Saturday, March 22, 2003

With my plea yesterday for some healthy ambivalence in the blogosphere about the war in Iraq, I may have left my own views too vague. Here's my dilemma: Saddam Hussein is a curse to his country, and is screwing around with the U.N. now as surely as he's been screwing around with them for 12 years. What's the point of the U.N. going about its business, passing resolution after resolution, if Hussein keeps responding with occasional half-assed disarmament? However, it seems more likely than not that for whatever weapons Saddam has tried to hang onto, he is smart enough not to rock the boat beyond his borders (unlike North Korea, which has no regional counterbalancing force--Iraq is surrounded by them), and any intention of his to attack North America seems purely hypothetical.

This may not seem like an ideal time for the glib generalities of Maureen Dowd, but this observation sums up my feelings about how disproportionate the attack on Iraq is.
It still confuses many Americans that, in a world full of vicious slimeballs, we're about to bomb one that didn't attack us on 9/11 (like Osama); that isn't intercepting our planes (like North Korea); that isn't financing Al Qaeda (like Saudi Arabia); that isn't home to Osama and his lieutenants (like Pakistan); that isn't a host body for terrorists (like Iran, Lebanon and Syria).

What's worse, President Bush's dubious connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq seems downright manipulative. Saddam is not and won't soon be on Osama bin Laden's Christmas card list; the latter seems to regard the former as too establishment and secular for his tastes; the former regards the latter as too anarchist to be considered noble. Could followers of the two someday cross paths and make nice? Yes, but in the months or years until they do, we have North Korea pointing missiles at our ass. The logic of this Al Qaeda-Iraq connection is an interesting permutation of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" logic. In this case, the logic is, the enemy of my enemy's enemy is my enemy's friend. This is cause for war?

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