Desperate Measures

|

In last night's speech, President Bush argued that terrorist attacks prompted by the U.S. invasion of Iraq would demonstrate the wisdom of military action:

If Saddam Hussein attempts to cling to power, he will remain a deadly foe until the end. In desperation, he and terrorist groups might try to conduct terrorist operations against the American people and our friends. These attacks are not inevitable. They are, however, possible.

And this very fact underscores the reason we cannot live under the threat of blackmail. The terrorist threat to America and the world will be diminished the moment that Saddam Hussein is disarmed.

Opponents of the war, of course, argue that invading Iraq threatens to trigger the very danger it is supposed to avert. Let's hope there is no need to trot out these dueling interpretations again.

NEXT: The Final Countdown

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. >> This Administration doesn’t have the sack to squabble with a nuclear tinderbox like Pakistan.

  2. “Your ignorent comments on Machiavelli I will ignore, as you have obviously never bothered to study what he was saying.”

    (Sigh)

    And I yours.

  3. Sorry Hank, but calling a great political philosopher an “idiot and asshole” only shows how ignorent you really are on this subject.

  4. Not at all, Laz. I merely disagree with the philosophy. Perhaps my expression was a bit colorful, but I’ll stand by it. Disagreement does not make one ignorant.

  5. >>Disagreement does not make one ignorant.

  6. No, arresting Al Qaeda’s #3 is not a pittance. But considering Bush’s defiant declaration after 9/11 that we were going to get bin Laden “dead or alive,” it hardly counts as an overwhelming victory, either. It would be like Al Qaeda grabbing Tom Ridge and proclaiming they’ve crippled our homeland defense.

  7. Attacking Iraq will not only fail to reduce the threat of terror, it will actually increase it. Not just in the short term. This war will provide the proof to fanatical Islam’s claims that the US is an Imperialist power bent on colonizing the Islamic world.

    As for Pakistan, I’m afraid that if they continue to persecute the “War on Terror” they will face regime change from their own population. The war in Iraq could trigger civil war in Pak. with their nukes thrown into the mix.

    Bombing for Peace. Occupying a mid-east country to bring stability to the region. Oh yeah, there’s a plan that always works. I feel safer already.

  8. Harlan: Bin Laden is dead. Al Queda lives. That is the issue.

    Warren: I hear a lot of hot-air about the “blow-back” theory, but hear little evidence to back its existance. Were we changing regimes when 9-11 occured? Were we then fighting a Global War on Terror?

    Nope, the “blow-back” theory is just another baseless myth taken at face value by the anti-war idiotarians, on par with “War for Oil” and “Bush/Neocons/Jews Were Behind 9-11” slogans.

    >>As for Pakistan, I’m afraid that if they continue to persecute the “War on Terror” they will face regime change from their own population.>Bombing for Peace. Occupying a mid-east country to bring stability to the region. Oh yeah, there’s a plan that always works. I feel safer already

  9. Lazarus Long wrote : “Not likely, as they are getting with the program and will be stomping on Islamists.”

    You mean the ones who won lots of seats in the last election?

    “invading Pakistan.”

    You really think we’d even consider invading a nuclear-armed country with a very large, very dense, highly hostile armed populace?

    It’s one thing for India to conduct skirmishes on the border. It’s another thing altogether to think we could walk into any of Pakistan’s cities and not take many thousands of casualties.

  10. Close, my suggestion is to do nothing thus preventing getting nuked.

    “Were we changing regimes when 9-11 occurred? Were we then fighting a Global War on Terror”
    Nope, we were supporting all the corrupt one’s that are already there (especially the oppression of the Palestinians)

    “Not likely, as they are getting with the program and will be stomping on Islamists. If not, then Iraq or no Iraq would leave us in the same spot — invading Pakistan.”
    There are none so blind as those who will not see. No regime has ever succeeded in stomping out terrorists. It is the nature of terrorism that the more forcefully you combat it the more justification you give it. I direct your attention to England and Israel.

  11. >>You mean the ones who won lots of seats in the last election?>You really think we’d even consider invading a nuclear-armed country with a very large, very dense, highly hostile armed populace?>Nope, we were supporting all the corrupt one’s that are already there (especially the oppression of the Palestinians)>No regime has ever succeeded in stomping out terrorists.>It is the nature of terrorism that the more forcefully you combat it the more justification you give it.> I direct your attention to England and Israel.

  12. “They also hate us because we are Western, liberal, support freedom, etc.”
    False – They hate us because they hold us responsible for, the suffering of those with whom they sympathize, the corruption of their governments, and the desecration of sacred ground.

    “That they will try to nuke us in the next several years is a threat that needs to be dealt with. Do you deny this?”
    Absolutely. That is, I deny that there is any reason to believe they would nuke us without provocation. I suggest we stop providing them with it.

    “Certainly there are reasonable steps to *minimize* this threat.”
    Yes there are. And I want us to take those steps instead of our current/historic imperialist policy, which serves to maximize this threat.

    Your anology is the same as “the more you combat crime the more justification you give it” – which is clearly false.
    It is not the same at all. If one person is sent to jail for a crime they did not commit, that does not motivate others to commit crimes. However, when innocent people suffer from our “war on terror” it legitimizes the claims of the terrorists and motivates others to join them.

    “Al Queda and its ilk are transgeographic and must be struck at their sources.”
    Self-contradictory – Because they are transgeographic there is no source to strike.

