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don't know if there is someone left on this thread.
a reply to Joe:
If you believe Germans think the Bundeswehr was powerful you completely don't know Germany. Everyone knows that the Bundeswehr reached its capacity in Macedonia and Afghanistan. German police and troops secured US military bases in Germany during the war. It was about the same they would have been able to do if Germany had been a cheerful supporter of the war. You probably know that refounding a German army was a difficult topic after WW2. You know that the Bundeswehr was built for defence on german territory and that even some years ago it was also politically not an option for the Bundeswehr to go abroad. So I dont think you say something new to any German.

A UN operation in Iraq had a different legitimation, probably also in the eyes of the Iraqi people. The military operations would still heavily rely on US troops. But it would not be an occupation by the US and its allies but by the world. This is different.

I did not and dont have any alternative option for Saddams Iraq. There you are right. From an egoistic point of view Iraq was no threat for us all, so the war was not necessary. You may only argue altruistically in the name of the Iraqi people. So my option is to "do nothing" (means UN control and stuff). True. I admit this is not satisfactory and quite egoistic. But if you want to be altruistic, dont forget about all the other torture regimes, but forget about the war on terror.

War really is an option too easy. Just look at Iraq. Do you think Bush had any clue what would happen after the military won the war? Would it not have been his task to "develop it in greater detail"? If really in all that chaos the terrorists got some WMDs in their hands, than exactly that happened, what you gave as reason to go to war: to prevent just this! This would mean both: Bush won the war and the military operation failed completely and worsened the situation. Understand why solutions are more complicate than throwing daisy cutters?

And I hope you dont really think of a military action in Iran. Perhaps its better to do nothing than to do the wrong thing. At least Iran has for me the option to establish democracy by itself (in contrast to Iraq). This is a slow process, but just look close at the struggle of Khatami and most of Teherans population, in particular students, against the clerics. It takes time, but it has a real chance. Attacking Iraq from outside would not fasten this process! A friend of mine, who was in prison in Iran because of support for the democratic opposition, hates America for installing the Shah. Even though democracy in Iran is his main goal the last thing he would accept was any American influence, not to speak of an invasion. You just cant find a military solution for everything.


Thank you for your comments. The history and capabilities of the German Military I am well aware of. I would say prior to the fall of the wall, they were much better than they are today but each government since then has chosen to use the defense portion of the budget as a bill payer to support various other parts of the social welfare state to include investing in the east. In one sense, this was an easy decision because of these immediate requirements. The US shortly after the fall of the wall entered into combat against Iraq. After that war, the military in the US was reduced in size also. The original plan was to reduce the army to 12 active divisions. Here the defense budget was also used as a bill payer for social programs. The active army ended up being reduced to 10 divisions.

Of course the European nations felt in some ways justified in reducing their militaries because they saw no immediate threat, they were busy putting the EU together and besides they knew the US would come to their aid should the need arise under the NATO alliance.

The one single thing that Europe and European fail to understand is and was the impact on the US and the American people of 9 11. It took us into a world where we had never been before. I do not think it is possible for a European to imagine this. After the initial shock wore off, there was a whole range of emotions at play for the American people. The two most important ones were to find those who did this and deal with them. And the second one was to make us safe again.

President Bush laid out a strategy to do both of these. Most Americans saw a linkage between transnational terrorism and Iraq. Their views on this linkage ranged from a feeling of direct sponsorship of 9 11 to supporting the planning and execution, to support in other forms to no linkage at all.

It did not really matter as a primary reason for removing Saddam if there was a direct linkage or not. What did matter was the fact that the world to include the UN believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that his hatred of US was shared by al Quida.

Having just witnessed and seen attacks in the US where thousands had been killed and not believing that was possible, even after the fact. These attacks were viewed as madness. For most people, there was a realization if this was possible and these people took pleasure in them, then if they could have killed even more people they would have judged their attacks to be even more successful.

One of the easiest ways to kill large numbers of people is through the use of WMD’s. The idea that the WMD’s in Saddam’s possession would be transferred to al Quida became a real possibility for most people in the US. Remember it only takes a liter bottle of most bio-chem weapons to kill several thousand people. So Saddam was viewed very much as a threat.

I tend to agree with all you wrote about the UN. I would like to give you an American perspective of what happened at the UN.

The question became one of how to disarm Saddam. It was apparent after 10 years; sanctions were not working and would not work as long as Saddam remained in power. No nation nor could the UN come up with a plan of how to do this without the use of direct military force.

President Bush went to the UN and asked a simple question. Are you going to enforce your own resolutions? These resolutions dating all the way to the end of the first Gulf War were based on Saddam disarming. To Americans this was both a simple and reasonable question for the UN to answer. When President Bush told the world leaders that the disarming of Saddam was considered to be in American’s vital interest, this was a clear message that this was going to happen and anything less was not acceptable to America.

