Friday, August 16, 2002

Excuses Posing as Reasons

I find it interesting that opponents of an invasion of Iraq worry about Saddam using chemical or biological weapons against us if we attack. According to a New York Times article on August 16, 2002:

In an opinion article published today in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Scowcroft, who helped build the broad international coalition against Iraq in the Persian Gulf war, warned that "an attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counter-terrorist campaign we have undertaken." An attack might provoke Iraq to use chemical or biological weapons in an effort to trigger war between Israel and the Arab world, he said.

There is hope in this attitude, of course. It at least admits that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction prohibited under the Gulf War ceasefire terms. And it show us the prime problem of letting him get away with deterring an attack. Namely, if he knows that we will not attack short of a direct attack on us, Saddam will feel free to attack us with every method short of a direct attack with weapons of mass destruction. And if taking action against the Iraqi threat means our allies won’t help us, well, they aren’t very good allies. I doubt they will halt their aid in any case. Indeed, smashing up Iraq will make a lot of countries really anxious to stay on our good side.

The article goes on:

[Scowcroft] added: "There is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq , making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive."

So there we have it. It is not enough that we perceive a threat. Since our allies don’t see a threat to us, we must withhold our military at this time. But, if our allies finally understand the threat to us—when presumably even the densest appeaser admits Saddam is a threat, they will allow us to take action. I’d be a little more sympathethic to this argument if we could say, “Ok Europe, if you don’t want us to stop Saddam now; you get the duty in five years when you feel threatened.” Right. We get the job and the casualties whether we do it now or in the future. I’d rather do it now while we can do it with fewer consequences.

As to the level of difficulty, it was difficult (and impossible according to the critics) to smash the Taliban in land-locked Afghanistan. Shoot, I didn’t even figure we could topple the Taliban with the Northern Alliance. I figured we’d be able to pin the Taliban down with air power while we dug out al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, but bringing them down seemed too hard. I did not doubt we’d overcome the distance, however, to achieve the lesser goal. We have a splendid military that will overcome the logistical problems of invading Iraq without the same coalition as we had in 1991. We won’t be alone. Our coalition will be sufficient if not ideal. Welcome to the real world. It isn’t always easy being the leader.