Originally published 2/6/2003.
I’ve been trying to figure out the thoughts and motivations of the people who seem to be able to deny the evidence against Saddam Hussein. I’ve known for quite some time that it’s not a logical disagreement, but emotional. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop people from being remarkably vocal about the injustice of the US with regards to Iraq.
One of the commentaries that seems to keep cropping up is that Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are the creation of the US. The implication, of course, is that the US has no moral authority to remove either one of them.
The whole “our creation” argument makes no sense whatsoever. It gives an image that the United States merely picked these guys out of a hat, sent them over to where “we” needed them to be, and in the process turned them evil for our own purposes.
Insomuch that, at the time, OBL was acting as the enemy of our enemy (the Soviet Union), then yes the US had a hand.
Insomuch that, at the time, Saddam was acting as the enemy of our enemy (Iran), then yes the US had a hand.
In these cases, however, you work with the situation at the time and who is the lesser of the two evils. It just so happens that at this point in time, if Russia were to be having issues with OBL, we would at this point in time back Russia, instead of the other way around. Twenty years from now, should the current events situation be more favorable to OBL than Russia (as it was twenty years ago), who knows? Frightening to consider, but each must be weighed according to the pressures of the moment.
These people give way too much credence to the influence of the US. Nowhere in your diatribe do you identify, let alone acknowledge, the context of those situations in and of themselves. Each of these countries and people have their own agendas, their own dynamics, and to credit (or blame) the US with being the sole mitigating factor is to both oversimplify and underestimate the existing situations.
Moreover, the crux of the issue is that Saddam is ‘a bad man and should be removed from power.’ Even die-hard leftists admit that Saddam is not an “optimal” choice for leaving in power. This is the situation now, not twenty years ago, not ten years ago. Whatever influences that the US had in the 1970s and 80s is, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant.
In general, there is something to be said about pragmatism: to deny that sometimes the price for taking action might be too high (just as the price of not taking action might be too high) is the height of ignorance. I don’t think that, in principle, you will find too much argument with this.
The problem as I see it is that the case vs. Iraq is incontrovertible. The cost of inaction is much higher than the cost of action.
The arguments against going to war with Iraq fall into pretty weak categories:
1. Bush is “Dumb as a Box of Rocks.” Even if this were true, it doesn’t change the lies, deceit, human rights violations, and flat out threat that Iraq represents. In essence, this is a non-argument.
2. It’s about “oil.” For the French, Germans, and Russians who oppose war with Iraq, it is about oil and billions in oil contracts. For the US, it’s not about oil, as Powell’s speech to the UN illustrated. It’s simply not good business sense to go after Iraq for the sole sake of war.
3. We created Hussein. Again, bullshit. Hussein was already a leader of Iraq, already disposed to taking over the middle east, long before the U.S. got involved supporting him in the Iran-Iraq war. However, even if this were true, it does not change the situation now.
4. Innocent civilians will die. And? What’s your point? Is there really any doubt that if Hussein isn’t removed, innocent civilians will still die? The greater probability is that fewer “innocents” will die if Saddam is removed than if he is left to remain in power. Personally, to me death is not the enemy. We will all die at some point in time. For me, the true threat is torture, for that means death would be a relief. There is no question that Saddam’s regime emphasizes torture and thus represents a greater evil (to me).
5. The US is no better than Iraq. This ‘argument’ is just plain ignorant and silly, promoted by those who simply wish to see the US get its “comeuppance.” This would only be true if the US allowed Iraq to continue its plunder, death, torture, rape, and mutilation unabated, thus being an accomplish by inactivity.
6. The Inspectors need to be allowed to do their job. Again, the impetus was on IRAQ, not the inspectors, to account for the weapons. The inspeactors have done their job. Iraq has been weighed, measured, and has been found wanting. Resolution 1441 was Iraq’s “last chance” to avoid war, which leads me to…
7. Bush just wants to finish Bush41’s job. The simple fact remains that Saddam has been given more chances than anyone in his position should have been. Bush’s inclusion of the UN in this whole affair was to do two things: 1) allow the UN to prove that it wasn’t “irrelevant” (which, in my mind, it already is, and 2) avoid war if at all possible. Again, as I’ve asked before but no one seems to be able to answer, if Bush really, really wanted to go to war with Iraq, especially with the evidence that has been amassed against Hussein, does anyone really think the US couldn’t do it?
In other words, none of the arguments against going to war with Iraq actually have anything to do with the merits of the case. In fact, it’s ignored completely: “Bush has not made a case.” In truth, Bush has made a case for this long before Powell’s speech, but it’s merely dismissed without comment by those who don’t want to go to war. It’s often easier to attack Bush or attack the US than it is to actually debate the arguments in the case.
And that, in my opinion, is simply sad.