Editorial - Saddams Succours #3
Unlike "Saddam's Succours #1" & "Saddam's Succours #2," (Editorial, TFR 56) this editorial has not been published previously on SOLOHQ.com. It represents the first gathering together of my thoughts since the war ended - since the looting, the chaos, the muscle-flexing by Shi-ite fanatics, etc.. I have changed my mind about nothing. Nothing has been said by "Saddam's Succours" that would cause me to.
It will be argued that I ought to change my mind, because no Weapons of Mass Destruction have been found, & it seems increasingly unlikely that any ever will be. Thus, it will be claimed, the very reason the war was waged has been shown to be a pretext, a phoney justification for something America & Britain were hell-bent on doing anyway.
First, to reiterate what I said in "SS #1": if it be true that there are no WoMD, it is only because of restrictions imposed after the war waged by America twelve years ago - to which war the Saddamites were also opposed. Had they had their way back then, when Saddam most assuredly did have such weapons, the consequences of their appeasement are unthinkable.
Second, in the intervening period, Saddam had dicked around & thrown out the various teams of weapons inspectors who had been sent in by the UN. One was entitled to assume he was not acting in good faith.
Third, by his previous conduct - developing and using such weapons, torturing & slaughtering dissidents, invading Kuwait, playing hide-&-seek with the weapons inspectors & failing to show evidence of the destruction of weapons he had admitted to having - Saddam had forfeited the benefit of any doubt. By his previous conduct he had already shown that he was a murdering, torturing despot with aggressive intent who would act on his intent whenever he had the capacity to do so - which capacity he was developing at a rate of knots. He should been taken out in 1992. He could have been taken out with moral impunity at any time since. Now, he has been taken out. Bravo!
If it turns out that Bush & Blair knew the information on which they were proceeding was dubious, I would still say they were right to wage war, but they were wrong to justify it with a fabrication. They should have said, "We cannot be sure he's got these weapons, but he's not entitled to the benefit of any doubt, & he continues to torture & murder - and yes, we do want to retrieve the oil fields that this Stalinist nationalised - so we shall now do what we should have done the last time."
In this regard, I couldn't agree more with Adam Reed, writing on SOLOHQ.com, when he says:
"The Bush administration's pre-war claim that Saddam already had such weapons was, I would conjecture, just another dishonest - nothing new about that - workaround for the absurdity of current 'international law.' Under this 'international law,' the government of a mostly-free country like the United States is no more sovereign, and no more entitled to deal preemptively with a deadly risk, than Saddam Hussein, the psychotic dictator of a tyrannical pesthole. It is here that the hypothetical Objectivist president of the United States would have handled the situation differently from George Bush. An Objectivist would have denounced the manifest obscenity of 'international law' and told the truth. Bush and his flunkeys lied, perhaps in fear of an international prosecution for 'war crimes,' which could have interfered with their future vacations on the French Riviera."
Mr Reed, too, believes the war was justified regardless of the rationale provided by its instigators. This is because America is a "mostly-free country" (albeit heading in a statist direction) & Saddam was a "psychotic dictator of a tyrannical pesthole." And a mostly-free country does have the right, in Ayn Rand's words - the right, note, not the obligation, equivocations by Saddamites notwithstanding - to liberate a slave pen (a point Saddam's Succours have steadfastly refused to acknowledge). Especially - but not solely - if the latter is, or is intent on becoming, a threat to the former.
I would invite those who opposed the war to visit Iraq & look into the eyes of those whose relatives perished in Saddam's torture chambers & underground prisons; those whose relatives have been freshly dug up from the mass graves that have been uncovered; … look into their eyes & say you don't believe your government should have toppled Saddam. And look into the eyes of the soldiers who actually did it, & tell them they shouldn't have done it. Look into the eyes of those who jubilantly hauled down Saddam's statues & those who joyously cheered them on, & say, "This shouldn't have happened."
One Saddamite has argued that freedom is all or nothing - that America is a Police State, which has thereby forfeited any right to liberate slave pens. That's preposterous on its face. All libertarians & Objectivists recognise & resist the ominous signs of America's back-sliding into tyranny, but to say that it is 90% of the way there, as this Saddamite does, is demonstrably absurd. If that were remotely true, this gentleman would not have the unfettered right to say so, which he routinely exercises & enjoys.
Thomas Jefferson, whom the Saddamites are fond of invoking, would not have had a bar of this "all or nothing" view of freedom. It was he, after all, who famously said, "Half a loaf is better than no bread." It was he who compromised on the issue of slavery because he knew he wouldn't be able to get the great American republic underway if he didn't. He would have found the notion that there is no essential distinction between George Bush & Saddam Hussein - & the political set-ups in their respective countries - truly astounding.
(There is an irony too, in the utterances of those who have been saying, "Go back to Jefferson's foreign policy, based on free trade" - when Jefferson actually favoured subsidies & tariffs!)
When all's said & done, it's not "arguments from authority" we should be repairing to. It's not a matter of what Rand or Jefferson said. It's a matter of decency & humanity & reason & loyalty & justice. It's a matter of freedom … a significant degree vs none whatsoever.
I have been accused of engaging in ad hominem in referring to opponents of the war as "Saddam's Succours." I would plead guilty to that if the description were gratuitous, but it is not. Saddam did derive succour from those who opposed the war, long before it happened. He tried to exploit them & manipulate them so it wouldn't go ahead. He feted them & flattered them, & they fawned over & flattered him. To him, they were indeed the modern-day version of Lenin's "useful idiots."
As Dante said, the lowest rung in hell is reserved for those who, in a time of crisis, refuse to take sides. In a time of crisis, one must take the side one is actually on. Not to do so, in a time of crisis, is to take the side of your opponent. The six-week period of the war against Iraq was a time of crisis. It was a time to set aside one's differences with George W. Bush - understanding that the battle with him would be rejoined once the crisis was over - & to get in behind.
As long as those valiant volunteers were on the ground, toppling a tyrant & hauling down his statues, it was a time to defer all quibbles with their Commander-in-Chief.
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