Sunday, May 23, 2004

Norman Geras and the Case for the Iraq War

In a series of typically thoughtful and intelligent posts, Norman Geras has restated the case for military intervention in Iraq. Like me, Geras is a 2002er: someone who favored war in 2002 and 2003. Unlike me, he does not seem to recognize that the Iraq intervention has proved to be a catastrophe and anyone who had earlier favored intervention ought to apologize to the world. Geras's recent posts suggest that he is still clinging to the illusion that intervention was the right thing to do. But any argument that appeals, as his does, to the desirability of removing Saddam and the institutions that sustained a genocidal policy has also to weigh the prospects that military intervention will ultimately lead, whether directly or proximately, to even greater loss of life. If the United States simply declares victory on June 30 2004 and "cuts and run"--as I think is now a very likely outcome--then there is a very real prospect of civil war in Iraq, military interventions from both Turkey and Iran, and the wider disintegration of Muslim-Non-Muslim relations throughout the world. Of course, none of these dire outcomes can be predicted with any degree of confidence. But since the Bush administration has shown itself to be utterly incapable of formulating or implementing even minimally adequate policies for Iraq, there is no good reason to think that the situation in Iraq can go anywhere than further to hell. Intellectual honesty demands that the pro-war camp admit that they were wrong in supporting the war. No arguments about "the moral threshold" for intervention make sense in the absence of a competent intervening agency capable of securing a desirable post-intervention outcome. The Bush administration, as we all know now--and as we all had good reason to know before--certainly does not qualify.

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