Implications of attacking Iraq
September 10, 2002 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Implications of attacking Iraq A succinct side-by-side Reasons For and Reasons Against. As always, you read. You decide.
posted by Postroad (48 comments total)
 
Gosh this site seems to be rather pro-military, pro-targeting Iraq. The home page has a logo titled "Target Iraq" with a count down clock.

It doesn't seem like a well-balanced analysis.
posted by Red58 at 12:12 PM on September 10, 2002


What doesn't seem well-balanced? There's a pro and con side that seems pretty straightforward to me.
posted by Witty at 12:17 PM on September 10, 2002


Nice link.

I find that when I read these sorts of side by side comparisons, I feel like the right hand column is implicitly being given priority. Is this just me?

Of course, in this case I happen to agree with the right column, but that is beside the point
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:18 PM on September 10, 2002


Reason for: Iraq is part of the axis of evil.

Reason against: Libya is next logical member of axis, and nobody remembers how to spell Qaddafi... Ghadaffi... Khed.... um, Moammar anymore.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:19 PM on September 10, 2002


Well, witty, the fact that the source of the analysis is a group that FAVORS one of the stated outcomes (attacking Iraq) makes the analysis questionable.
posted by Red58 at 12:21 PM on September 10, 2002


I understand that... but WHERE is your question? Which part of it do you not agree with or find suspicious, etc.?
posted by Witty at 12:25 PM on September 10, 2002


They forgot to mention the precedent that would be set by a US first-strike. Any nation could justify an attack on another based on the "we consider them a threat" rational.
posted by quirked at 12:31 PM on September 10, 2002


Well, witty, the fact that the source of the analysis is a group that FAVORS one of the stated outcomes (attacking Iraq) makes the analysis questionable.

So, basically, everyone with an opinion has to be excluded from making decisions? Gee, let's have a computer decide.

It's possible to have an opinion, and yet not be blinded by it.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:32 PM on September 10, 2002


Fer chris' sake. Is the concept of a neutral, balanced opinion so foreign to you? Although I'm obviously more liberal than you, I wouldn't post an article from the Nation and put forth that it was unbiased or that it wasn't left-leaning.

Yes this analysis leaves out items that I find important (like why is attacking Iraq justified and not Saudi Arabia, and other comments about Israel I would like to throw in) but would only fuel another pointless, endless diatribe from the right-leaning on this list.
posted by Red58 at 12:43 PM on September 10, 2002


Funny, I think the analysis favors NOT attacking Iraq. Whichg are the "loaded" items? Which are not there? Maybe it's just "objective"?
posted by ParisParamus at 12:49 PM on September 10, 2002


This group that appears to favor attacking Iraq also includes numerous links to sites advocating exactly the opposite, many links to news stories (including ones fron arch conservative sites like Salon and the Guardian) and it's own pretty neutral just-the-facts-jack background info on just about every military and diplomatic aspect of this clearly important topic. In fact the only thing that I could find on any of their pages that seems to propose a pro attack Iraq view is that logo with the countdown clock. It appears that Red58's criteria of an objective site is one that only contains content that s/he agrees with.

I never thought I'd see myself saying this, but great link postroad!
fwiw, I see the con side of the table making more sense
posted by dchase at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2002


Adn then there's this.
posted by Red58 at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2002


Fer chris' sake. Is the concept of a neutral, balanced opinion so foreign to you?

Having an opinion is, by its very definition, the exact opposite of being neutral.
posted by Danelope at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2002


Red58: Did you really read it?

I'm pretty far "left" (if we're all busy being self-reductionist), and I found it to do a decent job at summing up a lot of the pros and cons, not comprehensive, but decent. The cons read as more convincing to me, as well.
posted by malphigian at 12:57 PM on September 10, 2002


I found this to be mostly pretty objective. Exceptions, some already noted, might include the absence of any moral, legal or diplomatic arguments against invasion.

That said, I would point out that there seems to be a Rorshach-like element to any such analysis, in that one will tend to find one side or the other more convincing, and that this will be decided by one's ideology. Or not. There may also be some mechanism where arguments with which one is less familiar will seem more cogent by virtue of their newness.

Funny, I think the analysis favors NOT attacking Iraq. ...Maybe it's just "objective"?

