate us as a people. What did we shed? Established religions, rigid class structure, and most of all the sheer burden of always living according to our historical antecedents. Shedding the historical/cultural/social baggage that STILL is present in Europe was the first step in making the US the great power it is. It also, although it is sometimes unclear how, guides our national actions.

My second point is just to reiterate that nations act in self-interest. The
whole world like to pay lip service to “collective security” and the “will of
nations,” etc, etc. But it is our interests that continue to movtivate our
actions. If a nation in our times can wrap their actions in the robes of
collectivism that is great. But, if not, it generally doesn’t dissuade action.

My third point, and this one seems to just jump out of nowhere - but it is
really implied in my introduction - Nation-states must act according to the
nature of their people. As I started off, what is the basic building block of
civil order? It is essentially the group of people sharing a similar cultural
tradition. For the US, the overriding cultural tradition is the abstraction
that is the foundation for our civic order, the words of Jefferson about life,
liberty, and happiness. We have, over our 200+ years become a pluralist
society in many ways, but ultimately we all agree in the basic ideas of the
founding.

Your Maximum Leader then proceeded to discuss the former (1980s era) cozyness between the US and Iraq.

When the US was engaged in the Cold War with the USSR we did cozy up to Saddam
Hussein. In fact, as the Poet Laureate pointed out, during the Cold War we cozy’ed up with
many a brutal dictator against the USSR. This is motivated by three things.
The first two are: self-interest (it is good to have friends against a strong
enemy); and optimism (we can affect change with our friends and make them nice
democratic clones of ourselves in time). The third idea is that the Communist
system of the USSR (and the world revolution that it espoused) was essentially
dehumanizing and evil. This was the dirty little secret that no one would talk
about until Reagan just said it. Most people (on all sides of the political
spectrum) were horrified at his comments, but they knew (and many will now
admit) that he was right. We had to cozy up to the unpleasant dictators
because the alternative was much worse. We made a value judgement that our
values were better tan the other side, and we acted.

Should our past action now taint our current actions? No. The world situation
has changed. We won the Cold War and all of the equations about foreign
relations changed. We now can judge according to different situations, but I
will posit that the ultimate guide for our actions remains the same. During
the Cold War, Iraq could cozy up to both the USSR and the US because of its
counterbalance to Iran (which one could argue was the first country to break
out of the bi-polar world of the Cold War and was the first to step into the
new world order of the 21st Century). It is important to note that BOTH the US
and USSR courted Iraq. We gave money and intellegence, the USSR equipment.
Have you ever wondered why if we were SOOOO cozy with Saddam he is still using
all that old Soviet armour and equipment? We wouldn’t sell him any!

To move along, we are still acting according to our principles in our current
dealings with Iraq. It is the other circumstances that have changed. The USSR
is no longer the force it was. We are now threatened by Islamic terrorists.
That is one of the primary movers of our thinking. We are still acting with
moral authority. Iraq is a threat to the US (self-interest), its neighbours
(our belief - although tenuous- in collective security), and its people are
oppressed by a brutal dictator (our moral values).

So, as you all can see, your Maximum Leader formulated a position in favour of a war with Iraq. A portion of my excerpted message did make mention that Saddam Hussein was a threat to US interests by his making and using WMD against his own people and Iran in the past; and there can be no guarantee that he would not make and use (or supply to others) WMD in the future.

Given the current state of world affairs, the menace posed by Islamist terrorists to the US, and the role Iraq played in a continually unstable region of the world, your Maximum Leader believed then (as he does now) that the war was a good move for us on the world stage.

Would that move be without difficulty? No, of course not. Did we plan enough about what to do after the war? Your Maximum Leader said before the war that there will always be unintended consequences of any action. But Iraq was not like a chess game. There were so many permutations to examine that to take the time to examine them all would preclude ever taking action. We needed to have a general plan (and we did - to establish a free, democratic, pluarlist Iraq), but to spell out a detailed plan would have been ridiculous. Your Maximum Leader will point out that when we were fighting in WW2 we didn’t spell out a detailed plan for Germany after the war. In 1942 could you have spelled out a plan for what we were going to do to Germany when we won the war? (Remember that we declared war on Japan on Dec 8, 1941. We didn’t declare war on Germany until a few days later - and then only
after they declared war on us first. We often forget that FDR was worried that the Nazis wouldn’t declare war on us and that we wouldn’t be able to justify
war on Germany without their acting first.) The argument that the US shouldn’t have moved against Saddam until we have a plan about what
to do once we whip him is not an arguement at all. One might as well worry about whether you will use a condom or not when sleeping with a girl you
haven’t even asked out yet. (To use a bad analogy.)

So what does all this mean now that we have beaten Saddam, killed his sons, and occupied his country? It means that we have taken a step towards acting in accordance to the long-standing principles upon which our nation was founded. It means that although the going is tough and we are taking casualites daily, we must stay the course. To deviate would both doom the Iraqi people to another dark age, and would encourage more attacks on the US. Your Maximum Leader firmly believes that Islamists like Usama Bin Laden and his wicked cronies attacked the US in large part because they believed they could get away with it. To change course when e have invested so much blood and treasure into this course would signal weakness and invite further attack.

What do we need to do? We need to find and kill Saddam. This may very well break the back of continued resistance and guerrilla fighting. We need to find a way to work with the significant educated middle class of Iraq to build a new model for the Muslim world. One in which democracy works. Where ethnic and religious differences are tolerated. And one in which peacefully co-existing with your neighbours is valued. Such a nation in the Middle East would go a long way to insuring the long-term security of the US.

What will not help us in our current situation? Continued harping on who was responsible for allowing the President to quote bad intellegence. (Although it appears as though someone has taken the blame.) Your Maximum Leader was not born yesterday and realizes that human intellegence is sometimes faulty. That is the chance you take with dealing with people. Continued focus on the small group of people in Iraq who continue to fight us, and the representation of that group as a majority in Iraq, is not helping our position. And the contant focus on WMD and why we haven’t found them is not a help either. Your Maximum Leader knows (as does any thinking person in the world) that Saddam had them at one time. It doesn’t take time to fabricate more. And we have found the equipment needed to fabricate the weapons. In time I believe we will find traces of the WMD - but not finding them does not mitigate the strong reasons for ousting Saddam in the first place.

Carry on my minions!

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