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Time to retire

I happened to run across this idiotic piece by Helen Thomas, who can't figure out why the United States might want to act against Iraq. Her argument is a combination of every logical fallacy one can imagine.

She starts with moral equivalence:

Yes, it violated U.N. resolutions in 1998 by ousting international weapons inspectors who were trying to make sure that it was not secretly producing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

But other nations, including Israel, have violated U.N. resolutions, and we have not tried to oust their leaders.

Well, clearly Saddam Hussein is on the same level as the Israeli leadership. After all, Israel engaged in a large-scale military operation in Jenin and killed fifty people; Saddam engaged in a large-scale military operation in Halajba and killed fifty-thousand people. Surely there's no real difference there. Let's not even mention that Israel's leaders can be "ousted" peacefully; Iraq's cannot.

Then we get projection:

One explanation for Bush's fixation on ousting Saddam Hussein is that he wants to avenge his father, who was victorious against Iraq in the Persian Gulf war in 1991 but failed to unseat its ruler. Conservatives have long accused the elder Bush of not finishing the job in Baghdad.

However, considering the human cost, surely personal vengeance is not a valid reason to start a Middle East conflagration. Such a drastic move would anger even more the already alienated Arab world against America.

Bush, of course, has never given that "explanation," and has never cited that as a "reason." (And if this were a position of which Thomas approved, such as campaign finance "reform," would she describe it as "fixation?" Or would it be, say, a "commitment?")

Then we get "everyone else is doing it":

Another of the administration's arguments for an attack is that Iraq is a brutal dictatorship. It is, absolutely. But so are other nations -- Sudan, North Korea, Iran, Burma, Libya, for example. And Bush isn't trying to take them down.
And if Bush were trying to take them down, wouldn't Thomas be complaining about that?? (And aren't two of those the other members of the Axis of Evil, anyway?) Does the United States need to overthrow every evil government to justify overthrowing one evil government?

Iraq may be making doomsday chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. But wouldn't the United States make a more persuasive case if it would publicly lay out whatever evidence it has, such as satellite photos?
Persuasive to whom? I wasn't aware that American foreign policy was supposed to be determined by whether Helen Thomas liked the idea. And I don't think anybody else around the world is confused on this point. Some don't care, and some are too timid to act even if they do -- but either way, they're not waiting for proof.
Assuming that Iraq has those weapons, it is not alone. There are many nations, including the United States, that have nuclear arsenals.
And? We're hardly worried about France bombing us. More to the point, does Thomas not understand that the whole idea is to oust Hussein before he develops the weapons? It would be an incredibly stupid policy to sit there twiddling our thumbs while Hussein is building an atomic bomb, and then attack him after he has succeeded.

And finally, we get to the Rodney King approach: can't we all just get along?

It would be better to keep international pressure on the Iraqi regime for unrestrained U.N.-conducted weapons inspections that might lead to a peaceful solution. A second round of negotiations on the subject resumed at the United Nations last week with Iraq hoping to extract some concessions -- lifting economic sanctions against the country and eliminating the no-fly zones overhead -- in exchange for its permitting the return of the inspectors.
No, Helen. We've tried the "international pressure" approach. Now we want to try the real pressure approach. Note that what Thomas wants is to try the "no pressure" approach -- to have us remove sanctions in exchange for "inspections." Thomas again confuses means and ends: the goal isn't inspections; the goal is to eliminate the Iraqi threat. Inspections are a means to that end.

What I can't figure out is why this editorial is coming out now (well, actually a week ago, but I just saw it.) It's a rehash of arguments that have been made for months.


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Comments (1)


Why is it that such a thing as terrorism comes to light only when the US is attacked by terrorists?I am a 15 year old student in India , and everyday we read about 'terrorist attacks' by Pakistani terrorists on Indian people in Kashmir, this has been going on since 1947. When india wanted to attack PAkistan in mid 2000, the US as usual interfered in our business and asked us to take up peaceful approach. why? because Pakistan offers you a military base? because pakistan praises every one of your interferences in the problems of other countries. Why didn't you take a 'peaceful' approach against Iraq? Its not alright for a country that has been suffering for 58 years by terrorist attacks to wage a war, but its alright for a country to wage a war against a country they assume will drop a bomb on them ,is it?


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