Monday, June 23, 2003

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The WMD question

Greg Whyte and David Adesnik have some thoughts on the state of the debate. Worth a read.

I've stayed silent on this issue, because my support for going to war was not related to the immediacy of the WMD problem. Even if Iraq was WMD-free by 2003, no sane person engaged in the debate on Iraq doubted that Saddam Hussein was going to make every effort to acquire such weapons if and when he could. Just because a house is cleaned once doesn't mean that dust will never reappear.

I supported the war for other reasons:

1) What we did in 1991 needed to be fixed. President Bush urged Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam. 17 of 18 provinces in Iraq did so. We did nothing -- actually, worse than nothing, since we tolerated infractions of the no-fly zones -- while Saddam viciously put down those uprisings among the Kurds, Shi'a, and Marsh Arabs.

Chomsky types tend to blame the U.S. for every wrong committed everywhere. This, however, was a case of the U.S. government encouraging people to risk their lives and then sitting on its hands because the uprising was perceived to be messier than an anticipated military coup. The cause-and-effect link here was pretty tight, and the effect was devastating to the Iraqi people. This was a debt that needed to be repaid.

2) All of the other policy options stunk. It's important to remember that the containment option was deteriorating day by day even before 9/11. France, Russia, and China were openly agitating for an end to the sanctions regime. The U.S. was deemed responsible for the mass immiseration of the Iraqi people. The presence of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia were leading to discomfiting policy externalities.

War was not a great option. But it was better than the other alternatives.

posted by Dan on 06.23.03 at 11:06 AM