Skip to comments.Dancing Around A Mushroom Cloud
Posted on 02/04/2003 2:16:47 PM PST by F_Cohen
Dancing Around A Mushroom Cloud
By Lowell Phillips
Democracy can be a wonderful thing. Respect for individual rights, opportunities for even the most downtrodden to succeed and the ability of a common voter to help guide a nation are all things to be grateful for. But let's be honest here, even our much-heralded system is flawed and its operation often cumbersome. Modern times have seen the safeguards of our representative republic breakdown under the weight of an omnipresent media and endless public opinion polls, resulting in the near chaos of a pure democracy. The problem with this is it increases the threat of a "tyranny of the majority" by an electorate that has little useful knowledge of what they are supporting or opposing.
There isn't much that can be done about the progress of technology or the proclivities of the press. And sadly there is no way to compel a free people to become truly aware of what it is they're voting for. In a time of war, or would-be war, there are certain advantages to living in a dictatorship. But all of the nasty things that come along with it hardly make for a reasonable tradeoff. The best that can be hoped for through our excruciating public debates is that the appropriate questions will be asked and that rationality will ultimately prevail. The current dialog regarding the war on terrorism is inundated with pertinent and, unfortunately, trivial questions. Even more unfortunate is the presence of those who have nothing to offer but juvenile ranting, though never let it be said that there aren't prestigious platforms from which to hurl nothing of any value at all (see: Maureen Dowd of The New York Times).
With all the talk of deposing Saddam Hussein some have wondered "Why the hurry?" After all he has been a problem for over a decade. Were there nations actually courageous enough to confront Hitler prior to Germany's 1939 invasion of Poland, some might have similarly asked, "Well, he's been in power since 1933, why act now?" It's likewise conceivable that others would have asked if hawkish rhetoric had something to do with any looming parliamentary elections.
A logical question is, what Saddam has to do with Osama bin Laden or Al Qaeda? For the sake of willful doubters, we can dismiss any evidence of Iraq aiding Al Qaeda before or after 9/11. With that done, the simple answer is in the label of our worldwide effort. It has not been dubbed "The Hunt for bin Laden" or "The War With Al Qaeda" but rather "The War on Terrorism". Any offensive against Al Qaeda and its leadership without confronting their allied terror organizations and the states that fund and harbor them would be a fool's errand. Lamentations over whether a push into Iraq will "distract us from the war", omit the reality that Saddam's regime constitutes the soft underbelly, at least diplomatically, to be exploited in our effort to alter the terror nourishing dynamics of the Middle East. Once Hussein attains nuclear capability, Iraq will then be a secure base from which terrorists can operate. This would clearly not be a welcome development for the United States, but I'm sure Osama (if he's still breathing) would love it.
Those who oppose taking action against Iraq enjoy rattling off a list of other countries that are equally barbaric. They do indeed exist. But demanding that the United States deal with each and every one or none at all is like insisting that we ignore the murders and rapists we can catch, because there are some that we can't. Syria, Yemen, Iran, Saudi Arabia and others are cited as being more definitively linked to terrorism than Saddam's Iraq. Some are, without a doubt. But should we believe that support for invasion of these nations would be forthcoming from the world's revered paper tiger, The United Nations? How about that organization of dictatorial regimes, the League of Arab States? Surely the western press that sees George W. Bush as a bigger threat than Saddam Hussein, and is "objective" enough to understand the concerns of terrorist, would be all in favor. Let's not bet on that one.
If international and domestic resolve falters at the thought of moving against Saddam Hussein with his well-publicized brutality, total defiance of the blessed "world community", demonstrated expansionist desires and growing ability to rain mass death on his enemies, I would wager that Syria, Yemen and Iran are pretty safe.
Another less than reasonable assertion is that Saddam is brutal, but not stupid enough to risk the wrath of the United States by attacking us with weapons of mass destruction. It is this line of thinking that has caused many to be not all that bothered with Iraq's development of delivery systems for their stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, and their imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons. Such ideas place considerable faith in a dictator who is known to relax while watching videos of his enemies being tortured. They also discount his delusions of having been divinely chosen to restore the dominance of the Muslim world, the same one who has his "historians" desperately constructing his direct lineage to Muhammad.
A most entertaining worry is over the potential anger a US strike could produce on "the Arab street". John B. Quigley captured it succinctly in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press,
"If President Bush wants to get the United States attacked again, as in September 2001, he can do no better than to invade Iraq. The widely felt resentment toward the United States in the Middle East that spawned the 2001 attack will only be heightened by military action against Iraq."
The implication is that we should be content with the current level of hostility and accepting of a certain number of American civilian deaths. The same ridiculous argument could be used to dissuade retaliation for any attack, by any enemy, with any number of U.S casualties. At the start of American involvement in WWII, there was no assurance of success. After Pearl Harbor, we might just as well have said, "If you think that was bad, imagine what will happen if we make the Japanese angry". If we're inclined to adopt this so-called thinking, we may as well lay down our arms and allow our enemies to do what they will.
Amid all of the questions and concerns there exists a perverted eagerness to rely on Cold War-type deterrence against an enemy that will not be deterred. Strangely these are often the same people who fret over Iraqi civilian deaths that might result from a U.S. invasion. But the millions that would be incinerated or irradiated in an American or Israeli retaliatory strike would dwarf any such body count. Sixty years after the only wartime use of nuclear weapons the U.S. still agonizes. The atrocities committed by the Japanese throughout the Pacific, and against prisoners of war, are deemed inconsequential when viewed through our own masochistic self-loathing. The truth of that decision in terms of human lives has been distorted almost beyond recognition, but its impact on the American psyche is undeniable. However justified it may have been, I would rather not be forced to pull that trigger again. Unfortunately, critics of preemptive action and apologists for regimes that support terror are making this much more likely than it needs to be.
Unfortunately a democracy cannot guarantee any of the above. Democracies do NOTHING to respect individual rights as a democracy is nothing more than tyranny by the masses.
Good article. Looks like I'm the only one who read as far as the third sentence though. The author almost seems to have predicted that.
Even more unfortunate is the presence of those who have nothing to offer but juvenile ranting,
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