& Imposing Democracy
09 March 2004
The Iraq war was not about expanding territory; it was about expanding democracy.
People seem ambivalent
about a “pre-emptive” war, one undertaken to avoid a worse outcome later.
History is filled with such events, but they were mostly undertaken by aggressive
nations seeking to expand their power and territory. Who can argue, for example,
that Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait does not fit this description?
America’s military power is such that no nation would challenge it. This
did not occur by accident. It is a policy that reflects both the Cold War
and the Vietnam experience.
The Iraq war was not about expanding territory. It was about expanding democracy.
The fundamental theory for the war was predicated on the belief that the
Middle East would remain an endless cesspool of terrorism and strife. Unless
something was done to introduce some movement toward democracy, freedom,
and human rights, the US could count on more 9-11 attacks. (It is useful
to note there have been no such attacks since.)
Having destroyed al Qaeda’s base of operations in Afghanistan, it was fairly
obvious to people like myself that President Bush would find a reason to
invade Iraq. You didn’t have to be a genius to figure this out. You only
needed to look at a map of the Middle East. Iraq, centrally located, would
allow pre-positioned troops to bring pressure on Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and
Saudi Arabia. They could also provide protection for Jordan and, of course,
Israel. The other Persian Gulf nations that had thrown in their lot with
us would also be afforded protection.
A good deal for everyone, just so long as they understand that (1) the days
of the ayatollahs are numbered, along with Syria’s dictator, and (2) the
day for constitutional monarchies was just around the corner. In short, democratize
or face the wrath of the US. Why? Because democracies are far more stable
nations than others. They have far less incentive to go to war.
Yes, we need and want the oil that comes out of the region, but what we mostly
want is to reduce the capability of these people to threaten our economy
by withholding it or jacking up the price too much. The good news is that
there are other sources for oil in a world that seems to be finding it everywhere
In 2001, nearly 50% of the oil we imported came from Canada, Mexico, and
Venezuela. Another 18% came from Angola, Britain, Nigeria and Norway. If
they can just get their act together, the Russian Federation can increase
its position as a major producer and exporter of oil. And, if we can just
begin to drill for oil in Alaska and offshore areas of America, we could
manage nicely, possibly even replacing the 18% of oil we imported from Saudi
Arabia and the 8% from Iraq. That said, I think Iraq is going to be very
happy to sell us as much crude oil as we want for a long time to come.
These days, the Democrats are screaming that the Bush administration “lied”
and “misled” the nation into the Iraq war. Former Vice President Gore, getting
loonier by the day, said Bush “betrayed” the nation. Others in the party
structure have claimed the President was AWOL from his National Guard service.
When it comes to weapons of mass destruction, I suspect that no one was more
surprised than the Bush war cabinet to discover there were no great stores
of WMDs in Iraq. The combined intelligence services of many nations ALL believed
Saddam was sitting on a pile of WMDs and would not hesitate to use them.
Even Saddam thought this was true. Even his generals assumed that the next
division or battalion over the hill had them. It was the immaculate deception!
All this brings me to the recommendation that you read James Mann’s new book, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet
($25.95, Viking). This is a brilliant look at the personalities who were
selected by George W. Bush to be his advisors and his cabinet. They include
Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Armitage.
They dubbed themselves the “Vulcans.”
Most of us just don’t have a lot of time to look into the history of their
government service and their rise to positions of power, but Mann has done
this in a way that provides the “ah-hah” experience. As you read about each
one and the relationships between them, you constantly find yourself realizing
that, sooner or later, Bush was going to find a way to shake up the Middle
East and, in the process, realign our nation’s relations with the United
Nations, our allies, and our enemies.
We shall never know whether their combined post-Cold War attitudes about
building the strongest military in the world would have led inexorably to
war with Iraq, but September 11, 2001 made it inevitable. First there was
their remarkably swift response to the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan
and then there was the build-up toward the invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration
dropped multilateralism and literally ignored France, Germany, and Russia.
Despite seeking cover from a United Nations resolution, Bush was in no mood
for more diplomatic chatter when, on March 19, 2003, he gave the green light
to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three weeks later, the US military was in downtown
Baghdad. The one thing the “Vulcans” had not anticipated was that Iraq’s
governmental infrastructure, based entirely on fear, hardly existed in any
real sense. Minus the Baathist Party gangsters and, of course, Saddam and
his evil sons, Iraq, it turned out, needed everything from a decent supply
of electricity to the provision of clean water. And just about everything
else that constitutes a modern nation!
So, life is full of surprises, but let us not be sidetracked from the obvious.
Iraq no longer poses a threat to any of its neighbors and you can bet they
are very grateful to the United States. Libya has decided to give up its
nuclear and other WMD programs. Iran and Syria are yielding to the pressures
the new dynamic in the Middle East has demonstrated. These are all positive
changes resulting from the Iraq war. Then, too, there was no massive uprising
or response from the so-called “Arab street.” Remember all those experts
who said how angry they would be? About the best response they could manage
was to run about saying that Iraq should be turned over to the United Nations.
This is the same UN whose headquarters in Baghdad was blown apart by Islamic
terrorists and which has a record of failure dealing with any crisis.
What Operation Iraqi Freedom told everyone was that the United States of
America is now in charge of events and intends to stay that way for a long
time to come. Take note Red China. Be nice Russian Federation. Watch your
step European Union. Get out of the way France and Germany. Clean up your
act Mexico and South America. Make peace India and Pakistan. Be very careful
Now ask yourself one more thing. Do you want to elect a President who thinks
terrorism is “a law enforcement” problem? Or who voted against the funding
to finish the job we started in Iraq?
Alan Caruba is the author of Warning Signs, published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.
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