  13. Warren and Laz,

    I think you’re talking past each other when you discuss why “they” hate us. I think you’re using two different definitions of “they.” There are two groups of people we need to think about: the masses of people in Islamic nations, and the radical fringe of ideologues who are waging a terrorist war against us. Think of the difference between trade unionists and Communists. The former don’t all hate us, though many object, often strongly, to certain aspects of our (or our allies’) foreign, military, and economic policies. The latter hate us for whatever reason, but have been politicized into blaming certain aspects of our modern, democratic, non-Muslim culture for everything that is going wrong in their countries, and have adopted an ideology of violent resistance.

    The point is that we need to fight the radical, cultist fringe, and do so in a way that doesn’t drive the masses into their waiting arms. Unions who saw hope for reforming capitalism remained within the liberal, democratic, capitlist fold. It was those who were radicalized by intrangience in the face of legitimate complaints, violence, and corruption in defense of established plutocracy that sought out revolutionary, radical means.

    What this means for Iraq is that our military conquest, and especially our post-war administration, need to be done in a way that will radicalize the fewest people. This isn’t about people who are already with the terrorists, Laz. It’s about 12 year old boys who will spend the next ten years learning whether or not Americans are violent, selfish, oppressive, hostile, bigoted, greedy imperialists.

  14. It looks like there are no one left “undecided” and needs to be convinced one way or the other. The people (pro-Saddam, anti-Saddam) have made up their minds for their own reasons and nothing Bush says, shows, does will convince either side to change their mind (within reason, ofcourse)

    If post-war Iraq finds evidence of WMD, lefties will say CIA planted the evidence. If civilians die in Iraq, lefties will Blame Bush and righties will blame Saddam. So, I am not sure if this debate has not reached its conclusion …

    No need to stop, though! Why stop when we are having fun?!

  15. It seems to me that what Bush calls “blackmail” is the same thing that the U.S. traditionally called “deterrence” back when weapons of mass destruction were used to discourage OTHER countries from going to war. That’s the problem with the Munich model that the neocons and their anti-idiotarian fellow travellers keep harping on: it treats the U.S. as the one country in history that is above and beyond their principle of deterrence. Personally, I think deterrence is a good thing across the board. ANY would-be hegemon needs to be sent back home to mind its own damned business.

  16. The deterrence model fails when terrorist cells obtain WMDs. Hence the Global War on Terror, of which Iraq is just a battle.

    Given how many terrorists have been arrested by Pakistan in just the last few weeks, I would say that the Administration’s strategy is working.

  17. Perhaps there really is no one left undecided, as Sax suggests, but I doubt anyone outside Saddam’s family is truly in the “pro-Saddam” camp. People might be opposed to going to war with Saddam, but that doesn’t mean they think he’s an all-around good guy. And certainly no one is planning to come to his aid.

    If opposition to war makes someone “pro-Saddam,” does that mean Bush’s reluctance to confront North Korea makes him “pro Kim Jong Il”?

  18. If all the terrorists are being arrested in Pakistan, why are we attacking Iraq?

    Oh yeah, some head Al-Qaeda dude is hanging out in northern Iraq. A region controlled by the Kurds. Saddams enemy. People we are trying to “liberate”. Uh-huh, all makes sense now.

    I still maintain that Saddam is no dummy. All his energy is bent on survival. He would never, ever act in such a way as to endanger his rule. To say he would commit acts of terror against the US is folly. It would be suicide and against his M.O. Unless of course, he feels he has nothing to lose…..

  19. I agree that the US is arrogant (and percieved as such by much of the world) with its “Nuclear for me and not for thee” philosphy. However I think there is a distinction between blackmail and deterrence. If I have a club that I can hit you with if you hit me first, that’s deterrence. If I use my club to threaten you into giving me your lunch money, that’s blackmail. Or extorsion, if you will.

    That said, it is understandable if we want to prevent certain non-freedom-friendly dictators with a history of conquest from obtaining nukes. Also the terrorist threat is real but perhaps the biggest likelyhood of a state arming terrorists against us would occur if we attack them.

    I’m still undecided, perhaps one of only a few. I think the current administration is either brilliantly machiavellian or actually clueless but thinking it is brilliantly machiavellian. Only time will tell which is the case, and even then, maybe not – we could just get lucky with the outcome.

  20. >>If all the terrorists are being arrested in Pakistan, why are we attacking Iraq?

  21. The U.S. will seek regime change in Pak? Now that’s laughable. This Administration doesn’t have the sack to squabble with a nuclear tinderbox like Pakistan. Regardless, the arrests in Pak are just a pittance to keep the funding coming. Musharriff(sp?) doesn’t really have any control over the tribes on the Afghani border, which is probably where most of the Al-Qaeda/Taliban remnant are hiding.

    As for Machiavelli: idiot and asshole. Much like most of our world leaders. Men are not pawns. And if you treat as such they will turn around and bite your meddlesome hand. Its Machiavellian thought that is responsible for much of the conflict this past century. And apparently it will continue…

  22. >>What this means for Iraq is that our military conquest, and especially our post-war administration, need to be done in a way that will radicalize the fewest people.

  23. >>False ? They hate us because they hold us responsible for, the suffering of those with whom they sympathize, the corruption of their governments, and the desecration of sacred ground.>That is, I deny that there is any reason to believe they would nuke us without provocation.>However, when innocent people suffer from our ?war on terror? it legitimizes the claims of the terrorists and motivates others to join them>Self-contradictory ? Because they are transgeographic there is no source to strike.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.