Where Do We Go From Here?
Powell Says U.S. Could Get 9 or 10 Votes in Security Council
Seems exaggerated (I can't see Cameroon siding against France), but even if true, the costs may be more than we can bear:
[L]et's take stock of how our invasion of Iraq is going. The Western alliance is ferociously strained, NATO is paralyzed, America is resented by millions, the United Nations is in crisis, U.S. pals like Tony Blair are being skewered at home, North Korea has exploited our distraction to crank up plutonium production, oil prices have surged, and the world financial markets have sagged.
Most of the liberal hawk bloggers (I'd probably classify myself that way generally, if not necessarily on this issue) have left the room (CalPundit, Josh Marshall, Agonist). Matthew Yglesias and Mark Kleiman are still trying to hold on.
What I'd like to do is hear some fleshed-out alternatives to war, now that we've gotten ourselves into this position. Starting from where we are right now, what would YOU do in Bush's position? How would you get us out of this?
If I were president I would go to war. I have no doubts about my good faith, my intentions, or my ability to handle the aftermath of war wisely. It seems to me that, done right, invading Iraq even at this point could do the world a great deal of good. Similarly, if I were an influential advisor I would be advocating war and steering post-war policy in an appropriate direction.
The key thing here would be working to move Iraq toward a democratic federal state, consisting of a multitude (i.e., more than just three) provinces, over a period of several years.
It seems to me that the main risks this conflict brings are of tearing apart the good feelings that ought to exist between the United States and the other democracies of the world, but that global opinion could be brought around retrospectively by an appropriate postwar policy.
Sadly, I'm not president and I don't have any influence over White House policy, so it seems to me that they may well do something stupid, that only marginally enhances our security vis-a-vis Iraq while degrading our security on a number of other fronts.
More on his site:
The alternatives to war � give the inspectors more time, the Walzer "little war", etc. � don't sound to me like they offer any real advantages over war. They won't be cheap, since they involve keeping large numbers of US troops in the region for an indefinite amount of time. They won't be very beneficial to the Iraqi people, since they'll keep them suffering under the dual burdens of sanctions and Saddam. They won't better equip us to cope with North Korea since it'll require constant, full-time attention from the US diplomatic corps to keep them in place. They'll generate less anti-American sentiment abroad than a war would, but not less than the already-considerable amount we're dealing with, and because they'll keep this issue on a constant simmer they all-but-guarantee that America won't turn its image in the world around.
We've screwed this up so terribly the best alternative is admitting that we were wrong and backing off the war threat. That's the only thing that will repair the diplomatic damage W and the boys have done.
As for Yglesias's position, I don't view this as a "how expensive is it?" question. This is a moral issue. You don't kill tens of thousands of people in your Shock and Awe air assault on Baghdad just because it costs about the same as pursuing another option.
Admittedly, Saddam is a horrible repressive dictator but I'm not sure the costs of war (diplomatically, psychologically, and economically) justify this action. Another cost is that this war will increase the threat of terrorism and destabilize the region as well. We support a lot of dictators that are as bad or worse as Saddam but you don't see us all cranked up trying to remove them, do you?
This war will do much more damage to our image abroad than many folks realize. W and the boys have already damaged our image in the world through their incompetence and pro-war bluster but an unjust war will utterly destroy it.
Ezra Klein (great new blog):
First, I'm going to approach this as if Bush's term just ended and I'm being inaugurated, doing this as Bush wouldn't work because nobody
trusts him and it would be inconsistent with his past behavior.
Once I'd been sworn in I'd immediately make Kenneth Pollack a senior adviser. Matthew Yglesias phrased our (left hawk's) doubts as coming to terms with the fact that the war is being run by Bush and not Pollack, so I'd immediately correct that situation. More importantly, there'd have to be a reckoning with both Americans and the world. I would have to go out and very clearly re-articulate a foreign policy doctrine, because the problem with the justifications currently being thrown around is that none jive with our implied foreign policy, and so none of the very persuasive arguments can be used by the Administration. We don't have to be the world's policeman, but we do have to be actively engaged in a worldwide neighborhood watch. If somebody has attacked multiple residents, is stacking arms in their kitchen, is beating the hell out of their kids, and is freely talking about how many of their neighbors they'd like to off, nobody has to stand still and wait for the first death.
