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Freedom's Fidelity

Thursday, September 23, 2004

A Mini-Fisking

Dawn Turner Trice is a few times a week, very average, columnist for the Chicago Tribune's Metro section. From me she gets a once in while glance usually followed by a headshake and then a turned page. For whatever reason though, her column yesterday struck a nerve with me as I found myself still considering it today. So I sent her an email that got a little longer than I wanted so I'll post it here as well.

The middle section of her column is blocked in italics below.
Many of my detractors wanted to link the Iraq war to the 9/11 terror attacks.

This, despite the findings of the 9/11 Commission and despite the findings of a recent draft report from the top U.S. investigator in Iraq that said there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when America invaded.

Wasn't that our main justification for going to war?
Dawn, although I have obviously not read your email, I can't help but wonder if you are debating a straw man here or if it is that you really don't understand the connections. Of course Iraq had nothing to do with the logisitical planning/execution of 9/11. However, it is indisputable that Saddam Hussein had connections to and supported terrorism. Even if his links to Al-Qaeda were tenuous, his links to terrorism are anything but. (Don't underestimate how many of Saddam's oil for food dollars made their way to Al-Qaeda) Do you really believe that the only terrorism that threatens the United States or civilization is that which falls under the moniker of Al-Qaeda?

As far as WMDs go, no it was not our main justification for the war, it was one of many. This is an attempt to re-frame the debate. Can you please cite anyone, besides maybe Saddam Hussein himself, that argued that he had no WMDs before the war? Maybe you could even cite one of your own pre-war columns? You can't, every intelligence agency in the world believed this to be so. The only reason we now know it was wrong is because we invaded.

The manner in which Iraq is related to the wider war on terror is because the only long-term solution to the terrorist threat is the spreading of free societies. The dynamic in the Middle East was clearly not tipping in our favor and the region is in desperate need of reform. Middle Easterners deserve some hope for a better future and are worthy of democracy and all the promises of self-determination that we take for granted. Perhaps your argument is that Arabs are not capable of self-government?
Readers who didn't like the column wanted to justify the war by saying Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator.

This is true. But he had been despicable for years, and for years we sat by and virtually just let him be.
Let him be? Perhaps you are right in some ways, although we did push him out of Kuwait and imposed a decades worth of sanctions and inspections. Oh yeah and also Bill Clinton, citing the continued threat of Saddam's WMD programs, ordered Operation Desert Fox where hundreds of Iraqi sites were bombed in a heavy air campaign. Not to mention our no-fly zone patrols that took fire from Hussein nearly every day for a decade. Even if all of this falls into your definition of 'letting him be' that still does nothing to advance the argument that it was right to 'let him be' and that we should continue ignoring his despicable acts just because we always have.
Right now, there's genocide in Sudan and we watch because no terrorists there pose a threat to us, right? There are countries such as Israel, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and India that either have or are trying to build weapons of mass destruction. And yet we haven't drawn the line in the sand.
Genocide in the Sudan only highlights the impotence of the UN. The US, indeed President Bush has been pushing the UN on this for months. Again Kofi Annan drags his feet and says that there aren't yet enough dead for it to count as genocide. Pathetic.

I don't know exactly what you are getting at with the last sentence, but here goes. Israel and India are allies and hence no threat to us. Iran may be a threat, but the reason we invaded Iraq is so we didn't have to invade everywhere else. The Mullahs have a tenuous grip on power there and are ripe for revolution. Perhaps a successful, free country next door could provide the little shove needed to overthrow that regime. But, Dawn, if you are arguing for an invasion of Iran, I am all ears.

North Korea already has nukes, and hence are more difficult to deal with. If we invade, we don't know how they would react. Almost surely they would start lobbing nukes into South Korea, and maybe even Japan if they have that capability. Is that risk worth it at this point? I think not. It would have been better to do something about them before they went nuclear... kind of like we did with Saddam Hussein. Or would you have preferred that we leave a nuclear Hussein for our children to deal with?

Pakistan like North Korea already has nukes, and at least for the time being are helping us in the War on Terror. If you'll recall before 9/11 they were the only country to officially recognize the Taliban, now they are at least on our side. Any change in government there would undoubtedly lead to an Islamic fundamentalist regime with nuclear capabilities rising to power. It would be silly, if not suicidal to have a single foreign policy dictum that applied universally to the rest of the world. You see, the world is a dynamic place - alliances, governments and attitudes are ever changing. Our foreign policy, as I am sure you would agree does require some nuance.


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