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Juan Benito on Iraq

Following up on my blog entry in which I invited blog-less friends to publish their views on Iraq, here's a message I received from Juan Benito:

OK. Here's the Deal with Iraq

First, we should recognize that there are no good guys in the current situation; there are only bad guys and worse guys. The US was instrumental in bringing Saddam Hussein to power in the late 70's. We know the reason why: Iraq has a lot of oil, and Hussein was ready to serve US interests in the region (back when Iran was Public Enemy No. 1). In short, although he was nasty, he wasn't as nasty as the Iranians and, more importantly, he Played Ball.

I'm not saying that Hussein is a victim here. He deserves all he gets. He is a horrible little man and his time has come. However, we should fully realize that we helped make him a horrible little man with an awful lot of power. The US has done this on numerous occasions in South America (Pinochet, anyone?), Africa, and Southeast Asia. We're pretty good at installing dictators when it suits our economic plans. Democracies in little, piddly, yet resource-rich countries tend to make up their own minds about American business, and often times don't want to Play Ball. We don't like that -- political self-determination is a right reserved only for very powerful countries like ourselves. And maybe Europe. Maybe.

Luckily, nasty little dictators don't mind us pillaging their lands as long as we make sure they get all the limos and palaces they could want. Keep this in mind the next time an American president extols the virtues of spreading democracy around the world. When you look at the record, it's clear that expedient economic considerations, not lofty political philosophies, determine US foreign policy. After the event of war in Iraq, watch carefully if the Bush Administration fosters a democracy in the country. Even money says they won't.

In the late 80's however, the situation changed and it became clear that Hussein no longer went along with the wishes of the US. He became unpredictable. He invaded Kuwait. The little pipsqueak had gotten too big for his britches, so the US decided to get rid of him. He gets kicked out of Kuwait, but allowed to stay in charge of Iraq. This was done so as not to ruffle the feathers of the bigger boys in the region, and in particular the Saudis.

In the present time, Bush II decides it's time to take Hussein, a Frankenstein of his father's making (back from when he was Director of the CIA), out of the game, all in the name of "War on Terror." The Bush Administration thinks it's in a pretty good position -- they can safely claim Hussein has WMDs (for how, exactly, does someone positively prove the non-existence of a thing?). If he has them, the inspections help disarm Iraq before the troops move in. If he claims he doesn't have them, but then uses them in response to a US-led invasion, the US will be vindicated. And if he doesn't in fact have any WMDs, well, we'll just have to forget about all that.

The transparent incoherence of this policy may be better appreciated when one considers the problem of North Korea. Kim Jong Il not only possesses WMDs, the means to deliver them to the California coastline, and the announced willingness to use them if pushed, but he is also a dictator who oppresses his own people by atrocious means. However, one doesn't see Bush II assemble any "coalition of the willing" to take him out. Why? Two main reasons: 1) doing so would piss off China, Russia, and quite probably Japan, and, 2) more importantly, North Korea has no natural resources to speak of (read: oil). Thus, a "diplomatic approach" will be employed toward Kim Jong Il. Which means paying him off with oil and food until he shuts up.

At this point, I must a take a brief moment to point out what a monumental travesty the War on Terror and the Department of Homeland Security have become. Bush II has performed an amazing act of legerdemain -- according to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations, two-thirds of Americans believe Saddam Hussein, not Osama Bin Laden, was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Although the Bush Administration has never overtly stated this view, it is clear that they benefit from such a confusion, and do not make any attempt to clear it up. In fact, they hardly mention Bin Laden anymore, but rest assurred they'll find him -- yeah, right.

To my eye, Tom Ridge has already proven his own incompetence with this whole Terror Alert System debacle. How many times can one claim a credible threat without citing specifics? Specifics are precisely what make threats credible. Specifics would in fact be most helpful to people who wish to avoid terrorist attacks. And what, exactly, does it mean to be at Orange, as opposed to Yellow, Alert? The system is nonsense. Ridge and John Ashcroft would have to be mentally disabled not to foresee that these unhelpful, imprecise, and hollow warnings would inspire fear and anxiety in the population at large. As I don't think that either one is actually mentally disabled (however grudgingly), I can only conclude that the effect was exactly what they intended. In short, I'm led to believe that one of the chief aims of the Department of Homeland Security and it's Terror Alert System is to manipulate public opinion towards the goal of maintaining support for war in Iraq and to legitimize the positions of our current, inept administration. They are using fear to shape public opinion during very troubled times, and I think that is absolutely despicable.

I could go on and on. Don't even get me started on NATO, the UN, and Euro-American relations. However, I must wrap things up:

Is Hussein a bad guy? Undoubtedly.

Should we go in and use military force to take him out? Actually, yes. Sure. As long as it is with full UN support and Iraq us allowed to determine their own system of governance, under UN aegis.

Should we also remove our current US administration, and forge a foreign policy that is sane, humane, and coherent, instead of allowing a cabal of military-industrial interests to wreak havoc upon developing nations the world over, in turn giving rise to problems the American people are then expected to pay for, not only with dollars, but with their very lives? I don't think I need to answer that one.

Juan is currently attending Columbia University. We've been friends since he worked for me when I was running Virtus Studios. Juan was just out of high school, but clearly had tremendous game design instincts, so he became the game designer for Tom Clancy SSN. Later, Juan was a founding member of Red Storm Entertainment.

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