LEFTIST WAR

In one of the most surreal turn of events imaginable, Peter Hitchens, the equally brilliant but staunchly conservative brother of leftist Christopher, opposes this war for the very reasons his brother supports it. A sampling:

The idea that naked force can create human freedom is itself a left-wing idea. Even more socialist are the war faction̢۪s contempt for the sovereignty of nations and their unashamed belief that ends justify means.

Not only that, but

What if one day others are in a position to treat us as we have treated Baghdad, and it is our women giving premature birth because they are buffeted by blast waves and petrified by the ‘smart’ explosions, while the ceilings of our neglected hospitals crack and crumble as the palaces and bunkers of our loathed elite are blasted? Do I wish that our casualties had been higher? Of course not. But the ability to ruin someone else’s capital city without much risk to yourself makes you more likely to do so. It reminds me of Robert E. Lee’s truly conservative remark after the carnage of Fredericksburg: ‘It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it.’ For the attacker, war is no longer terrible enough. Some people have grown too fond of it. They are not conservatives in any serious meaning of the word.

While I disagree with this reasoning, I find the piece brilliantly written.

I made many of these arguments myself, although not as well, during the 1990s in opposition to the adventures of the Clinton Administration. I do worry about the erosion of state sovereignty and an almost cavalier attitude toward the use of military power that comes from the safety of being able to strike an opponent without much fear of reprisal. My support for this particular war was slow to build and didn’t become firm until shortly after the revelation that the North Korean regime had acquired nuclear capability at which point something of an epiphany occured. I agree with Hitchens that national security should be the primary motivation of war; I disagree that it is not at stake here. There are certainly dozens of brutal regimes out there. I do not propose that we use military force to topple all of them and spread democracy. I believe Saddam is a unique threat because he has the resources and the intent to acquire weapons of mass destruction; his tryranny against his own people is important in this context as evidence that he lacks any compunction against using these weapons against his enemies. Having exhausted diplomatic avenues, war became necessary. Now that we have committed to that course, bringing a democratic regime to Iraq becomes imperative. Not simply for touchy-feely reasons, although they exist and are compelling. But also for national security reasons. A democratic Iraq will be much less likely to be a threat to the US, our allies, or its neighbors. It may also serve as a seed to spread democracy to other states in the region.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.