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US grand strategy and Iraq
The Hindustan Times ^ | 31 Dec 2002 | Pramit Pal Choudhuri

Posted on 12/30/2002 8:40:55 PM PST by akash

The primitive way to look at the United States war against terrorism is to say it is largely about bashing Muslims. Or that Washington is using 9/11 as a pretext to take out Saddam Hussein and take over Iraq’s oilfields. The corollary is that after the US gets Osama bin Laden the war on terror will also be over. The world will return to tribal wars in Africa, debating bits of the WTO agreement and comparing the navels of Shakira and Britney Spears.

The assumption is that George W Bush’s administration has no grand strategy. That beyond raining missiles and dragging Al-Qaeda suspects off to Cuba, there is no vision thing.

This is important. Great powers who fail to recognize there are limits to kickass military power eventually run aground. Other powers coalesce against them. Their public tire of paying the price, in taxes and corpses, of being globocop. The sustainable way of being a global hegemon is to set up an international system that enshrines economic and political values which serves the interests of both the great powers and all potential rivals.

From World War II to the Cold War’s end the US was quite good at this sort of thing. Ex-enemies like Germany, Japan and Russia all made becoming capitalist democracies with US characteristics their new nation-building agenda. If the US has been able to lead the world, it is in large part because much of the world has been willing to be accept its leadership.

Is there such a liberal vision, a victory of values, imbedded in the war against terrorism? Most people say no. Washington seemed to shirk rebuilding Afghanistan after the Taliban’s excision. And it seriously muddied the waters when it grafted the overthrow of Hussein to the main trunk of the war against terrorism. The pet peeve of Indians is the US’s alliance with Pakistan — a military dictatorship that sponsors terrorism. But countries all over have similar grumbles about US double-standards.

Hidden priority

Some scholars have argued otherwise. John Lewis Gaddis, probably the most famous scholar of US Cold War foreign policy, recently took a close look at the National Security Strategy released by the White House in June and argued Bush did have a grand strategy.

Whereas Bill Clinton’s three earlier strategy documents assumes a world more or less at peace, Bush stressed that peace needs to be defended, preserved and extended. Defending the peace, Bush said, meant "fighting terrorists and tyrants". A new, radical strategy of pre-emptive attack was outlined to handle terrorists and states who helped them.

After 9/11, as Bush noted, "We cannot let our enemies strike first."

Preserving the peace meant "building good relations among the great powers". In other words, noted Gaddis, ensuring an anti-American coalition never comes together by associating US power with certain universal principles. As in the Cold War, other governments will at worst turn a blind eye to even unilateral US action because the alternatives — Al-Qaeda or even an Iraq that uses poison gas and attacks its neighbours – are worse.

Finally, Bush said the US would "extend the peace" by "promoting free and open societies". This is the interesting bit. As Gaddis correctly pointed out, this reflects a general consensus among terrorism experts that the root cause of Osama bin Laden and his ilk is the closed polity of many Islamic countries. If the bulk of the membership and the funding of most jihadi groups worldwide is the Muslim Arab world it’s because this region has been a democratic desert. There is no genuine Arab democracy.

At this point Gaddis wondered. The Bush administration strategy clearly says what it envisions is a clash "inside civilisation, a battle for the future of the Muslim world". This could be construed to mean simply an end to Muslim support for terrorism. But Gaddis asked what if the real game is the democratization of the Arab world. In that case Iraq is the laboratory for an awesome experiment. "We can set in motion a process that could undermine and ultimately remove reactionary regimes elsewhere in the Middle East, thereby eliminating the principal breeding ground for terrorism."

He concluded: "If I’m right about this, then it’s a truly grand strategy." A fuzzy plan "turns out, upon closer examination, to be a plan for transforming the entire Muslim Middle East: for bringing it, once and for all, into the modern world."

Sands of Arabia

There will be plenty of catcalls, but I think Gaddis is more or less right.

