Do not let the war debate end in a stalemate

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

I know this war has polarized the nation and stuff like that, but I think we can all agree that “freedom fries” and “freedom toast” are kind of stupid.

It makes no sense to rename french fries (which are Belgian anyway) or french toast. In fact, it’s just stupid. The French aren’t our enemies, after all. They’re still our friends. At least, they were the last time I checked.

So I plan on boycotting this latest course of action, though I do plan on giving my fiancee a freedom kiss.

Beyond this latest bit of lunacy, I don’t know what else to say. Everyone seems to have retreated to their various camps and left the few of us still in the middle out in the wasteland.

I don’t believe in this war. I don’t support it. But what I have to say doesn’t really make a difference (yet).

In my mind, there is exactly one good reason to invade Iraq. The people of Iraq are the subjects of a murderous tyrant who has killed many of them. In and of itself, this is not our business because we don’t make it a point to take out every dictator out there. It would just take too long and use too many resources we could use for our own best interests.

However, we invaded Iraq in 1991 because Iraq invaded Kuwait. While numerous other factors were involved, that was the gist of our argument for war in Iraq.

Once we were there, one could argue we had a moral obligation to remove from power the man who had created the nasty situation that called for our intervention in the first place.

In other words, the United States and Europe had and still have a moral obligation to the people of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power, since we shirked our duty in 1991.

There are numerous flaws to this argument, of course (why should we intervene in this regime anyway, etc.) but it comes the closest to providing a means of persuading me that war in Iraq is just.

The problem with the current arguments from Bush and Co. is that they seem to hover on the edge of credibility without ever quite becoming credible.

Perhaps Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps they are aimed at the United States. However, this seems patently unlikely.

I’m not discounting that he may have something aimed at the U.S. for defensive purposes, but it doesn’t seem incredibly likely that he would attack the U.S. pre-emptively.

Too many former inspectors, ambassadors and others have come out to state that Iraq is not a danger to its neighbors or the world at large. Bush and his gang claim to have evidence that refutes this statement, but they have done nothing to make their case beyond stating that.

Isn’t there anything they can release to us or the leaders of skeptical countries to convince the world that war must be launched against Iraq?

The other big argument used by many in the war against Iraq is the mistaken belief that Iraq had something to do with the Sept. 11 attacks or the rise of the Taliban.

This kind of thinking is dangerous. The Bush administration floated various “facts” that proved the connection between Iraq and al Qaeda at various times, but every single fact has been disproven by vigilant members of the press. The Bush administration has since backed off of this position and is now exclusively pushing the weapons of mass destruction angle.

The problem with this is that many members of the American public still believe that Iraq had something to do with Sept. 11.

Repeat after me: Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are enemies, not friends. None of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi. Indeed, most of them were from Saudi Arabia, our ally. The only money trails to the Sept. 11 hijackers lead to people living in Saudi Arabia. I’m not saying we should bomb Saudi Arabia-far from it. I’m just saying that the evidence points away from Iraq in the case of Sept. 11.

Contrary to what the anti-war protestors would tell you, this war is not all about oil. We’re going to spend more on this war than we will make back in oil money. Everyone involved on both sides admits this.

What this war is really about is Bush’s misguided idea that overthrowing Iraq will cause democracy to rise there. Perhaps we will institute democracy there, but Iraq is dominated by particularly fundamentalist Muslims who would love to use elections to install their own Taliban-esque regime.

People are going to die in this war. People are going to die on both sides. We are about to enter a moral grey zone by launching a pre-emptive strike.

What frustrates me most about this is that both sides have retreated to their ideological camps. On the right, we have the folks who say, “We shouldn’t question our leaders!” To this, I say, “Why did you question Clinton when he did the same thing five years ago?”

On the left, we find those who say, “No blood for oil!” to which I say, “This is about more than oil!”

So educate yourselves. Everything I have said in this column is easily proved by doing a little looking in the archives of news sites on the Internet. Don’t let the debate decay into two camps which believe their own misguided lies.

There are reasons that everyone from the National Council of Churches to a significant number of Americans are against this war (especially without the support of the U.N.). There are reasons a significant number of people are for it. Get online or go to the library and learn what’s going on out there in the world.

It’s the least you can do.

Todd VanDerWerff is the Collegian’s managing editor. Write to him [email protected]