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Q for the conservatives: what is more important, re: Iraq?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 12:41 pm
I was having a conversation with Moishe the 3rd, and I realised that the question I was asking him was one that I've long wanted to ask A2K's conservatives.

It also neatly ties in with the question Joe has been posing us, by ways of a contextual issue to his thread, about what, in the end, constitutes a win for the US in this war.

So I'm going to make it into a thread of its own, hoping Moishe doesn't mind.

How it started was this. Moishe3rd wrote: "A win in Iraq will be an independent government that is not hostile towards the United States or Israel." I asked, what happened with "bringing democracy to the Middle East"? After all, perhaps I'm a cynic, but a democratically elected government in the Middle East thats not hostile to Israel doesn't look like it's going to happen soon. Nor perhaps is one, even, that's not somewhat hostile to the US. It looks to me like one might end up having to choose at some point in time: bringing democracy - or installing an allied government?

I understand, of course, that you're going for both. But what if that turns out not to be feasible anymore at some point in time (a prospect which we should by now start considering), which would you choose?

Elaborating, I suppose my question works out as:

If Iraq becomes a democracy, but the democratically elected government turns out to be hostile to the US, would America have won or lost this war? Would it have been worth it?

And vice versa, if Iraq eventually gets a US-friendly government, but one that is not by any means democratic, would this war have been won or lost - and would it have been worth it?

Which would you choose, should you have to?

Here's the full post that I wanted to turn into a thread of its own (this being the post I was responding to):

nimh wrote:
Moishe3rd wrote:
If Iraq is hostile towards the U.S., then we will definitely have to rethink this war. Because the way things could go in that case - the United States might be facing a Muslim Europe armed with nukes in twenty years or so...
This is not good.
If Iraq is friendly towards the US, then it is an excellent building block in this war against Islamic fascist death cults.
It will help destabilize the facist death cults in Iran; Saudi Arabia; and Syria.
This is good.
The battle of Iraq is just one front in the war against Islamic fascist death cults.

I'm not quite clear here about what your answer to my question is - am I correct in interpreting that if Iraq becomes a democracy, but the democratically elected government turns out to be hostile to the US, you would consider America to have basically lost this war?

What about if Iraq eventually gets a US-friendly government, but one that is not by any means democratic? Would the US have won, then? Which of the two would you prefer? I seem to be getting that you would prefer the latter - that you consider it more important that Iraq be US-friendly than that it be democratic - in that you consider this war to really be about the battle against Islamofascism, rather than about spreading democracy?

I mean, in the optimistic vision, of course, I understand the two should go hand-in-hand: democracy will bring about the defeat of Islamo-fascism, period. I kinda agree there actually - in the long run anyway - if the democracy survives the initial win for Islamic hard-liners I'm expecting in either of the first two upcoming elections. But I'm pretty sure, on the other hand, that truly democratic elections are highly unlikely to yield a pro-American, let alone pro-Israel government, in the long run.

That, though, is because I can well imagine a government that itself isn't pro-American either, while not immediately being in the throes of "Islamic fascist death cults". Can you - or would you perceive any new Iraqi government's anti-Americanism as the proof that the "Islamo-fascist death cults" had won? Can there be such a thing, in your perception, as a US-hostile democracy in the Muslim world? (I'm not quite sure whether you're saying there couldn't be one, it being some sort of contradiction-in-terms, or there could well be one but it would be a bad thing, one that a US-friendly dictatorship would be preferable over.)

That brings me back to my basic question: what's more important about this war? Installing democracy in Iraq, even if it may turn out to yield a government hostile to America, or installing an America- (and possibly Israel-)friendly regime, even if it may require stifling democracy? I mean, assuming there is a fair chance that you might not be able to have both.

This kinda seems, to me, the question I see many conservatives here ducking, which is creating a lot of the confusion about their motivations and the allegations that they're being disingenious. There's a few posters here of whom I think I know what their answer would be - O'Bill would go, bottom line, for a democracy over a strategic ally (I'm hoping), while George would probably argue that the strategic interest angle is overriding. But most here seem to be avoiding the question.

It's not necessarily an either/or question, mind you. You could answer, for example, that you'd prefer a democratic government even if it may be hostile to America - as long as it wasn't actually controlled by the "Islamic fascist death cults". (If you can perceive of such a thing, of course.)