Perhaps the first time I can remember agreeing with a comment by PP. And me without my cyanide pill.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 1:44 PM on September 10, 2002


dchase: I have used the3 shotgun approach. Shoot enoughand eventually you hit (connect) even to dchase. But perhaps I should act on the old gambling advice: take the chips and get out. Post no more while you are ahead for the first time in a very long time?
posted by Postroad at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2002


The whole Saudi Arabia thing bothers me as well. However, that should probably get it's own chart labeled 'Reasons to attack Saudi Arabia/Not Attack' or possibly 'Should I attack Saudi Arabia or Iraq?' with little pros for each side.

In short, the attacking of Iraq (or not) should probably stand on its own merits.

Also, yeah, this is the first time I've ever agreed with a PP post.
posted by Ryvar at 2:01 PM on September 10, 2002


I say we put Saudi Arabia and Iraq in a jar and shake it up and see if they'll fight.

Is there no validity anymore to the simple argument that it's wrong to launch an unprovoked attack against another country?
posted by hob at 2:07 PM on September 10, 2002


You will agree with me more and more and more. Muhahahahah!

Seriously, re The whole Saudi Arabia thing bothers me as well.

While it may make you feel a icky, what's so wrong about going after the worst first, and then worrying about the less worse? Once Iraq goes, Saudi Arabia will seem that much more odious. Which will lead to some combination of the US forcing SA to change, or the Saudis forcing SA to change.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:08 PM on September 10, 2002


I think everyone would agree that the list could be called incomplete . But analyzing the list as is, I think it's pretty fair. Generalized? Yes.
posted by Witty at 2:08 PM on September 10, 2002


an unprovoked attack

The provocation is the (1) building of WMD, plus (2) demonstrated use of them (3) abroad, plus (4) demonstrated use of conventional weapons abroad: it's a threat synergy. This may be new, but so are the weapons Iraq has used, and looks like it wants to use. And where's the dangerous precedent? What's wrong with a doctrine which calls for attacking any country which acts like Iraq? Really, we went after Slobo for less.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:13 PM on September 10, 2002


PS: I think the argument that innocents will be killed in an attack is bogus: how many innocents will be killed if there's no attack?

Instability in the region? The place seems sufficiently unstable now, don't you think? What will likely happen will be a few weeks of chaos.

So, really, the most compelling arguments for not attacking is paying for campaign involve loss of American soldier lives and paying for the campaign. In all likelyhood, the resultant drop in oil prices will pay for it. So we're left with the question of American military deaths. In a voluntary military.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:21 PM on September 10, 2002


Hang on a second. Demonstrated use of WMD abroad? Did I miss something? And -- let me see if I have this straight -- we went to war with Iraq over these very pretexts; we won, and we left; now we've decided that we didn't beat them up enough ten years ago, so we're back?

This is like someone breaking up an armed robbery by beating up the perpetrator, and then showing up at his house ten years later to beat the crap out of him some more.
posted by hob at 2:37 PM on September 10, 2002


Why exactly are unelected leaders of nation states immune from invasion again? Isn't national sovereignty a sort of last refuge of scoundrels?

Why should a genocidal fascist dictator who has used nerve gas on men, women, and children be immune from the will of a powerful democracy to send him to hell just because there is an imaginary line dividing his piece of the desert from somebody else's?

Since Saddam has killed more Arabs than anyone Hulagu Khan, the answer can't be 'inevitable civilian casualties.'

On the prospect of instability: check out this week's Economist It makes the case that since the stable Middle East spawned UBL, Hamas, etc. maybe instability isn't such a bad thing. Their somewhat patronizing but compelling argument is that some instability might shake the corrupt, repressive, statist rulers out of power and provide a space for them to be replaced by movements with some new ideas. The Economist argues that since Islamists and Arab nationalist movements are floundering anyway (political violence is a sign of political impotence), any change could only be for the better.
posted by ednopantz at 2:40 PM on September 10, 2002


FWIW, Red58, GlobalSecurity.org's agenda seems to indicate that they are squarely in the CON space.
posted by silusGROK at 2:45 PM on September 10, 2002


Instability in the region? The place seems sufficiently unstable now, don't you think? What will likely happen will be a few weeks of chaos.

I presume you're prepared to test that out by being there yourself? After all, it's probably going to be such a cakewalk, especially for Sharon's arse-baring cheerleaders.

As for the 'weapons of mass destruction' chestnut, I'm waiting for the daisycutter and the clusterbomb to be added to the list. Discriminating because of the composition, rather than the destructive capacity, seems beside the point.
posted by riviera at 2:50 PM on September 10, 2002


I believe he used gas against Iran. And the Kurds.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:52 PM on September 10, 2002


No Riviera. I wouldn't be a good soldier. Too undisciplined. But I do know Morse Code.

