Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Supporting the Iraq Invasion

Fareed Zakaria (one of my favorite middle east policy commentators) has a column in the Washington Post that provides by far the most compelling argument in favor of invading Iraq that I've seen to date. In discussing John Kerry's statement that given what we know now he would still support attacking Iraq, Zakaria makes the case that the policy of sanctions against Iraq with a large military force stationed in Saudia Arabia was untenable. The sanctions were being circumvented by Hussein and were creating massive suffering for common Iraqis, meanwhile stationing troops in Saudia Arabia was expensive and was one of the primary grievances motivating Al Qaeda. Given these circumstances the US had the choice of either walking away or forcing an endgame. It is apparent now (see Kenneth Pollack's Atlantic Monthly article for more details) that Saddam was merely biding his time waiting for the sanctions to be lifted so that he could resume his WMD programs. Walking away would not have been a great idea. So really there were not many options.

This is a very strong argument. Unfortunate that it comes almost two years too late (the pre-war hype started in September '02) and from someone completely unconnected with the Bush administration. Zakaria goes on the point out the many flaws in Bush's execution of the war and that neither he (Zakaria) nor Kerry support all aspects of the war.

I think this is an appropriate point to note that despite my vehement distaste for Democrats who voted for the war resolution, my position on the matter is not entirely out of line with Zakaria's. I was offended not with the whole concept of an Iraq war, but rather with the disingenuousness with which the administration cloaked their true motivations for the war, the arrogance and callous stupidity of those motivations themselves (and the whole neocon philosophy), their complete disregard for international institutions, opinions, and support, their complete refusal to consider the costs (including opportunity costs) of the operation, and the lack of a sound plan for what to do when the shooting stops, and the sheer spitefulness of the administration towards anyone who raised any of the issues I just mentioned. Kudos to Zakaria for successfully making the case that has eluded so many politicians and pundits these past two years.

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