You always know when you hit a nerve with the pacifists when they write equally long op-eds.
Written in response to my 19 November op-ed in the Free Lance-Star, the writer has a few comments to make. I’ll narrow his rebuttal down to the major points:
In his statement “war for just reasons is perfectly moral because it presupposes violence for just goals,” I would certainly be interested in knowing who determines the just reasons.
Certainly not Saddam Hussein! But beyond this, George Weigel’s defense of justice over pacifism is fairly clear. The United States has not used WMD against the citizens of say, Connecticut. Nor has our government engaged in starving its own people in order to build several White Houses across the country. Nor have we been driven into abject poverty in order to retool our armed forces. Justice you ask? Does this really need an answer?
Of course it does, and the answer is simple. Are these actions – the starvation of the Iraqi people, the wanton excess of Saddam Hussein in rebuilding his personal domains, and the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction – the definition of justice? Clearly not. Therefore, we have an obligation to stop this before it is too late.
Also, are those reasons because Saddam Hussein killed Iraqi Kurds who rebelled against his government? If that is the case, we should immediately go to war against Turkey, a nation that is systematically hunting down and killing (does it matter by chemicals or bullets) Turkish Kurds in open rebellion against the Turkish government.
Could the just reasons be because Saddam has shown no qualms “about bringing war to his neighbors”? If so, perhaps we should also wage war against other Arab states (Egypt, Syria, Jordan) that have waged four wars against our ally, Israel.
If it is of any consequence, even the Kurds in Turkey don’t support the PDK. And what the Turkish regime has done to Armenian Catholics is detestable. Then again, who am I to define a just cause when I see one.
As previously mentioned, an appeal to our fears is used to turn us against opposing views. The “clock is ticking overseas,” “that it is Saddam who is pursuing the option of death rather than removing his weapons of mass destruction,” and “the price of not carrying out our mission is too costly to allow” play to our deepest emotion–the fear of death and suffering.
However, those assertions are no more based on fact than any assertion that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction. As shown by the president’s inability to present Congress or our allies intelligence on the existence of WMDs, we are dealing with conjecture versus fact.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz (a Chaldean Catholic I might add) has already signalled that “no Arab country is free of the threat (of war), even if it takes part alongside America in the aggression against Iraq” if attacked by the Unites States. This saber rattling is echoed not only by Iraqi dissidents, but by the Iraqi regime itself.
By denying that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, you force the region to play a waiting game of Russian Roulette in order to ease the consciences of modern-day Neville Chamberlain’s.
We know Saddam rules an economically crippled nation, and his military forces are a mere shadow of the forces we readily defeated in 1991. We know that time is not against us. We have the most powerful armed forces the world has ever seen. We have an intelligence capability (economic, diplomatic, military) surpassed by no other.
This intelligence capability far exceeds that which was used to keep tabs on the Soviet Union and its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons program. The Soviet Union was a world power. Are President Bush and Mr. Kenney telling us this same intelligence community is not capable of monitoring a Third World nation?
Obviously, in the opinion of the President and his staff (and former President Clinton and his administration), Saddam still possesses and is continuing to aquire WMD.
I would submit that the President knows a bit more than the ‘general public’ when it comes to Saddam’s WMD capability. By arguing otherwise, we are in effect claiming to trust Saddam over President Bush. While I know that the ultra-leftists relish such a comparison, that is utterly ridiculous to common sense – and yes, to notions of justice as well.
We will prevail in this war. There is no doubt about that. And America’s military men and women will be killed and maimed for a war that has had to be “sold” to the country’s citizenry. That alone should make thinking men and women take pause in their support for this upcoming war.
Going to war, especially a supposed pre-emptive war, is serious business. It is the very last card a president and a nation should throw on the table. That card should be thrown only when all other measures have been completely exhausted, and the nation is under threat of imminent danger if pre-emptive action is not taken.
And thus the thrust of the argument. Rather than expounding on how the vast majority of the American public are convinced that the Iraqi dictator needs to go, it may be better to show exactly how we are at the point of throwing down ‘the last card’. For eleven years we have fooled around with Saddam. Saddam has refused to comply with a single U.N. resolution other than by force. Saddam has demonstrated a need and capacity for warehousing WMD; chemical, nuclear, and biological. Saddam has starved his own people and refurbished his own palaces to retool for war. Against whom? The pre-emption is not America’s, rather our actions are against the Iraqi presumption to conduct war against our allies in the Middle East.
I have to note that the argument against ‘just war’ is always prefaced by the argument of who exactly determines justice. Note further that the op-ed doesn’t reject the notion of just war, only that the concept is unevenly applied. In the case of the Middle East, between Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, which government merits the most attention? Furthermore, if our concepts of justice are not absolute, then how then are we able to identify other cases of injustice in places such as Turkey, Israel, et al.? It’s a hollow argument against justice, and I think the author knows it.
These were all arguments that were brought up during the 19 November debate at Mary Washington. Thanks to all from the area who showed up to make it such a huge success. I’m sure that the debate in the public square will continue. . .