Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What If?

Many bloggers, myself included, are talking about Iraq and the mess we're in. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I don't think there are too many people who today would say that invading Iraq was a good move.

Well, maybe about 35% of the public would. But they'd support Bush even if he was caught banging a mare on the White House front lawn.

In the midst of the analysis of our Iraq position, Josh Marshall asks an important question:
But what if there had been weapons of mass destruction? Some in place and an active program under way?
He readily admits that some of his discussion is excuse making for being a liberal hawk early on. But he's honest enough to also recognize his bias. Later he says:
But here's the key. If our goal had actually been the elimination of a dangerous weapons of mass destruction program -- the one challenge that might conceivably have merited the mess we've gotten ourselves into -- we might well not be in this situation at all.
This looks to me sorta like a big DUH! A lot of chips might have fallen into line if there had been WMD. But if we're going to play that game, we can what if to death to many wonderful and glorious conclusions.

It was the conventional wisdom before the war that Iraq had WMD. I, too, suspected it likely that WMD would be found. Not to the extent exaggerated by the administration. But something. Admittedly, most of my opinion was informed by crappy media coverage (thanks Judy!). But I never bought into the idea that the U.S. was in imminent danger. I did think Saddam was developing the capability for tactical nuclear weapons...eventually. But I kinda figured that if Iraq was really any danger, Israel would have been on the attack. And they weren't.

Back then, I did not advocate invasion of Iraq. It was my feeling that the combinations of inspections, aerial reconnasance and sanctions was working adequately. IF the U.S. could have convinced the U.N., and formed a real U.N. coalition to join in the invasion, my opinion might have changed. But key allies weren't buying it, which led me to believe that something was rotten in Denma....ah....Washington.

I think we can learn from our mistakes, and Iraq is a doozy. The wisdom of an international community should not be ignored. The U.S. or any other country for that matter, is too entrenched in it's own biases to make unilateral decisions of enormous impact, such as going to war.

Next. Inspections done with rigourous effort and oversight work. They're often quite frustrating and seem fruitless. But they do work.

Finally this.

The changing of a government is a deeply intense personal experience of it's citizens. No one outside of a country can really understand the dynamics that exist inside, and only under the most extreme circumstances should an outside government/entity attempt regime change. Of course, the argument begins when you try and define those "extreme circumstances". But if an international concensus builds, it greatly increases the odds of circumstances being legitimate.

I know this is a position that is hard to swallow by many liberals and most conservatives who tut tut independence from the U.N. But to mess around with nation building is like going to your neighbors house and rearranging the furniture. You're likely to get your ass kicked.


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