Monday, March 03, 2003

A READER WRITES, IN A POLITE AND NON-FLAMING E-MAIL:
Does it not occur to you that people are protesting our going to war against Iraq because the administration has done such a horrible job selling it?
Though I've heard this before, it really doesn't occur to me, because the Administration hasn't done a terrible job. In fact, it's done a good enough job to persuade between 60-70% of Americans, maybe even more depending on the poll, that war against Iraq is justified. In a big, diverse democracy like ours, persuading fifty percent plus one is good enough, and President Bush, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld have done better than that. Some people will never be persuaded obviously, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the arguments aren't good ones.
War is a very drastic action, not something that should be taken lightly, nor used loosely. If I am going to support a war, I want a good reason. and I don't see it. I don't seen WMD. I don't see Iraq not cooperating with weapon's inspectors. I don't see Iraq not destroying missles that the weapons inspectors say are unacceptable.
I don't pretend to have the ability to persuade you. I can't even persuade my lefty friends. If you (like my friends) see Saddam Hussein's cat-and-mouse games as compliance, and see unelected, unaccountable foreign bureaucrats as the guarantors of our freedom and security, I don't think there's much point in arguing about it. I could go on about the government minders who sit in on interviews with scientists, the fact that Hussein secretly built the illegal missiles he's now destroying in violation of Security Council resolutions, the many things completely unaccounted for in the Iraqi's report to the UN, the intelligence Powell presented to the UN or the fact that we would never have seen any cooperation whatsoever out of Iraq without our military parked on its doorstep, but really we're just too far apart to achieve anything like a consensus. Thankfully, my side won the vote.
And if you're going to tell me next something about Sadaam being a horrible dictator, or a menace to humanity, I'll agree. But he is not alone. So do would advise Bush to start a war with every menace to humanity?
Why do people think this is a strong argument? "We can't get rid of every genocidal dictator all at once, so we shouldn't ever try to get rid of any of them." If I put that into practice is my own life, I would be paralyzed. I would advise the President to do what most people do to survive: prioritize. Maybe you disagree with his priorities. Fine. But that's a different and actually debatable point, unlike the argument that we should do nothing.
Is that why you support this war? Do you, first and foremost, want to liberate the oppressed Iraqi people? If that's true, why don't you just say that? Instead of petty name calling.
It is one of many reasons why I support this war, but no, my main reason for supporting war is not to liberate the oppressed Iraqi people. First and foremost, I want my government to begin eliminating state sponsors of terrorism, so that my country will be safer. I just believe that liberation for oppressed Iraqis is a nice long-term benefit, and dare to dream that with Saddam toppled Iraq might become the first Arab democracy, perhaps even bringing to the Arab world what people like you and me enjoy: freedom and security. Most people don't think it's wrong to do things for self-interested and altruistic reasons. In fact, most people figure it's even good when people do the right things for the wrong reasons, although here I think our reasons for going to war are good too. As for "petty name calling," when the pro-Saddam goons I saw in my own city and see on TV put away their "Bush is an International Terrorist," "Amerikkka," "Bush is Dumb," and "America: the Real Rogue State" posters and t-shirts, I'll be happy to respectfully disagree with them. When they will acknowledge that President Bush is acting in good faith, I'll acknowledge that they're opposing him in good faith. Until then, they have my contempt.

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