April 01, 2003

New Clothes

AC Douglas has a new look. He's also had it -- with the notion that the war in Iraq is for Iraqi-people-freeing purposes. Well, I can understand his ire. Free Iraqis will be a happy result, one hopes, but that is mostly up to them. (For instance, if they just go do the traditional Arab thing and install another strongman, it won't be our fault, but theirs. No one is concealing the Guide to Responsible Government from anyone.) But it's not the primary objective, and it's important not to let the bleatings of the peacenuggets drive one into making that assertion. (Have I let this happen to me? I don't think so...)

I also understand why the administration has been pimping that theme. It is an unfortunate fact that the media is populated by softheads and moral babies who can't handle the truth. Fortunately the bulk of the population seems to see through this nonsense, or in any case I haven't heard much about the "poor oppressed Iraqis" about town from anyone who isn't employed at or going to university.

Posted by Andrea Harris at April 1, 2003 11:27 PM

Well... some hawks like Perle and Adelman seem to think that a global crusade to install democracies everywhere is the only way to eliminate dangers to the US. I think their hearts are in the right place but disagree about implementation, and am unlikely to sign on if the administration continues on such a crusade by serial invasion, and I doubt many other Americans will either.

Josh Marshall seems to be convinced that this crusade is the secret and true war motive of the whole administration and he's scared silly of it. I think he's probably wrong; it's just the motive of one faction, and one whose star is not rising at the moment.

Meanwhile, one anti-war argument that annoys me is to

(1) dismiss the pro-war humanitarian angle by pointing out that we aren't invading Zimbabwe or Burma (true), then

(2) assume this means that one can entirely ignore the bad effects of the Iraqi government on the people there when speaking of the moral costs and benefits (false).

I'm seeing this a lot. It only makes sense if you assume that the war is certain to result in a goverment just as bad as Saddam's, which I think is actually pretty unlikely even if Iraq doesn't end up with a Western-style democratic government. People who live in free countries don't readily appreciate the distinctions between unfree ones, or just how bad they can get. Saddam's Iraq is actually far worse than most, and I don't think there's anything inherent in Iraqi culture that makes that level of brutality inevitable.

Posted by: Matt McIrvin at April 2, 2003 at 08:38 AM

One argument I can't stand is that it is pointless to try to help Iraq because they are an Arab nation and are therefore culturally incapable of being anything other than evil people. Japan came around, but only after we bombed them.

I agree the main objective is not to give freedom to Iraq, but one hopes the people will seize the opportunity while it is available.

Posted by: Brandon at April 2, 2003 at 03:35 PM

I talk about how oppressed the Iraqis at every opportunity, and other people I know do too.

I don't work at university, but I do go to one I guess, so maybe I'm guilty.

But still, lots of people I know talk about how horrible this guy is to his own people, who aren't in or around universities.

I think Matt's wrong though. Installing democracy is exactly what Bush et. al. really want to do, and are really going to try to do. I don't believe any of them want "serial invasion," but they do, very astutely, want to use a convincing and thorough success in Iraq to make the other regimes in the area sit up and take notice and start instituting some reforms.

Putting the fear of the United States into the Middle Eastern thug-regimes is exactly the way to get the ball rolling toward major reforms in the region.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at April 2, 2003 at 03:51 PM