A Simple Question
I've been impressed with the quality of recent discussion here at L&P over the war in Iraq, and I realize that even"nonpartisan" reports from governmental committees reek of partisanship. But with the 9/11 Commission preparing to issue its final, critical report, and with the Senate Intelligence Commission having issued its report, I really have one question for all the discussants here, a question that is being asked, it seems, of all Presidential candidates:"If you knew then, what you know now about the war in Iraq, would you have opposed (or favored) the US military campaign?"
And I mean quite simply, if you knew everything you know now, including the fact that the US would engage in a nation-building occupation, where would you stand?
I tend to think that most people in this debate have neither changed their positions nor changed the positions of their interlocutors (with the notable exception of Irfan Khawaja among recent discussants, who has spoken here of having opposed US intervention in Iraq previously, but who came to favor it). I know my own fundamental views have not changed, even if I think I've learned a lot from people on all sides of this debate. I don't think my essential concerns have altered one whit, because I do believe that most of the evidence has lent credence to my initial assumptions about the nature of the problems in the Middle East and the nature of US foreign policy.
Clearly the operative word for most people's viewpoints in this dialogue is: tenacity. So, have your views changed? Why? Or why not? Feel free to post here, or to simply think about it.
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Chris Matthew Sciabarra - 7/14/2004
Thanks for your comments, Matthew. I do believe that there is an even more serious problem to contend with, as I've pointed out here: http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/5213.html
The problem is that as the US presence has increased, it has also spawned additional terrorist networks.
Moreover, I suspect we won't even be able to judge the "success" or "failure" of the Iraq war for a long time. On the face of it, a murderous dictator was removed. But if, in the long run, we end up with the establishment of a theocratic government, the situation will have greatly deteriorated. And, as I suggested in that article you allude to [ http://www.solohq.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Understanding_the_Global_Crisis__Reclaiming_Rands_Radical_Legacy.shtml ], "a growth in direct U.S. intervention could make WMD proliferation among potential terrorists more likely, since it becomes their prime manner of counteracting an overwhelming U.S. military force..." Hence, the greater urgency in countries like Iran for the development of nuclear capabilities.
The clear lesson here is: Everything needs to be evaluated in the long-run. Just gotta hope that we don't give credence to Keynes' ol' maxim: "In the long run, we're all dead."
Matthew Humphreys - 7/13/2004
My views on most major aspects of the war itself have hardly changed since the day I read Chris' article "Reclaiming Rand's Radical Legacy". My arguments against the invasion always started from a presumption that Iraq probably *did* have WMD (as I believe did Chris', though please correct me if I'm wrong), so I tend to see the poor intelligence revelations as something that damages the case *for* war, rather than improving the case *against*.
Though I am personally British, I am quite an atlanticist and was in fact resident in the US in the later months of 2002 (effectively the build up to the Iraq invasion) and have been quite concerned to see the US and my own country using up resources and sending brave soldiers to die fighting a dictator whom I believe could have been contained without invasion. The US should now focus on crushing al Quaeda, and then gradually pull their troops back from the various parts of the world where they are stationed, with the *possible* exception of one or two major "flashpoints" (correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to recall Bush supporting such a pull back during the last election campaign).
My 2 cents (as you say over there).
Chris Matthew Sciabarra - 7/13/2004
I can't argue with your points, Jonathan. Well taken... and the war is not over.
Jonathan Dresner - 7/13/2004
I opposed the war at first, on the grounds that it was poorly justified and planned and internationally unsupported, and continue to think that it was a mistake and a failure.
The intelligence on which the war was based was clearly flawed beyond redemption, the nation-building has been haphazard (what's gone right doesn't redound to their credit much, as so much has gone wrong and the general sway of Iraqi opinion is very much against us) and they don't have any more idea what they are doing now than when they started, except that we all know that now.
And the other shoe has yet to drop... the war on terror is not over.
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