Kay: Mr. Al-Dakhil says that “The line that the U.S. invaded Iraq to remove the dictator, establish democracy, and turn Iraq into a model for the whole region is so simple.” Actually, it’s not that simple: It’s complex. In fact, it’s so complex that the United States felt it was not a theory of war Americans would support – which is why the Bush administration instead opted to emphasize WMD, a far simpler approach. The more that comes out about the early planning for this war, the more it has become obvious that early boosters such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Dick Cheney really had great ambitions: They saw the liberation of Iraq as a step that would lead to nothing less than the democratization of the Arab world. For more information on how this would happen, see Fouad Ajami’s article ‘Iraq and the Arabs’ Future’ in the January/February 2003 issue of Foreign Affairs. Ajami’s work, of course, has had a great influence on the Bush administration. This, perhaps more than WMD, was what was on their minds when they drew up invasion plans.
I believe the Wolfowitz/Ajami hope for a democratic revolution in the Middle East will succeed in the long run, and that the 2003 Iraq war will be remembered as a turning point for the region. But I admit the theory can’t be proved, and that it may backfire. I also admit it is possible to argue, as a matter of principle, that it is none of the West’s business if two dozen Arab countries want to wallow in dictatorship, and that America should not be the world’s social engineer. But now that the United States has invaded, there’s really no good or principled argument for having the Americans get out early….
Glazov: So where are we headed in Iraq? Some critics of the Bush administration believe that the best thing for the U.S. to do is to cut its losses and pull out. Wouldn’t this be a drastic mistake?
Al-Dakhil: At this point it is a drastic mistake. It simply means the collapse of the U.S. strategy in the whole Middle East….My feeling is that, for the time being at least, the U.S. is stuck in Iraq. They relied not only on fuzzy intelligence misinformation, may be faked information, but they also relied on the Iraqi opposition that does not seem to enjoy the minimum degree of support and credibility among the Iraqis….The Iraqi people are happy to have rid themselves of the dictator. But it’s not clear, at least, if this means they’re happy with the means, and the alternative offered to them.
Then there’s the fact the administration has alienated the UN, the EU, and the Arabs, especially those who neighbor Iraq. Yet, they want everyone to chip in; money, troops, logistics, …etc. But the fact is that now the Americans are on their own. They chose it to be that way. And they have to live with it.
Hanson: “Chip in?” When has that really happened? Let us have a serious conversation, not something brewed up in a European hothouse. “Alienated?” Does that involve the $3 billion of largess given annually to Jordan, the PA, and Egypt? Or the $27 billion to Iraq?….I saw few French or Saudi jets over the skies of Kosovo, bombing Christians to save Muslims…. American diplomats, not Saudis, lectured the Kuwaitis about ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1991. Even in Gulf War I, the real fighting was done by Britain and the U.S. So, of course, America has been on its own quite a lot – ask who was responsible for the end of the Cold War or the ruin of Noriega, Milosevic, or the Taliban. Again nothing is new there. Allies that are protected by U.S. troops and vent easy frustration – whether in Germany, Saudi Arabia, or South Korea – at their dependency is the same old broken record.