The results of this were the passage of UNSCR 1441. It was followed by a second attempt to pass a UN resolution clearly authorizing the use of military force to remove Saddam. Lead by france and supported by Germany, this second resolution failed.

Now for some what I consider to be interesting questions to be asked and also some conjecture on my part. First I do not think france would have vetoed a US resolution to use force if it were not for the support of Germany. I do not think france was prepared for the results of what franco- US relations would be for years to come if she had done this. I am not sure if China or Russia would have voted to support the US and very well probably would have abstained. I do think without france actively working again the interest of the US, a resolution authorizing direct military action would have passed.

So the first question is the one that you answered already. That question being. Were there any realistic and viable options other than direct force to disarming Saddam?

The second question … Did the actions of france and Germany strengthens or weakens the UN?

I would like to give you a brief historical perspective of the UN from an American viewpoint. The UN was an ineffective and morally corrupt organization that outside of maybe taking care of refugees and feeding people served little purpose. This perspective was formed during the decades of the cold war with the Soviet Union casting a veto in the UNSC and the UN having no place to look for action or legitimacy. After the cold war, the first big test of the UN as a possible forum for the maintenance of international order and security was the first Gulf War. The UNSC took this challenge and acted as one approved for only the second time in its history the use of military force. This gave hope to many Americans that the UN would in fact become what it was set up to do and be.

As the arms inspections in Iraq continued and continued, with no results Americans began to once again question the usefulness of the UN. They began to become cynical when Libya was made chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights and when Iraq was scheduled to chair the commission on disarment.

The next big test for the UN was President Bush’s challenge about disarming Saddam. The UNSC seem to be working with the passage of UNSCR 1441. So a new sense of hope was born that the UN would be responsible. Then france and Germany started to obstruct any serious efforts to implement Resolution 1441.

So the failure to implement UNSCR 1441 with a second resolution has once again caused Americans to view the UN with total distain and some cruel joke about maintaining international order and security. Americans will not at all be upset that should some future President chose to by pass the UN altogether. And yes, the comment, “We will not ask france permission to protect America will be heard again in the current presidential election cycle and it will used in the future when there is a question of the UN and America’s interest diverging.

Now this is where I get a bit confused. I see Europe and particularly france and Germany putting great store in international organizations. What did they expect to gain from their actions? I for one think their actions only weakened the UN.

My third question… What would have happened if the UNSC had voted as one to support direct military intervention to disarm Saddam?

I am not sure. What I do know is that I think what is going on in Iraq today would be different than it currently is.

I would say this third question is one that can be debated for a very long time.

** I do want to tell you that I take exception when you call attention to why Iraq as opposed to some other nation which violates the basic human rights of its citizens. I find that to be a weak excuse. What you are saving is if you cannot cure all illnesses then why cure any. I for one wished it was possible to eliminate all governments like the one lead by Saddam but I also know that is not possible.

As for a plan for what happened after initial military operations were completed, I think there were plans in place and supplies and equipment to support many different believable likely outcomes. Fortunately in one sense those contingency plans never had to be executed. Some of these plans were to handle 100,000 or more refugees, the treatment of victims of chem-bio weapons, and the feeding of people.

One area where the US took a media beating over was the looting. One has to remember that most of the looting that was so widely reported took place while combat operations were on going. In this case the US did not have enough or the right forces to contain the looting and carry on combat operations. I think the level and degree of the looting surprised those conducting military operations.

I think the US was not prepared for the level of neglect they found in the infrastructure nor the total lack of services. What was left of the infrastructure much of it was destroyed by the looters. I also do not think the US nor do I think realistically anyone else thought the people of Iraq would act the way they did. I do not think as some like to say that the US was going to be greeted with flowers in the street but at the same time do I think they expected to be greeted with the general civil disorder they encountered either.

I think what happened to the WMD’s in Iraq is one of the great unsolved questions that must be answered.

I will share something with you on this subject that you might find interesting. I surely did. In the US there is a very detailed and complete review of intelligence organizations under way. Part of this review is the part many have been reading about and this concerns the 9 11 commission. Almost parallel with this and just as intense is a review of the intelligence concerning Iraq. Many in the US have called for an increase in HUMIN, Human Intelligence. Think spies. Much of this capability was eliminated in the mid 70’s in the US with more emphasis placed on technical collection.

One of the interesting reports I found was when the Iraq division commanders who occupied defensive positions south of Baghdad were captured and questioned about WMD’s each said they did not have any in their commands but the divisions on either side of them did.

So even if the US had had an enhanced HUMIN capability, the picture it would have gotten on WMD’s would have been no clearer.

As this has become very long, I shall save my comments about Iran for another post.

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