Iraq War #9

Originally posted January 31, 2004

As of this writing, the occupation of Iraq continues. The Democratic nomination process continues, and one of the larger controversies was Howard Dean’s assertion that we are no safer since Saddam was captured. Of course everybody jumped all over this, but I have yet to hear an intelligent discussion of the matter. Here’s my 2 cents’ worth.

The critical missing thought is: Are we safer with Saddam gone, compared to what? For simplicity’s sake, let me propose 3 major possible outcomes in Iraq.
1) The US is successful at getting a proper democratic government in place. Certainly Saddam was more dangerous than this would be. I think this outcome is quite unlikely, given the major groups there and the large amount of governmental infrastructure a democracy needs.
2) The US is successful at getting a non-democratic government in place, maintaining control while having the appearance of a democracy. This is my second most likely scenario, but the Iraqis aren’t stupid, and we would have to garrison the country for as long as we maintained the friendly non-legitimate government. Eventually we’d get tired of the growing losses and would go home. Think Vietnam or Iran. Initially this would be less dangerous than Saddam, but eventually would be much more so. But wait a second. Until 1991, didn’t we have just this?
3) The US bails before the democracy and all of its institutions are in place, the Shiites disenfranchise everyone else at the ballot box, and we have a civil war. This is my most likely outcome. This would be much more dangerous to us than Saddam.

I’m no Howard Dean fan, other than I agree with him about the war. But still, his commentary led to nothing but name-calling and finger-pointing, when it could have led to some substantive discussions.

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