From what you wrote about the analogy with WW2, when America went to war "under false pretense" (too?), I am almost guessing you mean to be saying that the "spreading democracy" case was more or less a false pretense as well, because the only thing that really counts here is getting an Iraq in place that "is friendly towards the US [and thus] an excellent building block in this war against Islamic fascist death cults". But I don't want to just make an assumption like that here.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 2,899 • Replies: 43
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 12:45 pm
listening
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 12:55 pm
watching
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 12:58 pm
Run, little duck, run!

(Sorry, first time I've seen the new avatar.)
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 01:01 pm
Hah. I should ask jp if he can make it look like I'm running away.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 01:18 pm
Those being the only choices?

A democratic government hostile towards the US.

At least the people will have the freedom to express their anger and also the freedom to eventually change towards a less hostile position.

I would not consider that a loss/defeat.
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Idaho
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 01:19 pm
Quote:
If Iraq becomes a democracy, but the democratically elected government turns out to be hostile to the US, would America have won or lost this war? Would it have been worth it?

And vice versa, if Iraq eventually gets a US-friendly government, but one that is not by any means democratic, would this war have been won or lost - and would it have been worth it?


If the Iraq government is US-friendly but not democratic, we will have lost. The area will not have any increased stability and the country will be ripe for take-over by another dictator that will abuse the Iraqi people.

If Iraq becomes democratic, but the elected govt is US-hostile, we will have won, although not gained quite as much as we would like. The reason is, democratic nations, in general, are unlikely to go to war. There may be nasty things said, but no bullets fly. Case in point - France. While they are overtly hostile to the US, they are unlikely to ever lob a bomb as us.
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 01:21 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Those being the only choices?

A democratic government hostile towards the US.

At least the people will have the freedom to express their anger and also the freedom to eventually change towards a less hostile position.
I would not consider that a loss/defeat.


What I was going to say...the bolded part.

GMTA Smile
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 01:26 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Those being the only choices?

A democratic government hostile towards the US.

At least the people will have the freedom to express their anger and also the freedom to eventually change towards a less hostile position.

I would not consider that a loss/defeat.


I totall agree.
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candidone1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 01:36 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
Those being the only choices?

A democratic government hostile towards the US.

At least the people will have the freedom to express their anger and also the freedom to eventually change towards a less hostile position.

I would not consider that a loss/defeat.


I totall agree.


I agree.
While it would be in the best interests of the American government to have another ally in the middle east, settling for a democratic Iraqi government would at least be of benefit to those in Iraq.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 02:02 pm
Bookmark with the same sentiment as McG and others. How could you expect a preference from a democracy? Just give them self-representation and the rest can be accomplished with carrots. Not liking us is hardly a deal-breaker or we'd have to take a much closer look at the French. :wink:
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 02:18 pm
Well, well!

Interesting.
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 02:29 pm
Well, that's what we all would prefer. But, does anyone believe that the government we have now would allow a democratically elected government that was hostile to us. One that would, in fact, ask us to leave?
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 02:54 pm
The reality of our strategies issues vis a vis the Moslem world goes a bit beyond the narrow categories of "bringing democracy" or "creating a U.S.- friendly government" in Iraq. With this in mind it is neither useful nor enlightening to consider these as mutually exclusive , or even combined alternatives.

The new government that develops may well be only moderately democratic and and only moderately supportive of U.S. policy in the region. In either or both cases the situation will have been improved.

The Bush Administration has made fairly clear its belief that any substantial infusion of democracy in the region will, in the long run, contribute to improved relations with the West. I believe this is an accurate representation of their real strategic assessment. They are interested in facilitating a new historical trajectory for the nations of the former Ottoman Empire, one that is neither Islamist and theocratic nor authoritarian and dictatorial, and they are convinced that, if established in Iraq it could favorably influence future evolution in Iran . Saudi Arabia and other like places. I believe they are correct.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 03:15 pm
Yet you are faced with a region where anti-Americanism is rife. The chances of truly democratic elections yielding pro-American (let alone pro-Israeli, as Moishe was suggesting) governments in Iraq are, beyond the immediate context, rather small. Is the US willing to cede the opportunity of acquiring a loyal ally in the Middle East for the sake of its nominal mission, introducing democracy to the region for its long-term strategic benefits? I would applaud that, but it would be something of a first.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 03:24 pm
Ninh,

Interesting questions. In the first place I believe the U.S, has had occasion to relearn a very old adage about the loyalty of allies. Nations have enduring interests: they do not have enduring friendships.

