The Self Made Pundit
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
THE BUSH OVERSIMPLIFICATION DOCTRINE: President Bush made some good points about the need to defang Saddam Hussein in his speech on Iraq Monday night. Unfortunately, Bush also repeatedly relied on oversimplification -- his administration's default approach to complex problems -- to discuss the life and death issues at hand.
Bush grossly oversimplified the options for dealing with Iraq by acting as if the only alternative to granting Bush a blank check to act in Iraq is to do nothing:
Some believe we can address this danger by simply resuming the old approach to inspections, and applying diplomatic and economic pressure. Yet this is precisely what the world has tried to do since 1991.
There is no easy or risk-free course of action. Some have argued we should wait -- and that is an option. In my view, it is the riskiest of all options -- because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become. We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I am convinced that is a hope against all evidence. As Americans, we want peace - we work and sacrifice for peace - but there can be no peace if our security depends on the will and whims of a ruthless and aggressive dictator. I am not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein.
Bush might also have noted that some believe we can liberate Iraq by putting a hex on Saddam. Then again, Bush might also have addressed some more persuasive critics of his policies, such as Gore, who have argued that making greater efforts with other nations to forge a multilateral approach to dealing with Iraq would be a more effective way of combating both terrorism and Iraq.
Bush again revealed an oversimplified worldview when he considered the possible consequences of an invasion of Iraq and pronounced that a world without Saddam would be the best of all possible worlds:
Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security, and for the people of Iraq.
Bush simply ignores the reality that unless the United States -- either alone or with other nations -- is prepared to devote significant resources to rebuilding and policing a post-Saddam Iraq, there is a risk that Iraq will descend into chaos as Afghanistan did after Soviet troops pulled out. Imagine a scenario in which Baghdad and Iraq's oil fields were controlled by a United States backed government and the rest of Iraq was a battleground among that government, an Iranian backed warlord, a Saudi backed warlord and an Al Qaeda backed guerilla force -- each with a cache of weapons of mass destruction. Such a situation would be worse, for world security, for the people of Iraq, and for the security of the United States.
The problem of what to do with a post-Saddam Iraq is, of course, another reason for the United States to make greater efforts at building an international coalition before resorting to a mostly unilateral approach to Iraq. The Bush administration seems to have the mistaken view that the best solution is always the quickest solution. In fact, such an approach is just another oversimplification.