[lit-ideas] Re: CFP: PEACE REVIEW on the PsychologicalInterpretation of War

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2004 19:22:25 -0800

You raise some interesting questions.  I had the same questions.  Prior to
9/11 I had not spent much time studying the Middle East. Why Iraq indeed?
When it looked like Iraq was to be the second phase of the War against
Terror, I bought some books on Iraq.  The first book I read was The
Threatening Storm, the Case for Invading Iraq by Kenneth Pollack, 2002.
Pollack was not part of the Bush administration.  He had been in the Clinton
administration as director for Gulf affairs at the National Security
Administration. Prior to that time he spent seven years in the CIA as a
Persian Gulf military analyst.  Pollack's book is encyclopedic. In his Part
II he considers "The Threat"

He writes "Saddam is already supporting various regional terrorist groups
against Israel, Iran, and Turkey.  Saddam's conventional forces are probably
still adequate to overrun Kuwait or Jordan if the United States were unable
to prevent it. . . ."


"Addressing a unit of the Republican Guard, Saddam proclaimed that the honor
of the Arab nation could not be achieved unless 'Iraq's arm reached out
[beyond Iraqi territory] to every point in the Arab homeland. . . Saddam has
said often and loudly that his goal is to create a new Arab union of some
kind, headed by a powerful Iraq, that will be a new superpower. In January
1980, within six months of assuming the presidency, Saddam explained, 'We
draw a large picture of Iraq.  We want Iraq to possess a weight like that of
China, a weight like the Soviet Union, a weight like the United States, and
that is indeed the factual basis of our action."


On page 153, still talking about Iraq's "Threat," Pollack wrote, "Iraq is
now, and has been throughout Saddam's reign, a state sponsor of terrorism.
.  .  ."


After analyzing all the threats, Pollack concludes that something should be
done about Iraq.  But what?  There are several options:


In his Part III, he provides "The Options":


7.            The Erosion of Containment

8.            The Dangers of Deterrence

9.            The Difficulty of Covert Action

10.         The Risks of the Afghan Approach

11.         The Case for Invasion

12.         Rebuilding Iraq


After considering the options, Pollack concludes that Invasion is the only
viable option.  His arguments were persuasive.  I went on to read other
things, for example The Reckoning, Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein by
Sandra Mackey, 2002.  Mackey is also a Democrat by the way, but she too
believed that something should be done about Saddam and thought Invasion was
probably going to be necessary.   Both Pollack and Mackey thought the
rebuilding phase the most problematic which has indeed been the case.


One reason for invading Iraq ahead of dealing with (not necessarily
invading) countries like Libya, Iran, and Syria, was that Saddam had an
inhibiting effect on Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States.  We couldn't
get the cooperation we wanted from Saudi Arabia, for example, because they
felt we had not done a complete job on Saddam during the first Gulf War.
Saddam remained a threat and they weren't at all sure we would protect them
against Saddam.  Saudi Arabia did not come out and oppose the Islamist
radicals until after we defeated Saddam.  Prior to that time they had a live
and let live arrangement with terrorist groups.  When Saddam was removed as
a threat and they more openly supported us and opposed the Islamist
radicals, the Islamists responded in kind.  That is still going on.  But the
removal of Saddam 1) eliminated Saddam's support to terrorist organizations,
2) encouraged Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States to provide more support in
the war against terror, 3) caused Libya to give up its own support of
terrorism and its own WMD ambitions, and 4) countered the prevailing view in
the Middle East that the U.S. didn't have the courage to fight a ground war
against Islamic warriors.  If you say we already had a successful ground war
against Saddam in the first Gulf War, you would be right, but Saddam
interpreted that as a great victory for him and the Middle Eastern media
supported his view.  He pulled his troops back to Baghdad, he said, and the
U.S. was afraid to go after him.  


