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Since the subject is on everyone's mind, and has even spawned a teacup-tempest at work, a few notes on my city and state, and the problem of Iraq. First, relevant info: my Senators are Specter and Santorum, and apparently my Rep is now Mr. Doyle, who doesn't seem to know what he thinks.

The Post-Gazette had a number of articles useful in reflection last week, and I'm linking them, partly for myself, with remarks. The local lineup tells me that Arlen Specter sounds extraordinarily like what one might expect from a longtime member of the Intelligence, Defense, and Foreign Affairs committees. (Doyle sounds like a weasel trying to put on two pairs of pants at once, on the other hand.) Further comments from Specter indicate that at least some in Cogress have an awareness of The Outside World, as I'm fond of calling it.

Globally, there's a before and after pair I want to mention. The before article the P-G carried was the shorter version of the linked Foreign Affairs article. "Attack Iraq for the good of the Arab world." The article is frank about the pathetic shambles of a policy for the region in the past, and suggests the way forward -- if we have the courage to do more than swat a pest and restore a balance favorable to our short-sighted "strategic" interests. After is a NY Times article reprinted in the P-G, but because of copyright issues, this is one of few links around the Web. After discusses reshaping Iraq after a conquest by the US and a coalition. The problems of oil administration, and civilian government formation, as well as final tracking-down and destruction of nuke/chem/bio-weapons, are discussed. Ironically, the same Bush who once disdained "nation-building" has much of his administration planning for just such a task: a vital, stable, integral Iraq with a free civilian government.

Personally, I concur with those who have argued that the US, having pushed the diplomatic processes of UN inspections and negotiation, has an obligation to follow through in good faith. But like many of that opinion, I seriously doubt that Hussein and the Baath party will successfuly conceal, or willingly allow the revealing of its ongoing chem/bio/nuke-weapons program(s). When in, say, August, Hans Blix were to submit an interim report, I believe that it would reveal, documented for the international public, a deliberate weapons program for both intra-Iraqi and international use (including dispersal to rebel/revolutionary groups in the Hamas/IRA/FARC mode), vindicating US claims, and causing the psaage of a UN resolution in the "drop-dead" mode, a la 1990-1991.

However, if concealment is even close to being broken, Iraq is far more likely to induce a manufactured 'incident', impose absurd conditions, and eventually either eject, or force withdrawal of the inspecting team. Such maneuvers will at this point be transparent to every UN security Council member, however, and the much-discussed "second resolution" is likely to be passed, unless vetoed by a member whose gov't sees political gain to be made by embarassing the US (any except Britian, currently, but this would change with complete Iraqi intransigence to perhaps only 1 of the others). Either scenario means a war on behalf of the entire international community that is the UN, and with their, perhaps reluctant, consent.

The 'Damn Fool Scenario' means that Bush just uses the inspections process to buy time for preparation, and then declares it "over" whenever the US buildup is sufficient to the planners' tastes, irrespective of progress in inspections, or UN declarations. This is the scenario I fear, not because it would be any less disastrous for Iraq than any other war, but because it is the work of a Damn Fool. As such, we'll be fools, and probably damned. This scenario devours every possible long-term gain for a liberated Iraq. God save the State, mostly from Itself.

If I were clever, or didn't have to work tomorrow, I'd lay out the problem in terms of just-war theory. If I were even more clever, I'd say the argument is left as an exercise for the reader...

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