Friday, January 31, 2003

In some places there actually is a thoughtful debate going on about the Bush war. We have to decide why we are going to war. Is it to topple Saddam or is it to disarm him of certain weapons?

If one says that Saddam is the reason because of how he governs, it is inconsistent if one fails to include as targets the leaders of Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Myanmar, and Zumbabwe amoung others. Maybe that kind of unethical inconsistency doesn't bother you but it does me. (Actually I think we should be equally pro-active and aggressive on all these fronts. The United States should really stand for some human values in the international arena.)

This seems to be the stance of the current administration. It decided that Saddam was a target while the WTC rubble was still bouncing. Having made that decision out of some sort of mystical gut feel, it has subsequently set about selling it by stringing together whatever convenient logic came to hand. This is not a rational way to conduct business, but being rational is not the administration's strong suit.

On the other hand one may say that the nonconventional weapons that Saddam has, or can potentially produce, make him an exceptional case among all the other bad guys out there. Without those weapons, he would be no more concern to us than say, Hamas, or Afghan warlords, or even Al-Qaeda itself (he has certainly eclipsed our awareness of Al-Qaeda these days). From a weapons viewpoint, here are two well thought out takes on the issue.

Tim Dunlop makes the case for no war yet. Basically he says that the current state of things, with inspectors running all over and the strong intelligenc focus, makes it impossible for Saddam to proceed with either weapons development or transmission to stateless terrorists. Therefore a shooting war is not needed. For now.

The editors at TNR make the case for immediate intervention. He will always be a threat to the region and could become disastrous threat to the US if those nonconventional weapons and the capacity to make them are not completely eliminated. Inspections will not do that.

1441 invited him to do just that and he declined. The current state of focus with massed military on the frontiers can not be indefinitely maintained. Since we don't dare stand down, there is nothing else to do but go forward.

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