October 31, 2006

Revised list of reasons to invade Iraq.

I'm re-doing my list of reasons to invade Iraq.—I've been keeping notes for possible revisions for a while now. And I've put it back into the present tense as of 2003, which eliminates reasons like our discovery of the UN Oil-For-Food Scandal, and any unexpected successes we've had since then. (Note: The redoutable Dean Esmay long ago posted Seven Reasons, which formed the origins of this list. And Wretchard blogged reason #1. I didn't just think this stuff up myself. Here's another good list, by TM Lutas.)

1. Avoid fizzle-out. The big danger of a war against shadowy terror groups is that they can destroy our resolve to fight by pretending to negotiate or change their ways. By attacking the very heartland of the Arab world, we will avoid the cycle of truces and negotiations that have crippled Israel's war on its terrorists. The jihadis MUST fight for Iraq, the stakes will be too high. They won't be able to just lie low for a few years and then strike again. We will be forcing them to react to our moves, instead of us always reacting to theirs—this should really be a reason by itself.

2. Until the culture of despotism and backwardness of the Arab world is changed, new terrorist groups will continue to arise. Iraq is the best choice for starting the process of change, with a well-educated population that has suffered terribly from tyranny. Changing Iraq will change the dialog in the region. Deposing tyrants is a start, but there are good reasons to believe that democracy might take hold in Iraq—That would really change the region.

3.Terror-supporting nations. We can't make progress in changing them, until we take out ONE of them. Iraq is a good choice because we already have a good legal case, with many binding UN Resolutions, plus Iraq's failure to comply with peace-terms from the Gulf War. And also because Saddam is the most considerable of the terror-supporting dictators, so his fall will have the biggest effect on the others.

4. Iran: The most important instance of the above is Iran (which is the worst of the terror-supporting countries). The Mullahs can't close off their border with Ira, because their Shi'ite Holy Places are there. Invasion of Iraq puts an army right on Iran's border. And Iraqi Shi'ism, impotent under Saddam, does not agree with theocratic Iranian Shi'ism. We need its ideas to flourish.

5. The humanitarian reasons are compelling. Tens-of-thousands of people are being tortured and murdered in Iraq each year. This is an internal war--to end it is to be on the side of peace. The UN sanctions regime has left children dying without food and medicine, while Saddam builds palaces and funds terror groups and corrupts Western governments with kickbacks. And we are INVOLVED in the sanctions perversion--we have a responsibility to end it. Saddam is waging an internal war against his people. Pacifists are enablers of Saddam's war and want it to go on forever—America should end it.

6. Similarly, we bear responsibility for encouraging the Shi'ite revolt against Saddam after the Gulf War. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered because of our mistakes. We should have moved against Saddam years ago for that reason alone.

7. WMD's: a danger that must be eliminated. (Note from the perspective of 2006: While it's true we haven't found large stockpiles, we've found weapons programs that could have quickly rebuilt stockpiles. And more importantly, this is a war. A global war against islamic terrorism. Not a case at law. The mere appearance of plans to attack us or our allies is justification for an attack. In a war, it is our responsibility to attack an enemy nation if feasable. It is those who oppose war-like attacks during war time who bear the responsibility of providing reasons why we should not.)

8. We have partly created the terrorists, by consistent weakness and vacillation over several decades. We have taught the terrorists to attack us! Withdrawing from Lebanon taught Hezbollah that suicide bombs work. Failure to respond in the Iran hostage crises taught a generation of terrorists that we are weak and vulnerable. Withdrawal from Somalia taught bin Laden that we can't take casualties. We have waited so long to respond, that only a long bloody struggle will teach them a new lesson. If Iraq becomes a quagmire, that's good. Assuming we stick it out and win.

9. Diplomacy. Obviously it is best to solve problems peacefully by diplomacy and negotiations. But our diplomacy has been crippled by lack of a credible threat of violence as an alternative. This dates from our betrayal of South Vietnam, and is exacerbated by the decline of most other Western powers into military impotence. Diplomacy works as the "good cop" alternative to a military "bad cop." Our failure in this has been so great that it could only be redeemed by some seriously crazy violence. Iraq--perfect! Now Colin Powell's "good cop" will be contrasted with a really scary "bad cop" named Donald Rumsfeld. Expect big diplomatic payoffs.

10. Consensus of elected leaders. President Bush has requested approval for the invasion of Iraq from Congress. The Senate debated the question and voted overwhelmingly in favor. Our nation made this decision. We made the decision. That's a powerful reason in favor. [Note from 2006: For various people, including some of the Senators who voted for this campaign, to now sit on the sidelines and whine, "I don't know anything about this and nobody told me anything and it has nothing to do with me" is despicable.]

11. To learn how to fight this new kind of war. There has never been a war like this before. We need to learn how to fight it, and keep learning as enemy tactics evolve. There's no other way to learn than just plunging in and fighting. Armchair strategists are not much help. And Iraq is big enough to blood the entire US Army and Marine Corps, without being very dangerous (by historical standards, that is. Think Shiloh, or the Meuse-Argonne Campaign).

12. Revenge. Saddam and al Qaeda have been responsible for the terror-killings of American citizens, including American diplomats. These murders have gone unpunished. It was wrong for us not to avenge them violently. (I'm using the term "revenge" provocatively, to irritate appeasers. But feel free to toss out the concept of vengeance. it is still wrong, both morally and logically, to allow criminals to flourish and prosper through their crimes, and to prey on the weak. It is a sin.)

13. Archives. Totalitarian regimes always keep good records. We are going to learn a lot about what's really been going on in the world once we get into the files. (Me, I'd scan everything and put it on the Web.)

Posted by John Weidner at October 31, 2006 9:14 AM
Weblog by John Weidner