Riviera: the truth is that you're a moral relativist. You're likely steps away from Noaming your way into stating the US is not that different than Iraq. Or the Soviet Union. Go on, out with it...

Yes, it is true that there's no longer a bright line distinction between WMDs and certain explosives. Except for who is using them, designing them and stockpiling them. And how they've been used in the past. Which is why our use of Daisy Cutters is, and will be legitimate,, and Iraq's use of such would not be. GET IT
posted by ParisParamus at 2:59 PM on September 10, 2002


The Kurds in question are Iraqis. I admit that it's a shitty thing for him to have done, but he didn't exactly do it "abroad." And as for Iran, that gets us right back to the fact that we've *been* to war with Iraq since that happened. Why is it OK for us to go to war with Iraq again? What have they done to us lately?
posted by hob at 3:00 PM on September 10, 2002


What have they done lately? They've continued to refuse UN inspection. To the point where said inspections are, in all likelyhood, useless.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:04 PM on September 10, 2002


Here's a fact sheet on Iraq's use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war. Of course, it's important to remember that Iraq was our horse in that race, and that the origin of the chemicals and delivery systems used by Iraq remains ambiguous. Also, I've got to agree with riviera on the inclusion of chemical weapons as "weapons of mass destruction." Though the chemical weapons used by Iraq were barbaric and brutal, they have proven to be no more "mass destructive" than weapons used conventionally by the U.S. military. Tossing them in the same category as (potential) high-yeild nuclear weapons is certainly disingenuous.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:10 PM on September 10, 2002


I believe he used gas against Iran. And the Kurds.

But that was in Halabja, which is not strictly speaking abroad.

I'm waiting for the daisycutter and the clusterbomb to be added to the list.

Some interpretations (including mine) consider fuel-air explosives such as the BLU-52 "diasy-cutter" chemical weapons. Napalm, too. Perhaps this is part of the reason for that utterly shameful treatment of Jose Bustani. (Much of the reason, of course, is that he proposed bringing Iraq into the OPCW, which would have opened the door to a credible inspection program, which would have interfered with the US plans for invasion.)
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 3:12 PM on September 10, 2002


They've continued to refuse UN inspection.

Well, then, this sounds like a job for the UN. When the UN asks us to get involved and provide muscle for the enforcement of international law in Iraq, then by all means, let's roll. In the meantime, don't we have more important things to be paying attention to? Like, you know, that whole "war on terrorism" thing?
posted by hob at 3:15 PM on September 10, 2002


So, this guy, Sam, is pistol whipping his brother. Bob and a bunch of other guys from the neighborhood hear the commotion and they go in and take the pistol away from Sam. Sam, a real crazy jerk, yells stuff like, 'I'll kill you for this."

Anyhow, Sam's brother doesn't press charges and neither does Bob. I guess Bob could have charged him with terroristic threatening, or could have had the police take him away, but he didn't.

So ten years later, Bob's son, Bill, is still upset that this guy threatened to kill his father. He hears a rumor that Sam has another gun. So Bill goes to Sam's house one night and shoots him in the head.

Here in America, would we say "Good for you, Bill! You prevented Sam from committing future crimes," or would we arrest him and charge him with murder?

Just curious.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:16 PM on September 10, 2002


Funny thing about that website, if you view source on the Iraq Countdown clock, you see:

PARAM name="text" value="India-Pakistan Countdown"
posted by cell divide at 3:28 PM on September 10, 2002


Isn't this whole scenario like back when the Cuba issue was hot? Why didn't America just bomb the fuck out of Cuba, just in case?
posted by skylar at 3:33 PM on September 10, 2002


or would we arrest him and charge him with murder?

Charge? under what law? There's no sherrif in this town, nor jail, nor institute for the rehabilitation of the criminally insane. Either we tolerate Sam or kill him. There is neighborhood watch group that claims jurisdiction over the whole town, but they just hold meetings and won't go anywhere near Sam's place.

Add to that problem the fact that crazy Sam has been beating his kids and keeps threatening to kill all his neighbors.

Worse yet, when Sam gets into the moonshine, he rants and raves about how he needs to break the uneasy truce between the Hatfields and the McCoy's. None of us want to go back to that, but if push came to shove we would have to. Besides, Sam is a lunatic with an eye on history and no one knows what he's got under the tarp out back.

