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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The War over Iraq

I guess this was my personal goodbye to the Bush administration book. Lawrence Kaplan & William Kristol: The War over Iraq - Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission. A very short booklet, written on the eve of the American invasion, it does for a very entertaining reading (for a cynic such as myself in any case). The two neocons argue for invasion of Iraq and criticize American foreign policy by Bush (the father) and Clinton along the way. Basically, Bush should have marched into Baghdad during the Gulf War when he had the chance but his realistic convictions (and Powell's reservations as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) prevented from endeavoring this course not directly linked to American's vital interests. Clinton on the other hand out of an exaggerated moralism (and liberalism), the perception that every display of American power is a bad thing as such, refused to become more active in Iraq than with a few missiles here and there, never truly threatening Saddam's hold on power. Bush (the son) on other hand represents a glorious mixture of a hard-handed approach (from the realists' school) and moralism (taken from the liberals), something that the authors call a distinctively American internationalism (aka neoconservatism).

An American invasion of Iraq will end Saddam's tyranny and torture chambers (some of the descriptions eerily resemble the ones about American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, even when in Saddam's case these are the low-intensity ones), will create a liberal democracy to Iraq which will act as an ally to Israel and the US in the region, as a counterweight to Iran and maybe most importantly be a kind of city upon a hill showing that democracy is possible in the Middle East. All this can be achieved with 75.000 soldiers, staying in Iraq at most one or two years and at the cost of $16 billion only. Definitely sounds like a good deal if you ask me.

Some of the more amusing arguments:
- American spending on military capabilities is far too low
- civil war in Iraq cannot erupt because there is no historic precedent for it
- Iraq is a safe haven for international terrorism as the PKK is operating from its territory
- quotes from the Bush administration during the gulf war explaining their decision not to march on Baghdad ('the Lebanonization of Iraq' for example) that are being mocked

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