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Answers to the Anti-War Questions
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Okay, so here are the questions posed by the anti-war folks at Stand Down, and my accompanying answers:

1. Attacking Iraq has been publicly called a "pre-emption" of a threat from Saddam Hussein's regime, whose sins include launching regional wars of aggression. Do you think there is a clear and reliable difference between pre-emptive and aggressive warfare, and if so, what is it?

All warfare is aggressive.

But if the question is asking whether there would be a difference between deposing a tyrant who has continued to develop WMD against the terms of cease-fire and the will of the international community, and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait...well yeah, there's an obvious difference.

In the early 90's, Iraq invaded Kuwait, member of the U.N., a sovereign country, in order to conquer it and annex it. That was wrong.

Military action against Iraq now would not necessarily be "pre-emptive". There are punitive elements as well. The justification is: You refuse to comply with cease-fire agreements from the end of a war you started, you continue to develop WMD against the will of the international community, and you commit atrocities against humanity...and guess what? The international community will take action to depose you.

2. What do you feel are the prospects that an invasion of Iraq will succeed in a) maintaining it as a stable entity and b) in turning it into a democracy? Are there any precedents in the past 50 years that influence your answer?

I think the both propositions will be extremely difficult. I also think they are extremely important and worth trying to achieve. I also think it would be difficult to imagine a regime that could be much worse than Saddam Hussein's. Even a fractured mess would be better than a highly-organized, brutal and oppressive despot.

As to our track record, Japan, Germany, and South Korea are all strong examples of creating and fostering democracy where none existed before (though they all fall just out of the 50-year range of the question). Admittedly, we haven't had a great track record since then, but there are few regimes that we've purposefully, militarily overthrown with the purpose of installing a democracy, and never in the past 50 years have we had the support of the international community in doing so.

The jury's still out on Afghanistan. It's too early to tell how that will pan out. But I don't think there's anybody who could seriously argue that the continued rule of the Taliban would be preferrable to the fledgling government they have now.

3. How successful do you think the military operations and "regime change" in Afghanistan have been in achieving their stated objectives? Does this example affect your feelings about war in Iraq in any way?

Our objectives were to disrupt the ability of Al Qaeda to function or use Afghanistan as a safe haven for training and executing terrorist activities. We've ousted the Taliban, destroyed many Al Qaeda camps and bases, and put all major terrorist leaders on the run, all in the span of months, in a land-locked, mountainous country. I'd say the military operations were an enormous success.

As I said above, the jury's still out on winning the peace in Afghanistan, partly because the war is not completely over. Reconstruction is vital, and admittedly, not enough is being done. The impetus isn't only on America, though. I'm disappointed by the lack of international support for rebuilding and empowering Afghanistan. More countries need to do much more to rebuild infrastructure and train and educate Afghans.

4. As a basis for war, the Bush Administration accuses Iraq of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear), supporting terrorism, and brutalizing their own people. Since Iraq is not the only country engaged in these actions, under what circumstances should the US go to war with other such nations, in addition to going to war with Iraq?

War should always be a last resort.

What differentiates Iraq from other countries, such as North Korea, is that all diplomatic and economic incentives, pressures, and sanctions have been thoroughly exhausted over a twelve-year period.

Other repressive regimes should be compelled to reform, most notably North Korea, but also countries like Iran, Zimbabwe...the list goes on. What's different about Iraq is the level and length of diplomatic and economic engagement through the U.N.

All options have been exhausted, and military action, the last resort, is now appropriate.

5. The Bush Administration has issued numerous allegations about the threat represented by Iraq, many of which have been criticized in some quarters as hearsay, speculation or misstatements. Which of the Administration's allegations do you feel stand up best to those criticisms?

Certainly some aspects of Powell's recent presentation to the U.N. were more compelling than others. Most convincing, in my opinion, are those areas where there is overlap with Hans Blix's most recent report to the U.N. Stuff like this:

The nerve agent VX is one of the most toxic ever developed. Iraq has declared that it only produced VX on a pilot scale, just a few tons, and that the quality was poor and the product unstable. Consequently, it was said that the agent was never weaponized.

Iraq said that the small quantity of agent remaining after the Gulf War was unilaterally destroyed in the summer of 1991.

UNMOVIC, however, has information that conflicts with this account. There are indications that Iraq had worked on the problem of purity and stabilization and that more had been achieved than has been declared. Indeed, even one of the documents provided by Iraq indicates that the purity of the agent, at least in laboratory production, was higher than declared.

And this:

The document indicates that 13,000 chemical bombs were dropped by the Iraqi air force between 1983 and 1998; while Iraq has declared that 19,500 bombs were consumed during this period. Thus, there is a discrepancy of 6,500 bombs. The amount of chemical agent in these bombs would be in the order of about 1,000 tons. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must assumed that these quantities are now unaccounted for.

Hell, Blix's report is chock full of discrepancies in the Iraqi weapons declarations.

But the most important fact is one that is not in dispute: The Iraqis continue to subvert the inspection process by not complying. They've complied in half-measures, as they have since the end of the Gulf War. This is not acceptable and never has been, and the world needs to move past giving them the 4,287th chance to comply with international will. Force must be finally be used because all other means have failed, miserably.

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