I have been engaged in a lot of debates lately by those who believe president Bush is pure evil, and created a vast conspiracy of lies to allow himself to invade Iraq. I am fairly certain that all of this talk will result in Bush's re-election.. The American moderate never does seem to buy the "This president is pure evil" arguement. Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton all faced these kind of angry propaganda, and they won their second terms quite handily.
In thinking about these issues, an interesting theory emerged in my brain, and I figured I should share it.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Saudi's felt that they needed to have a strong army protecting their borders. Osama Bin Laden tried to convince them to bring in his mujahedeen to protect the country, the declined and instead relied on the U.S. The US presence in Saudi Arabia is Bin Laden's primary motivation for being angry at the U.S. Frontline has a lot of details of his rise to power and his politics. He is not alone in this anger, and our presence there allows him to recuit a lot of young Saudi's to fight against us.
The critics of the war in Iraq, claimed that the policy of containment was working. They where right. For the most part however, the US and Britain where the countries doing the containing, and our required presence in Saudi Arabia was fueling the growth of Al Quida.
President Bush tends to Appease his political opponents. If you look at the Steel Teriffs, the Medicare prescriptions and various other policies enacted in his administration, they where all intended to appease the one-issue voter into not being a sure thing for his opponent. I believe this was his motus apperandi as governor of Texas as well.
The same is stratagy could be applied on a world scale. We have a one issue political leader in Osama Bin Laden. If we where to get out of Saudi Arabia, he would lose most of his leverage, and the political movement would be severely weakend. Saudi kids would no longer feel the need to boot us out of their country.
The truth is, that we really didn't want to be in Saudi Arabia either. However if we left, It would send a signal that Saddam had won. The policy of containment would cease to work if we where no longer there to draw lines in the sand and swat Saddam each time he crossed one.
If we stay, there is also a substaintal risk. Bin Laden's Political movement seeks to destablize Saudi Arabia. Our continued presence there is adding fuel to the fire. the Saudi's rulers where not going to put up with us forever. If we where forced out, and Saudi Arabia where to collapse into a civil war or the like, then our policy of containment of Saddam would also fail.
Our economy is also quite dependant on political stability in the middle east. If we where not able to buy oil from that region, our economy would quickly collapse, and we would have a pretty ugly depression here. Unlike the liberal conspiracy theorists, I do not think our interest in protecting the flow of oil is inherently evil. We are not stealing the oil. We are just protecting the rights of the people in that region to live in a stable society where the are able to work for a living and sell a much needed product.
Our continued presence there would also increase the likelyhood that al Quada would do more 9-11 style attacks against us in the future.
The first Gulf war ended with Saddam agreeing to take certain steps. He failed to keep his end of the bargin. If we where to just walk away, in the future, countries would feel that they could lie to us without fear. The contract ending the first war was null and void.
All of the reasons Bush gave for fighting the war where valid reasons. They where accepted as being truth for the last 13 years. Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Edwards, even Kennedy, spoke of Iraq's WMD programs. To say that Bush made this up is absolute hogwash. I believe that there where a lot more strategic factors that went into the decision that could not be stated because it would embolden our enemies, or weaken our allies.
In 5 years or so, Iraq could be a free and weathly nation capably of maintaining stability in the region. Other nations could see Iraq's success and also move in that direction. We will not be needed in the region anymore, and Osama will not be able to recuit kids to help him boot us out. I don't think history will judge Saddam kindly, no matter what your race or religion. Once the War is over, the people in the region will generally be glad it is over, and they will not be too eager to start another fight. Especially if our troops are not actively involved in their area.
If the policy fails, then the fanatics will continue to hate us just like they do now.
Overall, I don't know if Bush was right or wrong. God knows, and perhaps history will reveal the answer. I don't think he started this war out of 'pure evil' The Satus Quo had some pretty substantial humanitarian risks associated with it over the long term.