There are multiple reasons why Washington is determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Oil is one, but in a more indirect way than most think. Since Jimmy Carter, Washington has made ensuring the free flow of Persian Gulf crude a pillar of its national security. Part of this has meant ensuring no country in the region can match US influence. So revolutionary Iran had to be contained. Hussein could not be allowed to keep Kuwait or possess weapons of mass destruction. Oil underlies it all, but the policy implemented has been a textbook balance of power game.

The argument the US wants to control Iraqi oil falls apart when one looks closely at the nature of the world oil market. Petroleum is big, but it is hardly the core of the US economy – Silicon Valley is more important than Gasoline Alley to present and future American wealth. As industry analysts note, the US interest is long-term oil supply and price stability. Who owns the oilfield is moderately important, but not enough to wage a risky, expensive war over.

Then there’s the bit about Bush junior wanting to clean up a mess left by Bush senior. That plays a role, but George W is not the type to gamble his presidential future on righting a wrong that his father doesn’t seem overly concerned about.

The question is which of the various reasons for the US’s squeezing Iraq is the more important.

In the end, the coming attack on Iraq is actually about 9/11.

Not because of the Al-Qaeda link with Baghdad, which is errant nonsense. But because the goal of US grand strategy is to ensure Islamic terror never threatens American life and limb again. And the ultimate way to stopper the terror flow is to open up the Muslim Arab world.

Why isn’t Washington more explicit about this? Simply because most of the Muslim allies it has in the war against terror are authoritarian regimes. If the US says our ultimate goal is to overthrow you – there goes the alliance.

But a careful trawling of statements by lower level US officials gives some evidence that a grand strategy does float underneath the froth of rhetoric.

First, there are numerous statements linking the spread of democracy to any end to terrorism. The State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, Marc Grossman, in an outline of US foreign policy priorities in November was clear, "Democracy, security and prosperity are the true antidotes to terrorism."

Second, US officials are also clear in the belief that the Muslim Arab world’s repressed polities are responsible for the growth of radical, violent Islam. The Pentagon number two, Paul Wolfowitz, noted three months ago that the way US could show to the average Muslim that terrorism was a "blind alley" was to "the alternative of liberty and justice".

Foggy Bottom’s head of policy planning, Richard Haass, wrote an article earlier this month laying it all out. He admitted that because of reasons of oil, the Cold War and containing Iran, the US did not encourage democracy in the Arab world. The region has now become the world’s "democratic exception". He went on to say, "It is not in the US interest – or that of Muslims – for America to continue this exception…As we have learned the hard way, such societies can be breeding grounds for extremists and terrorists who target America."

And the security policy person perhaps closest to Bush, Condoleezza Rice, publicly said in October, "We reject the condescending view that freedom will not grow in the soil of the Middle East – or that Muslims somehow do not share in the desire to be free."

When Haass visited India, he made it a point to meet a cross-section of Indian Muslim leaders. Why? Because Indian Muslims are the second largest Muslim population in the world and among the poorest. Yet, he said, none of them is a member of Al-Qaeda or its affiliates.

"I asked the leaders why this was so," Haas said, "And they said we live in a secular democracy. When we have problems we have alternatives to terrorism."

Third, US officials have quietly hinted that they are of the view that Iraq can be the wedge that will open the Arab world – and Iran – to the fresh air of representative government.

Washington wants to make an example and Iraq was a logical choice. It was already in the crosshairs for plenty of other reasons. It didn’t have too many international friends. But it also had a well-educated population, a more or less secular culture and a populace that seems weary of its present ruler. It also had enough oil to fund its own nation-building.

UK journalist Timothy Garton Ash, after meeting various higher-ups in Washington, recently wrote the Bush administration is “plainly committed to the long haul of nation-building in postwar Iraq. And that’s for starters. A new democratic and prosperous Iraq is to be a model for its neighbours” in the way West Germany was during the Cold War. I received a similar argument from a senior US National Security Council member this month: Iraq is to be a laboratory for the Arab world.

