If We Knew Then What We Know Now, Would We Have Invaded Iraq?

Probably, yes. But, instead of pushing for democracy, which has required much more blood and treasure than we expected, we would have just changed “son-of-a-b*tches.” By that, I mean that there’s an old saying that goes, “He may be a son-of-a-b*tch, but he is our son-of-a-b*tch.”

In Iraq, our son-of-a-b*tch would have probably been a Sunni general, one we turned before the war, whom we could have propped up in Saddam’s place. Sure, we would have demanded that he make some empty promises about democracy, but nobody would really have expected him to go through with it. Still, a general like that could have kept the Sunni-run Iraqi military together and he could have used brutal tactics to keep the Shias in line.

The press, western and otherwise, is a hundred times more interested in isolated incidents, like the ones that occurred at Abu Ghraib — than they are in wholesale slaughter, torture, and brutalization that doesn’t involve Westerners. It’s a perverse sort of racism actually, one that just assumes brown people do those sorts of things to each other so it’s barely even news when it happens.

Moreover, we could have kept our expenses and soldiers lost to a minimum in that sort of situation, gotten a favorable deal on oil from the new regime, gotten guarantees about ending terrorism and Iraq, and still benefitted from having removed a stalwart foe of the United States: Saddam Hussein. Additionally, we could have even told ourselves that the Iraqi people were benefitting from the whole experience. After all, even if the new dictator was scum, he would likely still have been better than Saddam, who was one of the most sadistic monsters walking the earth.

This line of thinking brings up some questions:

1) Was the war a mistake? No. But, trying to rebuild a free Iraq instead of simply switching dictators may have been a mistake. The only reason more of us didn’t see it at the time was because of misplaced confidence in George Bush, who had been extremely competent in the way that he handled the war on terrorism up to that point.

As to switching “son-of-a-b*tches,” certainly there would be a chance that the dictator who followed Saddam was a snake who’d bite us at the first opportunity, but damage wise, could he have done as much damage to us as the quest for democracy in Iraq? Probably not.

2) What about democracy in Iraq and the rest of the Middle-East? Isn’t that important? Yes, it is. Long term, democracy in the Middle East and all the things that come with it, freedom of the press, capitalism, free expression, the rule of law, etc, will do more to stop terrorism than tripling the budgets of all the West’s intelligence agencies.

So, while we should do what we can, with what we have, where we’re at, to promote democracy, when the Democratic Party and their allies in the American media essentially act as a propaganda outlet for the enemy, it’s going to be too difficult to sustain morale on the homefront in long fights like these. We can win every battle and be headed towards victory and still be losing in the minds of the American people because of the Democratic Party and the media.

3) Should we abandon the war? Once we get into a war, we need to take any steps necessary to win it. So, even if trying to help the Iraqis achieve a democratic society was a mistake, it doesn’t follow that we should call it quits. It’s like driving cross state to see a friend and realizing halfway there that you could have taken a much shorter, easier route. The solution isn’t just to give up and go home, it’s to finish the drive, and then learn from the experience. In Iraq, the consequences of doing otherwise are too great not to at least do everything in our power to give the Iraqis a chance to succeed.

4) What does this mean for future wars in the foreseeable future? My guess is that the United States will be extremely reluctant to commit ground troops, beyond special forces, in conflicts around the world — and that includes peace keeping forces. It may also mean that our airstrikes will be considerably more violent and devastating to compensate for the fact that other nations will realize that we will be reluctant to send in ground troops. So, yes, “pre-emption” will probably continue to be the policy of the US, but we’ll borrow more of a Cold War approach to dealing with our enemies.

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