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Good advice

07/19/06 | by [mail] | Categories: culture/news

Saddam Hussein is a terrible person, he is a threat to his own people. I think his people would be better off with a different leader, but there is this sort of romantic notion that if Saddam Hussein got hit by a bus tomorrow, some Jeffersonian democrat is waiting in the wings to hold popular elections. You're going to get -- guess what -- probably another Saddam Hussein. It will take a little while for them to paint the pictures all over the walls again, but there should be no illusions about the nature of that country or its society. And the American people and all of the people who second-guess us now would have been outraged if we had gone on to Baghdad and we found ourselves in Baghdad with American soldiers patrolling the streets two years later still looking for Jefferson.

-- Colin Powell, 1992

Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in ‘mission creep,’ and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs,” Bush and Scowcroft wrote. “We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome.

-- George H.W. Bush, 1998

The emphasis above is mine.

"Mission creep" is exactly what happened in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The original rationale was that Saddam was an imminent threat because of his nuclear program and WMD. When those didn't turn up, the mission was changed to liberating Iraqis and establishing a democracy.

If only George Bush had paid more attention to what his father and his Secretary of State had said on this issue, then maybe the world and the US would be better prepared to handle the scary situations we're facing in the Middle East and North Korea right now.


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