This is the White House’s dream scenario: Iraq becomes, after about five years of US military rule, a democratic confederation. Its success then has a cascade effect. The balance of power in Iran shifts towards the elected leadership, away from the mullahs. As crucial, Iraq’s political example and oil muscle serves to open up Saudi Arabia. As Ash noted, “No one in the administration yet says this publicly but there is a logic that leads from the democratization of Iraq to that of Saudi Arabia.”

Whether this scenario will have any resemblance to the reality that will follow when the US military goes for Hussein sometime after January is a different story. But as one US official said, “Worst-case scenarios cannot be an excuse for inaction."

Possibility with Pakistan

It also follows from all this that just like the Cold War, the US will have to make tactical decisions that run counter to the larger strategic goal.

The obvious cases are two unrepentant state sponsors of terrorism: the Saudis and Pakistan. The Saudis can’t be bucked now because they can throw the world economy in chaos. But let Iraq, which some experts believe may have more reserves than Saudi Arabia, come back on stream and let the Russians get back to Soviet-levels of production. At that point, the Saudi oil weapon disappears.

Pakistan is even trickier because it has nuclear weapons in place. Its government can be pressured but not overthrown for fear of Islamic militants seizing both power and warheads. And military action is out of the question. Working out how to bring sustainable modernity to this non-Arab Muslim world which is both non-democratic and a recruiting ground for terror will be a far greater challenge than rebuilding Iraq. No surprise then that Washington seems to be out of its depth when it deals with Islamabad.

New Delhi generally believes it doesn’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to the present Iraq crisis. But it does if the US has a grand strategy. Immunizing the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia, from terror through the spread of democracy is clearly in India’s interests. But the big hope will be that if the US succeeds in transforming Iraq, it may be then tempted to try the same thing with Pakistan.

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bushdoctrineunfold; democracy; iraq; islam; rebuilding; saudiarabia; us; warlist
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To: Alamo-Girl
Welcome =^)
21 posted on 12/30/2002 9:38:00 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: MJY1288
More than welcome, friend -- And Happy New Year to you and yours!
22 posted on 12/30/2002 9:38:31 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: MeeknMing
Welcome, and good morningbackatya
23 posted on 12/30/2002 9:42:36 PM PST by JohnHuang2
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To: akash; *Bush Doctrine Unfold; randita; SierraWasp; Carry_Okie; okie01; socal_parrot; snopercod; ...
Excellent ant thought provocating article!

Bush Doctrine Unfolds :

To find all articles tagged or indexed using Bush Doctrine Unfold , click below:
  click here >>> Bush Doctrine Unfold <<< click here  
(To view all FR Bump Lists, click here)

24 posted on 12/30/2002 9:45:16 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Balata
I own a busines just outside of Washington D.C. and I have three customers who once lived in Iran and have family there now, They tell me that the current movement in Iran is very very strong and the only reason why the Mullahs havn't been thrown out is because of their fear of Saddam Hussain. They believe that once Saddam is out of the picture, they're free of serious threats. The Mullah's were able to hold off Iraq in the 80's and they watched what happened after we drove Saddam out of Kuwait, (We didn't occupy Kuwait)

Even Ray Charles could see who is the agressor and who is Liberator. I believe once Saddam and his underlings are dismantled, The Iranian people will stand up and take control from the Mullah's. This is when we need to rally the world to support them

25 posted on 12/30/2002 9:47:21 PM PST by MJY1288
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To: JohnHuang2
Happy New Year to you and yours also my friend.


