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The Iraq Conundrum

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May 2003
The Iraq Conundrum

The rapid fall of Saddam's regime sucked the air right out of the huge global antiwar movement. Does it vindicate the Bush administration? This is but just one of the many complex questions that emerge, even as the situation in Iraq can only be described as a conundrum - and that too, understatedly!

Career leftists and democrats with vested interests continue to fudge, dodge, sidestep, and downplay the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Meanwhile, unbridled dissenters like myself, of this unilateral and preemptive war, can't escape (and will not shy away from acknowledging) that we were wrong on at least one critical postulation about it. As vocal as we were in our opposition, it is only fair to concede that the Bush administration was right in its conviction that the Iraqi masses ? irrespective of its Shi'a/Sunni/Kurd orientation - wanted Saddam out; to the extent that they were willing to have the dreaded Americans come and do it for them.

Why then, does this deep, unsettling feeling still persist? To answer this, we must consider the consequences of the turn of events, and judge whether they bode well for America. The following just scratches the surface of some of the concerns that arise:

1. As a result of this (relatively) smooth fall of the regime, na�ve Americans will buy the propaganda that the administration was selling ? of America as the altruistic and noble liberator of the oppressed. Facts, however, bear out that neither altruism nor nobility, but rather advancement of American military interests in the Middle East was the impetus behind the war. After all, we supported and even armed this brutal dictator with WMDs when he was at his worst. This fact alone nullifies any claims that America acted with humanitarian concerns.

2. When high level officials such as Richard Pearle and vice president Dick Cheney stand to personally and directly benefit from the various reconstruction contracts, the impropriety is stupendous and self evident; and it further brings into question the motives of the administration. But again, infused by the quick "victory", they seem to be immune to further scrutiny.

3. Right wing radio ideologues who are the least bit concerned with objectivity, have gained a renewed vigor. Its not that they are always wrong, and that their opposition is always right. But when a forum that is all about selling an ideology, rather than about fact finding or honest debate, gains such momentum, the long term results can never be good.

4. Ditto for chest thumping pseudo-patriots. Let's face it; they are basking in glory as if infused by steroids. This is dangerous for any nation, as it will further stifle the voice of genuine concern.

5. This vindication will help the hawks gloss over their autocratic approach towards the rest of the world; an approach that damaged, perhaps irrevocably, relations with long time allies. Couldn't we have achieved the same results without the name calling and antagonism? Tony Blair serves as proof that we could have.

6. Finally, this will strengthen the unilateralists in America. Neo conservatives such as Bill O'Reilly have derided "internationalists" who were concerned about acting outside of the U.N. What they seem to overlook is that American capitalism is perhaps the biggest benefactor of such internationalism or globalization; and consequently stands to be also the biggest loser of unilateralism.

The Middle East, after all, is the land of deserts, where mirages are the norm. It appears like a victory?.

- Parthiv N. Parekh


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