Monday, September 23, 2002

Okay.... now Stratfor is saying the U.S. is going to invade Iraq. The article in which they stated it is an interesting breakdown of Iraq's strategic options, and perhaps I just missed the article where they said they had changed their minds, but when did that happen, and what has happened to invalidate the analysis they made before?

Ah well. Good bit about the Saudis here:

The Saudis' main concern is that the post-Hussein world would place Iran in the dominant power position in the Persian Gulf. A contained Iraq under Hussein is infinitely preferable to a disintegrated Iraq and an uncontrolled Iran. Their second concern is that an American victory in Iraq would set the stage for more intense demands by the United States on the Saudis -- and deeper intrusions into internal Saudi affairs in the search for al Qaeda. The Saudis would find this destabilizing and want no part of it.

Obviously, the Saudis are not indifferent to American power and cannot simply ignore overwhelming pressure. The compromise they seem to have reached is not to object to an offensive force being built up in Kuwait or to American air operations out of Qatar if a U.S. attack is inevitable. Since the Saudis want to be aligned with the winner, they might even cooperate with the United States if an attack becomes inevitable. It also increases their influence on post-war policies in Iraq. But what the Saudis would like most is for there not to be an attack. They would love to be in a position to withhold their cooperation and to have a legitimate basis for limiting U.S. operations out of Qatar -- and particularly Kuwait.
There's some other good stuff here, especially surrounding Hussein's interest in instability in the occupied territories so as to ensure that the Saudis (who don't want the war, as said above) can keep the U.S. off their backs and pressure Qatar and Kuwait to deny the U.S. access to those respective countries. There's also a rather insightful (and possibly scary) passage that mentions that "the argument now will be made that U.S. insistence on following U.N. resolutions on Iraq is hypocrisy, since the United States does not apply the same standard to Israel"... which may make both Israel and the U.S. vulnerable to Bush's own rhetoric.

Still, I would have preferred that Stratfor explain, even briefly, why their analysis was so easily and so quickly shifted. Their reputation is supposedly based on being able to predict what political actors do, and if they can't sustain that reputation, why on earth would anybody pay for their services?

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