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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

June 04, 2003

The "real reason" for the Iraqi war

Ed Remler, a fan, offers some comments concerning Tom Friedman's June 4 article.

The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 the Arab-Muslim world..... a terrorism bubble had built up over there — a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things "martyrs" was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such "martyrs" was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die.

The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, ...[to] make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. .... And don't believe the nonsense that this had no effect. Every neighboring government — and 98 percent of terrorism is about what governments let happen — got the message. If you talk to U.S. soldiers in Iraq they will tell you this is what the war was about.
The "real reason" is the real reason. U.S. soldiers felt in their gut what the policy planners did in theirs. One interesting question is why about half of the U.S. before the war apparently did not. The question of why most Europeans did not feel the same way is perhaps less interesting because we can understand it in terms of anti-Americanism, fear, envy, etc.--
The "right reason" for this war was the need to partner with Iraqis, post-Saddam, to build a progressive Arab regime. Because the real weapons of mass destruction that threaten us were never Saddam's missiles. The real weapons that threaten us are the growing number of angry, humiliated young Arabs and Muslims, who are produced by failed or failing Arab states — young people who hate America more than they love life. Helping to build a decent Iraq as a model for others — and solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — are the necessary steps for defusing the ideas of mass destruction, which are what really threaten us.
--Why should the right reason not be the real one? Presumably because we should not succomb to gut reactions but rather be led by rational analysis. Unfortunately, in such matters, the gut is the wiser guide. Its wisdom comes not only from well honed instinct, but even more obviously, from the schoolyard lessons administered by boys to each other in every society on the globe. It is unwise in the extreme to ignore universal characteristics of human nature. Doubly so when the "right reason" reason comes up with is as unreasonable as the one Mr. Friedman comes up with--the classic "white man's burden' type of excuse of western imperialism that the British always used to justify their wars of conquest. In fact, they used just these words to justify their conquest of Iraq! The examples of Germany and Japan after WW2 notwithstanding, this scheme will very probably prove unworkable because of vast differences between the cases. He would have had us go to war to achieve very very improbable goal, a basis for foreign policy that he would have been the first to criticize had we done so.--
....But because the Bush team never dared to spell out the real reason for the war, and (wrongly) felt that it could never win public or world support for the right reasons and the moral reasons, it opted for the stated reason: the notion that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that posed an immediate threat to America. I argued before the war that Saddam posed no such threat to America, and had no links with Al Qaeda, and that we couldn't take the nation to war "on the wings of a lie." I argued that Mr. Bush should fight this war for the right reasons and the moral reasons. But he stuck with this W.M.D. argument for P.R. reasons.

I won't feel one whit more secure if we find Saddam's W.M.D.'s, because I never felt he would use them on us. But I will feel terribly insecure if we fail to put Iraq onto a progressive path. Because if that doesn't happen, the terrorism bubble will reinflate and bad things will follow. ....
--It is amazing that he would imperil the country because he "never felt he would use them on us". He felt or he knew? Unless he actually knew (how could he?), such feelings could not be the basis of foreign policy after 9/11. And how can one say that the administration "lied" when we remember the countermeasures we took to protect the troops against Chem-Bio attack? What that all PR? We have not found even these military stocks, but that does not mean that our concern about them was a lie. Similarly, the fact that we have not found stocks that could be used against civilian popluations does not mean our concern was a lie.--
....The failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.'s) in Iraq is becoming a big, big story. But is it the real story we should be concerned with? No. It was the wrong issue before the war, and it's the wrong issue now.
--This is correct. Its a big story mainly because of those who want a new weapon to hit America with, and we should treat it as such.--