"buttdown"? hee
--LAN3 Thu Feb 23 10:53:41 2006
I have the feeling that your alternate history would have to revise the current history more than a century ago for that not to happen. =D
--The_Lex Thu Feb 23 15:23:41 2006
I dunno. Maybe it's an urban legend, but supposedly a surprisingly neutral response from a low/mid level US diplomat to Iraq enquiries about Kuwait (something about the USA considering it a local matter) might have emboldened Saddam to attack, thinking the implication was no US-led intervention.

Prior to that, there were at least some times when it seemed like Saddam was a useful secular ally in the region, and a counterweight to the religous state of Iran. We seemed willing to pretend not to see or hold our nose about what he would do to the Kurds and some other people under his authority.
--Kirk Thu Feb 23 16:20:10 2006
It's commonly understood that the biggest danger to a state after removing a dictator is civil war. Multiple factions that tend to fight with one another are stripped of their power to do so under the despotic rule of a dictator. Only the dictator has the power to wage violence under his (and I'm not putting 'her' in that , you guys can have all the blame) system. That's why the Romans put up the emperors. 
--ErinMaru Thu Feb 23 21:19:42 2006
It's a good question then; what political systems are the best canidates for morphing into a democracy
--Kirk Fri Feb 24 07:14:11 2006
True democracy starts from within, attempting to impose it from without is almost certainly doomed to fail, at least in the short term.

--ericball Fri Feb 24 14:42:15 2006
1) Brilliant moral reasoning. Just like envisioning how an alternate history where Hitler didn't invade the USSR might have made life easier for the world, if not for certain ethnic groups and dissidents in Germany.

2) Ericball, wasn't democracy "imposed from without" in post-WWII Germany, Japan, Italy?

--dbrown Fri Feb 24 18:38:53 2006
1) You have to be a pragmatic about things at some point. Ending the suffering of 50,000 might not be worth the pain and suffering of 500,000. 

2) Germany and Italy had a long standing democratic tradition. Japan less so, though I think in general Asian countries have tended more for bureacracy than more rough and violent forms of government.
--Kirk Fri Feb 24 19:12:11 2006
Just tonight I was reading about the formation of the German Empire following the Prussian victories over Austria and France in 1871. The writer was directly comparing the formation of the empire to the formation of the United States, in that the states were sovereign states that decided to unite. The major difference was that the states decided to do so after a long sit-down and a mutually agreed-upon Constitution, while the Germans united because the Prussian Army had just bombarded Paris for 4 days and was now ready to kill anyone who stood in Prussia's way, and the Constitution was written for Otto von Bismarck, by Bismarck.  The Constitution created a presidency (who was the Emperor), the bundestag, a Federal body of Lords and such (not clear on this) and reichstag, a parliament, and the democratic election of the reichstag featured a genuine democratic innovation, of the sort we take for granted today: universal male suffrage and a secret ballot. Even the English Monarchic Democracy couldn't manage this.

Both good and bad values found within Germany's "longstanding democratic tradition," I guess. Also, Italy's democracy isn't exactly the sort of model that makes one trust democracy, but that they have a longstanding tradition of it is indisputable. So, I think removing the dictator is still an essential portion of the equation.

Finally, Saddam's Iraq was a good ally because he opposed Iran, which, post-revolution, had aligned itself with the Soviet Union. Not everything should be viewed through the lens of the Cold War, I suppose, but US Foreign Policy of that period most certainly must.
--LAN3 Sat Feb 25 23:02:46 2006

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