USS Clueless - Not why we're doing it

Stardate 20030227.0454

(On Screen): There are a lot of people out there who are desperate to find some explanation beyond the obvious one for why the US has gone to war.

The idea that we got attacked, we didn't like it, and we wanted to make sure we didn't get attacked again just is too simplistic for them; they need something deeper, something much more disgraceful to point to for a rationale. They need the US motive to be something that can be condemned so that it can be dismissed.

One theory proposed is that it's all about oil. The war in Afghanistan was about building a pipeline. (Note that it hasn't actually happened.) The attack on Iraq is so that we can capture and plunder Iraq's oil fields. Naturally. Never mind that the explanation makes no sense, or it is easily refuted (and has been many times in many places), or that if we wanted oil there were a lot easier ways of getting it.

Another theory which seems to strike a chord with a lot of people is this one which I've had many people mail to me recently, which contends that the real reason is that the Arabs were considering switching from the Dollar to the Euro as the official currency in which oil is priced, and that we've decided to fight to prevent it. The argument is tenuous, to say the least, and I don't give it any credit at all because at its base it's yet another rationalization; it's yet another try at figuring out a secret conspiracy for the war which doesn't really have anything to do with the fact that we were attacked and a lot of us died, we didn't like being attacked or having our people slaughtered, and we intend to try to make sure we don't get attacked again or let any more of our people get slaughtered.

Somehow or other, that last argument seems sufficient to me, but I'm one of those simple-minded conservatives who don't understand the true nuances of the world and how deep the conspiracies really run, or how monumentally evil Bush really is.

I guess that's why, anyway. Or maybe it's because I'm not compelled by anti-American hatred to find and finger some deep and despicable reason for the war so that I can ignore the attack in September of 2001. Certainly it's clear from the prose of this document that its author carries an almost archetypical contempt for Bush and his top advisors, presenting them in very familiar terms, or at least in terms familiar to us who spend a lot of time up to our knees in leftist agitprop muck.

So I must confess that it is a great relief to find a different analysis in the Hindustan Times by Pramit Pal Chaudhuri which is not only much more cogent but also far more brief and which actually addresses the question of our emphatic disapproval of having our countrymen slaughtered. And he even talks about root causes, the real root causes:

The second front was about the long-term eradication of the root causes of Al-Qaeda-type terrorism. All the terrorist-wallahs and Arabists the Bush administration tapped said the same thing: the reason educated Arabs sign up with bin Laden is a lack of democracy in their homelands. The antidote: open up the Arab world.

Two professors, Fouad Ajami and Bernard Lewis, are the gurus of this belief. Their acolytes include Cheney and Rice. Completely overhauling the Arab world is a task roughly comparable to knocking the Soviet bloc, so the White House has preferred not to blow the trumpet on this. Instead, lesser officials like the State Departmentís policy planning chief, Richard Haass, and Riceís deputy, Stephen Hadley, have served as mouthpieces. The second front warriors are pushing for the occupation of Iraq as they need a model Arab democracy. Iraqis are secular and are expected to welcome ballot boxes after decades of dictatorship. It also has enough oil to pay for its own revival.

Arab thinkers and Washington insiders say that another reason is that the US needs a lot of surplus petroleum handy for a showdown with the unrepentant cashbox of jehad: Saudi Arabia.

Yes, part of why we're going to take Iraq is for its oil fields. But the reason is that we need to control them so that the House of Saud will no longer have any weapons at all against us and we won't have to pretend they're our friends any longer. One of the long term steps which is essential in this war is for the Sauds to stop financing the international spread of extremist Islam and to stop paying Danegeld to terrorist groups.

I've long said that the real reason to conquer Iraq was to set off a chain reaction of liberalization in the Arab world (here, for instance). Many have asked me whether I thought this was really what the Bush administration was thinking, and if so why they hadn't gone public with it.

The answer is that I do believe they were thinking along these lines all along, but that for them to go public with it back then would have led to serious grief by making clear to such stalwarts as Saudi Arabia just what we really intended. I'm happy, therefore, that we've reached the point where we no longer think we require the good wishes of the Sauds, and thus Bush has indeed publicly stated the real goal for this war, and the only way in the long run we can really win it: liberalization of the Arabs. And, as mentioned above, Iraq will be used to create an example in the middle East of how it's done, and most of that process will be financed by sales of Iraq's oil.

This represents an enormous shift in mindset for an America-first White House that wanted even a token US troop presence in Macedonia withdrawn. Bush does not seem really bothered to explain all this to his own people. Instead, he has resuscitated genuine, but hoary, Iraqi violations of UN resolutions that all assumed were no longer worth a fight. No wonder half the world thinks the US response is exaggerated.

Saddam's WMDs are definitely a problem and in my opinion are a sufficient reason to attack, but they also serve as a convenient excuse. Bush was using this as a way of covering up the real goal, so that the Sauds didn't become spooked.

Still, over the last year it's been clear that the Sauds have been deeply worried, which is why they've been using every tool available to them to try to prevent war, up to and including making clear that they would not allow use of their territory (and especially their air bases) for the attack. In anticipation of this we spent a vast amount of money and took nearly a year to create a new airbase and command center in Qatar, and now that it's become moot the Sauds have actually given us permission to use their facilities, since refusing to do so clearly will not stop the war and they don't want to give us casus belli for later. (Not that it's going to do them any good.)

And now Bush has gone public with his real agenda, which in some ways is a relief.

The safety of the American people depends on ending this direct and growing threat. Acting against the danger will also contribute greatly to the long-term safety and stability of our world. The current Iraqi regime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the middle east. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions. America's interest in security and America's belief in liberty both lead in the same direction. To a free and peaceful Iraq. ...

Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for middle eastern peace and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state. The passing of Saddam Hussein's' regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers. And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated. Without this outside support for terrorism, Palestinians who are working for reform and long for democracy will be in a better position to choose new leaders.

Which is another point I've been making for a long time: the true path to peace in Israel is through the back door. The Palestinians must cease to be supported by the other Arabs, and once that happens the militants will fall from favor and more moderate voices may come to the fore.

What we've embarked on is going to be hard. It's going to be risky. There will be setbacks and missteps. Some of them are going to die. Some of us are going to die. But it's the only plan which can make us safe without requiring us to kill a hundred million people in the process, and possibly losing a million of our own.

And that, my friends, is more than enough of a reason to do it.

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