The pained meditations of an honest, honorable soul on war with Iraq:
- it eventually became clear that I was entirely, completely, terribly, wrong in 1991.
If the policy of containment and sanctions that I supported had been followed, there would have been no reduction of Hussein’s military, and no reduction whatever of his nuclear, chemical, and biowarfare power.
There would have been no inspection and destruction regime.
And Hussein would have achieved his nuclear weapons.
And what then, my friends? And what then?
…. it retrospectively seems highly plausible, though also not indisputably so, that the war should have continued on to Baghdad in 1991, and the fallout of that risked, and a democratic regime created.
But that was then, and we can’t change the past.
Which brings us to the question of today: is Saddam, and the continuation of the Baathist regime still a threat?
Surely so. The best argument for an alternative policy is that he doesn’t presently possess nuclear weapons, or ICBMs, and that inspectors can continue to prevent him from acquiring them.
The problem with that argument is that it rests on some premises that, when examined, get the legs kicked out from underneath them.
Hussein already succeeded, in the past, in having the inspectors withdrawn. The only reason — the only reason — they are back is that he was convinced that the US would go to war, and that admitting inspectors was the only possible map to delay or prevent that war.
Or would anyone care to make the case that he simply reformed, is sincerely peaceful, and is sincerely disarming?
I didn’t think so.
….the argument for the continuation of the inspection regime fails on this basis: it cannot, and would not, be continued indefinitely, or even for any significant length of time once the military threat against Iraq is withdrawn.
Which brings us back to the situation where Saddam Hussein, once again, in a few years time, if not sooner, is nuclear-armed, with missiles, and biological and chemical weapons.
And I don’t see that as tolerable.
Reasonable people may, and do, disagree on this, and I remain entirely open to discussion of it, and introduction of facts and arguments I’ve not run in to, but right now, I don’t see allowing Hussein, or his successors, to again arm himself to the point of such a threat, to be nuclear armed, as tolerable.
I point to North Korea as one example of some problems that would result.
The time when a regime has acquired such weapons and become such a threat is the time we call too late.
Gary Farber is another liberal who against all internal predispositions is leaning toward war. He hasn’t committed to it yet, he is still willing, maybe even praying, that he is wrong and that someone will be able to talk him out of this decision; but I think he knows that won’t happen.
Read the rest and admire – not because I agree with his conclusion, but because it is a pleasure to see the workings of a mind so intent on weighing virtually all possible considerations and then doing the right thing, whatever that may be.