Tag: condoleezza Rice

Did We Miss Out on the Bargain of the Century in Iraq?

Stuart Reid’s Twitter points to this Condi Rice discussion with Katie Couric in which the following exchange takes place over the decision to invade Iraq:

RICE: …I’m also, frankly, just very glad [Saddam Hussein is] out of power. Now, to be frank, we tried to take him out of power without going to war. We tried to take him out of power by – we got a report from an Arab state that shall remain nameless that he would take a billion dollars to lead – to leave. We said, deal. Right? (Laughter.) We tried to (find ?) him –

COURIC: Has that – has that been made public before?

RICE: Yeah, I – it may be in President Bush’s book. I’m not sure. I don’t remember. But we did. We said, if he’ll go, everybody’s happy.

A colleague intrepidly Googled this, and turned up this 2007 article in the Washington Post.  The article reports that for a billion dollars and if allowed to “keep information on weapons of mass destruction,” Saddam Hussein told Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak that he would have been willing to go into exile.  President Bush’s own book, per Secretary Rice’s mention, covers the matter in this way:

…Our last ditch hope was that Saddam would agree to go into exile.  At one point, an offer from a Middle Eastern government to send Saddam to Belarus with $1 to $2 billion looked like it might gain traction.  Instead, in one of his last acts, Saddam ordered the tongue of a dissident slashed out and left the man to bleed to death.  The dictator of Iraq had made his decision.  He chose war.

Lots of people like to make fun of President Bush’s prose style, but even for him (or his ghostwriter) this is pretty peculiar.  First of all, it isn’t clear why “person who cuts off dissidents’ tongues and leaves them to bleed to death” is mutually exclusive with “person willing to take a billion or two dollars and go into exile.”  Saying Saddam cut a dissident’s tongue out doesn’t necessarily bear on his willingness to take a payout and go into exile.

Second, it’s almost certain that this was pursued and didn’t go anywhere, but if there was anything approaching a realistic opportunity to make this happen, we really missed out on the bargain of the century here.  You’re looking at something like 500%-1000% returns, not counting several thousand American and a-hundred-or-so-thousand Iraqi lives saved.

Thirdly: Belarus?

What is Condoleezza Rice Talking About?

In an interview with Fortune Magazine, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, “The last time we left Afghanistan, and we abandoned Pakistan, that territory became the very territory on which Al Qaeda trained and attacked us on September 11th.” She goes on to say, “So our national security interests are very much tied up in not letting Afghanistan fail again and become a safe haven for terrorists.” She declared, “It’s that simple, if you want another terrorist attack in the U.S., abandon Afghanistan.”

Actually, Ms. Rice, it’s not that simple. Your logic ignores the fact that terrorists can move to governed spaces. Rather than setting up in weak, ungoverned states, enemies can flourish in strong states because these countries have formally recognized governments with the sovereignty to reject foreign interference in their domestic affairs. This is one reason why terrorists find sanctuary across the border in Pakistan. Besides, 9/11 was planned in many other countries with competent law enforcement agencies, Germany and the United States included.

If there were (god forbid!) another 9/11, it would prove that invading and forcibly democratizing two Muslim-majority countries has not made America safer. In fact, if Ms. Rice is so concerned about abandoning Afghanistan, where was she in 2002 when her boss diverted America’s resources away from those who attacked us on 9/11 by invading a country that did not?

Americans should reject Ms. Rice’s atrocious interpretation of policy and remember that she and her ilk were adept at keeping the American public in an elevated state of panic. Fear-mongering should be rejected and replaced with a sober analysis of policy and its consequences.

Al Qaeda poses a manageable security problem, not an existential threat to America. Yet, as I mention here, policymakers tend to conflate al Qaeda with indigenous Pashtun-dominated militias. America’s security, however, will not be at risk even if an oppressive regime takes over a contiguous fraction of Afghan territory; and if the Taliban were to provide sanctuary to al Qaeda once again, it would be easier to strike at the group within Afghanistan than in neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan.