Japan's Contribution to "Post-War" Iraq
Takashi SHIRAISHI (Professor, Kyoto University)
Possible U.S. War Against Iraq
What are the objectives of possible US military action against Iraq? While the U.S. seems interested in containing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the main objective of possible US war against Iraq is nothing but overthrowing Sadam Hussein's dictatorship in that country. In fact, since the end of the Gulf war, the U.S. government has been facing a policy dilemma between international consensus building on the containment of weapons of mass destruction and the disposition of Sadam Hussein in Iraq. Initially the U.S. was hoping that international consensus for sanctions against Iraq would somehow lead to the collapse of the Hussein regime, but it was international consensus itself that was disintegrating over time.
It is understandable therefore that the U.S. seized the opportunity of the 9/11 incident to deal with the Iraq problem. It would be a great threat to regional order and stability if a rogue nation possesses any weapon of mass destruction. If such weapons are provided to terrorist groups like Al-Qida, the U.S. would be in serious danger. As the 9/11 incident has reduce the political cost of war and U.S. military power has proven overwhelming in the Afghan war, the U.S. government is now aiming at the disposition of Sadam Hussein as part of its war against terrorism.
Post-war Iraq and the Middle East
There is no doubt that the U.S. would win its war against Iraq and overthrow Sadam Hussein's dictatorship. However, the question is what kind of order to be established in Iraq and also in the Middle East at large after the war. In this connection, there are three factors that are often mentioned and should be taken into consideration.
First, Iraq has the world's second largest oil reserve, next to Saudi Arabia. Second, Iraq may be a rogue nation, but certainly not a bankrupt country like Afghanistan, and there exists a national machinery that has been under the control of Sadam Hussein. Third, the long-term political stability of Saudi Arabia is in doubt. Terrorists from Saudi Arabia seem to be threatening to the U.S. as well as Saudi Arabia itself.
A possible answer may be that Iraq should be reorganized as an allied nation through post-war reform and reconstruction just like Japan and Germany after World War II. And a new regional order should be established in the Middle East in cooperation with post-war Iraq as a junior partner, which could play a crucial role as a major supplier of crude oil and also as a key military base if Islamic revolution takes place in Saudi Arabia.
However, no one knows whether this kind of scenario for post-war Iraq would actually be workable and also how much money and time it would take to make it happen. There seems to be a high probability that this scenario is not workable. The whole social system might be disintegrating in Iraq and instability of the regional order could be further aggravated as the Hussein dictatorship falls.
Contribution to global causes
What should we do then? Most important is to realize that the construction of the post-war regime of Iraq and a new order for the Middle East will be a joint global project for the U.S. and its allied nations, and to organize a system of international cooperation for that purpose.
Now that we have experienced the Gulf War, the Yugoslavia crisis and the Afghan War since the end of the Cold War more than a decade ago, we are witnessing the formation of a new world order and customs in the name of universal values such as justice, peace, freedom and human rights.
Although national interests are important in diplomacy, we should not pursue our own interests alone in return for our assistance for reconstruction of post-war Iraq. Instead, we need to do our best in building a new order under the rule of law and democracy in the name of universal values. Japan is expected to contribute to global causes in the Middle East or any other region.