Give War a(nother) Chance
Well, Janet Dahl is pretty conflicted over the War. Thanks, Linky, for the heads up. Her concern boils down to, “Sure, it seems like a great thing to get rid of a horrible dictator” versus an understanding of the cost of war’s destruction.
I like to take things from here. First off, let’s admit that our President may not be the best leader we could ask for. He may in fact, even be a petty, vindictive asshole who does what the money and his own sense of reactionary moral outrage tells him to do. The timing on this war is questionable, what with Sharon in power, oil prices already really high, North Korea looking for trouble, and the ever-present whining about inspections. The fact, as many of us see it, is that America is led by a lunatic who would be little better than his enemies were he not hamstringed by the Constitution that he’s been trying to rewrite.
So, a lot of folks, understandably, get very upset when he wants to send our nation’s young men into battle in the sandy hot desert, dodging not only bullets, and anti-aircraft weapons, but exploding refineries and oil wells and petroleum falling from the sky. On the home front, we expect more desperate young men to find their ways into Terrorist training camps to perpetrate ingenious new ways of murdering us here at home.
Many of us doubt his sincere intentions to commit to rebuilding this destroyed nation, with a democratic government. We sense that the required military occupation, on top of the war itself, will incense the passions of the Arab world. We want no part of messing with this.
But what can we do? Shall we protest in the streets about how awful war is? Do we complain about the legal precedent of invading a sovereign nation? What would we do in the President’s place? Wait another four months and hope that either Saddam Hussein has a change of heart, after over a decade, and disarms, or that maybe he will go away, either into exile, or is perhaps deposed by another aspiring dictator in the Baath party? We could wait until, say, July, when it is hottest in the Persian Gulf, and then fight, in the sun, or we could just wait and ignore him until he proves that he has weapons of mass destruction by passing some stuff along to an intrepid band of Terrorists who show it off in an American city.
One of the things I’ve managed to do with my character is to get over the sense that the world would be a better place if only everyone agreed with me. This doesn’t mean I’ll stop arguing in favor of what I think is the best way to go about things: this is, after all, a favorite hobby of mine. I look at the situation now and I see a big old lemon. I could suck on the lemon and complain about how bitter it is, or I can sit back and watch George fumble with it and hope for lemonade. Given that the lemon is in George’s clenched fist, hovering over the Middle East, I’d just as soon let him try and run the show.
But we’re invading a sovereign nation! What value is a sovereign nation run by a tyrant who murders his own people, who has no respect for other sovereign nations? The enemy in question would have no right to raise such an objection. Indeed, if you refer to the American Declaration of Independence, we understand that nations “[derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” Our own sovereignty is founded upon the basis that sovereignty is derived from popular consent. What is Iraq’s claim to sovereignty: a lump of competing ethnic groups ruled by a bloodthirsty dictator within the lines drawn on a map by the British Empire?
What of the Iraqi people? Again, our founding document goes on: “all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” In the South and in the North of Iraq, the Iraqi people have risen time and again to throw off their Government, only to be crushed by their Despot, strengthened by our arms and our complicity in allowing him to crush his people. We are already guilty when it comes to Iraqi suffering. Bush’s insistence on “regime change” and the formulation of plans for a transitional government are evidence that America’s intentions, this time around, are purportedly to assist the Iraqi people in their duty to throw off Saddam Hussein.
What of all the terrorists that will be recruited in the wake of Iraq’s destruction? Iraq is already mostly destroyed, and a pretty miserable place to live. Young men leave the country to find their live’s glories elsewhere. Under a less-tyrannical US Military Administration, transitioning to some sort of more benevolent, representative government, there would be plenty of work to do in rebuilding a nation. There will also be less justification for US Military to protect the holy land, and troops will follow existing pressure by the Saudi Government to leave Islam’s heartland alone. Yes, there will be many vulnerable young men whose hearts will be wounded by their personal losses, inflicted by the United States. There are many such men already in Iraq, with nothing to distract them from this pain, and a dictator and Terrorist leaders offering them a chance at vengeance.
Whatever the President’s intentions, whatever his abilities, qualities, morality, or lack thereof, I see that our military has been assembled, ready to strike an avowed enemy, under the auspices of United Nations agreements going back over a decade. A lot of nations are opposed to letting Bush have his way with the UN’s blessing, because he is an unelected unilateralist idiot with undue influence on the world, who withdraws from those few International Treaties that his predecessors have signed. Nonetheless, the unilateralist idiot has picked his enemy well, if not his timing, and stopping what is already in action because we don’t like the guy behind it strikes me as so much futile resentment. The way I see it, the Iraqi people need a hand. If the vagaries of International politics have conspired in such a way as to give it to them, we shouldn’t stand in the way.