Skip to comments.The US has got it right: the case for war is irresistible
Posted on 08/13/2002 1:07:12 AM PDT by kattracks
Regime change in Iraq will benefit the country and the region
As conflict approaches, doubts and confusion grow. No civilised nation ever goes to war lightly. It is inevitable - and desirable - that there should be agonising over casualties and consequences. War can only be justified if the hazards of inaction vastly outweigh the hazards of the battlefield. In the case of Saddam Hussein, this is clearly the case.
To some extent, we are all vulgar Marxists now. It is unfashionable to see history as anything except the interplay of vast, impersonal forces. It sounds ridiculously old-fashioned to talk in terms of wicked men as the instigators of great events. Yet that is the only way to describe Saddam Hussein.
Comparisons with Hitler should almost always be avoided. He is entitled to a solitary plinth in the pantheon of evil. Yet there are similarities between him and Saddam. Hitler had, as Saddam has, one solitary interest in his country. He regarded it as an instrument for aggrandisement, and any amount of human misery was justified in pursuit of that goal. By April 1945, Hitler had lost interest in the German people's welfare. As they had failed him and history, their continued existence was of no further value. There is no evidence that Saddam feels any more benevolent towards his fellow Iraqis.
Almost as soon as he waded through blood to power, he attacked Iran. At that stage, there was little censure from the west. It was just after the US embassy hostage affair, and anything that curbed the ayatollahs seemed excusable. As Henry Kissinger put it, it was only a pity that both sides could not lose.
Almost as soon as he had failed to defeat Iran, Saddam invaded Kuwait. Had he succeeded, he would have been master of much of the Gulf's oil supplies, with his boot on the windpipe of the world economy. But he was driven out, and had to console himself with butchering his own people: doing everything possible to oppress the Kurds and destroying the Marsh Arabs' ancient way of life.
Throughout all this, he was not only trying to enhance his power by conventional weapons. For years, he has been desperate to acquire weapons of mass destruction. He already has a biological arsenal, including anthrax and botulinum. He does not yet possess a sophisticated long-range delivery system, but he is trying to develop rocketry. He has also made attempts to bribe Russian nuclear scientists. Fortunately, he has - probably - not yet been successful.
But if he were left to his own devices, in command of Iraq's oil wealth and relatively advanced manufacturing sector, it would only be a matter of time before he acquired terrible weapons and a means of delivering them. The dangers of such a man possessing such weaponry are so great, so self-evident, that mere containment is not enough. A pre-emptive war is justified, and article 54 of the UN charter would provide enough cover for such a venture.
There are risks. Though it seems unlikely that many Iraqis will fight hard to save Saddam, there will have to be a bombing campaign. Saddam has gone to considerable trouble to station vital military hardware in civilian areas. Even with the smartest of smart weapons, there will be collateral damage. But Iraqis will be so much better off without Saddam that this is acceptable.
There are graver risks, however. Once he knows that he is finished, Saddam will try anything, use anything. We will require vigilance and luck to frustrate attacks on the west; exceptional luck, if nothing gets through. There are also legitimate fears as to the long-term stability of the region. Outside Iraq, Iran and Kuwait, Saddam is a hero to the Muslim masses. Action against him coupled with inaction on Palestine will cause outrage. We will just have to hope that this is containable.
But the US response to the problems of the region is more creative than most non-American commentators will acknowledge. Iraq could rapidly become a rich country with a highly educated population. As such, it would be a force for progress in a region desperately deficient in progress.
With some notable exceptions - Morocco, Jordan, Oman and other smaller Gulf states - the quality of government in the Arab world is deplorably low. There is widespread oppression and even more widespread misuse of resources. The choice would appear to lie between corrupt, authoritarian regimes that might support the west, and militant theocracies that give succour to terrorists.
Partly because of their own innate optimism about human affairs, the Americans refuse to accept that this is the only choice available. They do not see why "Arab government" should continue to mean a combination of joke and atrocity. They believe that the region can and must do better, and that regime change in Iraq will stimulate the process of improvement. This policy may be bold, even reckless. But it is not doomed to failure. Nor is it hostile to the interests of the Arab street.
The Americans also insist that they are in favour of a Palestinian state. Here, Arabs cannot be blamed for questioning US good faith. They might be better advised, however, to restrain their scepticism and to concentrate on holding America to its word.
On visits to Washington since September 11, I have been struck by the intellectual ferment among those concerned with foreign affairs. The attack on the US mainland has led the Bush administration to re-examine every aspect of American for eign policy. The Americans have realised that in a world in which terrorists will find it increasingly easy to acquire weapons of mass destruction, it is impossible to tolerate rogue states, or failed states.
But the corollary of this is the belief that all states must be encouraged - and assisted - to improve their people's lot. After the overthrow of Saddam, the Americans will have to help with Iraqi nation- building. They hope that this will encourage a widespread outbreak of nation-building in the region, not excluding Palestine. The Americans are not only going to war to help themselves.
Tony Blair understands all this. Thus far, however, he has kept his conclusions to himself. Perhaps because he has grown so used to treating parliament as a cipher and to brushing aside the views of Labour MPs, he sees no need to explain himself and take the country into his confidence. That is an error. For there is a good case to make. Mr Blair has satisfied himself that the Americans are acting in good faith, for compelling reasons, and that Britain will be right to give them every assistance.
But he has sources of information that are naturally denied to the vast majority of the British public. He should now produce some of the evidence that can be publicised, and use his undoubted powers of persuasion to make his case. It is an irresistible case.
Bruce Anderson is editor-at-large of the Spectator
The article left me with the impression that those who were left behind, now without fathers, brothers, and husbands, have no illusions about the glories of dying for a cause.
And after the last few years of their present government and the exodus of educated professional talent from Iran, they also have few illusions left regarding rule by the Ayatollahs.
Hopefully, their government experiment has run its course, the Iranian people now understand why it was destined to fail, and, mindful of the abuses and failings of the Shah and sick of fighting and dying in fanatic's wars, they can finally move forward and realise their potential.
And now could all the Freepers who support the attack on Iraq, line up over here next to their new friend The Guardian?
It already has, Driftless. The Left can't wait for this war, that's why the article was published.
How could the attack on Iraq show that, when there's every chance Mullah Omar and Bin Laden are still out there somewhere?
Blair has already been reported as saying he has very serious reservations about the plan to attack Iraq, and that he has NOT been shown any proof of a Saddam-911 connection.
You are in top form this morning. Nobody should be that much awake at such an early hour.
Reminds me of the semi-old saying (60's): "Appearances can be deceptive. How do we know that the 'Early Bird' wasn't actually up all night?"
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