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On the brink of war...

So far, I have resisted talking about the imminent threat of war in Iraq. But someone recently asked me point-blank what I thought the solution to the problem in Iraq is.

What is the solution? Ah, now THAT is the right question!

Many of the arguments both for and against war have been focussed on whether or not Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, whether or not he's a dangerous sociopath, and so on. Those are, I think, the wrong questions.

Does Saddam have weapons of mass destruction? Of course he does! How do we know? We sold them to him!!! We sold them to him because we hated Iran, he hated Iran, and we were hoping he'd use them against Iran.

Is Saddam a raving, murderous psychopath? Of course he is! That's why we helped put him in power!!! If he wasn't a psycho, we would never have supported him in the first place. We were just hoping he'd murder Iranians, not Kuwaitis, that's all.

I consistently find it surprising how many people either have forgotten or genuinely don't know that we helped put Saddam Hussein in the position he is in today.

So, what is the solution?

Well, let's see. In the late 1980's, we found a bunch of unfunded, disorganized Islamic radicals in Afghanistan, and we gave them weapons (including Stinger missiles and rocket launchers), money, and training. We dug bunkers and fortified caverns for them. When we did this, we knew that they hated the West and everything Western. We knew they hated us. We knew they were willing to die to destroy Western ideals. We organized, trained, and armed them. They would later be called the Taliban. Gosh, who knew that giving a bunch of radical, hate-mongering anti-Western fanatics missiles and guns and money would turn out to be a bad idea?

We hated Iran, so we funded, equipped, and armed a raving, murderous psycho lunatic named Saddam Hussein. We sold him weapons, we helped prop up his power base. When we did this, we knew he was a dangerous, sadistic, power-mad, self-aggrandizing madman who genuinely believes he is destined to rule all of the Islamic world. Jeepers, who knew THAT might backfire on us?

In its conduct of foreign policy in the Middle East, the United States often seems like a drunken baboon with a party hat and a chainsaw: Big, dumb, clumsy, sometimes unintentionally funny, and very, very dangerous.

If you go to bed with a monster, don't be surprised when you wake up the next morning and there's a monster in your bed.

So what should we do? Well, how about this: How about we stop arming and equipping and training power-hungry, psychotic fanatics just because they hate whoever we hate. How about we stop putting these people in power. How about we stop selling them weapons and then acting all shocked when they use those weapons to kill people.

How about we stop creating monsters, and then whining and crying that there are monsters in the world. How does that sound?

Am I way off base here?


Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
wilson_lizard
Feb. 6th, 2003 03:49 pm (UTC)
AAAA-MEN! Tell it brother!
ex_bandage857
Feb. 7th, 2003 08:59 am (UTC)
I like it when you say jeepers..

I mean.. I *really* like it.
tacit
Feb. 11th, 2003 01:26 pm (UTC)
Well, jeepers, I'm glad it brings you pleasure.
ex_bandage857
Feb. 11th, 2003 04:49 pm (UTC)
*Melts*

Play... sure
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2003 09:22 pm (UTC)
On the brink of war...
No, you are not off base at all. What you have written addresses how we've gotten into this mess, though not how we can get out of the current situation. Do you have any ideas about how to de-escalate the problem with Iraq, without attacking Iraq? [And if I were George Bush, I would also ask "How do I save face with the voters at home?" Although, how concerned can he be with that given the lack of Democratic challenger....]
tacit
Feb. 11th, 2003 01:32 pm (UTC)
Re: On the brink of war...
"What you have written addresses how we've gotten into this mess, though not how we can get out of the current situation. Do you have any ideas about how to de-escalate the problem with Iraq, without attacking Iraq?"

That presupposes that there is a compelling need to de-escalate the situation in Iraq in the first place--at least, a compelling need to do so beyond what the international community is already doing.

But assuming for the sake of argument that there is--which is not something I'm entirely convinced of--it's hard to see an invasion as the best of all possible methods. It's too fraught with risk--not from Iraq directly, which would stand up to a US-led invasion the way a Ming vase stands up to a brick--but with the possibility of a destructive backlash throughout the Islamic world. There are already enough Muslim fanatics who see the United States as being out to destroy all of Islam; why create more?

I'm not going to claim I have a guaranteed solution. But I do know that any effective solution has to be an international one, not an American one. Our own allies are reluctant to support our intended course of action in Iraq, and with compelling reasons.

(Anonymous)
Feb. 9th, 2003 02:36 pm (UTC)
All true. I don't know if you know this, but the Taliban (armed to the teeth with US arms) helped the Pakistan Army during the Kargil War with India in 1998.

Not giving out funds or weapons will help. Wonder if this applies to Israel?

You are right that your solution will stop stuff like this happening in the future, as in prevention. But how do we go about solving the present problems, as in cure? Finding an alternative to oil?

-Vijay
tacit
Feb. 11th, 2003 01:35 pm (UTC)
"Not giving out funds or weapons will help. Wonder if this applies to Israel?"

I would argue that it does. Ironically, many of the weapons that end up in the hands of states like Iran, Iraq, Lybia, and China flow through Israel--the very nation they would most like to use those arms against.

But even were that not so, it's hard to see a compelling reason to arm anyone in that region; it merely perpetuates the cycle that's been going for the last two thousand years or so anyway. Providing weapons to anyone in the Middle East provides security for nobody.

"You are right that your solution will stop stuff like this happening in the future, as in prevention. But how do we go about solving the present problems, as in cure? Finding an alternative to oil?"

An alternative to oil--such as fuel-cell vehicles--is an awesome way to start.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 12th, 2003 06:18 am (UTC)
"I would argue that it does. Ironically, many of the weapons that end up in the hands of states like Iran, Iraq, Lybia, and China flow through Israel--the very nation they would most like to use those arms against."

Why then does Israel sell them? Money? Sounds like it. Are they so fucking stupid to risk their own security to do that? Erm...well the US did the very same thing with Saddam and the Taliban, guess it's business as usual. Greedy bastards everywhere.

"Providing weapons to anyone in the Middle East provides security for nobody."

Oh boy, right again. There are too many loonies running around in that part fo the world indulging in religious dogma to really support anybody there. One can't sympathise with Israel or Palestine, given that both those states indulge in extremist hypocrisy, while the people in the middle are getting raped.

"An alternative to oil--such as fuel-cell vehicles--is an awesome way to start."

Great! Hopefully the billion $+ budget provided for research into this very cause jump starts all the scientists into going about it. Also, they can seek help and experience from companies like Honda.
roaming
Feb. 10th, 2003 12:30 pm (UTC)
Franklin, I sent your rant on to a friend of mine -- he doesn't have an lj, his wife does. He loved your rant, and he responded:

"Love this rant. Me, I think we should simply render Hussein irrelevant. Go to the borders of his nation, and
start providing humanitarian aid under the UN flag. If his military tries to interfere with this badly-needed
assistance to the starving people of Iraq, the aid personnel are guarded by UN troops with some serious
firepower and air cover [the battleship New Jersey, for example, can rearrange topographic features a fair distance
inland if it wants to].

So we have people moving across the countryside of Iraq, feeding, clothing and inoculating people. They're also
educating them about sanitation and practical farming techniques. Pretty quickly, Iraqis are going to realize
"Hey, these guys aren't here to give us trouble!"

Eventually, Saddam will be sitting in one of his palaces, surrounded by armed fanatics, wondering if his carpets are
edible."
altenra
Feb. 18th, 2003 10:01 am (UTC)
Ooooh, I like that. I have no clue about the reality of it, but I like the idea.

And yes, great rant, Franklin...agreed.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )