The American Interest

The Coming War in Iraq: Dangerous and Unnecessary

In the final years of the Soviet Union, as glasnost broadened the scope of permissible public debate, it was still deemed advisable to precede any expression of controversial views with a little disclaimer.  For example, “While I hold no brief for the Islamic dushmans terrorizing the people of Afghanistan, I think we should withdraw from that country”; or, “While rejecting the notion that Western-style capitalism provides the best model for the good life, I think that we should abandon central planning and collectivized agriculture in favor of free-market reforms.”   

It is a sign of these unpleasant times that I feel compelled to make such a statement when discussing Iraq, but so be it: I think, unreservedly, that Saddam Hussein is a nasty piece of work.  In fact, I wish that he were dead and gone and that someone very different held power in Baghdad.  (Admittedly, hardly any leader in the Arab world is very different from Saddam: To bully, cheat, and lie abroad, and to oppress and rob at home, is the rule rather than the exception in that political culture.)  The Iraqi dictator has brought nothing but misery to his own people, as well as chronic instability to the region.  His military adventures—including two disastrous wars—ended in fiascos, and, yes, he did “gas his own people.”  (Actually, it was the Kurds, whom...

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