The Missing Analysis

In the current reporting and debates regarding the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, I find that everyone seems to be missing on analyzing one important fact. One important country rather. Iraq. Witnessing the mass uprisings in these autocracies, it is prudent to ask one question. If the Iraq war had not taken place, would both the “goals” of the war still have been achieved? The answer is undoubtedly, yes.

The Iraq war was first fought on the premise that Saddam was manufacturing Nuclear Bombs and hence had to be stopped at any cost. When it became clear that Saddam did not have any WMDs in his possession, the US administration quickly turned around and blew its own trumpet for sowing the first seeds of democracy in the region by overthrowing a dictator. They claimed it would set an example in the Middle East. Some Bush loyalists claim victory today over the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, arguing that Bush’s mission of establishing democracy in the Middle East has now been successful. Now, that is one big joke. Mark Zuckerberg has contributed more to these revolutions than George Bush, the US Army and the CIA combined. The democracy in Iraq is in tatters while democracy in Egypt and Tunisia has made a promising start.

But coming back to the question: What if the Iraq war hadn’t taken place? I assume that the following sequence of events would have happened. Saddam would’ve continued trying to build the bomb in vain despite international sanctions. In the meantime Iran races ahead with its own nuclear facilities. Saddam, unable to build a bomb because of sanctions and unable to sit in the sidelines and watch rival Iran progress, is then forced to terminate his weapons program in exchange for aid and military equipment from the West a la Libya. Hence, Iraq would’ve become a new proxy against Iran a la during the Iran-Iraq war. However, come 2011 and inspired by the Tunisian revolts, people in Iraq revolt against Saddam’s rule and he flees. Notice how the dictators deposed have been ones who had good relations with the US. These are the ones who refrained from the use of military force against their people to a large extent. Maybe because of some amount of pressure from the US, which supplied their major military hardware. Contrast this against countries like Iran and Libya where peaceful protests have been crushed violently. Hence, with Saddam being an ally of the west, it is safe to assume he would’ve come under international pressure to quit. And thus, both the goals of the Iraq war, elimination of WMDs and establishing of a democracy would’ve been achieved without firing a bullet. Im no pacifist, but anyone can definitely realise the large number of negative consequences of that futile war.

Maybe this sounds a little far fetched. But, then again, two months back, the idea of an overthrow of Hosni Mubarak through 18 days of peaceful street protests would’ve sounded very much far-fetched.

13 responses to “The Missing Analysis

  1. I say we should leave them alone to do whatever they want with their countries as long as they leave the US alone. The US should stop spending for them. We need all that monies here in the US.

    • But the US can also not simply stand by and do nothing if the internal situation in a country threatens its staunch ally. In this case, Israel. One of the prime reasons the US put up with Mubarak was because he was willing to keep peace with Israel. Now the US is not sure how Israel will be affected because while Hosni Mubarak was not anti-Israel, there is widespread hostility to Israel among the general Egyptian public. Hence, with a democratic Egypt one does not know if the peace treaties with Israel would continue to stand or not. This is one of the reasons why the US gets involved in such issues.

      Also, such countries could be used to stage terrorist strikes on US soil. Hence, the US cuddles up with the dictators and autocratic governments to hunt down terrorist elements on their soil. The US had ignored Pakistan and Yemen for long and they became breeding ground for anti-US terrorists. Hence, the US started working with the dictators there to curb that menace. Its all about national security.

      Of course, if the US had avoided mis-adventures like Iraq, things would have been far better off as i have pointed out in my post.

  2. This is an interesting perspective but I’m not sure if I agree with the fact that Saddam would have stepped down willingly.

    I think his actions would have mirrored that of Gaddafi. When the United States did invade Iraq, Saddam said that he would stay in Iraq and die there if he had to. He also had two sons that were just as corrupt as he was.

    • True. But my reasoning is that US backed dictators did not resort to much violence against their peoples, as compared to isolated ones like in Iran and Libya. Saddam would’ve moved closer to the US to contain Iran. And hence some amount of US pressure would’ve forced him to yield. Lets not forget that Mubarak too had a son who flew out of the country at the first sign of trouble. Ofcourse, it might not have been that easy also, but then again noone thought Mubarak would flee so fast too.

  3. Very true, it’s hard to say what these dictators would do.

    Another contributing factor as to what Saddam would have done is the amount of oil Iraq has which makes them one of the more powerful Middle Eastern nations. (Without Saddam Iraq is now exporting more oil then Iran)

    • Thats a good point!! Oil prices would’ve skyrocketed and that may have forced western nations to play a more active role in resolving the crisis.

  4. Excellent post. There is quite a universe of unanticipated consequences to activities in this area as far East as Pakistan. If further conflict can be avoided (Syria, Saudi, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, etc) this will have changed the face of the world economy. However, further conflict appears inevitable. The bell has rung and dampening vibrations will coninue to be felt.

    • I doubt Saudi and Pakistan will witness such uprisings. Saudi is too important a place in the Islamic world for it to face such troubles. In Pakistan, every single form of government has been tried, from military dictatorship to a corrupt and inefficient democracy and all forms have been equally bad.

  5. Hey ulag… thanks for your comment on my blog. And yes, I do agree with your perspective on Iraq and currently am drafting an article not so dissimilar to yours regarding the flaws of the Bush doctrine.

    At last check, aren’t there new protests against the current Iraqi government now? I’d go as far as saying that the invasion of Iraq, while producing a satisfactory level of achievement for the Bush Administration’s dithering objectives, have not produced a result as stable or satisfactory to the people of Iraq than has been achieved by Tunisians, Egyptians and soon, Libyans.

    • Yes definitely. There is far more hope that a stable and meaningful democratic setup will arise in Egypt and Tunisia than in Iraq.

    • Iraqis are protesting for better public services (more jobs, electricity, refined water resources). They just want the current government to actually start doing their jobs, they have no intention of over throwing them.

      They were the ones that voted this particular government in after Saddam was overthrown.

  6. You miss one point. Iraqis got to vote for whom they wanted to lead their country. Those in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya did not have this right. Also, the history of uprisings in Iraq proves what would’ve happened. Remember, Saddam used chemical weapons against his own people and the Kurds. History would have repeated itself. Saddam was no ally of the US, hence the sanctions by Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43.

    As for Libya, it wasn’t a US ally and the use of deadly force is happening now. Remember, Libya blew up 2 jets with Americans on them as well as a disco in Germany. I was no fan of the Iraq war or the reasons used to invade. It’s time for the US to stop being the world police.

    • Yes, Saddam was no ally of the US. But he has been in the past, during the Iran-Iraq war. My assumption is that in the last decade, if there had been no Iraq war, Saddam might have given up his weapons program in exchange for Western economic and military aid and thus would have moved closer to US, mainly to counter the Iranian weapons program. Saddam would’ve been more agitated than anyone in the Persian Gulf by an Iranian bomb. Fast forwarding to 2011, he would’ve faced protests like in Egypt and with US nudging he may have vacated his authority. Yes, it all sounds very improbable right now. But remember, Hosni Mubarak’s departure too sounded like a pipe-dream 2 months back. People were actually expecting Gamal to take over the reins. But almost all foreign policy mandarins have been proved wrong. Even Mubarak has a history of brutally suppressing protests but this time that did’nt happen. Either he was not able to or he realized his time was up. Saddam might have faced the same fate.

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