I have learned many times the folly of attempting to win the affections of those you lead in any kind of a management or leadership situation, and I believe that principle also applies to the relations of nations as seen by dominant powers. If one leads well and achieves success, affection will inevitably follow. Present affection on the part of allies will not survive failure. In general effective leaders are not loved until after their challenges have been overcome, and currying favor is a poor way to confront and overcome challenges.
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candidone1
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 03:38 pm
FreeDuck wrote:
Well, that's what we all would prefer. But, does anyone believe that the government we have now would allow a democratically elected government that was hostile to us. One that would, in fact, ask us to leave?


No chance.
But as I said earlier...it's a step in the right direction for this administration because history has revealed that an unfavorable foreign government is not immune to the prowess of covert CIA involvement to implement further "regime changes".
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 03:41 pm
In the other thread George replied:

georgeob1 wrote:
There are many other important issues that also bear on these problems which aren't as widely discussed - oil production in the Persian Gulf; the prospects for peace or at least accomodation in Israel/Palestine; preventing the spread of islamist militancy to Central Asia; influencing the next steps in the political evolution of Saudi Arabia and Iran; and many others. All of these issues are closely coupled in the real world. Nations must figure out how to deal with immediate issues in a way that facilitates favorable evolution of all of these closely coupled issues. With this in mind questions such as ".... do we value friendship in an Iraqi government over democratic institutions?" just don't arise in the neat either/or packages you have described.

Yes, they most certainly do. You mention the element of "preventing the spread of islamist militancy to Central Asia". The US has made a clear choice between promoting democracy and preventing the emergence of hostile regimes in that question. It has, practically without wavering, supported Uzbekistan's dictator Islam Karimov in the face of a real or perceived Islamist underground. The UK did too. A British consul (or ambassador, sorry, I forget) who reported back that the Uzbek convicts who testified about their involvement in Islamist terrorist groups were forced to such confessions through torture and that their confessions were thus unreliable - and who insisted his government spoke out more against the regime - was relieved from his job. Uzbekistan remains on the receiving end of extensive US financial support.

Now Uzbekistan's regime is one of the most cruelly totalitarian of the Former Soviet Union - thousands of (alleged) dissidents in jails where torture is rife, not a semblance of free or fair justice, elections, media, whatever. But it is exactly because of the spectre of the alternative being the country falling into the hands of extremist Islamists - a spectre Karimov has of course much played up as a real danger, though it is of doubtful solidity - that the West has largely foregone on insisting on democracy or even any significant semblance of respect for human rights. That, and the fact that Karimov offered the US the use of military facilities in the country that came in neatly in the war against Afghanistan. Forced to make the choice between insisting on democracy, even at the cost of possibly allowing anti-Western groups from gaining power, or empowering a dictator who offered to be a useful strategic ally, the US made its choice - and rather swiftly.

I had an informative thread on the matter here earlier: Terror or insurgency in Uzbekistan, US Ally?
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 04:15 pm
Damn...

...almost makes me wish I were naive enough to be a conservative so I could offer an opinion.

But...I'm not invited...so I have to keep to myself the fact that the America's conservatives have managed, despite ample warnings that they were heading toward trouble...

...to set up what is almost assuredly a no win/no win situation for the United States...and for the cause of World Safety...the cause of freedom from terrorism.

There is no good answer for the conservatives...especially as posed, because each response is akin to moving a deck chair on Titanic the night of its demise.

This sucks for the conservatives! I empathize with them.



It sucks much more for those of us outside the conservative mind-set.

It sucks for the world...no matter where it falls on that continuum.




But...I ain't no conservative...and I'm gonna butt out.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Jan, 2005 04:34 pm
I couldn't find a fleeing duck, but did find a running duck

http://www.duckplanet.com/images/small/rempel_bellboy.jpg

I will consider the war to be a 'win' if the Iraqi people are truly free to determine their own destiny, reject politics of fear and death, and choose a destiny that will be a model for their neighbors to shoot for. I don't care whether they are friendly to the U.S. If they are structured for self determination, there will be time enough to make friends.
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