Saturday, August 27, 2005

What He Said...Thoughts on the War in Iraq

So far in my blog, I've refrained from writing specifically my views on current events. As my list of recommended links to the side suggests, my opinions are congruent to much of what is written on those sites. I am no journalistic writer, and blogging has made me realize what a true talent it is to be able to write so concisely and persuasively. Fortunately, the blogosphere has benefited the spread of articulate conservative/libertarian writers to a very high degree, while great liberal writers have yet to emerge in this new medium. I often find myself unable to add much to the debate, so I tend to post about other subjects with which I am more familiar, like European culture, architecture, and other things I find amusing.

With this in mind, this article by Christopher Hitchens about the Iraq War could not have better outlined my views on this matter. This admittedly socialist British writer in no way concurrs with my views on religion and domestic social policies, obviously, but his position on Iraq has been unwavering and exactly what I would say had his literary prowess. This article provides something that everyone needs when discussing things of such historic gravity in the world: perspective. Below he illustrates how quickly we forget about the trouble that was brewing before our very noses:

I once tried to calculate how long the post-Cold War liberal Utopia had actually lasted. Whether you chose to date its inception from the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, or the death of Nicolae Ceausescu in late December of the same year, or the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, or the referendum defeat suffered by Augusto Pinochet (or indeed from the publication of Francis Fukuyama's book about the "end of history" and the unarguable triumph of market liberal pluralism), it was an epoch that in retrospect was over before it began. By the middle of 1990, Saddam Hussein had abolished Kuwait and Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to erase the identity and the existence of Bosnia. It turned out that we had not by any means escaped the reach of atavistic, aggressive, expansionist, and totalitarian ideology. Proving the same point in another way, and within approximately the same period, the theocratic dictator of Iran had publicly claimed the right to offer money in his own name for the suborning of the murder of a novelist living in London, and the génocidaire faction in Rwanda had decided that it could probably get away with putting its long-fantasized plan of mass murder into operation.

Critics of the current conflict in Iraq seem to have embarassingly short memories, whether it be what happened in the mid seventies after the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam (reeducation camps, massive executions, the "boat people", the "Killing Fields") or the fact that wasn't for the U.S. to prove Iraq had disarmed its WMD's but for Saddam to allow inspectors and declare that he did (which he never dared do), or that indifference to conflicts around the world including repeated attacks by Al Qaeda during the "roaring" nineties served as powder keg for the current conflict we are now in. Critics against initiating the war, not those against the war's handling, seem to suffer from a failure of imagination in that they cannot connect events in the past that logically led to the events of the present.

It's a very selfish concern to want the troops home without caring that such a move would prevent soldiers from achieving their mission, and in the end the realization of their potential in their chosen profession. It's a selfish and fundamentally racist reason to deny the people of the Middle East a chance at democracy and building a muslim society that eventually can serve as a model to the rest of the region because they will never 'get' our cherished form of government. It is not only selfish but downright criminal to push for the removal of the most powerful and virteous military force in the world in a region scourged by fanaticism, misogyny and death and leave the iraqis to an undisputably evil aversary as the 'insurgency'.

It is often pointed out that many of the first Bush administration's foreign policy advisors were of the realist persuasion. This meant they believed that the natural state of international relations is governed by the constant threat of force. Stability is achieved when competing forces wield threats equally to achieve an uneasy but practical truce. Ideology is extraneous, since it is all about who has the power. Therefore the realist approach to foreign policy disregards whether a proposed involvement is morally justified. This explains many of the policies and military exploits that took place during the Cold War.

Yet realism had unintended effects, giving rise to forces that came to strike America in spectacular fashion on September 11, 2001. The War on Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorism has been waged with little regard to realist doctrine, and for that reason it is the one war that I can fully endorse with no reservations. This time America fights not because we want to achieve a practical peace by the canceling out competing threats of force. She fights because it is the right thing to do. Given the appallingly despicable nature of our enemy there aren't two morally equal sides. It's a no brainer whose side one should be on.

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