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The Contradictions of Pro-War Conservatives
When it comes to war with Iraq, there is a disconnect in the conservative movement. Conservatives pride themselves in the belief of limited government. They should oppose the upcoming war.
They believe in the strict construction of the Constitution. Per the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war. They have not done so. Any a priori abrogation is a shameless derogation of Congressional duty.
Some conservatives ask the question, “Are you willing to take the risk” of not stopping Saddam Hussein before it is too late?. This question assumes the answer in the question. It is logically fallacious. No matter what action or inaction that is taken in any human endeavor, it always entails risk, The proper question is, “In which situation is there a lessor degree of risk? Posed that way, I would argue that intervention in the foreign affairs of other nations including the ultimate intervention, pre-emptive war, is the riskiest position to take, for it will only foment even more hatred against the US than already exists and will exacerbate any terrorist risks. Canada, Switzerland, Norway and Costa Rica never have terrorist problems. Have conservatives ever asked why? One would think that a good conservative would follow the advice of Robert Taft, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and not get involved in entangling alliances.
The history of US intervention in the Middle East includes propping up the tyrannical Shah of Iran while ousting the elected President Mossadegh. The Iranian people revolt and oust the Shah, so the US supports Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. The US supplies him with weapons of mass destruction and turns the other way when he uses them against the Iranian people and the Kurds. Then the US trains, supplies weapons, and partners with Osama bin Laden along with other Islamic fundamentalists in their fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. When Saddam Hussein complains of slant drilling by Kuwait and suggests that he may go to war against Kuwait, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie tells him that we have no interest in that fight. Then President George Bush does a 180° turn and prosecutes war against Iraq. A no-fly zone is established over Iraq with the enforcement killing hundreds of Iraqi civilians. Hundreds of thousands die in Iraq from UN sanctions. On September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorists destroy the World Trade Center. What good has intervention brought to the American people?
As to putting the burden of proof on Saddam to prove that he doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction, it is impossible to prove a negative. (Of course conservatives have railed against the tyrannical IRS for using that method on US citizens for most of the past century, but I guess they exempt foreign policy in their complaint.
Non-intervention is not only the best method of foreign policy from a utilitarian prospective, but also from a moral one. To prosecute war based on suppositions that a country might at some time in the future, attack, is totally without any moral merit. That justification doesn’t come close to Thomas Aquinas’ justifications for a moral war. Moreover, it would set up a terrible precedent that would give carte blanche to any tin-horn dictator to attack the US in the future because of his or her notion of preemption. One of the problems of preemption is that perceived risk of attack can not be objectively measured.
Preemption also should be a proposition that all good conservatives should run away from because it violates the very basic tenet of conservatism Conservatives in the past, and rightly so, would admonish liberals for preempting freedom through various means with a myriad of regulations in the economic realm. By sanctioning the concept of preemption in foreign affairs, conservatives have now given away the argument to statist liberals to use preemption in domestic economic affairs. Sanctioning this concept is a recipe for totalitarianism.
But we must stamp out evil in the world? Who is the enemy of America and its values? Is it just Saddam Hussein? Or is it the concept of radical Islamic fundamentalism? Think of Saddam as the Hydra of ancient mythology. Cut off his head and eight more will take his place. The more we intervene, the more radical Islamic fundamentalists will pop up from the ranks of the moderates. To believe in the zero-sum game of forcibly removing Hussein from power as a means to get rid of one less thug compares to statist liberals thinking that taxing the rich more will bring greater wealth to the poor. It is the stuff of simplistic fairy tales.
And finally, all good conservatives should be very concerned of what is happening to our evaporating individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution with the advent of the war on terror and the war-like mentality. Our founding fathers weep as they turn over in their graves when they see the likes of John Poindexter weaving his liberty-fatal web of the Total Information Awareness program.
I know not what other conservatives may seek, but as for me, I choose liberty, relative security and peace over big brother, illusory security, and war.
Kenneth Prazak is the newsletter editor of the Libertarian Party of Illinois and a resident of East Dundee.
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