So that'd be the justification, it'd be the one that Pollack and us "left hawks" have been throwing around, it'd be clearly articulated and defended, by me, at a very long and very unscripted press conference. Next, as soon as possible, I'd give a speech at the UN. The speech would be a recap of the new doctrine, the justifications, the danger Saddam poses, and the reasons that regime change is our only viable option. Most importantly, it would be made crystal clear that we realize not everyone will be on our side, and there will be no ill will
or repercussions against countries doing what they think to be best. We'd challenge those who see war as unnecessary to propose alternate solutions that would be sustainable in the long run. We hope that they will be with us, but if not, then their decision will be respected and accepted. A resolution would be drawn up, with the full force of both Britain and the US behind it, and it would be released into the Security Council. We would abide by its vote.
Assuming the vote was in our favor, we'd go to war and conduct it in the best way possible. I know my motivations, and I trust myself to act in a fashion consistent with them. So we'd work to minimize civilian casualties, maximize humanitarian assistance, and, when the time came, put as many resources as needed into rebuilding Iraq and helping it limp towards an ethnically representative democracy.
To quickly address the potential inconsistency on the fact that I would abide by the UN vote but don't think America presently should. The reason I don't think that the US should be bound by the coming Security Council vote is that it's a referendum on Bush and American power more then it is one on Saddam. As such, its results aren't pure and it cannot be allowed to divert us from such an important task. In other circumstances, I see the rule of international law as profoundly important and would do all I could to strengthen it.
None of this stuff is rocket science. What I'm proposing is to simply be honest and be diplomatic, it's amazing how badly Bush and Co. have fucked up this prologue, and it doesn't speak well of their ability to handle the aftermath. Had they just used a bit of diplomacy, we'd be staring down a couple of abstentions rather then staring at a couple of vetoes. But, I can't truly think of any alternatives to war. The "small war" proposed by Michael Walzer does not seem viable in the long run, and would do nothing to ameliorate the suffering of the Iraqi people. None of the other options, increased inspections in particular, seem realistic. So, in summation, I'd go to war but do it honestly and diplomatically. Seems pretty easy, I should run for president.
JB Armstrong from MyDD (who has predicted that there will be no war this month):
I'd help the Kurds establish a nationstate within Iraq. It still allows the cover of going into Iraq, but not for war.
Left in the West:
This is the most difficult question confronting us on the Iraq situation. Indeed, the problem isn't whether we should go to war or not go to war, for the term not going to war involves so many alternatives that it is hard to know what it properly means.
In fact, I believe at this point, President Bush has little choice but to go to war, unless someone else in the equation brokers a deal. Otherwise he looks like he is unilaterally backing down. That is something that is a problem for a couple reasons: 1)It doesn't restore the UN's power in any meaningful way. If the UN only has power because the U.S. volunteers to submit to its authority (for now), the UN's power remains only as long as the U.S. agrees to submit; and 2)It makes the U.S. appear unwilling to back up threats. Whereas a deal brokered by someone else would give the U.S. the ability to say that they were simply trying to make the best they could of world opinion, a unilateral giving-in by America would mean almost certain failure.
Indeed, I believe it is the United Nations or the vocal opponents of war (i.e. France, Germany, and Russia) who must take a form of action in order to prevent it. Canada's idea was the best on the table so far. If I was President Bush, I would have accepted it and I would have pressured France, Germany, and Russia to accept it as well. If a new resolution, clearer than the last, and providing clear protection for Saddam if he complies, passed, it would provide everyone enough cover to claim they came out ahead. Unfortunately, the President seems to be rejecting this option.
Canada's resolution [read more about it here - UH], I believe, was the best solution to this situation. It would greatly decrease the likelihood of going to war and it would also remove the threat of Iraq to the region.
The Agonist's response is here (he also addresses Marshall's follow-up).
Charles Dodgon from The Looking Glass:
Keep up pressure with the monitors. Trumpet everything they find loudly (and with some justification) as the result of pressure from the military buildup. Also arrange support from UNSC permanent members for a strong permanent monitoring regime as a quid pro quo for backing off an an immediate attack -- with particular emphasis on the French, who undermined the last one. Add monitoring for egregious human rights violations
while we're at it. With that in place and functioning, declare victory and withdraw.