Would you really rather have Saddam Hussein in power?
Of course not! Who would?
This justification for the war in Iraq is the Bush administration’s most recent, using the brutality of Hussein and his purported support of terrorism to bolster support for a war that is experiencing increased criticism throughout the United States, a critical issue in this election season.
On the Sept. 10 episode of “Meet the Press,” Vice President Dick Cheney said that the United States would have gone to war even if the CIA reported that Hussein did not, in fact, possess Weapons of Mass Destruction
Cheney proclaimed that, “The world is better off because Saddam Hussein is in jail instead of in power in Baghdad. It was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing.” The administration has proposed an “if not A, then B” logic: if we hadn’t gone to war, Saddam would still be in power, ruling his people with an iron fist and supporting terrorists for his own purposes. It’s either one or the other. This logical fallacy assumes the completeness of the available options, seeing only one as desirable.
As they remind us relentlessly of the importance of “staying the course,” they make it sound as if there were no other reasonable or desirable course to begin with – no course that didn’t entail the deaths of 2,600 American troops and 40,000 civilians.
No course that didn’t require spending $300 billion at the expense of domestic programs like homeland security, education, social security, etc.
No course that respected the thoughts and critical judgments of the international community, specifically as expressed by the United Nations, an organization we founded in part to address worldwide concerns as a collective body so that the decision-making and responsibility of war would not reside with one nation alone.
No course that reflected the most fundamental Christian ethics of peace and sacredness of all life (not simply the unborn).
No course that didn’t involve imposing a democratic system of government – one which calls for majority rule and requires all the people to confer their power and strength upon one man or assembly of men, reducing all their wills “unto one will,” to quote Thomas Hobbes – on three different groups of Iraqi people, who at present appear to be fueled more by hatred of each other than love of freedom and desire for cooperation.
No, the path we chose was the right one and if we had to do it again, we’d do exactly the same thing.
Of course, Saddam Hussein – whose removal was, according to Bush, central to the War on Terror – was indeed a malicious dictator, and it would seem as true now as it did then that, ceteris paribus, the world would be better off without him in power. But what the Bush administration and its media mouthpieces refuse to presently acknowledge (as they did then) are the viable alternatives to pre-emption and invasion that were available as an effective means of serving our security and best interests with regard to Iraq. These include the “six-point plan,” which found support in the British cabinet and U.S. State Department, calling for a UN Security Council-led indictment of Hussein for crimes against humanity and removing his Baath party from power.
Whatever missed opportunities or mistakes have been made in the past, we are left with no choice but to plan for the future. With the upcoming midterm elections, it is crucial to understand and evaluate each candidate’s proposed strategy for handling the future of Iraq – especially if you’re one of the ever-growing number of Americans who are deeply dissatisfied with the course we are currently on and the moral fiber of our international exploits.
Cutshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.