Friday, January 16, 2004

Liberal Hawkes

At Slate liberal hawkes are busy defending their position. From Fareed Zakaria:

"Throughout this discussion we have assumed that there was a simple, viable alternative to war with Iraq, the continuation of the status-quo, i.e., sanctions plus the almost weekly bombing of the no-fly zones. In fact, that isn't really true. America's Iraq policy was broken. You have to contrast the dangers of acting in Iraq with the dangers of not acting and ask what would things have looked like had we simply kicked this can down the road.

"I had been comfortable with the "Saddam-is-in-a-box" argument during the 1990s. But by the latter part of the decade the policy was collapsing. In 1996 Saddam invaded the Kurdish safe haven of northern Iraq, re-establishing his power in the area. In the next few years he repeatedly defied U.N. inspectors and busted sanctions. His neighbors—Jordan, Turkey, Syria—began illicitly trading with him. The French and Russians were openly working to get the sanctions lifted. Saddam adopted an increasingly bold negotiating strategy, refusing or reneging on various compromises that were offered him. In 1998 he stooped cooperating with the inspectors. In November 1999 he stopped exporting oil (under the oil for food program) so that he could send oil prices to their highest levels in a decade. On coming into office, Colin Powell, realizing how ineffective sanctions had become, tried to create a "smart sanctions" program that would target the regime and not the Iraqi people. The French and Russians scuttled it.

"So, what we had by 2001 was a policy that was leaving Saddam strong but killing thousands of Iraqi civilians—by one UNICEF estimate over 30,000 a year, of which the majority were children under 5. This was not the containment of the Soviet Union. Iraq had turned into a gangsterland, on its way to becoming a Middle Eastern Chechnya. Its humanitarian crisis was broadcast every day across the Arab world and had enormous popular appeal. That is why, having no love for Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden listed it as one of his three grievances against America in his famous declaration of jihad."

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