Sunday, February 18, 2007

Iraq and a Hard Place

Obviously the most important issue in American politics is the Iraq War, just as from 1965 to 1975 the most important issue in American politics was the Vietnam War. Casualties since the 2003 invasion include over 3,000 gallant Coalition soldiers, civilians, and contractors (about 3 every day) and somewhere between twenty and two hundred times that many Iraqis, depending on which figures you believe.

My views on this issue are simple and clear:

1. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was a good act that was justified by international law for several different reasons: because of his crimes against humanity (war crimes and genocide), his violations of human rights, and the fact that he wanted to get and use more weapons of mass destruction. (Remember, Saddam had used poison gas and biological warfare, which are both WMDs, against Iranian soldiers and against Iraqi civilians. His nuclear weapons program was not active, but if he could have gotten away with building or buying a nuke he absolutely would have. I assume even the most extreme left-winger agrees with those facts.)

2. As a libertarian, I understand that there are many good actions which still should not be done by government for moral reasons, practical reasons, or both. For example, libertarians and conservatives believe it is wrong to force people to pay money to finance government welfare programs that they don't agree with; libertarians also understand (and so should conservatives) that it's just as wrong to force people to pay for government warfare programs that they don't support.

I assume almost all the liberals out there believe it should be legal, or at least moral for people to practice nonviolent civil disobedience by refusing to pay taxes to support things like the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, or the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. I agree, and would ask them, in order to avoid being hypocrites, to extend the same privilege to those who want to practice nonviolent civil disobedience concerning other government programs.

3. I also think the occupation shows that our government, like all governments, is inherently short-sighted and incompetent. I am continually amazed -- although I shouldn't be -- that conservatives who complain about the inefficiency of government bureaucracies like the post office and welfare system seem to overlook that the Pentagon is the biggest and most inefficient bureaucracy of all.

4. If our invasion of Iraq was justified on humanitarian grounds because it helped innocent Iraqi dissidents and other civilians, this means our occupation cannot be justified unless it is still helping them; and that is best measured by whether the local population wants us to stay or leave. And obviously a majority of the locals want us to leave everywhere in Iraq except Kurdistan and perhaps one or two other places.

5. To summarize everything so far: I agreed with getting rid of Saddam Hussein and making sure that Iraq had no WMD's, although I think an assassination or coup would have been better than the invasion, because there would have been fewer innocent casualties, which is always the supreme moral imperative for judging a war. After the invasion, we should have left immediately, except in those areas (such as Kurdistan) where the local population wanted us to stay for either protection or reconstruction. I wish that President Bush had made this (unfortunately imaginary) speech long before the 2004 elections; but we should do it now, better late than never.

6. In addition to withdrawing from Iraq (except for those areas where the local population actually wants us to stay), we should also offer asylum for those Iraqis who would be in danger after we leave, such as Christians, Iraqis who actively worked for human rights, and those who actually helped us. Specifically, we should allow them to immigrate to the U.S. without any limitation on numbers, as long as they have evidence (in each individual case) that they are in danger because of their pro-western, pro-Coalition, pro-human rights political or religious beliefs or actions.