Random musings from a libertarian, tech geek...
After seeing this blurb where an MSNBC article asserted little Net support for Iraq intervention....I thought it was about time I put up my SHORT summarized, readable, top 3 reasons to "intervene" in Iraq.
1) Self-Defense: He has / is pursuing WMD including Nukes. The single worst thing that can possibly happen to us is a Nuclear 9/11. The single most likely source of these weapons will be Iraq. Even if he doesn't use it against us directly, he can use them as a strategic shield against retaliation for other actions he may want to undertake. Yes, Preemption is a fundamentally destabilizing policy but with the tech of WMD, a piddly little group of thugs can do tremendous damage and we're left with no alternative. Yes, war is an awful thing but there are Just Wars. Yes, I'm being duplicitous about allowing Israel to nuke proliferate but guess what, if you're a Liberal Democracy, I'll give you a little leeway too (even Pakistan is a Liberal Democracy relative to Iraq).
2) Humanitarian/International Law: The Iraqi people need it / want it. Even (some) Lefties agree with this rationale. There's any list of horrors they are facing (and here). If Saddam were a white guy named Milosevic, the entire friggin' EU, NATO, and US military would already be in the country saving the populace from this him. Alas, Milosevic didn't have the Race Card, the Religion Card, and the Anti-West Cards working for him. The usual Euro/leftist voices of humanitarianism fall strangely silent when dealing with "brown tyrants for brown people." By contrast, the preeminent Middle Eastern scholar in the West, Bernard Lewis, notes:
A world of WMD forces a new common ground between Realists and Idealists
3) Regional Revitalization: This is the most sweeping and most complex of the rationales. But, also the most compelling. One of the first steps in introducing liberal democratic reforms into the entire area is Iraq. Iran is another. This is the only way to truly solve the *real* root causes of terrorism -- young, 20-something men need to feel like they have a political voice AND an economic future rather than externalizing their troubles towards the Great Satan across the oceans. Flames that Iraq is only too happy to help fan. (NOTE: past US foreign policy propping up dictators atop oil wells is partially to blame here). Den Beste has written at great length about this. Yes, it will destabilize the region but stability is over-rated. As is sovereignty. The last thing the region needs is another 40 "stable" years of tyranny, corruption, terrorism, economic decay, and klepto-totalitarian governments. Leaving it to fester for another 5-10 yrs will simply guarantee more 9/11's.
A favorite analogy I've heard used is that we need to embark on a "swamp draining operation" in the region. Iraq has the dubious honor of being the single best place to start this long process logistically, politically, militarily, and economically.
Each of these reasons are independent -- e.g. either the Self-Defense, Humanitarian, OR Revitalization rationales alone are enough to convince me to go after Saddam. Saddam / Iraq have the further dubious honor of bearing all 3 albatrosses simultaneously.
I'm very careful about using the word "intervention" rather than war because way too many people automatically assume that "war" means "Gulf War II". There are a surpisingly broad spectrum of options available including the euphemistic "single bullet" option. The goal this time around isn't to destroy the Saddam's army. The goal is to destroy Saddam. His army is likely to be useful to help keep the country together afterwards (the Turkish example provides some insights)
Oil is a factor in the case of Iraq but NOT in the way most lefties like to think -- Oil wealth is what's allowed Saddam's kleptocracy to remain in power indefinitely relative to his Axis of Evil brothren in North Korea. Oil is also going to be a key building block to helping the nation rebuild post-bellum. The most likely long-term outcome of successful intervention in Iraq is a further depression in world Oil prices -- NOT the outcome wished for by the rich old white men who run oil companies.
UPDATE: a reader wrote and pointed out that I should mention another aspect of Oil in this conflict. Part of the multilateralist opposition to Iraqi intervention is based on preservation of the Oil status quo.