greg (grysar) wrote,

Quickie Iraq comment

I've given the administration the benefit of a the doubt on Iraq for a while, but I think it's obvious at this point that the administration is not pursuing a consistent, logical, and effective policy, towards any goal I can fathom. To be clear, I mean the admin as a whole, individual actors, like Powell, are doing a fine job, but an effective secretary of state alone does not a coherent policy make.

This is damn disturbing not because it's anything new, President Clinton's foreign policy was oft rather incoherent. However, he didn't really tend to concentrate almost all of our foreign policy resources on a single issue for this long, so it wasn't as big a deal.

The way I intend to support this argument is to go over the categories of possible outcomes, and critique how the admin isn't successful pursuing them.

1) Effectively disarm Iraq for the forcible future.
This isn't the admin's goal, it might be an acceptable end state, but really people, who are we kidding. This actually is a fairly tricky goal, garnering the diplomatic capital necessary to get Iraq to actually cooperate and prevent Iraq from rearming once the process is over is a tall goal. But if we were pursuing it, we'd cooperate more closely with the inspectors and use more backroom diplomacy to prevent fractures from appearing in the coalition. Acting war crazy can be an effective technique towards peace, but if this is the plan, we're doing a bad job of it.

2) Internal Iraqi coup.
This is the option I know least about, as much as it interests me I'm not yet an expert in subverting dictatorial regimes. Nonetheless, even if this was our policy, then we should be able to get more of Europe on board by playing at diplomacy better. Nonetheless, I will admit that this goal is perhaps the one towards which President Bush's policy is most effective. The main thing I'd critique if this in fact was our goal was the diplomatic capital and alliance strength that we're bleeding unnecessarily. Trying to provoke a coup should be far less divisive than going to war, although a credible threat of war needs to be there.

3) Multilateral approach.
If you can't see how we aren't pursuing the multilateral approach effectively, a paragraph of support won't make the difference. ;P

4) Coalition of the willing, as broad as possible.
Maybe it isn't possible to make the coalition much bigger, however, we should at least be playing the inspections process better. Powell's recent speech is a good example of what we should be doing consistently. But my real critique is the approach will be damn costly and President Bush hasn't admitted that to the nation. See pre-state of the union for why this is a mistake.

5) Make Iraq a colony via a unilateral war.
Pursuit of this objective in and of itself would be evidence of gross incompetence. Even for Iraq's oil it isn't remotely worth it. This isn't a peaenik comment, hard core realists are also well aware that this would be an exceptionally stupid policy. A well managed coup would be a far more effective means of pursuing this policy. Heck, even if President Bush was sole concerned about oil companies, and Powell, Rice, and Blair hadn't caught on, there are many far easier ways to enrich them.

So giving President Bush as much benefit of the doubt as possible, he is doing a mediocre job of trying to provoke a coup in Iraq. The goal being to bring to power a regime that won't pursue weapons of mass destruction and that is probably friendlier to U.S. economic interests, if not a particularly democratic one. Here's hoping the admin's behind the scenes maneuvers are a hell of a lot more effective than the ones I know about.
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