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Friedman on Iraq
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Tom Friedman has written the first part of a two-part editorial about war with Iraq, this one written to a liberal audience.

Here's where he's right:

What liberals fail to recognize is that regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. And simply because oil is also at stake in Iraq doesn't make it illegitimate either. Some things are right to do, even if Big Oil benefits.

Here's where he's not:

Although President Bush has cast the war in Iraq as being about disarmament and that is legitimate disarmament is not the most important prize there. Regime change is the prize. Regime transformation in Iraq could make a valuable contribution to the war on terrorism, whether Saddam is ousted or enticed into exile.

Why? Because what really threatens open, Western, liberal societies today is not Saddam and his weapons per se. He is a twisted dictator who is deterrable through conventional means. Because Saddam loves life more than he hates us.

We might be able to deter Saddam from launching nukes at U.S. interests or allies, but Friedman makes a mistake in assuming we'd be able to deter him from selling the technology or intact weapons to other states or non-state entities, or that Saddam would have to actually launch weapons to be a threat. Again, he may feel emboldened enough to call the world's bluff by invading Kuwait again, this time armed with nuclear weaponry, on the assumption that we would be less likely to engage in combat to expel him.

So Friedman's wrong in saying that we have nothing to fear from Iraq's weapons per se. We have much to fear from them.

But he's pretty much on target throughout the rest of the piece, which he concludes:

This is something liberals should care about because liberating the captive peoples of the Mideast is a virtue in itself and because in today's globalized world, if you don't visit a bad neighborhood, it will visit you.

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