OK, about the war
12 February 2003, 10:59 AM
Well, and it's about time I wrote about the war. The Iraqi war. That one. I've been reluctant to write about it, and I'm still reluctant, and I'm overall very reluctant, and here goes.
I am, reluctantly, pro-war. I follow Tony Blair in this (and if you don't get C-Span, and haven't been following his magnificent performances in the House, you can get a tiny smattering of an inkling of a hint of a totally misleading impression by checking Hansard); if the UN cannot enforce its mandates, then it is worthless. Hussein can prevent the war, but if Hussein prefers war to disarmament, he will have both.
However, I am pro-war (reluctantly), because I am pro-UN, pro-internationalism, anti-nation-state, and anti-war. That means that if Iraq is to be disarmed by military force, it must be with the support of the world. And, sadly, we have not been able (yet) to convince the UN that it needs to enforce its mandates. Thomas L. Friedman writes in this morning's Times (reg. required) that he "would gladly trade a four-week delay today for four years of allied support after a war." I agree whole-heartedly.
Robert Kuttner writes in this morning's Globe: "In deciding whether to strike Iraq, the issue is not whether we have grounds for war (we do) or whether we are likely to win (we are). The issue is: at what cost?" My answer is: at great cost. We must go into this war (if we must go into it at all) knowing that we are sacrificing the lives of our soldiers, of Allied soldiers, of Iraqi soldiers, and of civilians, both in Iraq and in the almost-certain terrorist attacks to follow, for something we believe in. I believe in world government, in a world of laws, in a world where the nations, united, deliberate, mandate, and, if necessary, enforce.
Of course, not everything needs to be enforced by military action. And the UN shouldn't mandate everything. But the mandate in this case seems reasonable (Iraq should not have weapons of mass destruction, under the current regime). I think it's perfectly reasonable to suggest that Kim is worse, and that the UN should similarly act against North Korea; that is not an argument against enforcing the mandate in Iraq. If anything, it should imply that if we want to, later, be able to enforce the disarming of Kim without force, we need to show that we will disarm Hussein even if force is required.
In the final analysis, I agree with Blair: "People say that the choice is ours as to whether conflict happens, but actually the choice is his. If he wants to avoid conflict, he can comply with the UN resolution, co-operate with the inspectors, tell us where this material is, and have it destroyed as it should be. Conflict would then be avoided. So we have made the choice that we had to make, and set it out in the UN resolution. The choice is now for Saddam." ( Jan. 15, Prime Minister's Questions)