[lit-ideas] Re: Realpolitik and my Counterfactual

  • From: "Phil Enns" <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 08:54:14 +0700

Lawrence Helm wrote:

"What would our present world have been like if we had supported
Saddam Hussein prior to the First Gulf War?"

Realpolitiks is not primarily concerned with supporting this or that
despot but rather whether supporting this or that despot will bring
about a political reality we can live with.  What Saddam had
demonstrated was a desire to destabilize the status quo in the Middle
East.  He had made an attempt to grab oil land from its historical
enemy, Iran, that led to a long brutal war that resulted in a
stalemate.  He made an attempt for more oil land in Kuwait.  Clearly
Saudi Arabia was next on the list.

Was Saddam someone that could be trusted to bring about a status quo
conducive to the interests of those who benefited from Middle East
oil?  Sure, he was a brutal despot, but the important question was his
ability to deliver stability and oil.  His inability to provide a
decisive victory with Iran made him less attractive.  Sure he could
keep Iran occupied, but if he was controlling the Middle East, he had
to be successful.  Furthermore, he wasn't terribly effective in making
Iraq a stable country.

What would the Middle East look like with Saddam in control?  Since he
wasn't militarily successful, most likely the Middle East would be an
ongoing war zone.  Since he couldn't provide a stable political
regime, the political situation would be chaotic.

On the other hand, the Saudis had proven to be effective in
maintaining stability in the region and providing oil.

Saddam was useful for keeping the Iranians occupied, but from a
realpolitik perspective, I don't think he would be an attractive
alternative to the Saudis.


Phil Enns
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
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