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)
Do you still agree with Blair?
You quote him as saying: “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.”
Yeah, well, now it’s turned out that he WAS actually telling the truth, that he didn’t have any ‘material’; and it was actually Bush (and to some extent Blair) who called off the inspectors in order to claim that Hussein had been “un-cooperative” with them.
More Blair: “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.”
Except that, as we now know, it was actually in the White House (and to some, much smaller, extent at No Ten) that the choice was made.
So… Are you still as convinced that Blair (and above all, Bush) got it right?
Just wondering. (Just found your blog today, via Language Log.)
Christian R. Conrad
I get my e-mail via the Saunalahti company, in FInland
If you are reading the history of this Tohu Bohu from its inception, you will find my increasing skepticism about the war, up to my declaring myself “anti-war” on March 1st, too late, of course, but still before the invasion.
Two things became clear at that point: First, that Our Only President had no interest in letting the inspectors inspect, and abiding by their information. That is, that the choice was not Saddam Hussein’s, nor the UN’s, nor Tony Blair’s, but Our Only President’s alone, and that the choice to invade had already been made. So, no, Mr. Blair was wrong, and was either lying or fooled.
Second, and the thing that separately decided my against the invasion, was the obvious lack of planning on the part of Our Only President and his cronies. If I can quote myself from March 1st, 2003: “I am now anti-war. I still don’t see any good alternatives, but Bush has fully convinced me that if their plans (and I call them plans, but I don’t trust that they are thought out well enough to seriously be called plans) are carried out, it will in fact be worse than continued sanctions. Faugh. I still support, in principle, a UN decision to disarm Iraq by force; I just can’t support handing the implementation of that decision to Bush and his advisors, who are, of course, the only ones with the power to implement it.”
Aha, “I C”, as we’d probably say in “Net-Speak”.
Gotta admit I’m not sure if I’d have read on to find that for myself; I suspect not.
What I was doing, mostly, was going back to sample “a few” (however many that is) posts from the beginning of your blog, to find out kind of “what it’s all about”. (And possibly to decide whether it’ll be one I follow regularly in the future. Sorry, can’t tell — still undecided on that one. 🙂
Christian R. Conrad