Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Constantly Changing Rationale for War?

For those with short-term historical memories. From Feb. 2003. Hat-tip Hugh Hewitt.

From here.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular. In addition, Bush hinted at the possibility that Saddam might attack the United States or enable someone else to do so. There are so many reasons for going to war floating around—at least some of which, taken alone, either are nothing new or do not seem to point to Iraq specifically as the obvious place to wage it—that those inclined to suspect the motives of the Administration have plenty of material with which to argue that it is being disingenuous. So, along with all the stated reasons, there is a brisk secondary traffic in 'real' reasons, which are similarly numerous and do not overlap: the country is going to war because of a desire to control Iraqi oil, or to help Israel, or to avenge Saddam's 1993 assassination attempt on President George H. W. Bush.

Yet another argument for war, which has emerged during the last few months, is that removing Saddam could help bring about a wholesale change for the better in the political, cultural, and economic climate of the Arab Middle East. To give one of many possible examples, Fouad Ajami, an expert on the Arab world who is highly respected inside the Bush Administration, proposes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that the United States might lead 'a reformist project that seeks to modernize and transform the Arab landscape. Iraq would be the starting point, and beyond Iraq lies an Arab political and economic tradition and a culture whose agonies have been on cruel display.' The Administration's main public proponent of this view is Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who often speaks about the possibility that war in Iraq could help bring democracy to the Arab Middle East. President Bush appeared to be making the same point in the State of the Union address when he remarked that 'all people have a right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny—and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom.'

I supported the war in the beginning if you recall on the basis of the original main premise. That was the WMDs and fact that the UN wasn't going to do anything about it. We can surmise all we want about whether they've been moved, etc. But when it comes down to it, there is no concrete evidence. While hindsight is 20/20, it's evident we went to war under very shaky evidence and sources. I, along with other who supported the war, feel very much misled.
Now the only way this will come out to a happy ending is if Iraq succeeds in building a relatively moderate governement and the country begins to prosper. That of course will be a long time. I really hope it works out that way for the Iraqi people and for us. You give good peripheral reasons to legitimize the war, but the main one missed the mark. Now, the only way to make this legit, is to see it through to the end, regardless of who we deposed or what possible and questionable links to AL-queda there were. I know it's not another Vietnam too, it's just we've gotten ourselves into quite a tricky situation.

If my reasoning was unclear, this is it: The reasons you list are not valid, i feel, for going to war, but for continuing the war and hopefully, eventually, legitimizing it somewhat.
My support came from WMDs as well. But those who said there were no other arguments or justifications prior to the war are just forgetting. I remember the democracy argument. I didn't buy it at the time, but now it looks right on the money.

I'm not complaining that Lincoln made the war about slavery half-way through either.
Looks like we're on about the same page with some minor differences...however, the Linoln comparison is not correct in this situation...Chris
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