Monday, February 24, 2003

My post below on reluctant hawks seems to have stirred up a bit of a fracas; I seem to have lead a charge I'm not entirely comfortable with, and Kevin Drum, who I cited, now seems worried that he's about to be "tossed out of the liberal club" entirely. (A notion vaguely reminiscent of Monty Python's argument clinic... but I digress).

Still, like Patrick Nielsen Hayden, I have to take exception to this bit of Kevin's response: sense from reading the anti-war left is that they don't really take the danger of terrorism and unstable states seriously. I do, however, and I think the evidence indicates that humanitarian policies alone won't solve the problem.

Some of us here in the anti-war left are perfectly well aware of the danger of terrorism and unstable states, and oppose the war because we expect it to make those problems worse.

The current regime in Iraq, vile though it may be in other respects, has not been one of the primary sponsors of terrorism in recent years. Syria, Iran, and Pakistan have offered Islamic radicals much more in the way of formal support, and the same can be said of at least some prominently placed individuals in Saudi Arabia (what with the telethons on state-controlled media, etc., etc.). Of these, Pakistan already has nukes, and Iran is actively working on them. These are much likelier sources of major new funds for terrorists, or weapons of mass destruction, than Iraq. As is North Korea, for that matter, which seems willing to sell whatever technology it has to anyone with the cash to pay for it.

The major connection between this war and terrorists, it seems to me, is that it's likely to provide them a rallying point. Bin Laden seems to think so as well; he hasn't even had the decency to wait till we actually start bombing before putting the attack on his recruiting tapes.

As to the problem of unstable states, even administration war planners concede that invading Iraq may well create one. The Turks are anxious to carve out an oil-bearing chunk of the north. Iranian-backed Shia militia are already reported to be moving into the south. And the war will provide a rallying cry to radical islamic revolutionaries far and wide.

Kevin does have better arguments in favor of the war --- the point that a United States attack would end the rather nasty sanctions regime for which the United States is itself responsible may be a bit perverse, but it's still true. But a full-fledged member of the liberal club ought to know his fellow liberals' arguments...


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