Commentary: Illogical reasoning of a war against Iraq
Broadcast on NPR -- All Things Considered -- March 13, 2003
All right, let me see if I understand the logic
of this correctly. We are going to ignore the United Nations in order to
make clear to Saddam Hussein that the United Nations cannot be ignored.
We're going to wage war to preserve the UN's ability to avert war.
The paramount principle is that the UN's word must be taken seriously, and
if we have to subvert its word to guarantee that it is, then by gum, we will.
Peace is too important not to take up arms to defend. Am I getting this
right? Further, if the only way to bring democracy to Iraq is to vitiate
the democracy of the Security Council, then we are honor-bound to do that
too, because democracy, as we define it, is too important to be stopped by
a little thing like democracy as they define it. Also, in dealing
with a man who brooks no dissension at home, we cannot afford dissension
among ourselves. We must speak with one voice against Saddam Hussein's failure
to allow opposing voices to be heard. We are sending our gathered might
to the Persian Gulf to make the point that might does not make right, as
Saddam Hussein seems to think it does. And we are twisting the arms of the
opposition until it agrees to let us oust a regime that twists the arms of
the opposition. We cannot leave in power a dictator who ignores his own
people. And if our people, and people elsewhere in the world, fail to understand
that, then we have no choice but to ignore them. Listen. Don't misunderstand.
I think it is a good thing that the members of the Bush administration seem
to have been reading Lewis Carroll. I only wish someone had pointed out
that "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" are meditations
on paradox and puzzle and illogic and on the strangeness of things, not templates
for foreign policy. It is amusing for the Mad Hatter to say something like,
`We must make war on him because he is a threat to peace,' but not amusing for someone who actually commands an army to say that.
As a collector of laughable arguments, I'd be enjoying all this were it not
for the fact that I know--we all know--that lives are going to be lost in
what amounts to a freak, circular reasoning accident.
Peter Freundlich is a freelance journalist in New York.