Sunday, January 19, 2003

The UK Observer today runs a clear, carefully reasoned leader on "the case for decisive action" in Iraq, dispassionately argued yet informed by the principles of passionate liberalism:

One thing which has been stressed too little in recent weeks is that it is Iraq's choices that have brought war closer. The debate in Britain and Europe continues to focus largely on what America is doing and why. Too often, it is overlooked that it is Iraq which remains, at the eleventh hour, in defiance of the will of its region and the wider world. That will is still to find a sensible resolution to the current crisis without war....

The arguments for coercive pressure may well end in war. But they combine two laudable motivations. The first is the nature of Saddam Hussein's regime and the call by many Iraqi exiles and dissidents for him to be overthrown. The appalling 1980s nerve-gasing of the Kurds is well documented. Less widely appreciated is that there are few Iraqi families which have not suffered directly, either in the massacres which crushed the 1991 uprisings, or by the violence routinely deployed by Iraq's secret police....

The second motive for displacing Saddam is the danger he poses to the wider world. Western governments must articulate the nature of that potential threat too. The Prime Minister has made the case for the need to deal with Saddam for some years with consistency, though with far less public notice before 11 September 2001. Accused of becoming America's poodle, he, in fact, sticks to a potentially unpopular course because he believes this to be right, and that the threat from Iraqi weapons is real. He does so with courage and clarity....

Some will still argue that because the world contains other unpleasant dictators, it would be wrong to get rid of this one. We disagree. The recent past contains several examples of military intervention against sovereign states where the outcome, if not ideal, has certainly been much better in humanitarian terms than what went before: Vietnam's removal of Pol Pot from Cambodia; Nato's Kosovo campaign, with the subsequent indictment of Slobodan Milosevic; the removal of the Taliban from Afghanistan.

War with Iraq may yet not come, but, conscious of the potentially terrifying responsibility resting with the British Government, we find ourselves supporting the current commitment to a possible use of force. That is not because we have not agonised, as have so many of our readers and those who demonstrated across the country yesterday, about what is right. It is because we believe that, if Saddam does not yield, military action may eventually be the least awful necessity for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the world.

Compare this to Wayne Brown's column today in the Jamaica Observer (in which he argues that the American media are willing co-conspirators with the Bush administration in the cause of war. Clearly he doesn't read the NY Times, & hasn't heard of the blogosphere). Brown has written about Iraq a couple of times in the last few months, always railing against "the military-industrial complex" & "the Bushes, father and son" ("two of the more unpleasant pieces of work to have sullied the world stage in recent times"), but I can't recall him acknowledging Saddam Hussein's monstrousness, or the horrors he's inflicted on the people of Iraq, or the danger he poses to nearby nations. There are good arguments against a war, & many good people making them; but any such argument which does not consider the evil of Hussein's reign seems to me morally invalid.

The question is not whether a war against Iraq would be evil. War is always evil; but there are greater evils still in our fallen world. The question is whether the evils of this war are or are not outweighed by the evils of allowing Hussein to continue his crimes against his people & tolerating his danger to the rest of the world. The Observer editorialist understands this. Wayne Brown, it appears, does not.

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