Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, August 01, 2002

The Economist takes a very reasoned and measured look at Saddam Hussein and walks through the thought process that leads them to advocates military intervention to rid the world of his menace. It shows that one can be supportive of this course without being blood-thirst, war-mongering, racist or anti-Muslim/Arab.

None of this is to argue that a war to remove Mr Hussein should be undertaken lightly. Though the Iraqi army is even less of a match for America's than it was a decade ago, that was a different sort of war. With his own head and not just his most recent conquest at stake, and especially when he calculates that he has nothing to lose, Mr Hussein might very well use the unconventional weapons he has collected. The casualties this time—especially the civilian casualties—could be much larger than they were before.

It is little wonder, given this, that people of goodwill are groping for a safer alternative. But wishful thinking in the face of mortal danger is bad policy. Perhaps the best hope is that, as the noose tightens, Mr Hussein will save himself by letting the inspectors return. If they did so on a credible go-anywhere, check-anything basis, such an opportunity would be worth grabbing, at least to see if it worked.

Failing this, however, the outlook is grim. Some argue that a better alternative to war is to keep Mr Hussein in his box, persevering with the strategy of containment. But after 11 years, it is time to acknowledge that the box is full of holes and that containment has failed. By keeping Iraq poor, the sanctions have inflicted suffering on Iraq's people and so brought America and its allies into disrepute in much of the Arab world. But the sanctions have not dulled the Iraqi leader's appetite for the most lethal of weapons, and have slowed rather than stopped his ability eventually to procure them. The honest choices now are to give up and give in, or to remove Mr Hussein before he gets his bomb. Painful as it is, our vote is for war.

< email | 8/01/2002 02:29:00 PM | link

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