March 21st, 2003


Iraq Conflict

I started this yesterday, but got sidetracked by actual work.

Last summer, if you would have asked me (which no one did, and no one is asking me about it now, so just go read someone else's journal if you don't want to read it), I would have been against taking on Iraq. Why? Still too much to do fighting Al Qaeda. That and I don't trust the Bush administration to do things in an ethical manner. I would have preferred to wait for a new administration to take on Iraq.

Many of the Bush administration's actions though have been spot on. Iraq would never have admitted inspector's without a credible threat of military force. But even with that, I don't think that Iraq would (nor did) cooperate to show they have eliminated their chemical or biological arms. (I won't use the term weapons of mass destruction.) A war is necessary.

The question for me is, why now? I don't understand the hard push to do it last fall. I don't believe the administration's claims of a connection to Al Qaeda, large stocks of chemical and biological agents, nor attempts to acquire nuclear arms. I do believe that Iraq was intentionally pushing the limits with it's Al Samoud project. I do believe they have small programs to do research ingo biological and chemical agents. Nothing that was immediately threatening though.

Given that the government decided now was the time to make an Iraq push, I think they get a solid D for political management of it. The administration never made a serious attempt to convince anyone who disagreed of their position. It never made a serious attempt to bring in supporters. It made more serious attempts on the Afghanistan attacks (where Rumsfeld, Powell, and a host of other top aides made numerous trips to foreign countries to enlist support). Bush was elected partially because people believed he would work together with people who disagreed. He was the compassionate conservative who had worked together with Democrats in the Texas legislature to accomplish a lot. In the White House, he became the conservative ideologue with the mantra, my way or the highway.

There was no compelling reason to me to attack now. Send Powell and Rumsfeld out to enlist more support from opposing countries like Russia and France. Give the inspectors a ton of money and equipment so they can document the U.S. claims. Give them the secret information (a.k.a. intelligence) they have. Politically, make it really tough for the world to not sign up for the effort. Sadly, I do not believe Bush has the mentality for it. He believes strongly this is the right thing, and doesn't understand that some principled people believe otherwise.

I believe the attack would be necessary anyway though. So I still believe this is a just attack. My beef with the administration is only about the politics.

My heart isn't into this war though. I am frightened of the fallout, and I'm not talking about Iraq using chemical agents. On the news media, it has come down to the horse race aspect of it. Who is winning? I think that's a foregone conclusion, and it doesn't really interest me greatly. I want to know how we are conducting it. Not in terms of weapons and such. More in terms of how we are treating Iraqis. What are we doing to make this a limited war and not something that antagonize civilians. I don't want to see this ended just to have another anti-American regime be bred from the ashes. Sadly, I don't think the Bush administration's mentality will allow it to do so. I can't see Bush being generous to the vanquished. We haven't been in Afghanistan. We weren't after the Great War, and it bred the Nazi's and the Fascists. After the Second World War, the Marshall Plan instilled a European population that is extremely friendly in comparison to the past. I don't see it happening this time.

Since the start of the crisis, there have been numerous protests. My heart is with the protesters, even though I disagree with them. To the people who say protest should stop when the war starts, I agree with darkphoenixrisn. If you believe the government is doing something immoral, you should not stop protesting simply because the government actually starts implementing its plan. To those who wish to remain apolitical and complain about the inconvenience the protesters put you through, I say grow up. That's the price we pay for living in a democracy. I would rather have inconvenience than not allow protest. That's the rub of the first amendment. Actually, it's the rub of the entire Bill of Rights. To allow free speech, we allow for speech that is uncomfortable to hear. To allow myself to worship freely, I must watch as others indoctrinate young people with the idea that creation is correct. To allow people to peaceably assemble, they must have a place to assemble and it's probably going to be a place that is going to make life more difficult. I get irritated when my bus home gets delayed. But then I remember that is my contribution to a free society.