Cross-Blog Iraq Debate: The Questions

by John Hawkins | February 11, 2003 12:20 pm

Cross-Blog Iraq Debate: The Questions: The Truth Laid Bear[1] is sponsoring a, “Cross-Blog Iraq Debate.” The general idea is that the pro-war & anti-war sides will pose questions that they’d like to see the other side answer. Here are my replies to the best questions the anti-war side could come up with…

“1) Attacking Iraq has been publicly called a “pre-emption” of a threat from Saddam Hussein’s regime, whose sins include launching regional wars of aggression. Do you think there is a clear and reliable difference between pre-emptive and aggressive warfare, and if so, what is it?”

Yes, there is a difference between invading a nation that threatens the safety of your citizens and invading a nation in hopes of making material gains from the conquest. We make this sort of distinction all the time. Shooting a burglar who breaks into your house and menaces your family is good, shooting someone because you want to steal their car is bad. Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland was bad, but had France swept into Germany in 1936 to enforce the Treaty of Versailles by making Hitler leave the Rhineland, that would have been good. This seems like a fairly obvious distinction to me.

“2) What do you feel are the prospects that an invasion of Iraq will succeed in a) maintaining it as a stable entity and b) in turning it into a democracy? Are there any precedents in the past 50 years that influence your answer?”

A) I think it will be difficult, yet possible for Iraq to become a stable Democracy. Democracies do not form overnight, they take a long time to gel (by long, I mean decades) and there are all sorts of hiccups along the way. Even the US experienced horrible growing pains (think of the Civil War) long after our nation became a Republic.

B) There have been a myriad of new Democracies that have formed over the last fifty years. Look to Eastern Europe for more of them than you can shake a stick at. But, I suspect that the anti-war folks are hinting that, “those people” aren’t capable of forming Democracies — as if their are some people who are incapable of forming free societies. Personally, I don’t believe that for a second…

“3. How successful do you think the military operations and “regime change” in Afghanistan have been in achieving their stated objectives? Does this example affect your feelings about war in Iraq in any way?”

Things in Afghanistan went fantastically well. We were looking to 1) capture or eliminate Bin Laden 2) capture or kill a significant portion of his men in Afghanistan 3) remove the Taliban from power. We achieved all three goals and we did so much faster than anyone thought was possible.

Now if things would have gone PERFECTLY, we would have killed all of the Taliban, all of Al Qaida (except a few we’d pump for information), and we’d have Osama’s head on a pike (instead blowing it into unidentifiable fragments). But, there is no such thing as perfection in war. We came close enough considering how badly things could have gone.

“4. As a basis for war, the Bush Administration accuses Iraq of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear), supporting terrorism, and brutalizing their own people. Since Iraq is not the only country engaged in these actions, under what circumstances should the US go to war with other such nations, in addition to going to war with Iraq?”

I believe we should go to war with any nation that supports terrorist groups with global capabilities, if we are unable to change their minds about supporting terrorism diplomatically. After 9/11, we’ve got to cut the terrorists off from the funding, training, supplies, intelligence info, and sanctuary that these regimes provide — especially if they are capable of providing these terrorist groups with weapons of mass destruction.

As far as a nation, “brutalizing their own people” goes, I’m generally against using military force for that alone except in the most egregious cases. If we went to war over human rights violations, we would be fighting a perpetual war from now until the end of time.

When it comes to, “weapons of mass destruction,” I’m opposed to seeing them spread at all, but I become much more concerned when “enemy states” acquire them. So for example, India and Israel don’t concern me, yet North Korea or Iran do. In the case of North Korea, if it came down to a choice between letting them set up a mail order nuclear weapons business and going to war, I’d say we should go to war. But in general, when non-enemy states of the US that don’t support terrorism are involved, I’d support sanctions and diplomacy in an effort to convince them to nuclear weapons.

“5. The Bush Administration has issued numerous allegations about the threat represented by Iraq, many of which have been criticized in some quarters as hearsay, speculation or misstatements. Which of the Administration’s allegations do you feel stand up best to those criticisms?”

It’s been apparent since the Gulf War that Saddam Hussein is a belligerent, virulently anti-American dictator with territorial ambitions who has weapons of mass destruction and connections to terrorists. The people who even today aren’t “sure that Saddam has WMD” or claim he has no connections to terrorists are a decade late in grasping the obvious.

The administration has only recently directly linked Saddam to Al Qaida and hasn’t provided a lot of evidence, although there have been more than a few indications that Al Qaida and Saddam were cooperating. While I believe that this connection will be proven after we invade Iraq, I could understand some people not being totally convinced of an Al Qaida / Saddam connection at this point.

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