US backbone and the middle east (was Re: Le Pen ...)

John Hall
Thu, 25 Apr 2002 12:17:17 -0700

The first claim would be that things really are different this time.
Vietnam retained a lot of support for a long time, dispite a political
culture that did nothing to mobilize public opinion or even admit we
were fighting.

I don't think Iran can take the strain of a war that doesn't involve an
invasion of Iran.

Militarily, the US doesn't need the support of anyone.  What exactly do
you think the 'global community' could do about it if they wanted too?
No other military power in the world can play in the Middle East, or
indeed beyond their own borders.  NATO is combat ineffective without US
support *particularly* in terms of power projection.  Besides, they'll
have enough trouble dealing with a US pullout of Bosnia and Kosovo (we
probably need the troops) and dealing with Islamic riots at home.

The French will hate us.  But the French always manage to hate us.  They
aren't going to ask us to sink their Navy because they hate us.

As for the entire Mideast going kablooewy if we invade Iraq -- probably.
But joining Iraq in fighting the US only means the nation shares Iraq's
fate.  There are good reasons, it seems to me, to fight now rather than
later.  And if the Mideast goes kablooewy on us we can accept Israeli

If you want to worry about things, worry about other countries settling
scores that don't involve the US directly while we are busy and
over-extended.  I'd be concerned about Pakistan/India.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On Behalf Of
> Sinderson
> Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 11:34 AM
> To:
> Subject: US backbone and the middle east (was Re: Le Pen ...)
> Jim, All,
> Your question re: our (US) backbone presumes we have one. (Yes, I'm
> saying this to be a little provocative, but think about it for a
> minute.) How many US citizens have died in the military 'engagements'
> (police actions, whatever...) of the past decade? I can't pull out
> figures but, since our little tussle with Iraq over Kuwait, it's been
> precious few. Almost as many US casualties due to friendly fire,
> accidents, etc. than 'real' casualties of conflict. Furthermore, the
> duration of the conflicts have been getting steadily shorter with the
> media coverage increasingly sensational and short-lived.
> This trend begs the question, then, as to how much resolve (or
> the American public really has to be involved in a long and possibly
> painful engagement. The US involvement in Vietnam, where we stayed
> past our welcome (if we ever had it at all) and suffered an
> unconscionable loss of life, largely undermined public support for
> drawn out military actions requiring much sacrifice by the average
> American citizen. The general reluctance to see our children die,
> and interest rates go up, let alone rationing of the sort that
> in WWII, favors the heavy handed approach to conflict that we've seen
> dominate the US military agenda over the past decade or so.
> Not that it hasn't been effective -- the US military has clearly
> some ass' wherever and whenever it was felt necessary in recent times.
> However, it hasn't 'won the hearts and minds' of the rest of the
> who increasingly see the US playing the role of global enforcer,
> we're asked to or not.
> If the US decides to invade Iran or Iraq, which is beginning to look
> more likely with each passing week, it is questionable how much
>   we would have from the rest of the world. Such action would polarize
> much of the middle east against the US, not just Iran and Iraq.
> even without such naked aggression on the part of the US, such an
> alliance is not beyond the scope of reason. Without the Soviet Union
> jockeying against us in the middle east there is a greater chance for
> sort of plastic unity in the region. In support of this, witness the
> recent middle east congress which produced a proposal for ending the
> Palistinian-Israeli conflict. Witness also the recent strengthening of
> parliamentary relations between Iraq and Iran.
> I could be wrong, given that my head has been buried in my own affairs
> for the past month or so, but it seems that media coverage of the 'War
> on Terror' is growing thin. I contend that Americans have little
> for extended conflicts, and even less so if it means sacrificing some
> measure of their precious way of life. Given the above analysis, it is
> reasonable to conclude that public support for an extended conflict
> Iran/Iraq/Other would be fleeting whence the reality of it hit home.
> this is the case, it seems extremely likely that the confrontation
> take the heavy handed approach favored in recent conflicts. The
> then beciomes whether or not the global community would stand for such
> action?
> The situation calls for more analysis (hopefully by someone better
> suited to it than myself), but I trust I've stirred up the pot enough
> for now. I should be working on my thesis anyway...  :-)
> Elias
> Jim Whitehead wrote:
> > It seems to me that just about the only thing that could get Iraq
> Iran
> > to work together is an attack on either by the US. I imagine
> > inside Iraq would be much greater if people felt they were defending
> their
> > homes, as opposed to just defending a looted Kuwait. Plus, they have
> been
> > studying the last war for over ten years.
> >
> > Having Iran and Iraq at each other's throats is a cornerstone of
> stability
> > in the Middle East. Working together, they could achieve great
> > It's very conceivable that, working together, they could seize Saudi
> Arabia,
> > Kuwair, and Qatar, and thus have a controlling block in oil.
> >
> > Faced with this, the US might actually have to ask for some
> of
> > its population to fight a war, in the form of conscription, higher
> taxes,
> > and inflation. How strong is our backbone? I don't know.