26 posted on 12/30/2002 9:49:11 PM PST by MJY1288
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To: akash
This analysis could be an accurate guage of what the Administration is really thinking. But it does not change the likelihood that they are dead wrong about installing mob-democracy in this pan-arabic region. It will not change a thing. They will still adhere to the Koran. They will still oppress all other religions, and women. They will still harbor nothing but hatred for and warfare againt, the West. The basics of the vilifications against Western values have been inculcated too deep. I am not convinced that GWB's theory that the genie of democracy is able to turn these states into modern peaceful republics. Keep in mind, that Hitler came to power in a democratic Weimar Republic. I am, up to a point, willing for GWB to go ahead and try it. But we should be preparing our own people for the possibility of the failure of the scheme....and readying for the worst case scenarios...educating them as to what we really are fighting.
27 posted on 12/30/2002 9:49:40 PM PST by Paul Ross
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To: *war_list
28 posted on 12/30/2002 9:56:34 PM PST by The Obstinate Insomniac
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To: The Obstinate Insomniac; seamole; Lion's Cub; Libertarianize the GOP; Free the USA; ...
Thanks for indexing this article!
29 posted on 12/30/2002 10:04:03 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: akash
Democracy in Iraq, three possible democratic states, with US and Westren Civilization support. This is the crux of opposition to America's war on terror in the Middle East. Approximately a two-thirds majority of countries "representated" at the United Nations do not allow their citizens any democracy and are either communist or run by dictators like the Arab Shieks. All tryants fear freedom and it's spread.
30 posted on 12/30/2002 10:08:46 PM PST by Jumper
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To: MJY1288
I think you are exactly right.

At this point the US can't be seen as the instigators in Iran. However, once the Iranian people stand up and take control of their own country then we'll see a strong democratic country. This will not only have the affect of regional political stabilization, but it will also decrease terrorism in the world and help to secure world energy stability.
31 posted on 12/30/2002 10:08:54 PM PST by Balata
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To: dirtboy; Shermy; Mitchell
You guys will want in on this.

Great article. Confirming what most FReepers figured out months ago, of course...

32 posted on 12/30/2002 10:26:13 PM PST by okie01
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To: All
Here's another view of the war on terror .....

The Rediff Special/ Colonel Anil Athale (retd)

Terror 2002: Storing up trouble for the future

The dying moments of 2001 saw pyrrhic American victory in Afghanistan. Yet after one full year, the entire Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership and their families, numbering in their thousands, have eluded the American grasp.

As mentioned in these columns last October, the crucial delay in initial air attacks gave the Islamists ample opportunity to re-organise and disperse. 2002 saw the first stage of classic insurgency, small level hit and run attacks and some assassinations. The Islamists have established bases in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the first stage of insurgency. But such is the American dread of this form of warfare (the 'V' for Vietnam word can still cause a chill at an American gathering), that no analyst or media has dared to utter the word ?counterinsurgency,' when in reality that is what the Americans are already fighting in Afghanistan.

The Americans, who have otherwise an impressive record of military victories, are at sea when it comes to fighting insurgency. The reasons are many, but at the risk of oversimplification, it can be said to be American impatience and lack of colonial experience. The signs are there for any one to see -- a puppet government, no ideology to rival 'Islam' -- Americanism cannot be a substitute to jihadi Islam.

The gates of Kabul may yet notch up another name of another defeated aggressor. The Americans may well join such illustrious losers as Alexander, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The signs of that happening in the future were all visible except to the Americans who want to wish away a counterinsurgency in the 21st century.

When the US suddenly turned on Iraq, it was an indirect admission that even a Hyper Power cannot alter the geo-political environment!

The ruling elite in Islamic states have been quick to seize this opportunity to demand economic aid on the plea that they need it for their exploding populations which otherwise would turn 'jihadi.' The rulers have then been clever to keep the jihadis on the right side by carrying out sham attempts to crush them. All Muslim majority countries are playing this game, but none so well as Pakistan.

Pakistan has one additional card: its nuclear capability. The fear of these falling into jihadi hands is being used to browbeat the Americans.

There has been much satisfaction in 'peace at any cost' lobbies as well as in the West that a open conflict was avoided in the subcontinent. When jihadis in a neighbouring country attack Parliament, slaughter women and children in army barracks and kill pilgrims, and the victim country exercises 'restraint,' the terrorists have succeeded in further raising the 'bar of tolerance.'

India's non action in 2002 has made it absolutely certain that an even more audacious attack will be mounted in the coming year. As the recent election in Gujarat showed, this is leading slowly but surely to a situation where a major conflagration will be inevitable.

