Preventive War

I posted this comment at the Washington Monthly blog. Kevin Drum (formerly Calpundit) is a liberal hawk that initially supported this war. He and Atrios have argued whether the primary anti-war argument was based on the assumption that 'preventive' wars are always bad. I would argue that this was only sold to us as a preventive war, but this was not prosecuted as a preventive war. The initial case was not supported by the facts, and the actual war plan failed to meet its objectives of security WMD locations and egress points along the Iraq border. Debating the idea of 'preventive war' isn't necessarily off-base, but the realities of Bush's war preclude it from being listed as a preventive war. (I would say that Bush's war is more or less criminal intimidation.)

I haven't really felt compelled to say much about this topic until I read Drum's blog today and saw that he's still hung up on this question:
Would the war have gone better if it hadn't been preventive?

This asinine question led me to add this comment. I spent so much time on it that I felt like posting it. However, it does need some editing, but I don't have the time to do it right now. (work emergency) Hopefully I can come back this evening and add a few more thoughts on this subject.

The feasibility of a preventive war is tied to the question of "What are we trying to prevent?"

1. We were sold on a war to prevent Saddam from advancing a WMD program, or allowing "terrorists" from obtaining any elements or byproducts of Saddam's WMD program.

All evidence to support the first point was quite flimsy. In the buildup to the war, the Bush Administration failed to provide a single point of evidence that met the sniff test. Period. It's unfortunate that the war hawks failed to debate the war on these terms.

Let me state that last point again: It's unfortunate the war hawks failed to debate the war on the shared, verifiable facts and instead debated their own reductionist assumptions.

Would the war have gone better if it hadn't been preventive? Holy Asinine Crap, Batman! What does this question even mean? Are you asking if the war would have been better if we didn't go? Are you asking if the war would have been better if Saddam had claimed responsibility for 9/11? Are you asking if the war would have been better if Saddam decided to bomb Pearl Harbor again? If Saddam did not openly attack us, what other type of war would we have declared on Saddam? Or are you asking if it would have been better if Saddam had been actively seeking WMD? That leads to the next ugly point...

2. The war "plan" failed to secure WMD locations. The war "plan" failed to secure egress points along the border that might have allowed WMD to be moved out of the country.

Even if you accept that the preventive war argument is a good idea, you have to deal with the fact that the actual plan did not have the resources to resolve the WMD issue. And God forbid what would have happened if Saddam's army had been prepared to fight, or if Saddam actually had WMD to use against the invading Army.

It is unfortunate that war hawks (liberal and conservative) were inclined to support the Administration's war in the first place. If this was truly a war to prevent a WMD holocaust in the United States, then why the hell were we trying to do it on such a small resource budget? This entire war (planning, selling, execution) has been an enormous train wreck in slow motion.

I'm still waiting for a war supporter to explain why it was our most critical national security issue and how the plan was supposed to be successful. I think the real question should be "Would the war have gone better if we had supported executed a realistic plan to meet our objectives?" If we had done that, then we could actually say we prosecuted a preventive war and debate its merits. We poured our resources into a funnel that emptied in Iraq, and expected that the people of Iraq would give us cake and a map to the buried WMD treasure. That's not a preventive war; that's an arrogant, offensive display of money and power that is arguably criminal. That's how gangs control territory, that's not how a civilized society resolves a real impending threat.


Anonymous Marta said...

Good words.

8:28 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home