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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Someone actually drew my attention to this article as a justification for war I might not have heard of before. They were right. I hadn't heard it. I suggest everyone read this article now, before they read the rest of this.

Go ahead.

Done?

Alright. Now, you will have noticed that 2/3 of the column space was taken up with talk about Rwanda, the AIDS epidemic, etc... despite it being an article taglined "This war is about saving American lives." She does address this a little bit, and I'd like to add my response to it (something I get to do since... this is my journal. Well, half of it is mine.)

The first of three basic arguments she gives is the following:

Because we are in a new stage in history, facing dangers we have never faced before. One is the fact that the ability to make weapons of mass destruction is no longer limited to big, powerful states. Weak states, failed states, states ruled by madmen, can all make them, if they are not prevented.


That is to say, we shouldn't stop pissing people off with our current policy of overt coercive diplomacy, we should just try to prevent every single country or group in the world from producing weapons. I have bad news for Pam - you can't. Sorry. No dice. Weapons proliferation, especially of things which can be made in a college chem lab, is inevitable. The best one can do is to try and prevent people from WANTING to use these weapons, or mitigate their harms. We've seen beautifully what having a society with guns where certain people can't get them has done for us - created the only economy flourishing right now, namely the black market.

The point at which a small group in Japan can get VX Nerve gas and execute an attack, you can pretty safely say the prevention of proliferation is a lost cause. But then we get the second glowing block of analysis:

There may be no link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. But on the one hand, there are al-Qaeda terrorists who have said their ambition is to get weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand, there is Saddam, who has such weapons. There is demand and there is supply, and the rules of capitalism say they usually meet.


Take in a moment to understand this argument. "On the one hand, there is a cold, calculating, secular ruler who wants nothing more than to control his own country until his death, when he can pass on that iron grip to his son. On the other, we have religious fanatics who want nothing more than for that secular leader to be dead and out of power so a muslim cleric can take his place. I can't imagine any situation where he wouldn't want to hand over his weapons!"

People, Saddam may be a minority, but he is not Balki from Perfect Strangers. It's not as if Saddam and Bin Ladin are going to move in with each other, and their zany culture clash will result in crazy hijinks, like the destruction of downtown LA. This argument is akin to "The US has nuclear weapons, and Hamas wants them... OBVIOUSLY the US is going to sell them!" It's just retarded, and I can't believe someone literate would honestly try to advance it.

Finally:

Some might say it is no worse for Iraq or North Korea to have nuclear weapons than it is for Britain, France, the United States and several others to have them. It is. It may go against egalitarian principles to say so, but not all countries are as nice as each other. Sweden is nicer than Saudi Arabia, for example


I'll accept for the sake of argument the rather odd, and somewhat silly, contention that the US is "nice." But so what? Are we going to say that Pakistan is a nicer country than Iraq? How about the USSR? I'm doubting that the "niceness" of a country can necessarily be inexorably linked to its propensity to use large weapons. Soviet Russia was infinitely more powerful than Iraq, and slaughtered more people than Saddam could concieve of in his biggest Kurd-genociding wet dream - yet they managed not to use them. Funny, that.

The only thing of note about the rest of the silly thing is that it does beg an interesting question: If the US was not interested in preventing genocide in Rwanda, and has not been interested in the citizenry of any other country in the world for so long, which is more likely: That they're using a faux moral justification for the war in Iraq to get their actual goals, or that they actually grew a conscience? You can decide for yourselves...

cranked out at 9:23 PM | |

 
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