Sunday, October 17, 2004

Horsefeathers assesses the need to ultimately take down Saddam in light of the Duelfer Report. His conclusion:
Anyone who is seriously interested in defeating terrorism and understanding whether the war in Iraq was necessary must be informed of the facts in the Duelfer Report. It makes it crystal clear that there was no alternative to removing Saddam and his two sons from their regime. He was gaming the UN and had no other political aim than to become the dominant figure in the Middle East through the acquisition of chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. And no amount of UN blather and John Kerry diplomacy would have made any difference. Saddam would have compelled a war. Better that we fight it at a time of our choice than his.
Horsefeathers is correct in this. The one quibble I have is the wording of the part I placed in bold. While true, it is misleading, unintentionally so, without elaboration.

First, "UN blather" leaves the impression of ineffectiveness on the part of an organization trying resolve a seemingly intractable problem. If the substance of Horsefeathers argument is that Saddam and, by extension, his sons must go, then the UN was an impediment, rather than just an ineffective approach. And thesource of the impediment was that a significant portion of those wielding the power in the UN to solve the problem, had little interest in it being solved. Saddam was economically useful for some countries and for some of those with connections to the decision makers in these countries. Nothing, in my mind, proves this better than the oil-for-food scandal. UNSCAM was normal trade by other means, profitable to some countries as well as personally enriching. While the sanctions regime was on its last legs, it would likely have remained as the alternative to invasion if the US had showed a little less resolve in removing Saddam and more openness to dialogue and diplomacy. I suggest "Gaming" isn't quite the right description. "Colluding" is much more accurate.

And that brings us to the diplomat extraordinaire, John Kerry. As I noted briefly in this post, this is quite instructive of Kerry's approach to Iraq. In 1991, as Bush, Sr. began drumming support for forcing Iraq out of Kuwait, Kerry pounded the drums, too. Sanctions were imposed almost immediately and the diplomacy front was worked while a coalition was gathering. Saddam remained defiant. James Baker could be seen pleading that 4 months of diplomatic efforts show that no other course than military action would be successful. By this point, however, Kerry started to show doubts, questioning whether military action was necessary at this time and whether diplomacy has been given enough time. In an interview, Kerry asked rhetorically whether the violence of sanctions wasn't enough. In the end, Kerry voted against the resolution to go to war.

Kerry is a natural for the Senate and with 20 years of senatorial experience is now an expert. When a problem arises, he knows what to do - talk it to death and if that doesn't work, throw half-assed solution at it to knock it to the back burner for a while since it can always be taken care of again. Here's Kerry in the third debate:

"Now, if later on after a period of time we find that Social Security is in trouble, we'll pull together the top experts of the country. We'll do exactly what we did it he 1990s. And we'll make whatever adjustment is necessary."

Change a few words in his plan for Social Security and it would hardly be any different than his plan was, and is, for Iraq.

Horsefeathers is right that Saddam would have compelled the perpetual menders to end it. But that is not to suggest it would make no difference. For some, it would provide more time to feather their nests and for others more time to crow about the indispensability of themselves and their plans.

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