March 20, 2003

No Protest Today

Anti-war demonstrations are planned today for a number of U.S. cities, Pittsburgh among them. With war in Iraq having started last night, I am forced to make a decision whether to attend. In fact, I plan to stay home. At the risk of feeling like part of the faceless majority that rallies reflexively to the nation’s support in response to any military action, I cannot hope for anything but a quick and decisive American victory in Iraq. I am not happy about how we got here, driven by President Bush’s disingenuous arguments and inept diplomacy, but Saddam Hussein is indeed a danger to his people, his neighbors, and—although this is a bit of a stretch—to us.

I was never unconditionally opposed to attacking Iraq, but I did believe that it would have been better for our relations with other nations and for our treasury to do so with broad international support. I still cannot understand the President’s impatience. Whether or not inspections would ever have succeed in totally disarming Iraq—and it is still unclear how much disarmament is necessary—inspections were clearly inhibiting Iraq’s weapon-building ability and decreasing its weapon inventory, presumably degrading its ability to wage war in the process. Continued inspections seemed to have the potential to make any eventual war easier for us and our allies, while providing more opportunities to rally international support. The administration may have been discouraged, however, by the fact that its diplomatic efforts seemed to create less world support, rather than more.

For now, we must hope for the best: (1) a quick victory that removes Saddam Hussein and avoids large losses of life or assets, American or Iraqi; (2) a brief American occupation, followed quickly by the establishment of a process to create a replacement government, carried out under U.N. supervision; (3) ongoing technical and financial support to Iraq, supplied both by the U.S. and by the international community, delivered in a way that does not threaten Iraq’s neighbors; and (4) establishment of an international understanding that there is no blanket right of nations to attack other nations on the mere threat of a threat. We can hardly hope for more. I’d rather not think about the worst that could happen.

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