I say for the sake of the uneasy truce of the whole town, and his poor long sufferin' kids, we do away with him at the first opportunity.
posted by ednopantz at 3:36 PM on September 10, 2002


So, what we have here is a lynching.
posted by hob at 3:39 PM on September 10, 2002


The provocation is the (1) building of WMD, plus (2) demonstrated use of them (3) abroad, plus (4) demonstrated use of conventional weapons abroad: it's a threat synergy. This may be new, but so are the weapons Iraq has used, and looks like it wants to use.

I've seen these reasons given before, and some things should be noted: Saddam built WMD in the 80s with U.S. help. He used them against Iran with U.S. support. He used them against the Kurds with U.S. diplomatic cover. To trot these instances as justification for invasion takes either an amazing amount of chutzpah, or complete ignorance of Middle East history.

Paris, I know you're not ignorant, so I'm gonna go with chutzpah on this one.

the truth is that you're a moral relativist. You're likely steps away from Noaming your way into stating the US is not that different than Iraq. Or the Soviet Union. Go on, out with it...

This was not directed at me, but I have to say that it is hilarious. Notice, we've got not one but two neo-con buzzwords here: "moral relativism," a charge which, in a thread about global politics, is simply smoke, and "Noam," which is a clumsy attempt at guilt by association. Really now Paris, what was U.S. support for Saddam in the 80s if not morally relativistic?
posted by Ty Webb at 3:42 PM on September 10, 2002


The opposite of moral relativism is hypocrisy. If it's wrong when someone else does it, it's wrong when I do it.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 3:49 PM on September 10, 2002


ParisParamus: It's possible to have an opinion, and yet not be blinded by it.

Oh the irony...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:50 PM on September 10, 2002


Extending the Sam analogy:

Sam was pistol-whipping his brother, when Bob stopped him. Of course now, Sam's brother says Sam isn't really that bad of a guy, and he doesn't want Bob or Bill to come around anymore.
posted by patrickje at 4:09 PM on September 10, 2002


the truth is that you're a moral relativist.

No, the truth is, I'm all too wary of people who use 'moral clarity' as a false crutch, and 'moral relativism' as a false weapon, to hide their own highly-selective application of moral absolutes. Which strikes me as far more abhorrent.

GET IT

Assertion is not argument, but you still haven't learned that, I see. The only 'it' that's 'getting' is you, getting more than a bit boring.
posted by riviera at 4:16 PM on September 10, 2002


Isn't this whole scenario like back when the Cuba issue was hot? Why didn't America just bomb the fuck out of Cuba, just in case?

How quickly we forget. Either that or you are a product of the tragedy that is a public education these days. The reason was called the Soviet Union - that is THE reason there was a problem and also the reason we did nothing overt about it. Unless you count the Bay of Pigs invasion, which most people don't.
posted by RevGreg at 4:40 PM on September 10, 2002


Unless you count the Bay of Pigs invasion, which most people don't.

Yeah, laughable, wasn't it? Heck, nowadays it'd be like trying to achieve regime change in Iraq by instigating the Kurds to rise up and... hey...
posted by hob at 4:47 PM on September 10, 2002


skylar: In fact, the choices available to the Kennedy adminsitration were seen as:

(1) a single, surgical airstrike on the missile bases; (2) an attack on various Cuban facilities; (3) a comprehensive series of attacks and invasion; or (4) a blockade of Cuba.

Blockade was chosen because this provided an easy means of interfering with the missile deployment, which was not a Cuban deployment but a Soviet deployment on Cuban territory -- an important distinction. If Iraq had a substantial offshore sugardaddy, I'm sure we'd try blockading them. In the event, even a blockade was seen as risking retaliation by the USSR, perhaps elsewhere -- as in Berlin. Had the Soviet ships run the blockade, we may well have "bombed the fuck out of" at least the missile sites, although the military staff opinion was that such detailed bombing -- in those days -- was unlikely to succeed, and that a generalized attack on Cuban military installations would be both less risky and more likely to have the desired effect on the Castro regime's decision to host the missiles. We never got there, of course, because we had open channels of negotiation with Krushchev.

Nicolae: Iraq certainly did use chemical weapons on Iran {oops, same link as roboto}. It was probably reciprocated.
posted by dhartung at 11:24 PM on September 10, 2002


Despite the relative, if not complete evenhandedness of the pro-con presentation, its interesting how eager some people are to claim bias/unfairness.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:35 AM on September 11, 2002


Interesting link. I was generally opposed to an attack on Iraq until I read the portion of the article that stated that such attack might lead Iraq into subsequently attacking Saudi Arabia. Sounds good to me. Guess I'm in favour now !
posted by Kaslo at 6:25 PM on September 11, 2002


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