Baker: I am no longer asked why we did not remove Saddam

#1
Great piece of traditional realist thinking published in today's Times.

The Times Online said:
I am no longer asked why we did not remove Saddam

The Former Secretary of State heads the Iraq Study Group, which publishes on Wednesday its long-awaited review of US operations in Iraq. In his memoirs he recounts his thoughts about the importance of removing Saddam Hussein and the difficulties of occupying the country
For years, the question I was most often asked about Desert Storm is why we did not remove Saddam Hussein from power. [The answer is that] A coalition war to liberate Kuwait could then have been portrayed as a US war of conquest. Furthermore, even if Saddam were captured and his regime toppled, American forces would still have been confronted with the spectre of a military occupation of indefinite duration to pacify a country and sustain a new government in power. The ensuing urban warfare would surely have resulted in more casualties to American GIs than the war itself, thus creating a political firestorm at home.

And as much as Saddam’s neighbours wanted to see him gone, they feared Iraq would fragment in unpredictable ways that would play into the hands of the mullahs in Iran, who could export their brand of Islamic fundamentalism with the help of Iraq’s Shias and quickly transform themselves into a dominant regional power.

Cont/...
 
#2
Just lucky none of that came true, then.
 
#3
Very clever use of words here, crafted to appear to say "I told you so", but actually only appearing wise after the event. Baker is trying to make himself look good while not accusing anyone else of being stupid, and it won't wash.

The Coalition didn't stop in 1991 because they suspected what the outcome would be (as has actually transpired in 2006) if they removed Saddam Hussein. If that were the case, why didn't some clever Americans persuade Dubya not to do it this time around?

Nor was the reason they stopped in 1991 anything to do with the Mitla Ridge turkey shoot, although that gave us a nice excuse to wrap it up after a nice round 100 hours. I believe it had more to do with being afraid of the very things that we allegedly went to war for this time around, but which turned out not to exist.

Then again, how stupid is that? To press for regime change for the self same reason that you didn't push on and remove the dictator last time.

What Baker didn't reveal was what people are probably asking him instead. Not "why didn't you remove Saddam Hussein last time?", but "why the hell did you do it this time?"
 
#4
I thought he was doing pretty well until I hit this bit:

Despite the troubles that have followed, however, the Iraqi people are better off now than under their murderous dictator. In polling released while I was writing, seven in ten Iraqis said their lives were going well and two-thirds expected things to improve in the year ahead.
then I decided I'd like a pint of whatever he was drinking when he wrote it.
 
#5
BDS observes,

Very clever use of words here, crafted to appear to say "I told you so", but actually only appearing wise after the event. Baker is trying to make himself look good while not accusing anyone else of being stupid, and it won't wash.
Totally agree. Everyone is now trying to potray themselves in a more favorable light because they heard that the first draft of history is being written. He goes on to say:

And as much as Saddam’s neighbours wanted to see him gone, they feared Iraq would fragment in unpredictable ways that would play into the hands of the mullahs in Iran, who could export their brand of Islamic fundamentalism with the help of Iraq’s Shias and quickly transform themselves into a dominant regional power.
Sounds like someone just picked up today's paper and is trying to "predict" the past. If Old Jimmy has said this circa 2002/3 then he would have sounded more believable. Now he sounds more like the boy who did not cry wolf...even when the wolf walked right by him and slapped him in the arrse.
 

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