By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Should a murderer go free just because the LAPD contains racist thugs? The O.J. dilemma applies to Saddam Hussein as well. The case against him is weakened when made by clear wackos like Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney. But there is a case. And on the other side, if ever I‘m in the dock, heaven help me from having defenders like former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and others from the anti-war brigade.
One of the problems with being anti-war in this country is that you find yourself in such very mixed -- and often mixed-up -- company. It might not make you pro-war, but it can certainly incline you toward being anti-anti-war.
All too often, being anti-war is a contortion, not a position. To begin with is the question of which war you are against. Since Vietnam, the anti-warriors often advance an ad hoc catalog of mutually opposed positions orbiting one central tenet: The U.S. is always wrong.
This absolutism is wrong in principle, and it’s also bad politics. After all, it‘s hardly likely to attract the majority support of Americans, who, as we’ve seen since 911, are more likely to wave the flag than a peace sign. It does help the purists to isolate their enemies, since any quibbling makes you a retrospective supporter of the Vietnam War.
Different groups will give different reasons for opposing The War. The Quakers are genuinely anti-war -- which is a perfectly respectable position, if not much use when confronted with warmongers like Adolf Hitler, Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. At least pacifists tend to be consistent.
Other anti-warriors are quite prepared to praise famous warmongers -- as long as they are not American. Mercifully, few were prepared to risk tarring and feathering by suggesting that al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were doing the Lord‘s work, although some came dangerously close with odious comparisons and excuses for 911. Many anti-warriors seem to think that supporting recidivist warmongers like Slobodan Milosevic or Saddam Hussein was perfectly consonant with being “anti-war.” For them, war is what the U.S. does, not its opponents.
When it comes to concern for the effect of intervention on the locals, doublethink can really go into overdrive. Most Kosovars clearly welcomed intervention, and Afghans in general gave every appearance of being happy to be liberated when the imperialist forces of aggression rode in. But your average anti-warrior does not really want the victims enfranchised. It is the principle of intervention that is wrong. The practical effects on ordinary people are really irrelevant.
Anti-war absolutists have two fallback positions: that the victims are no saints themselves, or that the intervention will only make things worse and so the natives should be left to fight it out for themselves. It’s a long way from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade going to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
Often the same people who made excuses for Milosevic, by declaring that Bosnian Muslims had committed war crimes and Serbs had suffered from them, then tried to ignore Slobodan Milosevic‘s crimes or even go as far as Ramsey Clark to embrace and defend the mass murderer. They do have a point, even if it is far from conclusive. Victims are not always heroes. However, while we can assume statistically that the 2,802 casualties from last September 11 included a number of embezzlers of the poor, beaters of spouses and abusers of infants, there is no way that condones the crime.
If you can’t impugn the victims, the next recourse is to attack the motivation of the would-be rescuers. This is easy. Most nations, like most people, operate on a sliding scale of altruism and self-interest. So if the U.S. does good things from bad motives -- what? -- we should oppose it? Luckily for Europeans, they did not refuse tainted U.S. help in getting rid of Hitler.
So then we come to the current war we are all supposed to be against. I see a case for international action against Saddam Hussein, even if it‘s certainly not the one the administration is making. The Axis of Evil spiel is the product of the Hub of Hypocrisy in the White House. It is clearly in breach of international law for one country, even with God on its side, to overthrow the regime of another.
At the beginning of September, someone in the administration finally convinced the White House that unilateral overthrow of Saddam Hussein was indeed illegal, set a bad precedent and was supported only by Ariel Sharon -- hardly a paragon of international lawfulness. Sometime in the last week or so, someone helped Bush see that by focusing on Iraq’s defiance of U.N. resolutions, particularly about inspections, he could provide a multilateral Kevlar fig leaf for a regime change.
In his speech to the U.N. last week, no matter how hypocritically, and no matter how unconvincing his last-minute conversion to multilateralism, George Bush laid out what many delegates concluded was a strong case for action to force the Iraqi regime into compliance with the host of U.N. resolutions. Admittedly, some of the stuff about the connections to terrorism was far-fetched, but this was more of the O.J. approach, tantamount to trying to frame a guilty man.