The Victor's Rights, Right or Wrong

johnhall johnhall at
Fri Apr 18 17:32:26 PDT 2003

> From: fork-bounces at [mailto:fork-bounces at] On Behalf
> Russell Turpin

> John Hall:
> >3) Again those Iraqis: there is absolutely no scenario from here
> >that doesn't leave them better off than if we hadn't invaded.
> To anyone whose view of historical consequences
> is longer than a year or two down the road, it
> is easy to imagine how this might playout in a
> way that leaves the Iraqis (and the US) worse
> off. Start with the US not having the sense to
> maintain order in Iraq after the conquest. Let
> this, and subsequent bungling stew into
> resentment, renewed support for Islamism and
> pan-Arabism, and the eventual creation (say,
> ten or twenty years down the road) of a
> government that is just as bad or worse than
> Saddam's.

First of all, it is almost for it to have gotten worse.  And if you get
the same despotism 20 years from now you still have given them 20 years
to try for something else.

> With the two year window, it is
> very easy to imagine the British nodding their
> head that they had done something good when
> they first created Iraq, or the US thinking the
> same when they helped install the Shah. 

You can't evaluate that without an appreciation of the alternatives.  In
the case of the Shah [measured by US interests] it certainly looks
(today) like the results with the Shah were better than the probably
ones without him --> even factoring in the current Mullocracy.

In the case of Iraq I'm not sure exactly when you are talking about
(initial WWI era or post WWII liberation).  I'm also far fuzzier on what
the alternatives were, and I'm not at all sure that any of those would
have turned out better even with 20/20 hindsight.

> Or when they supported Saddam in the 80s. 

You believe things would have been better if Iran had conquered Iraq?

> If you look
> at history in two year increments, it's easy to
> forget the blowback that comes ten years or
> twenty years later. 

And it is too easy to ignore the implications of the alternatives or
claim that incident X is blowback from incident Y 20 years ago.

In the current case there is a very strong 'blowback' link.  Namely, the
Taliban fell and now Iraq has fallen post 9/11.  Absent 9/11, those
would not have happened.

Part of the reason that 9/11 happened was that Osama and company were
convinced the US was a decadent paper tiger.  It was that belief in our
weakness that sponsored the attack.

They wont' make a mistake like that again for a generation.

> A Marshall plan? Or a Versailles? It's too
> early to say. But it's pretty stupid to say
> it can only get better, from here on out. 

I was fairly clear when I said 'for the Iraqis'.

If you want to open it up to other operators, I can imagine bad things
in the future.  But I could have predicted bad things in the future
regardless of what action we took.

A Marshall plan is a disaster if Iraq is a 'Yugoslovia' not a 'Germany'.
[IMHO the jury is out on that one.]

A Versailles is a great idea if the coalition were prepared to be a
'Rome' rather than a 'France'. [Since the coalition definitely isn't a
'Rome' this isn't the route to go.]

> I'm
> sure that's what the cheerleaders said the
> morning after Versailles. No one imagined, in
> 1918, that twenty million would die in its
> consequence. And unless you see historical
> effects that span the decades, you still won't
> see the connection. Keynes saw bad consequences
> before they occurred. But he was the exception,
> and not many listened to him at the time.

Versailles was a disaster.

But was it a disaster because of Versailles itself, or because
Versailles existed and the French didn't have the courage to enforce it?

The disaster occurred only because you had BOTH French cowardice and

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