Mon., Sept. 16, 2002
There isn't much real "debate" in the media about invading Iraq. Only one perspective is usually presented, at least on television news; that of conservative war-hawks. What I've written below presents a different point of view, probably the one that is presented least of all. The real case for a war with Iraq, from a liberal perspective.
Saddam Hussein is a Terrorist
The Bush administration makes all manner of wild allegations about the
Iraqi regime's support of Islamist extremists who engage in terrorism.
They offer no evidence for this, and the allegation is directly contradicted
by three decades of history wherein Saddam Hussein has made war upon such
elements. Hussein, however, doesn't need to support groups like al Qaida
to be associated with terrorism--he is, himself, one of the great terrorists
in the world today, responsible for thousands of murders. His regime has
been a never-ending horror show, insofar as human rights are concerned.
Whatever the long-term effects upon international relations caused by a
move to oust him--and, admittedly, they are potentially considerable--removing
such a creature from a position of power would clearly be a moral good.
So long, that is, as he isn't replaced by something worse (a possibility
which history denies us from easily dismissing when it's the U.S. government
managing the regime change).
An invasion would be a simple matter, and removing Hussein will, in the long run, save lives.
At the time of Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi military was at the
height of its powers. Despite the insane ravings of then-President George
Bush ("the fourth largest army in the world"), it proved to be no better
than any other Third World military; poorly trained, poorly armed, and
poorly equipped. An embarassing joke, when matched against the forces of
a superpower. The Iraqi military was largely destroyed by the war. What
was lost has never been rebuilt. After a decade of economic strangulation,
the Iraqis themselves would be completely demoralized [*]. In such
circumstances, there's little doubt that a full-out U.S. invasion of Iraq
could be accomplished in very short order. There is a possibility, much
trumpeted by those opposed to an invasion, of substantial urban guerilla
warfare directed against U.S. forces and I agree that such a scenario could
result in a higher number of Iraqi civilian casualties. Here, I think,
one must take a longer view. The number of Iraqis killed in an invasion
would be a small number compared to those who would be killed by Saddam
Hussein's regime over time, should it be allowed to retain power.
Saddam Hussein is a product of the United States and, as such, is our responsibility.
That Hussein is a monster bearing the "Made In The U.S.A." label is a point usually noted by those opposed to an invasion of Iraq, and their argument is a strong one. They percieve--correctly, I believe--a cancer at the core of the United States government; a recurring breed of evil men who, becoming ensconsed in whatever administration is in power, play with millions of lives as though they were chess pieces, often for no greater reason than personal gain or to play out some bizarre power fantasy. Such men stomp around the world using the power and name of the United States to play their games, then, when one of their creations strays outside the rules, they expect us to be constantly shedding our blood in an effort to reset their game-board. So they can play some more and do it all over again. Those who percieve this naturally resent it, and they especially resent the self-righteous tone employed by this cabal. Manuel Noriega is, on one day, a valued ally and those who oppose support for his regime are either the conscious agents or the unconscious dupes of murderous Communist totalitarians. The next day, Noriega is a would-be drug lord and a threat to everything Americans hold dear, and those who oppose sending their brothers, sisters, sons and daughters into harm's way to remove him from power are anti-American to the core. This is exactly the sort of disgusting hypocrisy on display when the "President" made his remarks to the United Nations last week. Utter revulsion is the natural tendency of any reasonably healthy mind when confronted with such a spectacle. Why do the bidding of such men?
Such a question has no answer. Perhaps it isn't the correct question in this situation, though. Consider the matter of Iraq from a slightly different angle.
The United States is not a dictatorship. In a democratic society, the
people, if they really wish to affect change, can do so, both by using
the mechanisms already available to them and by creating whatever further
mechanisms they deem necessary. Perhaps the time to do this--the appropriate
time to reject the breed of men who bring us situations like the present
one with Iraq--is before we're faced with situations like the present one
in Iraq. The creation of these situations is, in a sense, a sign that we
have failed in our responsibility as citizens. So here's how matters stand:
What's been done cannot be undone. We've made a mess in the Middle East.
Isn't it now our responsibility to step up to the plate and try to clean
up that mess?
[*] Another reason, by the way, to support a regime change; it would remove any possible excuse for maintaining the crippling economic sanctions.
 Note by Editor: That was the response here at Left Hook! (see Saturday's edition).
In a letter today from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the regime of Saddam Hussein agreed to the unconditional return of UN weapons inspectors "to remove any doubts that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction." Annan sent copies of the letter to all 15 members of the Security Council and revealed the offer to the press. Upon getting the news, Hans Blix, current chief weapons inspector, said, through a spokesman, "we are ready for immediate talks in New York on the practical arrangements for the resumption of inspections." Blix said he could have his people on the ground in Iraq in days, and could have the monitoring process reestablished in a few months. The War At All Costs regime presently infesting the White House reflexively rejects any path that doesn't lead to war with Iraq, and its response to this one was no different. This time, the job of fending off the threat of peace fell to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who raised the anti-peace fetish enthusiastically:
"This is a tactical step by Iraq in hopes of avoiding strong U.N. Security Council action. As such it is a tactic that will fail. It is time for the Security Council to act."
Time will tell if the Security Council takes a different view of the offer and its responsibilities in light of it.
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