War with the Iraqi state? Confessions of an Unenthusiastic Opponent

I’m not convinced that the U.S. should go to war against Iraq. But you can?t be undecided about war. Because war is so terrible, there?s a very high hurdle to be overcome before going to war. The default position is, then, no war. So if you?re not for a war, you?ve got to be against it. But my position is not the adamant opposition of most opponents of war with Iraq. Evidence of the proper sort could convince me to be in favor of war. And if in favor of war, then in favor of victory.

That evidence would have to be evidence of credible danger of an Iraqi attack on the United States. Yet more evidence that Saddam Hussein is evil, that he personally tortures his opponents to death, or that he runs a totalitarian terror-state won?t convince me to be for war. Those are all good reasons for someone to kill the man and for Iraqis to overthrow his wicked regime, but they are not good reasons for the United States government to engage in an offensive war. The evidence that would convince me would be evidence of a threat to the U.S. And the inspectors may yet find it.

One disturbing thing about the unfolding of events is the likelihood that Saddam Hussein is frantically seeking or developing nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons in response to the announced intention of the U.S. administration to seek a “regime change.” “Regime change” in democratic regimes means that the previous holders of power go into opposition. In Iraq it means that they’re shot — if they’re lucky. If they’re not lucky, they’re slowly cut to bits by the new holders of power. And that means that the administration has told Saddam Hussein, his psychopathic sons, and the other top power holders in regime that they’ve got nothing to lose. They?re going to die. Under those circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that the regime is seeking weapons with which to threaten the United States, if not actually planning an attack. And if they’re planning an attack, then we would be justified in attacking first. So we may be justified in going to war to prevent an attack that was made more attractive to Saddam Hussein by policies of the United States that were announced as a response to the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s vicious regime. I’m still unclear about how to think about that.