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Monday, November 03, 2003

William Safire
Still demonstrating the kind of thinking he used back when he worked for Nixon, that added another 100 feet to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From today's Safire op-ed in the NY Times:

Although such a retreat under fire would be euphemized as an "accelerated exit strategy," consider the consequences to U.S. security of premature departure:

Set aside the loss of U.S. prestige or America's credibility in dealing with other rogue nations acquiring nuclear weapons. Iraq itself would likely split apart. Shiites in the south would resist a return of repression by Saddam's Sunnis and set up a nation under the protection of Iran. Kurds in the north, fearing the return of Saddamism, would break away into an independent Kurdistan; that would induce Turkey, worried about separatism among its own Kurds, to seize the Iraqi oil fields of Kirkuk.

One result could well be a re-Saddamed Sunni triangle. Baghdad would then become the arsenal of terrorism, importer and exporter of nukes, bioweapons and missiles. There is no way we can let that happen. Either we stay in Baghdad until Iraq becomes a unified democratic beacon of freedom to the Arab world or we pull out too soon, thereby allowing terrorism to establish its main world sanctuary and its agents to come and get us.


My rebuttal:
First, U.S. prestige is very low in the world right now, and continuing to decline as the brutal path of imperialism continues to be pursued. Second, how you gain credibility with "rogue nations acquiring nuclear weapons" by attacking a nation that had none escapes me. If anything, the effect has been to increase proliferation. The "axis of evil" example seems clear to me: North Korea has a nuclear program, and claims to be capable of producing weapons. They don't get attacked. Iran has nuclear power capability, although it denies a weapons program. Iraq had no nuclear capability at all, and it gets bombed and invaded. There's a lesson there, and it certainly isn't one likely to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Second: Why is Iraq splitting apart such a bad thing? It seems to me that allowing the Shiites and the Kurds to organize themselves as they would like would be the best way to demonstrate our interest in democracy. Forcing them to remain a part of the same country as "Saddam's Sunnis" seems to be cruel and unusual punishment for people who have already suffered plenty of it. And heaven forbid the Turks seize the oil fields--they belong to us!

Third: "Baghdad would then become the arsenal of terrorism, importer and exporter of nukes, bioweapons and missiles." Safire provides no basis for this claim; Baghdad has no nuclear or bioweapons capability, and would be hard-pressed to develop one. And the place was not a hotbed of terrorism until W and his flypaper strategy "brought 'em on." And if "we stay in Baghdad until Iraq becomes a unified democratic beacon of freedom to the Arab world," we'll be there forever. Which, of course, was the whole point for the Bushies. We had troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for over ten years, and democracy didn't even start to break out. If democracy comes to Iraq, it will be over our dead bodies--thousands upon thousands of them.