[lit-ideas] The question of Bush versus Chirac

Michael writes, "Oddly, Eric fails to address my rather detailed 
refutation of his claim that somehow Chirac and/or the UN's financial 
finagling had "set the stage" for the US invasion of Iraq."
_____

Michael doesn't offer a refutation, although he does have a strong point 
of view with some basis for his opinion.

The question seems to be: would Bush have invaded Iraq if the UN 
sanctions weren't in a state of collapse, and maintaining the No-Fly 
Zone a perpetual and expensive quagmire itself?

Michael thinks Bush would have invaded regardless, and many share his 
opinion that Bush had this planned out in 2000, following the 1998 paper 
by out-of-office hacks that created a rationale for change in the Middle 
East, or by the Congressional Resolution calling for regime change in Iraq.

I'm not convinced this is so. My take is that the rush to war was 
motivated in part by the perception that Saddam, with help of Russian 
and French oil contracts and chicanery, was pulling itself out of 
sanctions, that it was only a matter of time before the restraints 
effected by the Gulf War would be undone. This was a powerful argument 
the NeoCons used to enforce their desire to invade.

Consider the opposite scenario, where Russia and France were not swayed 
by oil profits, and did not abet smuggling, bribery, and secret deal 
making. In this scenario, Oil for Food actually DID go to food and 
medicine, Iraqis weren't dying for lack of medicine while being told it 
was the fault of the USA. Saddam' power would have been much more 
problematic, and the US NeoCons who wanted to invade would have had to 
confront the fact that sanctions WERE working, that the UN resolutions 
were effective. Bush would have been unable to bypass the UN, and public 
sentiment would have been much more strongly opposed to an Iraq invasion.

That IS the question we are debating--whether truly robust UN sanctions, 
supported fully by French and Russian actions, would have checked the 
NeoCons desire to invade, and made their policy putsch impossible.

Just after 9/11, when Rumsfeld urged White House policymakers to 
consider invading Iraq, he might have been met by more forceful 
arguments from Powell and others, saying in effect, "Why bother? 
Sanctions are holding. Saddam is on his way out. We can effectively take 
him out with covert operations and insert a puppet government on his 
collapse."

Of course if you take the "demon" view of Bush instead of the 
"incompetent" view, you won't agree with this. But that is the main area 
of disagreement here I think.

Best to all,
Eric

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