IRAQ DISARMED: WHEN? HOW? WHO?
Sean-Paul over at The Agonist
has incisively listed 6 normative considerations for jus ad bellum
, i.e. principles that govern decision on whether to go to war.
I am fairly confident even if one has read, understood and answered items 1 through 4, #5 would be a bit trickier to digest. I know it was for me…Have we, as a country or the world, exhausted all peaceful measures to disarm Saddam?
Is it time to finally give up on idealistic notion that a regional dictator of Saddam’s caliber would give up his power and ideology just because his position of power is threatened?
To get through this hurdle, perhaps it’s worth considering this: how much value does a mass murderer inflicting genocide on his neighbors and constituents, a veteran terrorist and an experienced WMD propagator assign to his life or the lives of his people? (See above for a hint).
Still a big debatable, a tad ambiguous? One other way to approach it is to assume Saddam is a rational actor, someone who will go after the winning strategy. The choices are scarce:
2. Voluntary disarmament
3. Involuntary disarmament
Let’s review them closer:
Exile—weak, losing strategy:
Where do you go if you’re a power hungry, 35- year dictatorial rule veteran? And what do you do there? What sort of legacy do you leave behind?
Clearly, Saddam has neither a will to go into exile nor any plausible strategy to do it successfully (after all, he doesn’t get a “no assassination” guarantee from either his enemies or the “host country”, which after all has to harbor Hussein!)
Voluntary disarmament—weak, losing strategy:
In this case “voluntary” disarmament bears the same consequences as “involuntary”, but doesn’t allow to inflict pain on Saddam’s enemy-Western coalition forces: Saddam loses power, gets removed from office, possibly tried as war criminal in ICC tribunal, etc. All of downside of losing a war, with none of upside in seeing enemy painted “red”? Unlikely.
Clearly, Saddam has no incentive “to disarm”. Also, disarming will effectively show that he successfully defied UNSC resolutions and avoided inspections for 12 years.
While Iraq has no clear deadline to disarm, the fine line between “disarm” and “be disarmed” is going to get increasingly more blurred.
In Saddam’s twisted mind, this is “double or nothing” strategy. It’s also the strongest one he’s got:
he knows it’s inevitable that he will lose power, but at least he’ll go down as a “hero”, a victim of “imperialistic aggression”, a martyr and example to all red revolutionaries
to come, etc. etc. etc.
He also knows that he can inflict some damage on western powers coalition, both militarily and economically. Maybe he’s even banking on longer- term ideological damage, since he can capitalize on the current “anti-war” sentiment, which is already causing a rift in alliance.
So as we now think we know what Saddam will do, how do we act? As responsible actors, ethical entities and simply selfish egoists—couldn’t we just give Saddam a CLEAR, SHORT deadline and then act decisively? Most likely it’ll be the same old story, but maybe not. In either case, we’ll get enough proof to rationalize
our actions. So here’s
without further ado:
UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 21 -- The chief U.N. weapons inspector ordered Iraq today to begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles and associated equipment by March 1, setting up a major test of whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein intends to disarm or face a war for openly defying a U.N. order.
As the events unfold within the next two weeks or so, with another resolution draft on the table before UNSC and the latter’s recent (remains to be seen) determination to put an end to this “cat and mouse” chase, hopefully that item #5 will seize being a moral hurdle for the hawks, chicken hawks, fence sitters, and doves, because #6--Reasonable hopes of success—is sure as hell a “no-brainer”.
Read this post
by Matthew Yglesias
, where he cites Le Monde
's article related to the WaPo's piece I quoted above. It shows how critical it is to read between lines.