Iraq: Unlike any Other

A favorite conceit of the Iraq war critics and HBI (Hate Bush International) is this: “If you believe Iraq was justified then you’d better invade Iran, Syria, N. Korea.”

1) Have any of those countries invaded multiple neighbors? No. Has any one of them invaded even a single neighbor in recent history? No.

2) Have any of them both possessed WMD and demonstrated a willingness to use them on their neighbors? No.

3) Have any of them ever attempted an assasination of an American head of state? No.

4) Does any of them have a proven 30-year track record of systematic state-sponsored torture of the most cruel and arbitrary sort? Nothing like in Iraq.

5) Had any of them openly paid off the families of Palestinian suicide bombings thus subsidizing the murder of Israeli innocents? No.

So what does this teach us? That Iraq was a totally singular case with a dictator who demonstrated long patterns of irrational decision-making, an obvious determination to possess and use WMD, and a pathological obsession with bringing down the U.S.

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7 thoughts on “Iraq: Unlike any Other

  1. Stuart,
    I don’t think a dislike for Bush neccessarily means you’re anti-Iraq. I agree that it was best to take out SH, and that military action was probably the only option. I just think they rushed into it. Troops were not prepared adeqautely and delaying even a few weeks could have made all the difference.
    I can’t share your ease about the other countries you named though. I think especially Iran could be a massive threat to it’s neighbours with the weapons it has been so happily displaying recently. N. Korea – don’t know how quick they would be to use their nuclear weapons. And Syria – who knows. Being a military state, headed by a dictator, nothing would happen without Assad’s say.
    The fact that the US possesses WMD’s and is looking to increase them under Bush (and supplies them to Israel)is hardly a great bargaining point in getting these others to disarm!!
    As for paying Palestianians – nothing can excuse the abhorrent behaviour of suicide bombers, but we need to remember that the number of innocent Palestinians vs innocent Israelis killed is very hevily weighted to more loss on the Palestinian side, something often not reported here. A debate on that situation though is a whole other blog!! One maybe you or someone will do??

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  2. I broadly agree with Rebecca’s points. I think you overplay Iraq and underplay the others. All are fairly nasty places, some more so than others. Point-by-point response:

    >1) Have any of those countries invaded multiple neighbors? No.

    Right.

    >2) Have any of them both possessed WMD and demonstrated a willingness to use them on their neighbors? No.

    You’re right inasmuch as they haven’t used them if they have them (and Korea almost certainly does).

    >3) Have any of them ever attempted an assasination of an American head of state? No.

    Is this what it comes down too?

    >4) Does any of them have a proven 30-year track record of systematic state-sponsored torture of the most cruel and arbitrary sort? Nothing like in Iraq.

    They are all police states. Iraq was bad, Iran and Syria a little better, but who knows about North Korea?

    5) Had any of them openly paid off the families of Palestinian suicide bombings thus subsidizing the murder of Israeli innocents? No.

    But Syria and Iran also support Hezbollah, no?

    The bottom line is this: Iraq is probably the only one of the “axis of evil” (excepting Syria perhaps) where a successful, quick invasion and victory was likely. Iran is too mountainous, and Korea already has the ultimate deterrent. An invasion of Syria would have gotten zero support.

    Justified or not, Iraq was a soft target. For the others you need diplomacy.

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  3. R & B,

    As in “Ronan and Becky”, not the genre of music.

    My post was meant to demonstrate only one thing–that Iraq was a totally singular case. The primary exhibit is the fact that they had a dictator who had demonstrated he (a) willing to use WMD if he had them and (b) not afraid to actually invade other countries.

    These two facts separate Iraq by orders of magnitude from any other state in the “Axis of Evil”. Having WMD is one thing–having them in the hands of a pathologically irrational actor who has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use them, and about whom you have intel indicating planned attacks on the U.S. is a whole different (as in “urgent”) universe.

    And Becky–did you say something about GWB using WMD? I wasn’t sure but I thought that’s what you said. Even the argument about the US possessing WMD as a problem for world security is bit spurious–we’re talking about the head of a democratic state, subject to election in no more than four years, constrained by a set of rational actors immediately surrounding him, working inside of a relatively transparent system. That can’t be even distantly compared to the danger posed by an absolute dictator controlling all organs of state power, with no rational constraints, and all kinds of petty scores to settle, not to mention ideological backup for using his weapons.

    Finally, overlapping into the other thread–you may disagree with me on the role of GWB’s religiosity in his decision-making. But this isn’t a matter really open to our two opinions–GWB’s policy-shaping process has been observed closeup by people like Bob Woodward, and it does not involve prayer in the final decisions. It does involve full and fair cabinet discussions.

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  4. no – not GWB using WMD but having them. I know there’s not such a threat from a non-lunatic leader, but I think you can’t have one rule for us and one rule for them.

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  5. Of course you can, and you necessarily do. That’s like saying you can’t have one rule for violent criminals with multiple convictions and a different rule for law-abiding citizens who have never had so much as a speeding ticket.

    One rule for them: absolute control of state organs of power, arbitrary authority over the lives of citizens, no one can stop them from going to war or taking hostile actions against other states.

    One rule for us: multiple checks and balances, an established and reliable system of law and advocacy to protect the rights of citizens. An American government will only go to war with the consent of Congress and (generally) popular support of the American people.

    One rule for them: scary as hell if they’ve got WMD.

    One rule for us: not really that scary at all given the system of checks through which are policy is shaped, and given that the American electorate ultimately decides whether the given executive stays in power.

    Fundamanentally different things. There is one rule for them and one for us, and that is as it should be. Now once they establish reliable rule of law, participatory governments, and transparent mechanisms for civilians to monitor government, then we can play by the same rules.

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  6. I guess Stuart what it boils down for me, is that I’d rather NOBODY had them!! But then again, I wish for a lot of things that I don’t get. Although I did wish we were having a girl and we are – so occasionally wishes come true!!

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