STRATFOR describes itself as:
[T]he world's leading private intelligence firm providing corporations, governments and individuals with geopolitical analysis and forecasts that enable them to manage risk and to anticipate political, economic and security issues vital to their interests.STRATFOR's founder is George Friedman, whose new book, America's Secret War, is getting some discussion in the blogosphere yesterday and today. (Start with Professor Bainbridge's link to Frank Devine's review of the book.)
The book's website contains some interesting Q&A with the author. His answer to the direct question that occupies Bainbridge and Devine is:
Q. Why did we go into Iraq?I would like to see some evidence for the key proposition (which I highlighted in red). I'll read the book and search for corroborating evidence. Even if the Saudi's have changed their tune, that does not necessarily mean that achieving that result was the intent of invasion.
A. We went into Iraq to isolate and frighten the Saudi government into cracking down on the flow of money to Al Qaeda. Bush never answered the question for fear of the international consequences. Early in the war, the President said that the key was shutting down Al Qaeda's financing. Most of the financing came from Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi government was refusing to cooperate. After the invasion of Iraq, they completely changed their position. We did not invade Saudi Arabia directly because of fear that the fall of the Saudi government would disrupt oil supplies: a global disaster.
Before reading the book, I'm skeptical about the motive. I agree that reform (if not revolution) in Saudi Arabia is critical to peace in the Middle East, but the most pressing issue after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan was Iran. Specifically, the next interesting event would be whether the students would oust the mullahs in Iran. Our next step should have been something to tip the balance in favor of democracy and nuclear disarmament in Iran. Failing that (but hopefully only after giving it a chance to succeed), we would need to be ready for a military confrontation with the theocrats in Iran.
EagleSpeak argues, in response to the Bainbridge post, that this is what the invasion of Iraq has been:
As I have argued before, the invasion of Iraq, coupled with the invasion of Afghanistan and the turning of Pakistan completes what is essentially an encirclement of Iran. Further, as a look at a topographic map will tell you, Iraq provides far easier access to Iran's interior than other alternatives.Completing the RealPolitik trifecta is a post at American Digest earlier this month, in which both theories are used to answer to the question, "Why are we in Iraq?"
Saudi Arabia may contain sources of funding and even human assets for terrorism, but Saudi Arabia itself is not, in my view, a hard target to attack if American protection is removed. There is not much need to encircle it. Iran, however, is a much tougher nut to crack, from every direction except the west.
And they call economics "the dismal science?"