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Unanswered Questions About Iraq
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Via Chris Hitchens' latest:

I debate with the opponents of the Iraq intervention almost every day. I always have the same questions for them, which never seem to get answered.

  • Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was inevitable or not?
  • Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would have been better?
  • Do you know that Saddam's envoys were trying to buy a weapons production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as late as last March?
  • Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. Clarke's word) to the man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York?
  • Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf War"?
  • Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all the fighting for us?
  • Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?

As he points out, the revisionist view of Iraq was as a contained little spot which wasn't causing any trouble and was best ignored. That thinking, he points out, not only denies history and reality, but it clearly short-sighted and wrong.

But by now I already anticipate the answer: "Who knows? Saddam and his sons may have completely reformed, closing the torture rooms, establishing a Jeffersonian democracy, and holding free elections."

This sort of analysis is brought particularly into focus with all the "what-ifs" surrounding 9/11. Many would have seen measures that would have prevented 9/11 as gross overreactions, as responding to a threat that wasn't there. To what extent should we be proactive in dealing with perceived threats ahead of time, with overwhelming force? Should we ignore them on the basis that they might just change their mind? Should that have been our policy pre-9/11? Should that have been our policy toward Iraq?

I concede that not having a crystal ball, we can't know whether invading Iraq, despite the violence we hear about on a daily basis, prevented greater tragedy and loss of life in the future. But in terms of deciding upon and shaping policy, it seems that in the context of 9/11 it makes the most sense, given incomplete information about rogue state and terrorist information, to always assume the worst and act accordingly.

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