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A worrisome diversion from the Pipes norm

Reader comment on item: [Iraqi] WMD Lies

Submitted by Drew Doxsee (United States), Oct 7, 2003 at 22:16

Dr. Pipes ...

I have been a (relatively) longtime subscriber to to your newsletter, and have greatly appreciated your rational and balanced approach to the problems of the Middle East. Having lived and studied in Jerusalem for two years (1997-99), I became only too painfully aware of both Western media biases against Israel and the Polyanna-like positions taken by numerous politicians in both Europe and the U.S. concerning Arab governments' political motives in the region generally and the Palestinian agenda more specifically. I beliecve that you have always managed to address these issues in a way that was intelligent, honest (courageously so, at times), and despite the accusations of many, fair to mainstream Islam.

That said, I am troubled by your recent Hussein/WMD essay. I accept the premise that, out of hubris and ignorance, Hussein was quite likely deluding himself along with the rest of the world with regard to his WMD potential. I accept your observation that this is de rigeur behaviour for dictators historically. And I wholeheartedly endorse the position that Hussein was, plain and simple, a world-class bastard ... and that humanity generally and the Iraqi people more specifically may breathe a collective sigh of relief at the fact that he is no longer in power.

What disturbs me, however, is the apologetic tone for the Bush admistration's actions that the article projects. If I am interpreting your final paragraph correctly, the war - should it be proven to have been waged on the erroneous premise of WMD programs in Iraq posing a major threat to the region - is the fault of Hussein alone. By clear extension, the unavoidable conclusion is that any future aggression that America might take against similarly deluded dictatorships ("North Korea, Libya and other rogue states ...") would be similarly justified.

But the Bush doctrine of preemptive warfare, if it is to stand as a rational and existentially viable format for future international conduct, must be based on more that an administration's dislike for a particular political entity and its willingness to believe the worst. At the moment, the American people are paying a very heavy price - both in the lives of the men and women in our military in Iraq and economically here at home - for our decision to invade. And the Bush administration's motives for that decision are frankly becoming more and more suspect with each passing day, given continuing revelations of dubiously presentations of fact (regarding not only WMD's but also of cost projections for the war/rebuilding efforts), of what seems to have been a massive intelligence failure generally, and of apparent gross conflicts of interest by high-ranking administration officials (i.e., Vice-President Cheney and Haliburton).

The murky and slippery world of International Relations is clearly undergoing a change of Copernican scope in our day. But America cannot allow itself to adopt a "shoot-first-justify-it-all-later" approach to international miltary interventions. If morality exists in any objective form (which some would question, of course), such an approach is immoral, plain and simple. And the Bush administration should not be excused in any sense the glaring errors in judgment that have thus far been documented (and who knows what is around the next corner) and the pure arrogance that has attached them simple because we all agree that Sadaam Hussein was a disagreeable fellow. Your observations on Iraqi deception regarding WMD's are concise meaningful, as always. But they suggest a rather sudden and worrisome departure from the Pipes norm of balance and objectivity that has accompanied your past postions.

Sincerely,

Drew Doxsee
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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