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Thursday, October 28, 2004

There is never any shortage of commentary and analysis on the issue, but I just want to point out to two pieces I have found quite useful in understanding the problem at hand and howw e got there. This is not about the issues of whether or not Blair/Bush/Howard or anybody else “lied” about wmds. The decision to invade Iraq was made on many grounds and the wmd issue was only one of them. As I have mentioned earlier, the possible presence of vast quantities of battlefield-ready wmds in Saddamite Iraq was an argument against the invasion, not in favour:

In fact for me it worked the other way round: the greater my doubts about the presence of wmds in Saddam's hands became, the more pro-war I became. The reasoning behind that was fairly simple and I wouldn't be surprised if that's what many people in government though as well: Saddam plus wmds - not good, must be stopped - topple him; toppling him when he has wmds – oh no, do we really need to?; toppling him when he hasn't got the actual weapons yet – yes, yes, yes. (. . . ) Quite obviously deposing an unarmed Saddam was better than waiting until he was armed and consequently an invasion would become too bloody to contemplate under any circumstance except for desperate national defence.

In the end this is not really a major issue in terms of longer term foreign policy interests, so I will give it a rest for now.

So instead I going ot recommend some pieces I think are worth reading until I get started at blogging properly again.

The first is by James A. Russell, a “Senior Lecturer in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where he teaches courses in the Middle Eastern Studies curriculum”, but more importantly he was “the Iraq desk officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1996 to 1998”. He should know his stuff is what I’m trying to say. His view is more from a strategic perspective, looking at the way in which the occupation fits in with wider strategic goals; or not. He also gives a good listing of mistakes made and recommends a few correctives. So, go read.

The second is by Larry Diamond. He worked as an adviser to the Coalition in Iraq and hence should also know his stuff. His look is more a political one, as to what went wrong in Iraq so far. Should also be a must read.

The last link I would recommend, is this blogposting at God save the Queen. It argues convicingly that it wouldn’t be possible due to logistical reasons to have more troops in Iraq. This may of course lessen the criticism made by virtually everyone, including me, that there aren’t enough troops in Iraq, though I still think this should have been knoweable and there should have been appropriate contingency planning. What is however deeply troubling is that it might be impossible to increase the occupation force at all. That could prove fatal in the run-up to the elections scheduled for early January, when there will undoubtedly be an upsurge of activity by the insurgents. Let’s hope something gets sorted.

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