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imperialism & war

In Iraq, Regime Change Must Be The Goal.

One round of 7.62mm ammo: 9
A plane ticket from Baghdad to Damascus: $1227.30
A democratic, weapons of mass destruction-free Iraq: priceless
Yesterday at his daily press briefing, presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer made explicit what others in the administration, including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, had been suggesting for several weeks: that there is more than one way to change a regime. Saddam Hussein could lose power in Iraq without having to be ejected by a full-scale invasion, and as Sun Tzu tells us, it is the epitome of warfare to win battles without fighting them.

The Bush administration has been remarkably consistent in pursuing regime change. It has never called for the physical elimination of Saddam Hussein, or the military invasion of Iraq, but always for a change of government by whatever means make the most sense. The Bush team did not originate the policy the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act stated, "It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime." It passed the House 360-38, Reps. McDermott and Bonior voting yea, and was affirmed unanimously in the Senate. President Clinton signed the measure into law and endorsed the regime change objective. Candidate Bush took a strong line against Iraq in the 2000 campaign, and made his first statements concerning Iraqi noncompliance with WMD restrictions two days into his presidency. On March 8, 2001, in his first appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as Secretary of State, Colin Powell made a convincing case against Iraq, adding, "hopefully, we'll see a regime change that's better for the world." In the year since the war on terrorism began, the term had come to be used synonymously with full-scale war against Iraq, at least by the press and the president's critics. However, the record shows that the Bush administration has never taken a definitive stand in favor of the use of military force against Baghdad. The right to use force, yes but not the necessity of force to achieve the objective.

We may yet see the much-discussed military intervention leading to Saddam Hussein's heroic martyrdom, as he might call it. But regime change from within is also possible, a coup fomented by the Iraqi military (unlikely, if only because they are watched much more closely than average Iraqis) or a disaffected faction in Saddam's inner circle (more likely, but still remote, unless the regime was placed under other significant stress). Change could be effected through disruption operations that cause Saddam to lose control of the reigns of power as Secretary Rumsfeld said, "If he's on the run he's not governing Iraq." There is also the possibility that his government could be disabled by a strike at the top from the outside, though the use of assassination is still restricted by Executive Order 12333, at least until it is countermanded by another executive order.

Ari Fleischer mentioned the "one-way ticket" scenario, i.e., Saddam simply leaving, which is certainly the ideal. It would be much cheaper than fighting a full-scale war, less damaging to Iraq, and would not place any coalition lives at risk. It would not be the first time the United States used airfare as a means of facilitating a dictator's exit. The Reagan administration eased the departure of Haitian tyrant Jean-Claude Duvalier, and Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos, both in February 1986. The Secretary of Defense has also recently mentioned the examples of the shah of Iran and Idi Amin as "leaders who have departed recognizing that the game was up." One can imagine Saddam Hussein jetting off to some accommodating Arab host country with his family and moving into a modest palace, settling down to write his memoirs, perhaps taking up golf.

The rumor was floated months ago, perhaps originating in Baghdad, that Saddam would not stand in the upcoming Iraqi presidential elections, but would rather elevate his younger son Qusay to the job, and hold a referendum to confirm the move (referendum being the traditional favored tool of dictators when they want to appear to be appealing to the will of the people). Not everyone seems to like the idea, at least judging by the fact that an attempt was made on Qusay's life last June. But replacing one dictator with another, especially replacing father with son, would not be sufficient even if this came to pass, it would not address the problem. Our objective is to replace the regime, that is, the system of rule and the people who wield power under it.

But why is this the objective? Isn't it enough to keep Saddam Hussein in his box, to deter him, and to prevent the development of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Doesn't the newly agreed inspection regime make regime change a moot point? Clearly not. Weapons inspection is no replacement for bringing about democratic change in Iraq. The Iraqi dictatorship, not its weapons, is the source of regional instability that threatens U.S. interests. Inspections only treat the symptoms of the malady that spawned them. Changing the Baghdad regime is not only the best way to address the weapons problem; it is the only way to be certain it has been solved.

Some in the region have endorsed Saddam's voluntary recession from power as a means of averting what they see as imminent war. A Bahraini editorialist suggested Saddam should resign, but noted that in reality it would be "an impossibility." He wrote, in a phrase rife with anatomical implications, "Saddam Hussein is a ruler who is clinging to his seat of power with his teeth." An Egyptian writer asked the Iraqi dictator to place the good of his country ahead of personal ambition "by coming down from the height of a ruler to the simplicity of the farmers in the fields," the Saddam-as-Cincinnatus scenario. And a Saudi writer suggested Iraq undertake preemptive democratization, which would bring about elections, encourage the development of political parties, foster economic development, cause the removal of U.N. sanctions, and eliminate the American pretext for war. That would show us!
uhhh ummm. 03.Oct.2002 09:12

this thing here

but i thought "the war" was about weapons of mass destruction. i thought the war was about hussein's flouting of u.n. resolutions. it thought "the war" was about protecting israel. i thought "the war" was about regime change. i thought "the war" about good vs. evil. i thought "the war" was about the axis of evil. i thought "the war" was about hussein's links to terrorism. i thought "the war" was about a secure oil supply. i thought "the war" was about...

hmm. multiple, ever shifting pretexts for armed conflict. hard to lose the game when the goal posts are constantly shifting, isn't it right wingers...

so what is the war about? anyone? anyone?...