Five Questions, Part 4
Posted by aogSaturday, 15 February 2003 at 08:10 TrackBack Ping URL
Question 4
As a basis for war, the Bush Administration accuses Iraq of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear), supporting terrorism, and brutalizing their own people. Since Iraq is not the only country engaged in these actions, under what circumstances should the US go to war with other such nations, in addition to going to war with Iraq?
I have always thought that that was a poor basis for the invasion of Iraq. I think that our primary case for this action that it is simply an operation in a war that started over a decade ago and has never ended. I think that President Bush should have been much more forth coming on this point. This question falls in to the same trap by making the assumption that the US would be "going to war" with Iraq, rather than continuing an existing state of war. This means that for many on the pro-liberation side, we do not see ourselves as advocating going to war with Iraq over its WMD program, but rather advocating a forceful finish to an existing one.

As far as I can tell, there are three nations that fufill the requirements in this question: Iraq, Iran and North Korea (gosh, where have I heard that list before...?). What the US should do about these nations is defeat them and neutralize their threat to the US. The specific actions should not be judged by standards of "fairness" or "consistency" but how likely the actions are to yield a successful outcome (I note that embedded in this question is the assumption that advocating military action is so unjustified that people who do it in one situation will automatically do so in others, regardless of merit). The US should use military action when that approach is most likely to achieve success with minimum loss of life. In the case of Iraq, the US military should be able to conquer the country rapidly with at most a few tens of thousands of casualties (and probably many fewer). This is less than the number of Iraqis who have died since the Gulf War because we left Saddam in power. Leaving him in power another decade will probably cost even more, so a war now is the course most likely to kill the fewest Iraqis. Moreover, an invasion will achieve success in terminating the threat from Saddam.

As for Iran, unlike Iraq the US invasion would not be as popular. Moreover, Iran already is in a state of unrest and is far more likely than Iraq to topple from within. Even further, a US victory in Iraq would make that even more likely because in that case the Iranians would have little fear of forces in Iraq striking against Iran during civil unrest. So, in my view, an invasion of Iraq is a strike against the WMD, terror sponsorship and oppression in Iran.

As for North Korea, I have made several posts on the subject and I believe that at this time, military action is not a good idea because of the large (hundreds of thousands ) of casualties likely to result and the immense damage to the world economy that would result (which in itself would likely causes tens of thousands of deaths). North Korea can threaten a densely populated and economically vital ally (South Korea) in a way that Iraq and Iran cannot. Therefore different methods are called for.