Get Realist

Jane Galt has an interesting piece on why the anti-war left wants to pose invading Iraq as some kind of morality play. She quite deftly points out that even though there are moral justifications for regime change in Iraq they take a backseat to the need to eliminate Saddam’s WMD capability.

The other main argument against Iraq is that
the Bush Doctrine suddenly means that the US is going to become an imperial state
. Hesiod may make an impassionate and very logical argument, but it fails to take into account that if pre-emptive military action were going to lead to a downfall of the American Republic, it would have happened a century ago.

Compared to McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt’s administrations, what the Bush Administration is proposing in Iraq is nothing. If America was ever an imperialist nation, the latter 19th and earlier 20th Centuries would have been the time. We not only engaged in a war against Spain in which Cuba and the Phillipines became essentially American colonies, but we intervened throughout all of Latin America as well. We acted blatantly in our economic and political interest, and used military force or the threat of military force to back it up. Yet one century later, America is still a republic, and most of those formerly occupied territories are free and independent states.

Hesiod also raises this objection:

At bottom, I think my biggest problem with this war is that, apart from it being unnecessary, it really goes against the fundamental principles and character of our nation. We do not start wars, we finish them. We do not attack, unless there is a vital national interest at stake, or a grand strategic or human rights principle involved.

The reason we’re attacking Iraq is that having a nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein is exceptionally dangerous. Even if he doesn’t use a WMD against America, a nuclear device could fall into the hands of someone who would, or it could be used by Saddam to blackmail neighboring states. At the vesy best, such an outcome would mean that Saddam had forever altered the balance of power in the Middle East dangerously towards Iraqs favor, and at the worst it would mean the single most devastating terrorist attack in the history of the world. None of those outcomes is even remotely acceptable to the interests of this country. That’s the reason this simply has been done, and that’s the grand strategic principle at stake here.

Yes, installing democracy in Iraq would be nice in the long run. However, that’s not our primary goal, nor should it be. Removing the threat is the most important thing, even if the costs are high.

Hesiod thinks that the Administration is being disingenious about the reasons for this war. Frankly, I don’t see that at all. President Bush has clearly stated the reasons for this war, and they haven’t changed at all. Saddam poses a major future threat, and our interests cannot tolerate him having nuclear capability in any form. I suspect that the real reason many on the anti-war platform feel this way is because they honestly believe that Bush is doing this strictly to set up an American client state that will benefit only the oil companies. The only way that those who hold this view would think that Bush was being honest is if he admitted to the whole scheme, which isn’t going to happen because there is simply nothing to admit to.

I think there’s a fundamental gap between the pro and anti-war sides of the coin in terms of argumentation. The pro-war crowd is arguing from a stance of realist foreign policy and protection of American interests. The anti-war crowd is arguing in broader moral terms. However, in terms of foreign policy, one simply can’t base actions solely on broad moral priniciples. Politics by nature is a dirty, dangerous, and ugly process. Sometimes you have to do things that are otherwise undesireable in order to safeguard your nation. This is one of those things. Would is be good if we didn’t have to go to war with Iraq. Certainly. Do we now have a choice? Unfortunately not.

We’ve spend ten years doing little when we should have been doing much. Now our time has run out and we’ve only one option left. It may not be a good one, but given the circumstances, we cannot afford to do nothing.

2 thoughts on “Get Realist

  1. Mr. Reding,
    You’re incorrect on two points: that the U.S. is NOT an imperial power and when that occured. I think the history books, as well as many Native Americans, would tell you that American imperialism began long before our conquests of former Spanish territories. And whether it was directly (Philippines) or indirectly (Cuba), creating colonies can only be described as empire building.

  2. Don’t waste your time argueing with someone who cannot make a difference and don’t miss your time by argueing with someone who can.”

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