Fairly irrelevant as far as defensive purposes are concerned. We could have easily continued destroying Iraq with impunity, but we stopped. (That is to say, the only thing that saved Iraq from us... was us.) The only thing they've been doing to even give us an excuse to be agressive is the WMD proliferation. (That, and the fact that they keep trying to shoot down planes enforcing the no-fly zone.) About the only valid reason I can see that they'd need a deterrent against outside intervention is if they were intending to do something that would normally compel other countries to intervene.
Actually, I flubbed up and forgot to mention that Iran is the other likely Iraqi rival that they may actually percieve the need for a deterrent against. (Considering that Iran is expected to have nuclear capability within 10 years.)
I suppose offensive capability against Israel might be a motive, too, although how one uses the bomb there without getting fallout on Palestinian areas is another question.
I, too, see little offensive value for them... if they used offensive nuclear capability, there would be an immediate response (probably nuclear itself). Hopefully only launch facilities would be targeted... but likely command and control would be targeted as well... probabaly meaning Bagdad. At any rate... there's too much nuclear deterrent floating around in the rest of the world for any world leader with any sanity remaining to use them offensively.
The people who should be afraid of Iraq having nuclear capability are the neighboring countries... they are the only likely targets. (Conventional invasion with nuclear deterrent for any would be do-gooders.) What would have happened in early 90's Kuwait if Iraq had a nuclear capability? I'm guessing that Iraq would be a larger country with a nice seaport.
And what if we can't come up with an interim government that will work?
We can only try. We're human and we can't guarantee that we'll be successful in anything. What's the likelyhood that something that is better than the current situation can be established? Seems pretty high.
How do we keep the Kurds from trying to leave? And as much as I dislike dictatorships, isn't it true that if democracy was practiced in many Middle Eastern countries that the resulting governments might be even more opposed to us?
I find that unlikely in the case of Iraq. (Saudi, definitely true.) Given the situation, I'll much rather give democracy (or more likely, another form of interim government for a while) a chance in lieu of staying with the status quo.
The problem with this is the Afghans don't want us to have a position in Afghanistan and NATO isn't real enthusiastic about taking some of the burden.
Not a permanent American position... just get the new government established and working on their own... continuing to provide various forms of aid. Are they even done fighting those "pockets of resistance"?
Not establishing military bases, etc. Not an occupation.
WRT NATO... that's why I said "try". :)
It didn't work that way in Vietnam, did it? Or Somalia, where our whole motive was to help, except that some didn't see it that way.
Two ways of looking at Vietnam... either the military was, for some unknown reason, fighting a war where the objective was something other than defeating the enemy. (Perhaps severe mis-micromanagement from Washington.) Either that, or that the military was being kept from being too aggressive because the whole thing was proxy war between the USSR and the USA... and being too aggressive against USSR's communist friends would be seen as a direct push by the USA against the USSR. (Much like if there were a communist revolution in a country, and the USSR just came in and levelled the opponents of the communists.)
In Somalia, there was a change of leadership, and no desire by anyone in the new administration to be there. It was Bush Sr.'s mission, and once he was out of the picture, there was no drive to do anything. One incident of Americans getting killed, and military forces were withdrawn.
Some of that was due to the repeated showing of Somalians (members of the 'victorious' warlord's clan) psychotically celebrating in the streets over some dead Americans, and the Americans back home decided, "Well, if they're so happy to be killing our guys, screw 'em, let them go back to killing each other." Of course that's pretty much what happened... warlords went back to practicing their business freely and soon after that all international aid fled fearing for their own safety.
And if you'll note, both Vietnam and Somalia were more or less internal conflicts (though we tagged north and south onto Vietnam) while the Iraqi conflict was centered around an international incident. This is one reason why nations rarely get involved in internal disputes of other countries.
And they'll continue to be at each other's throats no matter what we do.
Generally true. It all depends on what proportion of the populations are extremist in their politics.
I still think that there's a good possibility of resolving things to a livable point within the next few decades.
But there are reactions that could be more significant in the area; what if Iran was not bluffing when a general (I beleive it was) said that Iran would fight the US over an invasion of Iraq, and it would do so by taking out as many oil wells as they could? This would make the situation much harder.
Hmm... I seem to recall something like that a while back... but I can't find it with a quick search. You have any pointers to that quote?
It's kinda puzzling that Iran would be wanting to run to the aid of a man that waged war on them, including the use of chemical weapons. They might just be that anti-USA, or they might be fearing a subsequent invasion of Iran, or even just fearing the US setting up a puppet government to use against them (not that I could blame them on that concern). All we can do is hope to convince them that helping us (not interfering) would be more of a gain than a risk. And saying that one would engage in war if something that can't happen right now happens is far different than deploying troops. It might even be "a first step in Iranian diplomacy" (i.e fine under the table dealings: "okay... we'll agree to not interfere... provided certain conditions are met"). I don't know their methods at all.
I'll keep an eye out for Iranian statements of policy on this.
What if Saddam did retaliate significantly against Israel and Israel retaliated, possibly with nukes? What if Arab anger causes other governments in the area to fall, or become more unstable?
One would hope that Israel would be content with staying out of things and letting the Americans handle the situation, much like in the Gulf War. The Israelis certainly won't have their country overrun by an invading force without using nukes, but they also won't intentionally piss off their only large ally. If Israel started tossing nukes without getting hit by a nuke themselves, I think they'd lose American support quite quickly... at least in diplomatic circles (where it really counts). Non-use of nuclear capability should be a very loud subject in closed door meetings between Israeli and American officials.
Arab anger... that's why any invasion would have to be fast, and quickly followed up with massive humanitarian aid. The UN/NATO might even help in that. :)
And of course, there's the wild card in the situation - are India and Pakistan going to stand down and settle things? War between them could complicate everything.
Yes India vs. Pakistan is a bad situation. One (kinda) good thing in that situation is that an all out war between them would be pointless, since if either side were to start to lose a conventional war, it's quite plausible that they'd go nuclear. Then the other side would go nuclear... and then they're all done. So as long as there are non-suicidal people in the lead, we have the good(?) old balance of terror. It's good in that it prevents a lot of conventional war, but bad because of... well, obvious reasons.
That's one situation where diplomacy seems to be the only available route right now. Hopefully no one there would take a conflict with Saddam's regime personally.
The point I'm making here is that I really don't think an invasion of Iraq is a good idea. If Iraq was surrounded by stable democracies that liked us it could be a good idea. But instead, it's in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. We need to be a lot more careful. There's a lot of double dealing going on in that part of the world and taking everything at face value is not a good idea.
It won't be any less dangerous when people who are *not* our allies have long range nuclear delivery capability... one thing that Iraq is moving directly toward. (And then there's also Iran.)
I'm not absolutely certain that an invasion would be a good idea, myself. There's a great deal of uncertainty here... but there always has been and always will. I do, however, see plenty of justification for it, and plenty of reasons why removing Saddam would most likely be a good thing for everyone considered (Saddam and kids are not on my consideration list).
To a certain extent we need to be careful, but we need to be "bold and spicy"* enough to not screw over by timid inaction the people we need to be trying to help.
*okay, so I'm hungry...
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