Democrats & Liberals Archives

Just "the end of the beginning"

In the wake of Saddam Hussein’s capture, the world expressed joy and relief that a great tyrant has been captured. He was an evil dictator who killed his own citizens, attacked his neighbors and intimidated a region. Bush will likely see a pop in his popularity in the polls. But it is certainly too soon to hand him the 2004 election. As Winston Churchill stated, ” it’s not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning.”

There is much work to be done in order to ensure peace in the Middle East and ensure our protection from terrorism. Unfortunately, Bush’s actions in the region may end up being counterproductive to these goals. History has repeatedly shown that iron-fisted rulers supress ethnic and religious differences within politically created multi-ethnic states, which quickly boil over once the dictator is removed. Just look at the ensuing wars that ravaged for former Yugoslavia following the fall of Communism. Wars continue as the former Soviet Union splinters. Take note of the power warlords have in Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban. The American-sponsored government has little real control outside of Kabul.

The ethnic division of Iraq means that similar fighting is likely within Iraq, too, as the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds jostle for power in the new Iraq. This fighting will do nothing in the short term to stabilize the region, and will likely require a prolonged peacekeeping force. Right now, it looks like that responsibility will remain primarlily American. Additionally, Osama bin Laden is already beginning to shift operations in to Iraq as the power vacuum provides him an additional sympathetic venue from which to operate--and one with resources to finance his plans. As much as those in favor of the war tried to tie Saddam to al Quaeda, his rule left no room for any possible threat to his power within his borders and his secular government violated one of al Quaeda's core beliefs. So as long as Hussein has been in power, Iraq was largely free from al Queada. Now that's no longer the case.

Our presence in the Middle East is going to remain extensive and long term if we continue along the current foreign policy plans of the Bush administration. These plans may one day succeed. They may not. And at what cost do we find out? Either way, the issue is not going to be resolved within the next year. And as the situation continues to unfold, American troops are going to continue to die. American tax dollars are going to be spent in the Middle East rather than back home. Civil liberties are going to be violated in the name of fighting terrorism. And these issues might still keep Bush from winning a second term. The capture of Saddam Husssein is by no means the slam dunk in 2004 that many commentators want American voters to believe. Hussein hasn't been in power for 8 months but the situation is still far from over. It's Bush's actions over the next few months in leading the rebuilding of Iraq that is what will really matter come November.

Posted by blipsman at December 15, 2003 12:44 PM