...Saudi Arabia. And the way to deal with Saudi Arabia is to leave Saddam in place
Here's the How and What, forget about the Why:
- continue to enforce the no-fly zone
- intensify observation and intelligence, possibly including human intel
- court Iraqi defectors and spires the way we did with Russia
- continue to pound any military installations where WMD development can take place
- intensify information warfare by funding VoA, dropping pamphlets, etc. to destabilize Saddam's police state and embolden opposition forces
If the Iraqis deserve freedom, let them achieve it themselves. That's the same standard we have to apply to Iran. A home-grown movement can take decades - so be it. But it will be far more stable than a puppet state like Afghanistan. It is in our long term interests to encourage democracy, especially in oil-rich countries like Iraq. We can wait. In the meantime, we can continue to contain Iraq and systematically eliminate his WMD capabilities from the air.
I call this approach a "Chilly War" because we can apply much of the same lessons learned in the conflict with the USSR. Iraq can not escape our scrutiny. It's impossible for Iraq's WMD programmes to continue if we apply the same level of espionage that we employed during the Cold War. It's then just a matter of enforcement with F-16s. Also, we have the advantage of new technoology like bunker-busting bombs that give us new capabilities.
let us also acknowledge explicitly that the White House's attempt to link Iraq to 9-11 is purely FUD. The argument can, and should, be made solely in terms of long-term threat re: WMD. Trying to invoke American OutrageTM is just an insult to our intelligence, which is about par for Rove and Fleischer.
This also needs to be revolutionized from within. The best way to achieve this, however, is to do one thing. Force Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive. The carrot is economic gain by allowing 1/2 the workforce mobility and greater prospects. The ban on women's diving, in addition to being unIslamic, immoral, cruel, and misogynistic, is also an enormous brake applied to what should be a fairly healthy economy (if you doubt this, compare Saudi to Dubai).
The stick is, Iraq. Explicitly state that our policy regarding Iraq is to enforce the no-fly zones, defend Israel, and destroy the WMD infrastructure. Military defense is no longer part of the plan. Speaking as a Shi'a, I can assure you that nothing quakes Wahabis in their boots so much as the thought of Shi'a taking control of Mecca and Medina (we might actually show some respect to the Wahabi-defiled graves of the Prophet's family, for one thing.)
And, we shoudl also have the VoA (in Arabic) used to full effect here, helping undermine the Religious Police's hold on the populace. Tell the women of Saudi that they should be driving. They pretty much agree, but let's make them really mad about it.
I accept the argument that WMD pose a threat to us. Agreed. But I don't buy the argument that neutralizing the WMD threat actually requires full-scale invasion. The proponents of an Iraqi invasion invoke the WMD threat, but Invasion does NOT logically follow from that threat.
Nor am I happy about the inevitable power vacuum - what happens if the Kurds move in to Baghdad, triumphant as the Northern Alliance? And then a resurgent Wahabi movement fosters another Taliban state. And Saudi becomes a haven for terrorists yet again. We have observed these cycles in Afghanistan already. The fact that all the debate has been on "Attack!" and essentially none on "what next?" should be of enormous concern. Currently, we have a dictatorial but secular tyrant running Iraq - that is far, far better than a theocracy run by Wahabis. We have actual empirical evidence on this.
And, the best way tod eal with Syria is to empower Lebanon. But that's an issue for later...