Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Burden of the Liberal Hawks

Author’s note: This essay was produced before the successful Iraqi elections. Let it be said that I’ve essentially always supported the war in Iraq, believing that Saddam’s removal from power was not only a good thing for the Iraqi people that lived under his tyranny for thirty years, but ultimately the world’s security. I had (and so a certain extent still have) concerns about the way the war was sold, a lot of the management decisions made by the political leadership, and Abu Ghraib. That being said, the recent success of the elections, as well as the subsequent democratic shift, have effectively dissauded my fears, and left me a bit embarassed. I’ve always been a liberal hawk, and have always recognized the neccessity of a strong, active, yet cautious military presence. Yet it seemed that many of us became too cautious, and almost lost sight of the big picture. Also, this moment has forced a lot of us to admit to the hard truth, the maybe Bush was right.

I’ve never been that anti-Bush, so I learned a long time ago to look beyond George Bush when considering the future of Iraq. Essentially, I have little trouble giving the President his due on this, but I must affix this question to my praise: Why in God’s name didn’t you just say it was about democracy in the beginning? The IWR does go well beyond WMDs, but a lot of the case is linked to WMDs and supposed al-qaeda links. Anyway, there’s till that question of Osama, and the funding of the war, and the handling of criticism. Nevertheless, Bush called it.

That being said, I’m using this essay as an attempt to be fair to those who opposed Iraq, but genuinely still want to fight terror. There are many in the anti-war crowd that I’ve given up trying to reach. It is a thankless job trying to convince people of the justice of Iraq, while defending them from attacks on their patriotism by the Right, yet being called a neo-con dupe by those I’m trying to defend. I know what John Kerry must have felt like. Anyway, here’s the essay:


I've been thinking about the debate about Iraq, and it seems that one of the things that bothers me about the debate over Iraq, as someone who generally supports just wars, but has serious concerns about this Iraq war( despite my continued cautious support of it), is that the Right, and those who unequivocally support this war assume this was an imperative war. This explains the World War II and Civil War analogies.

Considering the threat Hitler and Japan posed, I don't think it's at all absurd to suggest that World War II was an imperative war. We had a clear threat, and clear allied support. I believe the same could be said of Afghanistan. With Iraq however, while a moral case can be made from removing Saddam, with all the evidence of the lack of an imminent threat, or a link to the terrorists who posed the prime threat, this war could hardly be called imperative. That being said, even if one felt Saddam deserved removal, we certainly had wiggle room to solidify our allied coalition, formulate an exit strategy, and to make sure war was the only option.

The argument from the conservatives is always the same: We need to fight the terrorists over there, so we don't have to fight them over here. Then they look back to World War II and other wars, whenever questions of postwar planning or causalities arise. "If we had waited during World War II, the Germans would have won" they'll say. "It took years to rebuild Germany after the war." This argument misses the point, that Iraq is not Germany, and while Saddam was a murderous despot, and his being deposed is a good thing, Saddam was not a Hitler-level threat, or a bin-Laden-level threat.

You can simply argue that this is merely the strategy of the "warmongering neo-con forces," to justify their flawed foreign policy. Yet it seems that otherwise reasonable people fall into this trap, and if the "not against all wars, but against this war" argument is to stand, it must be fought on the grounds that Iraq is not like World War II, or the Civil War, or the Revolutionary War, or the war in Afghanistan (all wars I'm sure we all support).

Now there are of course those who oppose all wars, on pacifist grounds. That is a whole different situation. My final point is this, if you happen to oppose this war, or are still on the fence, and you meet someone who supports the Iraq War unequivocally (keep in mind that still support the war, but I have serious concerns), regardless of what's happened, ask them to explain why this war was imperative. Ask them explain the case for diverting from the larger war on terror to Iraq, or how Iraq is part of the larger war on terror. I support the war on terror, and I still think Saddam being gone is a good thing, but I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why Iraq couldn't wait, after all that we know, and I hope to God I can get an answer that doesn't include anything about John Kerry's supposedly weak defense record, or George Bush's supposedly unwavering moral vision.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Pope is dead. May he rest in peace.

The Holy Father has passed away. He's with the Lord. God rest his soul.

You too, Terri Schiavo. At last, your suffering has ended. The media treated you like a prop, and politicians fought over you, and I'm sure ALL your family loved you. Into to the Lord's glory you go.