Monday, March 10, 2003

Andrew Sullivan's Just War article simply doesn't convince me.

He says First off, we are not initiating a war. We are not the aggressor. We are still in a long process of defense. It's hard to remember now but this war is not a new one. It's merely the continuation of one begun in 1990 by Saddam whe he invaded Kuwait.

I've made this argument myself, but I'm no longer convinced it's a good one. For one thing, I've never heard a Bush Administration official use it. What's more, it doesn't make for consistent foreign policy: we have not signed a peace treaty with North Korea, only an armistice.

The issue is therefore not whether to start a war. It is whether to end one by rewarding the aggressor and simply ignoring his infractions of the truce. Such a policy, in as much as it clearly rewards unprovoked aggression, is immoral and imprudent.

Not always. We can certainly tolerate an evil, should eradicating it cause a greater evil.

...finally a last attempt under U.N. Resolution 1441 to give Saddam a last, last chance to disarm. He was told three months ago by unanimous U.N. agreement that he had to disarm immediately and completely. He still hasn't.

It's a tad self-serving to argue that Saddam's non-compliance with the UN is somehow a casus belli when you yourself are completely indifferent, if not hostile to the UN. Oh, I know it makes for fine rhetoric to appeal to that superlatively august international body, but it's dishonest rhetoric.

A coalition of the willing - a majority of the states in Europe, the U.S., Britain and other countries - easily qualifies as a legitimate source of authority for launching war.

But, as authority is intimately tied up with its purpose, I must ask: war for what purpose? If we are wearing a certain hawkish hat, that which reads "Liberators of Iraq," we are effectively arrogating to ourselves jurisdiction over Iraq, which properly speaking belongs only to God and the Iraqi people.

Well, there is one obvious alternative to war: continuation of economic sanctions on Iraq. But these sanctions have long been abused by Saddam to allow him to finance his weapons programs, while leaving thousands of Iraqis, including children, to starve or die for lack of good medical care.

Another argument I once thought about using, but I knew I would only use it to score debating points against peaceniks, and not to reach the truth. Frankly, I often doubt the justice of economic sanctions on rogue nations. Such sanctions destroy the livelihood of people who have no say in how their government is run, while only increasing the looting of the tyrants who oppress them. And if sanctions are in themselves immoral, we only have ourselves to blame for imposing them.

No one doubts he would get and use weapons of mass destruction if he could.

I doubt he would use them. I would hope that I'm not nobody.

No one can guarantee he would not help Islamist terrorists get exactly those weapons to use against the West or his own regional enemies.

Well, this assumes Saddam has a death-wish, which "no one can guarantee." Sullivan demands certainty only from his opponents, and not from himself. He cannot guarantee that an occupied Iraq will be a safer Iraq, nor that our threats of invasion will not in fact push Saddam into the hands of terrorists. He can't even guarantee that Saddam is in fact collaborating with terrorists, unless the administration's case has improved since the Powell speech(which was once convincing for me, but has ceased to be so).

Unfortunately, recent US action is taking away all of Saddam's options. We are turning him into a man who has nothing to lose, and driving him to hardline Islamicists to shore up his weakened regime. But I doubt Saddam would have done this on his own; it is the fruit of our folly.

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