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

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Alan Dershowitz discusses pre-emptive war with Iraq. His conclusion will dismay many on the left.

Here is what we are being told about Iraq. Over the past 14 months, Iraq has been trying to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, capable of being used as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. It is also developing a capacity to use drone aircraft to spray chemical and biological agents. Most frightening, it is expanding its efforts to enlist terrorists as carriers of weapons of mass destruction. If these facts are true -- and there seems little dispute about their accuracy -- then we can be relatively certain of two conclusions: One, Iraq is determined to develop nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them, and two, it does not yet have that capacity. The third, and perhaps most crucial, conclusion is the most hotly disputed: How much time do we have before these weapons become operational, and is it enough to warrant further efforts short of attack, such as UN inspections and other diplomatic actions? The Bush administration says no, time is on Iraq's side, and as soon as it develops a nuclear capacity, all hope of inspections and diplomacy will be futile. Critics of the administration argue for more time and more diplomacy. The stakes are high and the facts are uncertain. In the age of conventional warfare, the presumption might well favour waiting. But if waiting realistically increases the risk that we or our allies may be exposed to nuclear, biological or chemical attack by Iraq or Iraqi-sponsored terrorists, then the presumption may well favour immediate preventive action, especially if it can be taken so as to minimize civilian casualties. Whatever course we pursue, we may turn out to be wrong. The real question is, would it be worse to err on the side of action that turns out to be unnecessary, or of inaction that exposes us to preventable devastation?

< email | 9/10/2002 01:38:00 PM | link

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