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Professor Fraser has cleared up some questions somewhat that I had concerning his earlier post on the invasion of Iraq. I have a few comments to make in response. One rationale for the invasion that neither Fraser nor I have yet mentioned is the removal of American troops from Saudi Arabia. Paul Wolfowitz in an important interview while in office stated that this goal was “huge” in making the decision to go in. The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, who were there as part of the deterrence regime that was established after the First Gulf War, by all accounts were a real political problem throughout the Muslim countries. By removing Saddam, the need for the troops was also removed and they, in fact, have subsequently been redeployed. This was not a small matter. I am well aware that Indonesia is quite different than the Middle East, both “geo-politically” and in terms of the type of Islam that dominates there. I was just noting that Wolfowitz used the history of the US with that country as an analogy for the policy problem. It may well be the case that Wolfowitz overestimated the strength of potential Muslim moderates in the Middle East based on his experiences with the more moderate and tolerant version of the religion generally in South and Southeast Asia. I think President Obama might have a similar problem. I am not sure Secretary Powell was exactly “marginalized” in the process. He had a sit-down private dinner with the president to make his case, and was chosen to make the administration's case at the UN. I don't think his advice was as much “marginalized” as it was simply rejected given the new consensus that had emerged. To make an analogy, I don't think his anti-interventionist advice for Kosovo was “marginalized” in the Clinton Administration either. It was considered and rejected. When there is contention in the decision-making process, there are going to be winners and losers. While Secretary Rumsfeld's knowledge of the Middle East is beyond the scope of this post, I will note that there were experts in both the Defense and State Departments that were quite familiar with developments there and had worked in the region for decades. As I understand it, some supported the invasion and some did not. The charge has been made that the doubters were not listened to adequately. There have also been congressional hearings that concluded that there was no political pressure to change the intelligence from the top. This is an area where intelligence historians and political scientists can usefully explore as information becomes available. Professor Fraser writes: “Why would anyone take America seriously as an apostle of democracy in the Middle East given that it had failed to take the road to Damascus in both literal and metaphorical terms?” But that was exactly the “neoconservatives'” point: past American policies had demoralized democratic moderates in the region and a “demonstration” was necessary to turn that impression around. Iraq would be that place and there would be a “spillover” effect in other countries. I believe here they were taking the example of what had recently happened in Eastern Europe in particular as a guide. I think we have to take into account the excessive optimism about the spread of democracy that was extant at the time, at least among some. I mean, they were holding free elections – for the first time in history – in Mongolia, for goodness sake. It had to start somewhere in the Middle East, they argued, and the invasion of Iraq for essentially security reasons offered an opportunity for this expanded solution for the region. Or at least that appears to be their thinking. Oil is a complicated question, but I do not know what we can say about its role in the decision other than it was an important factor. Yet Iraq's oil was talked about in only one major way by the invasion's proponents: it would pay for the invasion in the long run. Allan Greenspan has his opinion, but to my knowledge he had virtually nothing to do directly with the decision to invade Iraq. When the U.S. invaded, the American idea was to distribute part of the wealth of Iraq's oil to its citizen's along the lines of Alaska. The Iraqi's rejected this, and not all Americans were aboard. Had it been tried, however, it would have been truly revolutionary in the region. It is also interesting to note that many of the post-invasion oil contracts have gone to other nations, not the U.S. thus far. Clearly there was a self-interest in getting access to Iraqi oil, but it was a complicated one. I also do not agree with Professor Fraser's implication that somehow this issue has been ignored by analysts of the decision. Particularly on the political left, it has been the main explanation for the invasion, sometimes simplistically so. Finally, the anecdote from Jane Perlez on the Bush assurances to the Saudis appears to support my impression that they were also keeping a warm relationship with that country prior to 9/11. It is interesting, but I still do not see what it has to tell us about the decision to invade Iraq. Doug Macdonald Colgate University