Friday, November 12, 2004

Q&A on Iraq

An old friend of mine who frequently disagrees with me politically sent these questions on the Iraq war. I have answered them here to help explain where I stand.

1. who exactly are we fighting in iraq and why?

A lot of factions: Foreign Islamist terrorists; A radical Shia Sheik and his followers; Baathist holdouts and Fedayeen created entirely for this purpose. We're fighting them because before we leave we need to help the Iraqis establish a democracy and those factions will do anything to stop that.

2. is this consistent with the intial reasons we were told as to why we had no choice to go in unilaterally i.e. WMD's ?

WMD's was the most often stated reason for going in, but there were many others. Bush told us that Sadaam was a tyrant and a menace to his people and the region, that he supported terrorists and that a functioning democracy in Iraq would serve as a model for others in the region.

I believe that Sadaam was a tyrant and a menace to his people and the region, and we have removed him. We have gotten rid of one of the major state sponsors of terrorism. We are fighting now because 1) We can't just leave the country in the mess it is today. 2) If we are able to help nourish that democracy to fruition then it will have a positive impact on the rest of the region. Fighting against Sadaam at first and now the terrorists is perfectly in line with our goals.

3. where is this going, to what end, and is it worth the cost?

I'd be happy if 10 years from now Iraq is a reasonably stable democracy and they don't absolutely hate our guts. I don't expect any gratitude. Look at Germany and France. They can barely stand us. As far as whether it will be worth the cost, I don't know. I'm not very good at that kind of cost benefit analysis. I do believe that 100 years from now if the Middle East is peaceful prosperous and contributing their fair share to humanity, this war will be seen as the turning point. I hope that it is.

4. is this consistent with true conservative american ideals?

American, yes. Conservative, no. Remember, it was the conservatives and their real politiks that got us into this mess right? I mean if we hadn't supported fascist dictators like Sadaam all of the Middle East would be a virtual paradise by now anyway right? Spreading freedom and democracy, fighting fascism, those used to be progressive, dare I say it... liberal ideals. What happened?

5. how does it benefit us short and long term apart from allowing us to continue to use oil recklessly?

Short term, I think that this has helped to pull the rug out from under Arafat. Many people understate what a fantastic supporter Sadaam was of Palestinian terrorism. Getting rid of Sadaam was good for our policy towards Israel. Long term, I already stated. This war is going to change the flow of history in the Middle East. I hope it changes it for the better. But I do know that it is going to look bad for a long time before it gets better.


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