Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Think before Leaping into War

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Think before Leaping into War

Article excerpt

There should be little mystery about the outcome of an American war on Iraq. History and the neighborhood teach us the necessary lessons. Let us consider two possible scenarios for an attack:

First, the fighting may be bloody on both sides and prolonged. When the US sent troops into Lebanon in 1982 against the Arab consensus, more than 200 Marines and diplomats fell victim to terrorism. The region was enraged against the US. This time, the psychological buildup in the region opposing a war with Iraq is even more intense and widespread, owing in great part to our association with Israel's repression of the second intifada. We can anticipate anti-American acts of terrorism worldwide.

When the 1991 coalition forces fought to free Kuwait, the price of oil shot up but subsided after a quick victory. Allies paid the bills. This time, a longer war will inflate oil prices and the US budget deficit and deflate the world economy. Despite the patriotic drama that will be played out under President Bush's war leadership, his political future will be dimmed by the distress of many families.

Let us assume a second, rosier scenario that goes according to the Pentagon's plans: Fighting is short and free of serious casualties, Saddam Hussein disappears and is replaced by a congenial coalition of our choosing, Iraqis welcome American troops as the Afghans did and only a relatively few troops remain to ensure order. In a few months, the appointed Iraqi leaders hold free elections and a new coalition takes power.

What kinds of policies will the new regime be expected to pursue? Will they serve the interests of American liberators? How will they affect the region?

First, the fresh faces in Baghdad will want to begin the work of reconstruction. That will mean maximizing income from oil production. Decent relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran will be important; all OPEC will share Iraq's interest in keeping oil prices high.

Second, the new regime will have to establish nationalist credentials. There will be little tolerance for breakaway Kurds or Shiites. (If, somehow, Kurdish autonomy is confirmed by the newcomers, won't Turkey's Kurds see an attractive model and Ankara, a threatening one? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.