There are two reasons for this pessimistic assessment. One is the fact that the real problem is not the jihadi element in Pakistan, they are subhuman and need to be liquidated, but the so-called moderate and modern element that connives at this. They have calculated, and so far correctly, that when push comes to shove, India will always back down. They have a 800-year history to back them up.

The second problem is the Indian establishment that is yet to absorb the nuances of nuclear 'poker.' All and sundry keep repeating the 'mantra' of deterrence when the need is for 'compellence.' Deterrence works to prevent war. But when an opponent is already at war and using force (the ongoing proxy war) mere words, threats, deployment and sabre rattling will not work. To stop the ongoing war, escalatory 'action' is absolutely necessary. It is only then a condition of parity is created and a stable equilibrium can be achieved.

US intervention has been the 'key' to peace in the subcontinent, and not fear of nuclear weapons. This belief, while it has meant temporary peace, has surely sowed the seeds of future conflict.

Indians and the Americans have failed to realise that by avoiding a limited conflict they have made sure that a major and all out conflict will take place in the future.

History is more often made by the unrelenting forces that have an independent momentum of their own. When two large ships approach each other, there comes a point beyond which a head on collusion is inevitable. The only course open then is to prepare for damage limitation. At a global and subcontinental level, in 2002, we appear to have crossed that point.

33 posted on 12/30/2002 10:29:28 PM PST by akash
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To: akash
Excellent article and thanks for posting it.
34 posted on 12/30/2002 10:46:32 PM PST by Grampa Dave
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To: MJY1288
Thanks for the ping. It is an excellent article.
35 posted on 12/30/2002 10:47:39 PM PST by Grampa Dave
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To: MJY1288
Absolutely, once the Islamofacist mass killer Uncle Soddomite is out of the picture, the Mullah thugs's heads in Iran will be decorating pikes all over Iran within a week.

Once Uncle Soddomite and the Mullahs are gone, the power of the Opecker Princes to finance terrorism and Wahhabism around the world will be gone! Israel will whack the Islamofascists in Syria, that country will be able come around too.
36 posted on 12/30/2002 10:52:14 PM PST by Grampa Dave
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To: akash
The world will be much safer for Americans and American interests when we establish that those who threaten us, or attack us, can expect three things on a grand scale: pain death impoverishment.
37 posted on 12/30/2002 10:54:04 PM PST by 185JHP
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To: akash
Akash, I liked your first article better.

It seems to me the author of the second article has a very narrow and perhaps clouded perspective of the global picture. US intervention has been the 'key' to peace in the subcontinent, and not fear of nuclear weapons and it will continue to be the 'key' to peace in the area until both India and Pakistan obtain a healthy fear of each others nuclear weapons. Hopefully it won't take a nuclear event for them to gain that respect and fear.

38 posted on 12/30/2002 10:55:09 PM PST by Balata
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To: Paul Ross
"... I am not convinced that GWB's theory that the genie of democracy is able to turn these states into modern peaceful republics ..."

You are absolutely right. This was a helluva good article, and a joy to read, but he leaves some questions unanswered:
What about Turkey's recent election of a hardliner? What about the population growth in Arab countries? How can he dismiss Iraq's relations with Al Qaeda? Why should we expect Saudi cooperation in this, when they come up short?

I still don't think democracy is the object because I don't think it is desirable for those societies, for the reasons you point out. I think we need to balance antagonists; that is the only dependable route to stability.

39 posted on 12/30/2002 10:57:13 PM PST by tsomer
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To: Paul Ross
This analysis could be an accurate guage of what the Administration is really thinking. But it does not change the likelihood that they are dead wrong about installing mob-democracy in this pan-arabic region. It will not change a thing

I'm afraid I have to agree with you. Jordon, Turkey, and Egypt come to mind at the moment. These were the most moderate Islamic countries, which all looked promising over past decades. Now I'm not so sure about their ability to withstand the fundamentalist trends.

40 posted on 12/31/2002 12:07:17 AM PST by Lion's Cub
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