There were viable reasons for invading Iraq as part of the War on Terror,
but why not other threats ahead of Iraq?    North Korea is mentioned, but
there are other nations more vitally concerned about North Korea than we
are.  Sanctions were imposed on North Korea during the Clinton
administration, but no inspectors were permitted in North Korea to verify
these sanctions.  We allowed ourselves to be influenced by South Korea who
wanted to use a "sunshine policy."  Their policy was to overwhelm the North
Koreans with kindness and love.  The Sunshine Policy and the sanctions have
turned out to be failures, but even so, South Korea, Japan, and China are
vitally concerned about North Korea's nuclear ambitions.  If North Korea
were to go ahead despite the opposition of those countries, it is possible
that Japan may reconsider its long standing opposition to the obtaining of
nuclear weapons, and China has more reason to be afraid of Japan with
nuclear weapons than it has of being afraid of North Korea.  In other words,
we have three powerful nations in the region of North Korea with the same
concerns we have.  It seems prudent to let them handle North Korea.


What about Iran?  Iran under the Shah had become westernized to some degree.
The Ayatollah Khomeini replaced the Shah in 1979 with the help of student
radicals.  After the Ayatollah died of prostate cancer in 1989, there was a
resurgence of independent students that weren't happy with Islamist
repression.  It was thought that perhaps there would eventually be a civil
war in Iran and the Islamists ousted.   Perhaps that view was overly
optimistic, but after Iraq 1) the Bush administration realized that it
didn't have the military resources to engage in an invasion of Iran even if
it wanted to, and 2) Europe, with Iraq as the example of how the U.S. deals
with threats, opted to deal with Iran on their own.  This is fine and I'm
sure everyone in the Bush administration hopes Europe succeeds in Iran.


Syria is a Baathist regime and was very sympathetic with Baathist Iraq.
However, they haven't the power that Iraq had.  No doubt they are allowing
foreigners to come through their country to help the Iraqi dissidents.  I'm
sure the administration is thinking that something will eventually have to
be done about Syria, but perhaps Syria can be handled by a well-established
Iraqi government some time in the future.


Now as regard to Pakistan, my impression is that when the U.S. announced
that it was going after Al Quaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, Pakistan
blinked.  Musharaff declared himself part of the War against Terror and
provided considerable support to the U.S.  Our approach in Afghanistan was
to use a minimum force to augment the Northern resistance forces in
Afghanistan.  That worked, but we didn't have enough troops to keep Taliban
and Al Quaeda forces from going through the porous border into Pakistan.
The Pakistani hinterland is largely Islamist and is sympathetic to the
Taliban and Al Quaeda.   Musharaff and the Army are in power in Pakistan and
they oppose the Islamists; so they should be allowed to continue to do that.
We have urged them to do that more effectively.  For example, why haven't
they been countering the madrassas and scouring the mountain sides looking
for Al Quaeda?  Recently they have done that more energetically.  Something
to take into consideration with regard to Pakistan is that their Islamists
derive their Islamist ideology from Maududi and not from Sayyid Qutb.  Qutb
took Maududi's fundamentalist teachings and gave them a violent twist.
Thus, the Islamists in Pakistan that adhere to Maududi's brand of Islamism
aren't trying to overthrow the Pakistani government and aren't engaged in
terrorist activities.  Unfortunately, with the porous border, Qutb-type
Islamists have crossed into Pakistan and may be influencing their
more-benign cousins.  Pakistan is definitely worth watching, but it doesn't
seem to be an immediate threat.  I admire your daughter.  Tell her not to
worry about Pakistan just yet.


Lawrence Helm

San Jacinto




-----Original Message-----
From: John McCreery

On 2004/12/09, at 10:15, Lawrence Helm wrote:


> The war (war on terror) was started by the Islamists.  It was.  

> Islamists

> attacked us.  That started the war.  Bush responded by declaring war 

> not

> only on those who attacked us but upon those who gave aid and comfort 

> to

> them.  That was an appropriate response to this sort of guerrilla-type 

> war.

> Saddam was in the second category not the first.



I so largely agree with Lawrence's approach to analyzing the causes of 

war that it seems almost churlish to ask the question, "Why Saddam, in 

particular? Why not one of the other dictators who have also sponsored 

terrorism and, in actual demonstrable fact, have been responsible for 

the spread of weapons of mass destruction, e.g., Kim Jong-il?


Or, to put the question another way--the way my Navy Lieutenant 

helicopter pilot daughter (whose Marine Corps husband is currently in 

Iraq) put it to me--"Dictator. Harbors Islamic terrorists. Weapons of 

mass destruction, i.e., nuclear weapons. Dad, why aren't we doing 



John McCreery


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