Friday, April 16, 2004
I think I’ve identified the problem with my war-justification essay. I forgot my first rule: identify first principles. Here, therefore, are the premises my support is based on.
One: I believed then and believe now that Iraq still had WMDs, or at least the ability to produce them. [I’m sure Hussein rid himself of the bulk of them, but the remainder may have been hidden in the desert or smuggled into Syria.] He stonewalled the inspectors for over ten years, and the international will to maintain sanctions was fading. Once the UN finally gave up for good, the heat would be off and Hussein would be back in business. [Since the war started, we’ve learned of the rampant corruption going on at the UN concerning the humanitarian aid programs. This provides another possible explanation for Hussein’s behavior. However since I didn’t know about it a year ago it doesn’t count for my purposes here.]
Two: none of the methods for pressuring Hussein had any serious effect. If there were options beyond sanctions and diplomatic pressure (and an occasional pinprick), they were never tried or even suggested, as far as I know. The UN completely failed to enforce its will.
Three: I believe that Hussein, newly paroled international pariah, would sooner or later have malefacted again. Perhaps this is hard to believe; he has no more in common with Islamoterrorists than with us, and he could very well kick back and enjoy his palaces for the rest of his life. But eventually those WMDs would have, one way or another, found their way into the hands of somebody who would use them. [Consider his support for Palestinian terrorists and his own predilection for torment.]
Four: chasing and killing members of al Qaeda and related groups is fine, but as long as Muslims are living in repressive theocracies (Iran, Saudi Arabia) or fascist dictatorships (Syria, Iraq), or being urged on into self-immolation (the Palestinians, by all their neighbors), there will just be more and more like them. The Islamic world used to be at the forefront of human knowledge and culture. Now it is stagnant (remember Mahathir’s speech?) and as long as that’s true you’re going to see a lot of angry young men with nothing to do but listen to their local clerics. And some of those clerics ain’t preaching truth and love.
By invading Iraq we defanged Hussein for good, forestalled the danger of Iraqi WMDs finding their way onto the int’l market, avenged the paper tiger that is the UN, and (if the reconstruction goes well) planted a seed in the Mideast to encourage democracy and a culture of knowledge and progress.
If you believe that one or more of my premises are false then you might consistently also believe that the war was wrong. If you don’t, then how do you defend your position?
Postscript: I think the first premise is the most likely to be challenged. My defense can be found here: “There was good reason to believe it was there. It was there in 1991. It was still there in 1998, when the inspectors were kicked out. Why should we believe that it was no longer there in 2003? Why would Hussein pretend? Don't tell me there was no proof; it was Hussein's task to provide proof. Why didn't he?” [Note: it is inaccurate to say the inspectors got kicked out; they left on their own after continual resistance from the regime.]
Other Postscript: ‘malefacted’ isn’t a real word.
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