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Old 05-22-2003, 09:55 PM   #31
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Alright, even though I often I agree with you, Sting, I feel the need to ask you as well what your opinion is on the subject of this thread. Do you think it is beneficial from a national security standpoint to preserve fundamentalist Islamic theocracy and the appaling human rights record that accompanies? I have seen you dodge the issue simlarly before, and it puzzled me at the time but I forgot it soon enough. In this thread, you are being particularly evasive and I would love to hear your explanation. I don't like theocracy or monarchy, so the "Royal Sauds" are not my favorite family. It's great and convenient that we can use their bases and buuy their oil, but I think it's about time to break up with them (since we dirty westerners are forbidden from influencing other cultures).


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Old 05-23-2003, 01:24 AM   #32
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I support Max's view that the USA must find ways to encourage and support political development towards democracy in the middle east. This in a way is already being done with Iraq.

In Max's view the Bush administration was ill prepared for this tasks because people have been killed in Iraq following the war and many places have been looted. To him this is violence and chaos on a mass scale.

This is not the case at all. If you want to know what violence and chaos is, look up Bosnia or Rawanda. This is a country of 24 million people with multiple ethinic groups that have often fought each other in the pasts. Most of things I studied and people I have talked indicated that following the fall of Saddam there would likely be a Bosnia style war but 3 times as intense or Lebanon but 10 times larger.

These things have not happened, not even close. It is a credit to the Bush Administration planning and the US troops on the ground that these things have not happened. Anyone that has studied the history of regime changes and wars knows that the aftermath is often very bloody and messy. The aftermath in Iraq after the war in comparison to the historical average is rather clean.

But for many that might not be immediately aware of these facts, its shocking for them to see people stealing TVs and small numbers of people being killed here and there. Somehow, the USA military was supposed to make sure that NOTHING in the aftermath of the war went wrong and because there have been problems and difficulties, the post war environment is now a failure and its due to Bush's poor planning.

This is nonsense, there is nothing that could have prevented every single criminal act following the fall of the Iraqi military. Given what could have potentially of happend the Bush Administration and the US military have done a remarkable job. They have only failed those that have unrealistic fantasy's about what should of happened following the end of the war.

It will take time to train and bring up to speed a new Iraqi police force all across the country. There should be some more US troops on the way from the first mechanized divison and first Cav. although I think one of them is not going now from what I hear.

Max quotes troop levels of 160,000 with 45,000 in Baghdad. He compares it to the 79,000 troops that used to occupy India in another century. Bad Comparison

First the Military's are very different in their structure. Second their goals and tasks were different. Third, the condition of the country they were in was different as well.

Only about 10% to 20% of the military troops in Iraq and Kuwait are actually combat troops. Only a fraction of those are combat infantry that would do police work. Most of the troops in the military are not in combat position but in various vital service support positions. Combat troops would not be able to operate without them. The British Army of the 19th century had a much higher ratio of combat troops to support troops. What is needed to support a modern 21st century military from a logistical standpoint is thousands of times greater than what was needed in the 19th century. The Logistics and Support that high performance aircraft, Tanks, Armored Personal Carriers, need compared to wagon's and horses is off the chart.

Rather than look at raw numbers of men and women to understand combat potential today, its more accurate to look at numbers of divisions, tanks, aircraft, artillery. Of course, numbers of trigger pullers does not explain combat potential completely either, but it is a starting point instead of lumping all the doctors and mechanics etc in with the combat infantry, and using that large figure to estimate how many patrols the military could be doing.

I agree with Max that both Syria and Iran are concerns but have certainly in the meantime been somewhat detered. Again, I agree that spreading liberal democracy to the Middle East like the USA and other countries have helped do in other places around the globe is very important. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the possibilities of doing and achieving this are much greater now that other serious threats to security have been neutralized or destroyed and no longer complicate the situation.

I support his idea of building secular schools in Saudi Arabia but remember the Saudi's may say no to this and even if they said yes on a limited basis, its not certain how successful such schools would be.

With Saudi Arabia, the USA has more leverage now in developing democracy and ending support for extremism there because of the potential for democratic development in Iraq and the building of a strong and stable ally that can be a partner to the wests in many ways that Saudi Arabia has been in the pasts.

Saudia Arabia's main asset is oil, but with Iraq liberated and having the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world, Saudi Arabia now faces potentially a much more competitive future. One in which it will have to adjusts if it wishes to maintain close ties to Washington in addition to perserving its economic and business interest. These adjustments mean that it must finally deal with the political extremism in their country rather than putting it off or buying it off. The only way that Saudi Arabia will be able to protect its economic and political relationship with the USA in light of the new potential US-Iraqi relationship, is to crack down on the extremist and begin to modernize and develop a more secular society much like Iraq had already done decades ago.

A successful building of an Iraqi democracy and Iraq's oil infrustructure will help to push Saudi Arabia into making changes in order to remain friendly with the USA and competitive with its neighbor Iraq. Saudi Arabia needs to develop an economy that is not so dependent on oil. The only way to do that is to become to liberalize their system and engage the west more than they have been. The USA's relationship with Saudi Arabia has now dramitically shifted from what it was only 20 years ago. The reasons and presures for Saudi Arabia's ruling elite to liberalize and reform the country have never been greater. With US and Western dependence on Saudi Arabia decreasing, it is an absolute necessity that Saudi Arabia reform and liberalize if it wants to keep its position in the world and its relevance.

But like the economic and political development of Iraq, this is a process that will take years perhaps decades to complete. Instant liberalization and reform would not work and probably would create a bloody civil war. But managed over time, the possibilities are there.

The USA and the Wests should not abandon or attempt to isolate Saudi Arabia in light of Iraq's potential, but rather should maintain the current relationship and use its new leverage to help move the Saudi leadership in a new direction that will benefit them, their people and the rest of the world.

Many here put to much of the blame on Saudi Arabia for Al Quada and other terrorism simply based on the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia as well as the fact that Bin Ladin is from there. People who base their opposition and concern with Saudi Arabia simply on that have been mislead by UBL. Bin Ladin could have found 19 people from Iran, Egypt or even France, Germany, maybe even the USA itself to launch the attack on 9/11. There was a reason he stacked the deck with Saudi Arabians.

But I agree that the Saudi Governments failure to crack down on extremist in its own country and the support it gives schools that teach such hatred and extremism or of great concern. But one should realize that many other Arab governments records on these issues are not much better. With the changing international relationship and environment that exists today, opportunities to pressure Saudi Arabia into reforming and fixing these problems exist today that did not exist 20 years ago. Unless the Saudi leadership wants to go the way of Iran(1980s) or Iraq under Saddam, then they must find a way to reform and modernize themselves politically and socially.

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Old 05-23-2003, 06:03 AM   #33
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Best response of the thread
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Old 05-23-2003, 07:43 PM   #34
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Yes, Sting, excellent post, interesting points. Military history has always been my Achilles' heel, so to speak, as a historian. My background is the Marc Bloch school of social history. Recently I've learned more from fanatically studying Ottoman Turkish history for a class and reading posts in FYM! Either Saudi Arabia modernizes or atrophies because it can't compete with the neighbors. Interesting.

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