|We make war that we may live in peace. |
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
- John Adams
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.
- John Stuart Mill
I haven't said much about the war here, although over the past couple of weeks I've participated in some email debates and discussions.
My political view is generally what I'd call libertarian (please note the lowercase "l") -- and I've sometimes said I belong to those who are government conservatives and social liberals. That is, I hold very Jeffersonian views about government ("governs best that governs least" and all that) and tend to oppose on principle measures that increase government power and scope, especially when it comes to the federal government. I also feel that government has no business poking into people's private lives; hence, I would describe myself as a social liberal. If someone is not bringing direct harm to others, the government should have no power. (For example, when it comes to gays in the military I agree with the late Sen. Goldwater: we shouldn't care if they are straight, only if they can shoot straight.) I think that when the Constitution says that Congress shall enact no law in certain areas, it means exactly that -- no law -- hands off.
Given that philosophy -- and given that I did not think it was our place to play policeman to the world -- I have generally opposed interventionist policies when they had no connection with our truly vital interests. There have been many places in the world where some people have thought that we should intervene. (Interestingly enough, these tend to be the same people who think our intervention in Iraq is wrong -- could the political affiliation of the current president have something to do with this?) I've generally thought that if people in various nations choose to slaughter each other, that is a terrible thing, but it is a situation for a United Nations peace-keeping force, not for Americans. There are many nations with oppressive and dictatorial governments, but it should not be our task to overthrow them. (Friends of Liberty everywhere but defenders only of our own.)
What has changed?
Our Liberty is now at stake.
Yes, they killed three thousand innocent Americans... but this isn't just about hunting down and destroying the fanatics who are directly responsible.
It is about defending ourselves against a network of terrorist organizations founded in a sick and hate-filled fundamentalist perversion of Islam, a movement that hates us for being free, that hates us for having rights and freedoms, that hates us for being successful, that hates us for not being trapped in the same medieval cesspool that they live in. They want to pull us down to their level.
They believe the punishment for adultery should be death by stoning -- dig a hole, bury her up to her waist in the ground, and then throw rocks at her until she is dead. They believe death is appropriate punishment for being gay. They believe death is appropriate punishment for writing something with which they disagree. And they are not content to merely torture and kill each other; they have explicitly stated that they seek to destroy us and they haven't just talked about it, they have acted upon their hatreds. They declared the war, they began the war.
Taking out the Taliban was a first step. Iraq needed to be next. Saddam and the fundamentalists may hate each other, but they hate us more -- and remember, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. It would be easy for him to supply them with biological agents or even a nuclear weapon. And even if he didn't, he wouldn't last forever -- and his weapons would become available.
We could not wait until an American city dies under a mushroom cloud. We could not wait until terrorists struck us with germ warfare. We could not wait another dozen years while Saddam built his weapons and the Iraqi people suffered privation and disease from U.N. sanctions while he grew ever wealthier.
Yes, Saddam is evil and a dictator and he has done horrible things to his own people, etc. so that removing him and his regime will help the Iraqi people -- but the real reason I came to support the war is to protect our future, so that my children can live their lives in freedom and safety and so that there can be freedom and safety for their children as well.