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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

March 21, 2003

"Chicken Hawks" were Right about Saddam 

The war to secure America from a murderous dictator is well underway. By all accounts, the campaign to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and its weapons of mass destructions is going well. Coalition forces are steadily progressing to Baghdad while suffering few casualties. The air strikes in Baghdad and elsewhere are remarkably restrained and narrowly targeted to hit legitimate military targets and spare the lives of Iraqi civilians. Negotiations are underway with Iraqi military officials over terms of surrender. Saddam's continued existence on this planet is in serious doubt.

Now that the war has started, the seemingly endless debate that preceded it is officially over. The so-called "chicken hawks"* won and the doves lost. It's important to remember such debates because they often repeat themselves. Several arguments made by both sides were similar, if not identical, to arguments made before the U.S. went into Afghanistan to take out the Taliban and liberated Kuwait in 1991. Such repetition is rarely helpful. 

One common argument made by doves, in fact their most powerful argument, was that Saddam was not a threat because he wouldn't dare risk annihilation by attacking America with chemical or biological weapons. He may be a murderer and a thug, the argument went, but he was no fool, and he cared about self-preservation more than anything else. He would never take any course of action that threatened his survival.

Recent events have shown that argument to be dangerously mistaken. President Dubya gave Saddam a clear choice: exile or war. War, everyone understood, meant death for Saddam. If the doves were right, Saddam would have chosen self-preservation and a comfortable life in Riyadh. But Saddam didn't do that. Instead, he chose war. He preferred death to life.

Doves might respond that it was not death that Saddam chose, but honor. He would feel humiliated throughout the Arab world if he slunk away with his tail between his legs. Honor demanded that he stay and fight the Great Satan to the death, and go out as a hero, a martyr.

That's probably true, but all it proves is that Saddam is still willing to risk his life to damage America, regardless of his reasons - revenge, honor, whatever. If honor compels Saddam to defend his wicked regime to his last breath in a vain effort to strike one blow against America, then surely that same honor compels Saddam to strike at America with a chemical or biological weapon, even if such an action brought his own demise. That same honor compels Saddam to side with America's enemies, regardless of what he thinks of them, and provide them with chemical and biological weapons to use against America.

Either way you spin the argument, it boils down to the same conclusion: Saddam Hussein is a threat to America. The doves never could believe this. The hawks knew it all along, for a very long time.

America is fighting this war to remove a threat. It is not fighting this war because of oil, or because a cabal of bloodthirsty warmongers control the government, or because Saddam tried to kill Dubya's dad, or because Jewish neoconservatives are carrying out orders from Ariel Sharon. Various doves have made these exact claims in an effort not to argue their case, but to smear their opponents. Those same doves have been proven wrong, and the hawks have been proven right.

Will that change anything? Probably not. Next time America faces a threat, the same doves will spout the same unpersuasive and dishonest arguments. The same peacenik protestors will march in the streets in the support of yet another tyrannical dictator. History certainly does repeat itself - some learn from it, others do not.

America's Mercy

So far, this war is an impressive display of American might and power. But it also showcases American mercy for noncombatants.

America is doing everything it can to avoid killing Iraqi civilians. It sends in laser-guided smart bombs to specific military targets, rather than carpet-bombing large areas, which is easier and cheaper. Will those countries and peaceniks who protest this war appreciate this? Doubtful. America probably will receive little or no credit for this, even within its own countries.

It's a shame, because American soldiers are showing more regard for Iraqis than their own leaders. Saddam has placed military weaponry and installations around civilian areas, and even force hundred if not thousands of civilians to move close to legitimate military targets. His reason is obvious: Blame America for Iraqi deaths.

But international law makes clear that it is Saddam who is to blame. Any state that  intentionally places its own civilians in harm's way is responsible for those civilians' well-being, not the attacker. It is Saddam who has committed a war crime. It is Saddam who has placed his own people at risk.

Have you heard any protestor or peacenik mention this? I didn't think so.

* Anti-war doves call war proponents chicken hawks because these hawks are supposedly unwilling to join the military and take the same risks they urge others to take. Such an idea is of course very stupid. It's like saying you're a chicken hawk if you believe criminals should be arrested but you don't become a cop and arrest them yourself. It's yet another example of people with no decent arguments resorting to name-calling.

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