Thursday, March 23, 2006


No More Stability


Look no further than Mark Steyn for a cogent analysis why toppling Saddam and liberating Iraq was a good idea three years ago, and still a good idea three years in.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post (since the old-line press in the UK can’t find type space), Steyn takes on the harping critics that linger, nostalgic for the “good old days” when we valued stability and the status quo over change and uncertainty of outcomes.

Former President Clinton recently echoed the calls of armchair heads of state, saying we should have given UN weapons inspectors more time. We had Saddam right where we wanted him: contained and ineffective. “Our former strategy was working,” these pie-dealists (pie eyed idealists) say. Steyn gives a quick refresher on that winning strategy:

"Containment" is not a strategy but the absence of strategy - and thug states understand it as such. In Saddam's case, he'd supposedly been "contained" since the first Gulf War in 1991, when Bush Sr. balked at finishing what he'd started.

And what were the costs of maintaining such a strategy for the years since the Gulf War, besides emboldening Bin Laden, Saddam, Mullahs in Iran, North Korea, and others of their ilk? According to Steyn, a cost of outrageous magnitude, far surpassing the costs we bear now:

“…12 years on, in the spring of 2003 the USAF and RAF were still policing the no-fly zone, ineffectually bombing Iraq every other week. And, in place of congratulations for their brilliant "containment" of Saddam, Washington was blamed for UN sanctions and systematically starving to death a million Iraqi kids - or two million, according to which "humanitarian" agency you believe.

How about this assessment of (relative) outcomes, referenced by Steyn:

A NEW study by the American Enterprise Institute suggests that, aside from the terrific press, continuing this policy [containment vs. regime change] would not have come cheap for America: if you object (as John Kerry did) to the $400-600 billion price tag since the war, another three years of "containment" would have cost around $300 billion - and with no end in sight, and the alleged death toll of Iraqi infants no doubt up around six million. It would also have cost more real lives of real Iraqis: Despite the mosque bombings, there's a net gain of more than 100,000 civilians alive today who would have been shoveled into unmarked graves had Ba'athist rule continued. Meanwhile, the dictator would have continued gaming the international system through the Oil-for-Food program, subverting Jordan, and supporting terrorism as far afield as the Philippines.’

Add to that, the fact that Saddam was a primary sponsor of Palestinian terror against Israel, providing $25,000 to each family of Palestinian homicide bombers (otherwise known as Martyrs for Jihad within the Religion of PeaceTM). Who knows how many more acts of terrorism Saddam might have sponsored – by this means indirectly, or directly through now recognized Iraqi covert operational agencies?

Steyn also takes on those pushing the Iraqi civil war trope. Clearly those who do may have an agenda in finding civil war behind every act of violence, as it allows them a fig leaf for their incessant predictive failures since 2002. The “insurgency” kind of fell apart? Okay, let’s call every thing a sign of civil war. Steyn calls the press on this too:

I see the western press has pretty much given up on calling the Ba'athist dead-enders and foreign terrorists "insurgents" presumably because they were insurging so ineffectually. So now it's a "civil war." Remember what a civil war looks like? Generally, they have certain features: large-scale population movements, mutinous units in the armed forces, rival governments springing up, rebels seizing the radio station. None of these are present in Iraq. The slavering western media keep declaring a civil war every 48 hours but those layabout Iraqis persist in not showing up for it.

Those darned Iraqis. They don’t even know how to have a civil war. Must we do everything for them?

Steyn hits his full stride against those international diplomacy types who constantly fret over “instability” in place of a stability they’ve admired, however illogically. Why illogical? For “stability” was a very unsettled place indeed. From Steyn, his conclusion:

Diplomats use "stability" as a fancy term to dignify inertia and complacency as geopolitical sophistication, but the lesson of 9/11 is that "stability" is profoundly unstable. The unreal realpolitik of the previous 40 years had given the region a stability unique in the non-democratic world, and in return they exported their toxins, both as manpower (on 9/11) and as ideology. Instability was as good a strategic objective as any. As Sam Goldwyn used to tell his screenwriters, I'm sick of the old cliches, bring me some new cliches. When the old cliches are Ba'athism, Islamism and Arafatism, the new ones can hardly be worse, and one or two of them might even buck the region's dismal history. The biggest buck for the bang was obvious: prick the Middle East bubble at its most puffed up point - Saddam's Iraq.

I say stability was a lie. Immoral, and in the end, more expensive than the alternative.

Probably always was. Definitely is so now.

(Via Real Clear Politics)

Links: Mudville Gazette

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]