Why Peace: I love a good argument. (Must imagine that with Monty Python accent.) Currently there has been a "blog debate" proposed which seems interesting. Partisans of both sides, for and against war on Iraq, have developed questions to ask the other side. (I didn't take part in that; I might have suggested some other questions for the warmongers, but the ones there are good enough.) Anyway, without further ado links to Cross-Blog Iraq Debate: The Questions, and also the same questions posted on Stand Down.

Here's my take on the questions from the warmongers.
1) If you were President of the United States, what would be your policy toward Iraq over the next year? What advantages and disadvantages do you see in your proposed policies versus the current path being pursued by the Bush administration?
I would, first of all, pull back all military forces. I would apologize to the world for my shameless warmongering, and announce the new US policy of isolationism: trade with all, entangling alliances with none. And I would announce in particular that the US renounces aggressive, unprovoked war. That we view it as profoundly destabilizing.

Second, I would end the American sanctions. It is the right of all peaceful people to trade freely, including American citizens, and this right should not be abridged by the US government. (If the UN wants to keep up the sanctions, I would disapprove, but that's their business.)

The disadvantage of such a course should be obvious enough: Saddam stays in power. The Iraqi people continue to groan under his boot. Lucrative oil-service contracts remain with French, German, and Russian companies, not American companies. The advantages I will get into shortly.

2) Is there any circumstance that you can conceive of where the United States would be justified in using military force without the support of the UN Security Council --- or does the UN always have a veto against US military action for whatever reason?
I put little credence in the U.N. So it matters not what they say: that a war is justified or not; their support has no bearing on whether or not the US should fight.

The US should go to war only to defend the life, liberty, and/or property of US citizens. In such circumstances, assuming the offender is another state or organization which cannot be negotiated with to cease its offenses, then war may be justified. Otherwise, war is unjustified, and being what war is, evil.
3) American and British military force has allowed Northern Iraq to develop a society which, while imperfect, is clearly a freer and more open society than existed under Saddam Hussein's direct rule. Do you agree that the no-fly zones have been beneficial to Northern Iraq --- and if so, why should this concept not be extended to remove Hussein's regime entirely and spread those freedoms to all Iraqis?
Yes, the no-fly zones are beneficial. There's a simple reason for this: nonhomogeneous states don't work, to the extent that they are socialistic. And Iraq is extremely socialistic. In such circumstances Kurds cannot live "with" Tikrits, for the simple reason that "with" isn't really "with"; it's "under". The Kurds are clearly better off not under Saddam's thumb. Saddam is a cruel dictator. No surprise there.

Bush, if he had balls, would carve up Iraq and make three nations that might actually work as modern nation-states. But this won't happen.

The reasons not to "extend the zone" are the reasons not to be at war in the first place. There are two. First, aggressive war is unjust, and thus evil. See above. Second, war is not the national interest of the United States. Pushing around Arabs will not make us friends in the Arab world, long term, or short term. The exertion of force certainly can get us fearful allies, like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. But they are not friends. Bullies don't have friends.

Other nations are our friends not because we push them around, but because they are tied to us by culture, history, and trade. These are things which build lasting friendships. Not aggression.

Nation-destruction is something modern nation-states can do effectively. We can conquer Iraq. Nation-building is not something the nation-state can do. We may even try, halfheartedly, to rebuild Iraq. But regardless of our effort level, we will fail. Iraq will get a new dictator, though, one quite friendly to the US - just like the Saudis. This will leave a bunch of pissed-off Iraqis. And they will, with some fairness, blame the US. This will be a new pool of talent for Muslim extremists to recruit in.

Meanwhile, the American belligerent stance vs Iraq, and our dovish negotiation with North Korea, are making it clear to every repressive regime in the world that the US respects only nuclear weapons. What they will do, given this awareness, seems rather obvious.

Given nuclear proliferation, and given the open nature of our society, it becomes obvious that someday terrorists will have both the will and means to hurt us badly. We may be able to affect the speed at which that day comes, but not its coming. The main warmonger argument seems to be that somehow the nuclear genie can be contained. It cannot, barring a world-state with police powers that should be unacceptable to any American.

The question is thus: when the day comes that terrorists have a nuke, what sort of relationship do you want the US to have with the world? One of aggression, hegemony, and the resulting anger and resentment? Or one of peace and free trade, and the resulting uncaringness?

