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Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Analysis and resistance are good
Opponents of escalating the war with Iraq need to sharpen their arguments, argues Matthew Parris in "A dove's guide: how to be an honest critic of the war," which appeared in last Saturday's edition of The Times
Parris contends that many of the arguments that opponents of escalating the war have been relying on might not hold up. The piece suggests Saddam Hussein may turn out to have been developing weapons of mass destruction, France and Germany (and thus the United Nations) might get behind a war, the war might go smoothly, Iraq might be easy to govern after the U.S. and friends takes over and the public may see only as a legitimate reason to fight a war. If all of these things happen, many if not most of the arguments made against escalating the war will turn out to be invalid and opponents of the war might look foolish.
I am not afraid that this war will fail. I am afraid that it will succeed.As I argued in "Stop Debating Iraq," too much focus on the specifics of Iraq is likely to cause many people to ignore the larger goals of Bush and friends.
That said, my position differs from Parris' in two important ways. I think there is nothing wrong is bringing up possible negative outcomes that might result from escalating the war with Iraq, or just continuing the present war for that matter. Not all of them may come true but nobody can predict the future with 100% accuracy. This shouldn't stop people from talking about what is possible or is likely to happen. Furthermore it is bothersome that Parris, an individual who is clearly concerned about the growth of an American Empire, falls for the most significant flaw in the arguments of the anti-war activists he criticizes -accepting the Bush Doctrine on Iraq.
Fourteen days ago I wrote that the Bush Doctrine on Iraq amounts to, "If there is any possibility that Iraq could acquire weapons of mass destruction or is even trying to get them, and deceit by Iraq on this matter is assumed to imply guilt, then a war to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is necessary." Nothing in this doctrine has anything to do with whether or not Saddam intends to use any weapons of mass destruction, which is the real matter since weapons that won't be used are hardly something to war about. Nonetheless the Bush Administration as presented the Bush Doctrine on Iraq as fact and gotten away with doing so since most arguments have not focused on whether or not Iraq is a threat but rather whether or not the country is developing weapons of mass destruction. (Earlier today I noted that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld feels no pressure to argue that Iraq is a threat and neither did Secretary of State Colin Powell when he spoke to the U.N. today.)
Parris doesn't challenge the logical hegemony of the Bush Doctrine on Iraq in "A dove's guide," and thus leaves room for those such as Glenn Reynolds who feel that an American Empire is far less bothersome than Iraq or some other country attacking the U.S. By challenging the idea that Iraq is a threat, opponents of the U.S. war with Iraq are able to focus the argument on whether or not the U.S. should be in the business or running the affairs of other countries for reasons connected only to matters of power. Parris might respond that Iraq might turn out to be a threat and that opponents of the war should refrain from that argument. In time this might turn out to be true -I certainly don't understand why Iraq doesn't retaliate against the U.S.-, but as it stands there is no reason to think Iraq is a threat and therefore no reason not to use that argument.