David Tucker writes: "I don’t think there is any necessary connection between the geopolitics of the Middle East and the terrorism problem, nor do I think we can rearrange the Middle East to our advantage."
Ordinarily I defer to Davids views based on his having had more foreign experience than me, but I am going to need to have this point explained more fully. It has struck me that smashing Iraq was a wholly appropriate next step in the war on terrorism after Afghanistan, and if we have to go through the charade of inspections to gain some measure of international legitimacy, then fine. The problem as I see it is that we arent willing to implicate Iraq directly in terrorism either because the evidence is circumstantial, or because a direct case against Iraq would be no less compelling against Iran, Syria, Libya, and probably Saudi Arabia as well. And so we are peddling the "weapons of mass destruction" line as a bit of a fig leaf to cover for the implications of policy that we arent yet ready to face. Yet, smashing up Iraq would convey a salutary lesson and warning to those other states.
David may be right that we cant rearrange the Middle East to our advantage, but it is large question that I understand is being contemplated around Washington these days. Does the difficulty of rearranging the Middle East stem from our own limitations (political, military and otherwise) as a reluctant imperial power, or from the inherent primitiveness of the region? And if we dont restructure the region in an aggressive way, what grand strategy does Tucker recommend? It seems to me that Wahhabism needs to be not merely contained, but exterminated. It would be nice if Iraq and Saudi Arabia would turn into Turkey, but didnt Turkey turn into Turkey because of involvement in a Western war?