The Victor's Rights, Right or Wrong

johnhall johnhall at
Fri Apr 18 21:17:25 PDT 2003

> From: fork-bounces at [mailto:fork-bounces at] On Behalf
> Russell Turpin
> >And if you get the same despotism 20 years from now you still have
> >them 20 years
> >to try for something else.
> This is where I think you are wrong. What comes
> next, and what comes after that in reaction,
> will carry the US imprint and signature. If it
> turns into something as bad or worse than the
> Ba'ath regime, not only will it be bad on that
> account, but it will tarnish the US and limit
> our foreign policy in the area. I have enough
> belief in the importance of our nation and our
> ability to do good on the foreign stage to
> think that that is another increment of
> misfortune, not only for us, but for the
> Iraqis. One can always make blundering look
> good by posing a bad result of the status quo
> as the only alternative. But that's not the
> only alternative. And whether our current
> action turns out to be a blunder or not
> depends very much on what comes next, not
> simply on our military victory. Our failure
> to maintain order in Iraq, and our attempt to
> install an unwelcome, outside resistance
> leader, do not bode well for the how we wage
> the peace.

Saddam was the only alternative, and a non-contained Saddam at that.

Crushing Saddam sends a shock wave through the Middle East, making our
enemies nervous and those who hope for liberal reform in their countries

Yes, we may fail to get the Iraq of our dreams.  But a defanged regime
that doesn't harbor terrorists is itself a big win.  It may in fact be
impossible to reform the Middle East, but it is worth a shot.

Yes, if we don't get the Iraq of our dreams then our hopes of doing so
elsewhere will evaporate.  But if we can't do it in Iraq, those other
hopes were always mirages anyway.

> >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
> >without him --> even factoring in the current Mullocracy.
> Iran is a casebook study of how support for a
> bad regime empowers opposition based on
> political philosophies contrary to the west,
> and leads to a government that is inimical to
> the US for decades after. Had we not installed
> the Shah, Iran very likely would be both more
> liberal and friendlier to the US than it is.
> Instead, it is the third listing in Bush's
> axis of evil. AND WE MADE IT THAT WAY. I
> think that's a very poor trade for the business
> advantages we gained under the Shah.

Had we not installed the Shah, we would have faced a pro-Russian
communist government in Iran in the middle of the cold war.  The result
of that little counter-factual could have led to WWIII.  The United
States would have fought a nuclear war to prevent Russian domination of
the Middle East.

We had 20 years of respite during the most dangerous years of the cold
war because of the shah.  Now we have spent 20 years on the outs, half
of which covered a period where the SU was no more.  Further, the
population of Iran is now pro-American and the mullahs are barely
hanging on.  [Part of the reason for this is, in fact, the losses
suffered in the Iran/Iraq war.]

I think the Shah was a bargain.  5 years from now Iran will probably be
off that list after the mullahs fall.  Our presence in Iraq might help
that along.

> John answers:
> >You believe things would have been better if Iran had conquered Iraq?
> That's an example of trying to severe past
> foreign policy from its consequence. Our own
> blundering gave rise to Iran's mullahcracy,

It wasn't blundering, we had bigger fish to fry.

> pushing us into the choice between letting it
> conquer Iraq, or supporting a madman like
> Saddam Hussein. 

Actually I think our biggest interest was in letting them shoot at each
other as long as possible.

> Viewed in isolation, that
> choice gives excuse to our support for Saddam.
> Viewed in the context of a situation that the
> US created, it's blowback, pure and simple.
> BECAUSE of our support for the Shah, we later
> had to let the mullahs conquer Iraq or support
> Saddam. Because we supported Saddam, he later
> was able to conquer Kuwait, leading to Gulf
> War I, sanctions, etc. Are you accounting all
> of this as consequence of support for the
> Shah? I didn't think so. Neither would the
> rightwingers of your ilk who supported the
> Shah and US policy in the 70s. 

History has to be made as it happens, not in 20/20 hindsight.  I'd
recommend the US do it all over again (installing the Shah) though it
might be nice if we didn't have a Jimmy Carter to pull the rug out from
under him in '79.  BUT BUT BUT that also helped get us Reagan, and the
Mullahs were a small price to pay for Reagan.

We tilted to Saddam in the Iraq/Iran war, but we were hardly his
supporters like France and Russia were.  Brazil sold more weapons to
Saddam than the US did.

Saddam attacked Iran because he thought he could take a piece while they
were distracted.  If Iran had been stable he wouldn't have attacked (and
lost).  Instead he could have attacked Kuwait in 1981 not 1991.  If he
had done that, he would have succeeded and an effort to drive him out
would never have materialized.  Eating Kuwait in 1981 would have let him
eat the Saudi oil fields a few years later.  Are you accounting for all
of this when you don't think supporting the Shah was a good idea?

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