Wednesday, November 13, 2002

War and

I have a student who writes opinion columns for the campus newspaper. Like me, he's libertarian, but unlike me he is opposed to the war on terror's extension to Iraq. I had the most pleasant discussion disagreeing with him. He seemed to think I was a little too gung-ho about blowing Iraq to bits, which mortified me. But looking over the posts I've made (here, here and here, and there's more if you'll scroll around each one) I think I've evolved some. I find the Left's antiwar tirades silly and at times I may have wanted too much to be against them. That's flabby thinking, and I need to sharpen up.

Moreover, as my student points out, there is a good case against the war to be made by those of the libertarian persuasion. Justin Raimondo at has done a damned good job of making the case. I think the case falls short as it seems to assume that other Arab states will just get more angry with us for taking out Saddam. I don't think so; I think the case can be made that democracy in Iraq encourages democracy in places like Saudi Arabia, where they could really use it. And a good friend who left Iran many years ago assures me that Iranians are waiting for the opportunity to reform that country. Moreover, Saddam has been able to fund terrorism and may have had his people meet Osama's people in Prague before 9/11. Drying up terrorism's money flow is a good idea; while you can reasonably argue that more comes from Saudi Arabia than Iraq, there's something to be said for picking the low-hanging fruit first.

Lastly, while the Left likes to talk about GWB cleaning up Daddy's mess, the point remains: If Saddam was angered by 1990 and is acting out on that anger, you have some responsibility to clean up your mess, to go back and finish the job. I didn't support the war in 1990, but that can't be changed now. Starting from right now, what's best? How is the world with Saddam left alone or with Saddam removed? If you argue on that basis, either answer has good points to make.