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

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

An excellent, sober, column about war.

As World War II gathered intensity, and more soldiers were needed, my father, then 39 years old, was conscripted for the Army. I can remember tearfully protesting the injustice of this. I asked my father whether he might have to kill someone. A deeply religious man, he told me that he'd thought about this at length. Basically he was opposed to taking a life, but if it was the "nearest right," he'd do it.

President Bush says he begins every day "on bended knee," praying "for guidance and for comfort." He has asked others to pray, and I suspect many of us do, asking that the president be given wisdom in making decisions and courage in implementing them.

If war comes in Iraq it will inevitably bring death and destruction. Soldiers on both sides, and innocent civilians, will likely die. But lingering in my memory are my father's words, before he went off to fight long ago, that in human affairs we must do the "nearest right."

Let's look at the facts: Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who maintains his rule on Iraq by torture and execution. He has used weapons of mass destruction on his people. He invaded Kuwait. When defeated by US and allied forces, he promised to disarm. He has broken those vows and been condemned by the world community. He certainly has developed chemical and biological weapons in the past.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN last week convinced most reasonable people that Mr. Hussein still has those weapons and has taken pains to hide them from UN inspectors. Hussein consorts with terrorists who seek to do harm to the US, other Western countries, and Israel. He is perfectly capable of sharing with those terrorists his weapons of mass destruction.

What are the risks of seeking to remove him forcibly? The most dismal downside: Heavy allied casualties; the unleashing of weapons of mass destruction; chaos in Iraq; furor in the Middle East. The most agreeable upside: Saddam Hussein's removal; the neutralization of his weapons of mass destruction; the liberation of Iraq's people; the emergence of Iraq as a democratic nation in the making to inspire other Arab countries.

Should we tolerate evil or attack it? What is the "nearest right?"

< email | 2/12/2003 09:28:00 AM | link

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