Daily Archives: October 2, 2004

Figuring Out My Position on Iraq

Since the get-go, I’ve been almost for the War on Iraq, with the caveat that the idea of preemptive war made me very uneasy. Well, right now, I guess I’m going to flip flop, since I’ve been inspired by Lloyd’s comment. (But if you watch carefully, it’s not a flip flop.)

Saddam posed a threat to the world: He invaded Kuwait, showing his aggressive tendencies. He committed genocide against the Kurds. He was a dictator. Then, I thought there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and there seemed to be some kind of roundabout link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. There was this impending sense of danger.

The world finds out later that there are no WMDs in Iraq. I tried to reconcile this in my mind. WMDs weren’t the only reason we went into Iraq; Saddam was deposed and he committed all the crimes mentioned above. It was right to get rid of a dictator.

However, when did it become the US’s responsibility to become the police force of the world? Let me put this another way: How conservative is it to establish a new doctrine of preemptive war? To me, conservatism does not espouse these principles of going out in the world and interfering. George Washington didn’t warn against preemption, but he warned against foreign entanglements. We are getting very entangled right now.

Yet, Saddam did pose a threat. Is it right to leave a dictator in power? Is it right to let the people suffer? Is it wrong to spread democracy? George Washington did not live when the United States was the sole hyperpower; we were a weak nation.

Ah, but fighting a war takes resources. Not only human lives, but money. Where does this money come from? The taxpayer. The United States does not have the resources to finance these kinds of wars.

However, if we don’t do it, who will? Should we just let dictators have free reign and not interfere with their sovereignty? Is that the right thing to do? Face it, nobody else had any interest in doing it. Why? Four words: Oil for Food program. And if we didn’t do it now when would we do it? We have the most powerful army in the world. There will never be a time when we have the unlimited resources to bring about world peace. We have to fight things in pieces, rid the world of dictators one by one, perhaps. And you know what, the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. President Bush and John Kerry both agree on that point.

There I stopped, and I thought I had it figured out.

Then, I read this: WSJ reporter Fassihi’s e-mail to friends. Even before the article itself posed it, I wondered: Is the world a better place without Saddam Hussein?

Think about this: North Korea has nukes. If I was North Korea, I wouldn’t give them up. The US could invade me, like Iraq! I need these weapons as an insurance policy! Iran is moving towards nuclear weapons for the same reason.

And guess what? We don’t have the resources to fight these guys because we’re stuck in Iraq! We avoided another Vietnam in Afghanistan by “outsourcing” the job, but then we went in Iraq, and the whole thing is one big mess. [I read a variant of this last sentence somewhere, but I can’t find it… I think it was in Slate… but I did add the outsourcing dig… I think.]

Therein lies the point I’ve been missing (ignoring?) all along: Saddam Hussein did not pose an immediate threat to the United States of America. And it’s precisely because he didn’t have the WMDs.

Now, it all fits together. We don’t have the resources to be the world police. The US shouldn’t be so far entangling itself in world affairs that do not concern it. Saddam didn’t pose an immediate threat. There was no link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Therefore, it was wrong to go into Iraq.

No, I’m not reverting a pre-September 11th mentality. A war on terror is one that will never be won on the defensive. But the world is not safer without Saddam, unlike what Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry claim.