I choose the latter. And given the level of anger and resentment that there currently are, I think it is imperative for the US to start acting peacefully now, so that in ten or twenty years when the bad proliferation happens, it is not us that terrorists select for their target.
4) Do you believe an inspection and sanctions regime is sufficient and capable of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the Hussein regime --- and should this be a goal of U.S. policy? In what way is an inspection/containment/sanctions regime preferable to invasion? Civilian casualties? Expense? Geopolitical outcome?
Yes, I believe an inspection and sanctions regime is sufficient and capable of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the Hussein regime. For instance, something like what the Germans and French are currently proposing.

However, I do not regard having anything to do with inspections as in the interest of the US. Saddam is no threat to us, with or without WMDs. Or anyway, no more of a threat than many other possessors of WMDs. These weapons, in general, are a threat. Their possession by any country increases the risk that they will fall into undeterrable hands. But we cannot eradicate WMDs; the best we can do is try to maintain a world where most regimes don't feel the need for them. Especially tinhorn dictators and impoverished basket-states, which are the ones which will feel most imperiled by US aggression.

Furthermore, as the warmongers' question above alludes, I think an inspections regime which works can only be maintained by rather high levels of threatened force. Iraq is cooperating more now only because of the threat of war. Remove the army (as I would do), and Iraq would cease to cooperate. Inspections cannot work without threats. (National sovereignty is like that.)

I am rather agnostic on the question of whether or not inspections (with necessary force backing them) is superior to simple invasion. Either are acts of war. Outright attack has the disadvantage of destroying the lives and property of many priceless, precious innocent individuals. But it promises liberty for the survivors; and over time inspections (and the army placed there to make them happen adequately) are injurious to our own liberty, while being useless to Iraqi liberty. It's a hard call either way.

Fortunately, I regard this choice as moot. Simple withdrawal and peaceful relations are better than either option. Peace is both moral and practical.

5) What, in your opinion, is the source of national sovereignty? If you believe it to be the consent of the governed, should liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime be U.S. policy? If so, how do you propose to accomplish this goal absent military action? (And if in your view the sovereignty of a state does not derive from the consent of the governed, then what is the source of sovereignty?)
The source of national sovereignty is the willingness to unjustly use force. The state is akin to a criminal gang writ large, although, very much domesticated. Sovereignty is the bargain between the individual and the State: I "agree" to let it violate my property and liberty. The State agrees not to violate me worse than, well, the average person will put up with. (That's democracy in action.)

Government should spring from the consent of the governed, it is true. But government is not sovereign, unless it arrogates to itself the sole, ultimate right of decisionmaking. This can, practically, never come from the governed, for the exact same reason that I cannot bind third parties in my contracts. You cannot give consent for someone else (at least, not without his consent, or the consent-power of guardianship). In theory one might have a valid nation-state where each person has fully offered his or her consent to the arrangement. It won't happen in practice. People are not uniform like that.

These things stated, I have answered the question. But let me address what I think the 'mongers are getting at.

Is Iraq a horrific example of a state? Yes it is. Is it morally superior to the US? In no way I can think of. Does it violate the life, liberty, and property of its unfortunate citizens far more egregiously than the US does? Yes.

Does this justify "regime change"? Yes, or at least, it certainly justifies force against Saddam and the Ba'athist party, the police, and anyone else in Iraq who is violating people's rights.

If individual Americans want to go and attempt to change the regime in Iraq, I believe that is their right. To the extent that warfare is actually good for foreigners, it should be treated as other international welfare: let it be done privately. Let the bigmouth birds show if they are eagles, or chickens. Let them go to war themselves, not send the army that should be defending me. Let them send their own money, not my taxes.

It is foolish for the American state to attack Iraq (or in general act as a hegemon), for the reason discussed in question (3). The USA is chartered to protect and serve Americans. It is not to help foreigners. If individual Americans, or American organizations, want to help Iraq, then they are welcome to try. But please, leave my country out of it. I don't want the taxes to pay for your bombs. I don't want the liberty restrictions that come with the terrorism your policies provoke. And I don't want the death and destruction that an atomic weapon will bring, to us, as part of that terrorism.

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