Read this article yesterday about why the war on Iraq – more accurately the war on Saddam – is/was wrong. The author offers two major principles for invading another country.
Principle One: In general, don’t invade people on their own behalf unless they are clearly asking you to invade them.
Principle Two: If you can’t tell what people want, don’t invade them on their own behalf unless genocide is clearly threatened or under way.
The author contends that these two principles are the basis for the anti-war case. While I believe there might be a worthwhile anti-war case out there, I don’t believe this one is it. These principles if applied would require the International community to stand idly by while some terribly horrific despots had their way. As the despots and tyrants control the very mouth piece through which the populace being so grossly mistreated might deliver their call for help, these principles set up a Catch-22 for any population wishing to be freed from its ruler. In the case of Iraq, how exactly would the Iraqi people cry for help when to do so would ensure your disappearance and death.
It is not unlike the neighbors who live next door. At some point becomes obvious that the wife is being physically abused. Yet, if you ask her about it she will deny it. If you suggest calling the police, she will become angry and tell you to mind your own business. When the police arrive she will fight them, arguing loudly that nothing is wrong. In some cases she will even turn violently on the police. If we wait until she asks for help she will very likely die at the hands of her violent husband.
These principles suit the sensibilities of those who live in wealthy nations where the horrors that were commonplace in pre-war Iraq never happen. It is uncomfortable to watch family, friends and neighbors go to war. It is even more uncomfortable to watch some of them come home in body bags or in pieces. Watching war being waged is uncomfortable. It is inevitible that innocents will be injured and die in the course of war. Children will suffer as a result of war. It is difficult and even painful to watch the utter violence of war even when it is far away.
So long as we do not dig too deeply we do not have to watch as the Iraqi people suffer under evil men such as Saddam Hussein. But when our nation decides to get involved then the media will make sure that the war is delivered to our living rooms in living color on a daily basis. After all, now that our own people are involved it is news and the American public “has a right to know”.
I do not agree with the justifications that were offered to get us into this war. That the US administration chose justifications that were wrong or illogical does not mean that there were not logical reasons for going to war. Kenneth Pollack, one of the leading experts on Iraq, Iran and the middle east, wrote a very convincing argument for going to war with Iraq titled, The Threatening Storm.
In my opinion the reason most significant to the United States was that the containment policy that was enacted for 12 years after the first gulf war was not a viable long term solution. It was simply not going to happen that Saddam would one day wake up and say, “look at what a terrible and horrific man I am, I must change my ways.” The critical error in my opinion is that the United Nations did not act in a timely fashion when Saddam failed to keep his part of the cease fire agreement. What we are doing now we should have been done 10 years ago.
I think there is no one who wishes for peace more than the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen engaged in fighting a war. Especially the line troops whose job it is to execute and have visited upon them the horrors of war itself. However, as the famous quote says, “the only thing necessary for evil men to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”