Thoughts on the Possible War with Iraq (21-Jan-2003)

There are several good reasons to invade Iraq. However, I still went to the peace rally in DC last Saturday.

I feel that there are two good reasons to invade Iraq. That did not come up at the peace rally though. Probably some of the people at the rally think that no war is justifed. But, few people are always pacifists. Most are "situational pacifists", feeling that most of the violence in the world is unjustified and we should struggle to reduce it. However, I think most demonstraters would agree that sometime involving the military is the right thing to do.

That is certainly my position. I feel moral ambiguity about invading Iraq. To me, the strongest reason to do it is to free the 20 million Iraqis that are living "under the gun". However, that is not discussed much here in the US. This is to be expected. The people for invasion talk about protecting us, to rally support. The people against invasion don't want to weeken their case by mentioning a rational.

Sad, but true. Having never fought, I imagine that soldiers are rallied much more by thoughts of protecting there country and family than freeing people they have never met (and are the other side). This is probably true of their supporters (wives, friends, etc) as well.

So, while in the abstract I'm for freeing the Iraqis, I'm opposed for these reasons:

  1. Iraq is not that much of a threat. They don't have the ability to hassle us, much less threaten us. During the gulf war they couldn't even hit Isreal with missiles. Now after ten years of sanctions they have developed into a threat?.
  2. Invading Iraq because they threaten us because they have the potential to give weapons to terrorists just seems stupid. We have been attacked many times by terrorists, including the Cole bombing, numerous embasy bombings, yesterday's shooting in Kuwait, and of course the unsuccessful bombings and all-too-successful assaults by plane of the world trade centers. In none of these occasions was Iraq even tangentially involved.
  3. Invading makes Iraq and more importantly, the Arab world in general, more dangerous by pissing them off. They don't care about whether we are free, democratic-loving people, they care about our foriegn policy. Unlike our style of government, our foriegn policy doesn't have any moral weight. Ask anyone who lives abroad.
  4. Economically, the timing is horrible. From that perspective, we should have been raising our taxes over the last two year to save for this downturn. Instead we spending lots of money we don't have and cutting all kinds of taxes on the super-rich.

Since I don't think the administration is really that stupid to believe number 2, it seems more like a dodge to me. In the events mentioned, we don't have good follow through prosecuting the real perpetrators, we go after an easy scapegoat.

What we should do instead:

  • Act like other countries and oblige by international law. Especially the International Criminal Court.
  • Use International Criminal Court and the UN to find the real terrorists and prosecute them.
  • Offer a bounty to foster democracy in Iraq. Give a million dollars to any party that can get on the balloy in Iraq (or some other such hurdle). Offer a larger bounty to anyone who runs against Saddam and wins. Since that probably breaks international laws, we should offer incentives to Iraqs nieghbors to promote alternatives in Iraq.
  • Generally stop acting like the whole world owes us. Have a little humility. There is a reason there pissed off. Of course, some of it is envy, most countries are poorer and less free than we are. But most of it is based in our actions abroad. We have historically chosen our allies for power brokering reason, not by there level of freedom or wealth.
  • Simplify our income tax to remove the loopholes for the super-rich. This will shrink the deficit and reduce the drag of lawyers and accountants too.

Many nations that dislike us are brutish oligarchies. The kind of place we revolted against. However, invading and taxing the middle class does not differentiate us from them. To the contrary, it makes us more like them.


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Bush's Accountability

When it comes to funding education Bush demands accountability and requires standardized testing. When it comes to new federal aviation employees, Bush demands the flexibility to hire and fire as he sees fit to provide for accountability.

Unfortunately, accountability doesn't make it's way to the heighest levels. The FBI can secretly review library records. Bush sealed Reagan's presidental record (which were set to be opened in the first year of his term). He has hidden more of the executive records than before.

I guess he doesn't really feel accountable for him actions...