Friday, November 19, 2004

Iraq Revisited

I want to reflect back on my original backing of Aus involvement and of backing USA's decision to "Attack". Statistics, and unexpected results matter greatly to me, so what's happened to my thoughts? Recent statistics out show that the most probable number of Iraqi civilians dead who would otherwise be alive had there been no "attack" is calculated at 100,000. This is much more than my "reckoning" based on the fact that they were dying like flies even before the conflict. Also revelation upon revelation of the brutality and heavy-handedness of the USA army in particular has revolted me considerably. On the plus side, this has definitely meant that it is overall a good deterrent for Iran especially to go down a similarly defiant plan as Saddam Hussein. On the minus side, I think USA has alienated the rest of the world so much, that there would continue to be resistance in the UN for any similar "project".

So, my conclusion? I still think Australia would have done a better job than USA (o.k. so I'm still crazy).

Did Australia get any gains? If you mean a free trade deal - what free trade deal? NO.
However, we did get some "real" battle experience for our troops, at no expense of lives. That is a primary gain, and made the whole thing worthwile. Who cares if it was worth it for the USA?

So. My conclusion? Thank God we did't let any US troops into East Timor, Sol Islands, Fiji etc. That would have been an unmitigated disaster. So Iraq is also nearly an unmitigated disaster, but at least it might spurn Iran into "offering" as well as brinksmanship into their negotiations. As far as terrorism is concerned, the result is fairly balanced, with Terrorists losing ground, but gaining followers in equal proportion.

I just wish the USA could have been as pragmatic as we were in East Timor and Bali. They just MADE themselves look like the bad guys unnecessarily. Less "Shock & Awe" more "Good Cop" would have achieved so much more! I kind of think Iraq was a bit of a lost opportunity in that sense.

Israel & Palestine - I've lost hope there. I'm willing to bet there will still be intifadas a generation from now - any takers?

3 comments:

Dr. Clam said...

Do not allow yourself to be bullied by statistics. First of all, what is the methodology of the study? As I understood it, the figure of 100,000 was estimated by conducting house-to-house interviews in a number of areas in the country, then extrapolating to the whole nation. The critiques I have read suggest two flaws: (1) the regions where the surveys were taken were not in fact representative, but contained a disproportionate number of areas that had seen intensive military activity;(2) no effort was made to check if people were telling the truth or not. In instances where a group of people have an interest in making an 'occupier' look bad,(2) can lead to totally inaccurate data,like the spurious 'massacre'of civilians in Jenin.
That said, I can readily believe a value of 100,000 extra *violent* deaths in Iraq in the last year, based on newspaper reports I have read from morgues in Najaf and Baghdad; but this is not due primarily to coalition or insurgent activity, but to Phildelphia-style violent crime. A large part of this is people settling old scores from totalitarian days;a similar upsurge was seen everywhere across Europe in 1944-5. It is incontestable that the US should have had a lot more troops on the ground, and a broader-based coalition to provide them, to avoid this sort of thing; they tried very hard to get United Nations backing just for this reason, and they failed. The people to blame are the Europeans, for sitting on their hands, and the Kurds, for rejecting the involvement of Turkish troops so vehemently.

Most importantly- much more importantly than my quite possibly biased neo-conservative analysis above: nobody is claiming an extra 100,000 Iraqis died; they are claiming 100,000 more Iraqis have died violent deaths. Each year since 1991, far more than 100,000 Iraqis - most of them children, not young males with guns- have died of malnutrition and disease directly due to UN sanctions. Ending sanctions was the only real 'humanitarian' justification for war. Wait and see the infant mortality statistics.

Dr. Clam said...

Here I am again. I don't think Iran is chastened, I think they are enjoying the repatriation of 4 million Afghan refugees, their expanded sphere of influence in Shi'ite Iran, and the removal of their greatest enemy (who killed more people in one night's air-raid on Teheran than Osama bin Laden managed on September 11th) while driving as fast as they can to develop their nuclear deterrent, because they are confident the US won't take them on once they have the bomb. Will they be responsible once they get it? That is the big question for the next four years. Because it is not politcally possible for anyone to stop them.

Dr. Clam said...

And again! I think historically, 'Shock and Awe' followed by 'Good Cop' has been most effective. Think of Germany, Japan, and the American South. They were all completely shocked and awed, so there was absolutely no question that they had lost, and then the US put a lot of money into reconstruction and there were never and significant post-defeat resistance movements...