[lit-ideas] Re: Counterfactual - Iraq vs Saudi Arabia

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 09:38:23 -0500

LH:
>>In fact, Saddam did take care of business with Iraq, but we at the time 
>>wanted a balance of power and not the destruction of Iran; so we helped the 
>>Ayatollah hold his own - a very murky business, but several have written 
>>about it.<<

We helped the Ayatollah hold his own?  Tell me more, tell me more.  Like are 
you referring to Irangate?  That was just machinations by that great patriot 
Ronald Reagan to subvert the U. S. Congress and wage illegal proxy war in 
Nicaragua , wasn't it?

Mike Geary
Memphis




  
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Lawrence Helm 
  To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2008 9:15 AM
  Subject: [lit-ideas] Counterfactual - Iraq vs Saudi Arabia


   

   

  Lawrence Helm: "The Ayatollah caused the war with Iraq by attempting to 
spread his Islamic Revolution to the Shiites on Iran's border."

   

  Phil responded: This is a reason, not a cause.  But for the purposes of 
considering

  realpolitik and counterfactuals, reasons are irrelevant.  Saddam

  couldn't take care of business with Iran.  How could he deal with Iran

  and the rest of the peninsula?

   

  Lawrence responds:  No, what the Ayatollah did was an invasion in a real 
sense.   He sent his evangelists in among the swamp Shias, the Shias Saddam had 
the most trouble with because the lived in the swamps.  It would have meant the 
destruction of his regime to allow the Ayatollah to continue.  In fact, Saddam 
did take care of business with Iraq, but we at the time wanted a balance of 
power and not the destruction of Iran; so we helped the Ayatollah hold his own 
- a very murky business, but several have written about it.  

   

   

  Lawrence continues: "Also, he asked for and thought he got clearance from the 
American ambassador to Iraq before he invaded Kuwait.  That is the famous April

  Glaspie scandal.  Glaspie admitted that what she told him was

  confusing."

   

  Phil responds: Again, irrelevant for the purposes of this thread.  If Saddam 
had been able to establish political stability in Kuwait after invading,

  justifying the first Gulf war would have been far more difficult.

  Saddam couldn't bring political stability in Iraq and he couldn't do

  it Kuwait.  How could the Americans believe he could do it in Saudi

  Arabia?

   

  Lawrence responds:  Again, I disagree.  This shows a relationship that Saddam 
understood.  He did not want to buck the U.S.  This is one of the 
presuppositions to my counterfactual.  We could have encouraged this 
relationship rather than denouncing it as Bush Sr did and recast the whole 
period between then and now - if we were ruthless in our Realpolitik; which our 
principles wouldn't allow, but what if they did

   

   

   

  Lawrence again:

   

  "You don't think he would be an attractive alternative to the Saudis,

  but it was cozying up to the Saudis that got our World Trade Center

  bombed -- by Saudis mostly.  The pretext for the bombing was our

  entering the Saudi holy land.  That wouldn't have occurred if we were

  still cozy with Saddam."

   

  Phil responds: If we are playing with counterfactuals, the consequences of 
Saddam

  taking control of the oil fields of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as

  controlling Mecca and Medina would far exceed that of the World Trade

  Center bombing.  The situation would be one of ongoing war, since

  Saddam never demonstrated he could win militarily, and the triumph of

  Islamic extremism, since few Muslims would tolerate control of the two

  holy cities in the hands of a secular Baathist.  Oil would trickle out

  of the Middle East, devastating the world economy far beyond what we

  are seeing now.  Yes, even with the WTC bombings, the Saudis look

  pretty good when compared to Saddam.

   

  Lawrence responds:  But Saddam did win in Kuwait.  And he would have in Saudi 
Arabia.  That's why the Saudis turned to us.  By the way, Osama bin Laden 
wanted the Saudis not to turn to us but to stand on their own.  He believed his 
help would save Saudi Arabia.  That is part of what would have happened.  Osama 
would have turned his efforts to fighting Saddam and not us.  It would have 
been a different Jihad.  Our buddy Saddam would then have turned to us for help 
to stamp out those pesky Jihadists - or maybe he would have managed that on his 
own.

   

   

   

  Lawrence wrote, "In what way is being on good terms with the Saudis better 
than being on good terms with a pre-Kuwait-invasion Iraq?"

   

  Phil responds: The Saudis have demonstrated that they can bring stability and

  prosperity to the Middle East.  They have managed the development of

  the entire petroleum project in the Middle East providing enormous

  wealth to many people.  The Sauds have been very effective custodians

  of the holy cities, managing the interests of both Sunnis and Shia.

  On the other hand, Saddam never provided the same distribution of

  wealth to Iraqi society while creating a situation of continuous

  political instability in order to maintain his own privilege.  The

  Iranians could never tolerate Saddam controlling the holy cities so

  Saddam would have to fight a multi-front war.  The options would be

  the stability and prosperity of the Saudis or war and political

  instability with Saddam.  How could the Saudis not be the most obvious

  choice?

   

  Lawrence responds:  I am here assuming recent research which shows the Saudis 
to be at to root of the Islamist Fundamentalist movement.  The Ayatollah's 
evangelism was stopped, but not so the Saudis.  Everywhere you read, if there 
is trouble, there you will find the Saudis, i.e., the Wahhabis, offering to 
help and all they want is for you to turn to their religion and let them build 
you a few Madrassas.   They have been insidious and far more effective than the 
Ayatollah's revolution in spreading Islamist fundamentalism.  Many think it 
only a matter of time before the Wahhabs are going to have enough of the Saudi 
family and oust it.  But for now they think they need it.  This doesn't sound 
like stability to me - at least not a stability I'm comfortable with.  I am 
much more comfortable with old-fashioned thuggishness. 

   

  Lawrence Helm

  San Jacinto, California 

   

  Playing the counterfactual with,

   

  Phil Enns

  Yogyakarta, Indonesia

   

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