(thanks to The Agonist for this one...)
Speaking from the Left side of the political fence, I am fully aware that our position on Iraq is weaker than the Right. It is difficult to argue for non-violence when the object of our intended aggression is Saddam Hussein- not exactly the champion of peace, love, and understanding. While I am as opposed to the idea of sending young Americans to Iraq as anyone, I cannot sit here and honestly say that I have a better alternative. Negotiations and UN resolutions are useful only as delaying mechanisms for Saddam. If we have learned anything since the end of the Gulf War, it's that Saddam has spent the past 11+ years lying about Iraq's weapons program. The UN, as well as the US, has lacked the cojones to call his bluff. Now, we are facing the consequences of our lack of courage.
Those of us on the Left have a legitimate ax to grind with Shrub's inexorable march towards war. We have yet to see irrefutable proof that Saddam's weapon of mass destruction program is back up and running. And yet we cannot honestly ignore the reality that SOMETHING is happening over there, and it likely isn't good. At what point, then, do those of us on the Left give in and admit to the realities? Now seems as good a time as any....
Christopher Hitchens, a good, card-carrying Liberal, argues that invading Iraq is in fact not an inherently evil choice:
Actually, the best case for a regime change in Iraq is that it is the lesser evil: better on balance than the alternatives, which are to confront Saddam later and at a time of his choosing, trust him to make a full disclosure to inspectors or essentially leave him alone....
Some peaceniks clear their throats by saying that, of course, they oppose Saddam Hussein as much as anybody, though not enough to support doing anything about him.
I have struggled with the idea that we would even consider going to war against a sovereign nation that has committed no overt act against the US. At what point, though, do we on the Left admit that something is rotten in Iraq? When do we come to grips with the realities of a radical, self-centered dictator possessing both weapons of mass destruction and the willingness to use them? Sometimes our world is not a simple black and white one: "us" good, "them" bad. Perhaps it's time to recognize that evil works in shades of grey.
While I am still by no means a supporter of Shrub, I am beginning to come around to the idea that Saddam is a threat- not only to the Middle East, but also to the rest of the Western world. We on the Left would do well to recognize that we are losing, if indeed we have not already lost, whatever moral high ground we may have occupied.
The Left has employed arguments as contemptible as those on whose behalf they have been trotted out. It maintained that any resistance to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo would lead to a wider war, chaos and/or the rallying of the Serbs to Milosevic. It forecast massive quagmires and intolerable civilian casualties. If this sounds familiar, it may be because you are hearing it again now and heard it last year from those who thought the Taliban-al Qaeda base in Afghanistan was not worth fighting about.
But the element of bad faith in the argument is far worse than the feeble-minded hysteria of its logic. In the Balkans, those on the Left and Right who favored intervention could not live with the idea that Europe would permit the extermination of its oldest Muslim minority. At that point, the sensibilities of Islam did not seem to matter to the Ramsey Clarks and Noam Chomskys, who thought and wrote of national-socialist and Orthodox Serbia as if it were mounting a gallant resistance to globalization. (Saddam, of course, took Milosevic's side even though the Serb leader was destroying mosques and murdering Muslims.)
Perhaps this argument hits closer to home for me because I've lived and worked in Kosovo, Croatia, and Serbia. I've seen the handiwork of Slobodan Milosevic up close and personal, and we came close to letting him get away with his drive towards ethnic purity in Kosovo. I don't think it is possible to view evil up close on a daily basis and not come away from the experience fundamentally changed. The more I think about Iraq, the more I am beginning to recognize the same evil I saw in Kosovo.
Sometimes one must take a stand for what is right, regardless of what side of the political fence you stand on. Speaking as a good, card-carrying Liberal, I believe that the time has come to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein once and for all. Eleven years of deception and prevarications is enough. In today's much smaller world, we all have to be able to play well with others. It is clear that Saddam has no intention of living up to his commitments, much less playing well with anyone else. The time has come to make the world a safer place for all of us- including the people of Iraq.