After observing that my question, “Should Saddam have stayed in power?” would have probably got me labeled an “unpatriotic conservative” eight years ago, Stooksbury writes, “He’s on to something, although he should be asking, “should the United States have invaded Iraq?”
Yet one cannot ask the question responsibly without also asking if we are prepared to keep Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq. Frankly, it puts things in far starker terms. Yet notwithstanding Saddam’s atrocities, as I demonstrate in my article, the answer to that question isn’t so clear cut given how the removal of Saddam has shifted the balance of power in the region to Iran.
Stooksbury goes on to argue that the War in Iraq was a forseeable disaster and provides a link to an article written in The American Conservative by Eric Margolis back in 2002. While Margolis had the foresight to state that the U.S. wouldn’t know what do to do in Iraq once Saddam was deposed, he spends a good chunk of the article lambasting Israel (as he has been known to do):
Iraq, unlike North Korea, poses a potential threat to Israel’s regional hegemony and Mideast nuclear monopoly because of its oil wealth and — at least until 1991 — industrial base. For Administration hawks who view the Mideast mainly through the lens of Israel’s strategic needs, crushing Iraq is a high priority. A shattered Iraq, divided into Kurdish, Sunni, and Shia regions, would permanently terminate any future challenge to Israel.
Iraq’s northern oil fields could then by annexed by Israel’s new strategic ally, Turkey, which has no oil. Turkey’s generals have long eyed Iraq’s oil-rich Mosul and Kirkuk regions, once part of the Ottoman Empire. Oil would transform Turkey from a financial cripple into a major political and military power, and assure its role as America’s regional gendarme.
Overthrowing Saddam Hussein and splintering Iraq would certainly be beneficial for Israel, but there are a host of arguments to be made why such aggression would be inimical to America’s interests.
Well, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein not only did not bring about the splintering of Iraq, it has hardly been beneficial for Israel. During the drafting of Iraq’s constitution in 2005, Israelis were the only nationality barred from seeking Iraqi citizenship or holding dual citizenship. Although this language was subsequently amended, Iraqi born Israelis are for all intents and purposes ineligible to reclaim Iraqi citizenship. The Iraqi government has also actively participated in the Arab League boycott of Israel. I would also hasten to mention that Israel and Turkey aren’t exactly chummy these days with Turkey having recalled its ambassador last month.
Yet Margolis mentions Iran only in passing and he saw them as a target of “neoconservatives” rather than a nation that would wield enormous power in a post-Saddam Iraq.
My point here is that neither supporters nor detractors of the War in Iraq foresaw the emergence of Iran and it is this emergence which prompted my question about Saddam as our military forces prepare to leave Iraq.
Postscript: I have read Jim Antle’s critique and I think he has point. To say that that neither supporters nor detractors of the War in Iraq foresaw the emergence of Iran is perhaps overstating things somewhat. I would however say that neither side foresaw Iraq becoming “an Iranian Shiite client state in Baghdad” to borrow a phrase from Robert Spencer.
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