One war against one evil man
Iraq is neither a new enemy nor a new type of threat. The American administration rightly pinpointed the character of the threat as being not the type of arms that Iraq has, but rather the profile of the clan leadership of Saddam Hussein, his sons and associates.
The rain of bombs falling on Iraq and the columns of armor making its way northward toward Baghdad, began the second conventional war of this millennium. It has only been one-and-a-half years since the United States occupied Afghanistan, storming it on its own, following the international Islamic terrorist attacks against the U.S., but the definition of the battlefield has not changed. States, not to mention superpowers, prefer to fight against states, and are still not made for countering threats of a new kind, like international terrorism or a single murderous leader.
Iraq is neither a new enemy nor a new type of threat. The American administration rightly pinpointed the character of the threat as being not the type of arms that Iraq has, but rather the profile of the clan leadership of Saddam Hussein, his sons and associates. This is also the reason why the UN inspectors could not provide a solution to the threat, as it is defined by the United States. President George Bush argued that the destruction of the weapons by the inspectors provides no guarantee that Saddam Hussein would not acquire non-conventional weapons in the future, were he to continue ruling Iraq.
With the war already underway, there is not much point in the question, normally reserved for a commission of inquiry, "what would have happened if?" It is much more important to examine the presuppositions of each side in the conflict.
If Bush is right, and the leadership of dangerous states must be eliminated to bring about a safer world, and if his determination to stick to this doctrine is not related to external factors - such as oil or altering the face of the Middle East - we need to wonder whether we should expect years of war against dangerous regimes, knowing full well that the list is long. Have we discussed North Korea before? Have Iran, Libya, Pakistan and Sudan been mentioned?
There's no need for multiple wars, argue those supporting the Bush doctrine. One "good" war against a threatening regime is enough to teach the rest a lesson and fill them with fear.
This is a difficult assumption to accept because it demands consistency. According to this assumption, the motives of all "evil" countries and their leaders are identical, and their policies are formulated within the same parameters. Thus, doing away with one "evil" leader gets rid of all the others. However, leaders like Saddam, Khomeini, Gadhafi or Musharraf are not made of the same stuff. Every one of them is the creation of a specific social and political culture, comprising beliefs, viewpoints and circumstances particular to their countries and environments.
The second war against the same Saddam suggests that not only did other countries not learn the lessons of the first war, but the same leader has also concluded that he could survive a second round of war. The learning curve of leaders, especially regarding the history of their people and their countries, does not support the conviction according to which one war, the eviction of one "evil" regime, will suffice to spark a domino effect. Thus, the result may be that the current war against Iraq will only be one of a series of isolated wars, unrelated on a regional or global level, in which the new regime will not be immune to the ambitions of a leader who may decide, one day, to renew efforts to fulfill Saddam's vision.
To its credit, the Bush administration is aware of this possibility and in its deliberations with the leaders of the Iraqi opposition has demanded that they sign a commitment to implement Security Council Resolution 687, imposed on Iraq, preventing it from producing or using weapons of mass destruction.
The leaders of the Iraqi opposition were shocked by this demand - does Bush not trust them? After all, they are to replace Saddam's regime. The result is that even after Saddam's fall, there will be no alternative to maintaining a regime of inspections in Iraq, which is both more efficient and stricter than in the past. In short, once again an international regime that is seeking, once again, to inspect Saddam.