Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rebuilding Iraq

I know this is something I talk about a lot, but it really is quite a serious issue. It's remarkable how many mistakes were made, and how much the arguments have changed. I think the most frustrating thing for the anti-war crowd is that we have had to argue with each and every one of these.

First came the WMD. The thing was, for all the politicans said, and all the dossiers that came out, the weapon inspectors were saying that they could not find anything. It was pretty clear to anyone with their head screwed on that Bush, and, in his lapdog manner, Blair, wanted war, and they did not want it because of WMD. It was just an excuse, one that wouldn't fly, so they presented a new one- the idea of liberation. To me this is a better argument than the WMD anyway, although not one that holds much water in international law- there was no sign that the people actually wanted to be saved, we just decided that ourelves. The most painfully obvious revelation that they did not truly care about disarming Iraq was when they gave a random deadline for war, despite the inspectors asking for more time. They had to interest in these weapons, and, I suspect, no belief that they truly existed- why would they invade if they thought that there actually were weapons that could hurt them?

The motive that seems to me to be Bush's, if possibly not Blair's, for war, has always seemed to be that mentioned in the document project for the new American century- a strong American millitary presence in the middle east, to intimidate other nations and also to gain control of vital resources. This is backed by the building of American millitary bases in the centre of Iraq. It does not look like there is any real intention of withdrawal any time soon.

Still, the most persuasive argument for going to war, at least in my mind, is the liberation of the people of Iraq. Certainly Saddam Hussein was nowhere near the best leader, although there were certain advantages to his regime- the people of Iraq were mostly secular, with women being able to go to university along with men, a valuable thing amoung some very sexist societies in the middle east. Still, there is no doubt that the people of Iraq could do better.

However, whether a war designed to eliminate Hussein was the best way to do this. Some argued that regime change of this sort could be succesful. As an example they pointed to Germany and Japan, defeated dictatorships in world war 2 that flourished into succesful democracies. This is indeed true, but the circumstances were somewhat different- both nations were powerful and succesful before the war, while Iraq had been severely damaged by the very misguided sanctions imposed following a break down in negotiations after the first gulf war. Whats more, other nations sacrificed to help Germany and Japan. Looking at Germany in particular, America alone spent 13.3 billion dollars over four years on rebuilding it, an equivalent of 130 billion in 2006, adjusted from inflation (figures from here. Meanwhile, in Iraq Bush promised 20.3 billion. The Marshall plan cost 7% of the US federal budget at time. This comes to about 1%.

All these factors, along with some bizzare ideas about what our greeting would be in Iraq (Cheney and Rumsfeld predicting dancing in the streets), have led to absolute disaster in Iraq. It is time to both withdraw our forces from Iraq, and increase the rebuilding funding massively.


At 8:57 pm, Blogger cait said...

You know, I always understood why the US went to war, but I never got why the UK involved themselves. Perhaps the swan song of a dying empire? I don't know.

At 8:55 pm, Blogger Mr K said...

I'm not sure anyone quite knows. The maintenence of our special relationship, I suppose- who knows what goes through Tony Blair's head....


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