Tuesday, September 03, 2002

I'm getting sick and tired of Iraq war talk sucking up space on the front pages. The media are beating this to death before it starts. I will let the questions of the NYT's star players, Friedman and Dowd be the last words here on the matter for a while:

Friedman: One question gnaws at me: Is Iraq the way it is today because Saddam Hussein is the way he is? Or is Saddam Hussein the way he is because Iraq is the way it is? I mean, is Iraq a totalitarian dictatorship under a cruel,iron-fisted man because the country is actually an Arab Yugoslavia - a highly tribalized, artificial state, drawn up by the British, consisting of Shiites in the south, Kurds in the north and Sunnis in the center - whose historical ethnic rivalries can be managed only by a Saddam-like figure? Or, has Iraq, by now, congealed into a real nation? And once the cruel fist of Saddam is replaced by a more enlightened leadership, Iraq's talented, educated people will slowly produce a federal democracy. The answer is critical, because any U.S. invasion of Iraq will leave the U.S. responsible for nation-building there. Invade Iraq and we own Iraq. And once we own it, we will have to rebuild it, and since that is a huge task, we need to understand what kind of raw material we'll be working with.

Dowd: By overthrowing the Saudi monarchy, the Cheney-Rummy-Condi-Wolfy-Perle-W. contingent could realize its dream of redrawing the Middle East map. Once everyone realizes that we're no longer being hypocrites, coddling a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism even as we plot to crush a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism, it will transform our relationship with the Arab world.

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