A few months ago, I was in a television studio with one of Washington’s leading pro-war cheerleaders. After we finished our mini-debate, he asked if I thought war was coming. Well, I said, it seems to me that when enough people want a war, it is likely to happen. “But,” he said, only half in jest, “we’ve wanted so many wars, and we didn’t get them. And we’ve wanted this one for years.” Well, now his dream has come true.
I hope that the get-Iraq crusaders–neocon kingpin Bill Kristol; columnist/bombardier Charles Krauthammer; more-hawkish-than-thou Democrats Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and John Edwards; reluctant warrior Colin Powell; inspections-thwarter Dick Cheney; strategic kibitzer Richard “of Arabia and the Entire World” Perle; unilateralist extraordinaire Donald Rumsfeld; and, oh, yes, President/Sheriff George W. Bush–are right.
That the war goes easy, with few casualties and little collateral damage (which is also known as crushed, maimed, and burned children and adults). That Saddam is dethroned. That liberation occurs, with flag-waving and moustache-shaving in the street. That food, medicine, electricity and water reach the Iraqi people, many of whom are already undernourished. That the country remains intact and does not descend into chaos marked by fighting among or between its various ethnic groups and battles between Kurds and Turks. That if there are awful weapons of mass destruction or scientists with dangerous know-how in Iraq, the US military is able to prevent these arms and their designers from reaching those who would put them to evil use, all while prosecuting the war and securing a nation of 23 million or so people. That the subsequent occupation proceeds smoothly.
That democracy and human rights sprout in a society with no democratic tradition and spread to other nations in the region. That the Iraqis select public-interest-minded democrats and secularists–not religious fundamentalists, demagogues, or Iranian-backed America-haters–to represent them. That the abilities of global terrorists are curtailed. That the invasion and occupation do not bolster al Qaeda recruitment, embolden terrorists to strike American targets, or cause other governments to tumble and fall to Islamo-fascists. That the reconstruction of Iraq is well-financed and managed effectively–in a multilateral manner. That the nation’s oil wealth is used for the benefit of its people. That its economy–destroyed by sanctions and Saddam Hussein’s ways–rebounds. That the United States does not become a despised occupier. That somehow the changes in Iraq enable a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That America’s security is enhanced and the Middle East starts to be transformed into a region of tranquility, stability, prosperity, and justice.
There are a lot of promises being attached to this war. It’s not just a matter of chasing off a ragtag bunch of Islamic fundamentalist students who have taken over a poor and undeveloped country and blasting the remnants of several terrorist camps. War in Iraq has been presented as a cure-all. We can protect the United States and the world, transform a dictatorship into a democracy, and address the many dilemmas of the Middle East by mounting an unfriendly takeover of Iraq using an army of nearly a quarter-million people. And–at no extra charge–we can enforce the United Nations’ mandate, for the UN is too weak to do that itself.