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Published by David French -- Harvard Law grad, former lecturer at Cornell Law School, author of books no one reads, master of the three point shot, constant critic of Duke Basketball, Playstation2 addict, owner of a cool new Sony DCRTRV25 MiniDV Digital Handycam, father of two and husband of one extremely hot wife


The Culture Curve
Wednesday, August 21, 2002  
BACK TO IRAQ. In recent days, I've been reading an increasing amount of commentary that argues against an attack on Iraq by pointing to the West's (and America's) past treatment of Iraq in general and Saddam in particular. One school of thought -- very well articulated here -- is that the current rumblings against Iraq are just another chapter in the long, failed story of colonialist intervention. We have, for years, interfered with the balance of power in the Middle East -- with dismal results. Why would we think that our current planned intervention will fare any better?

Another line argument -- one that borrows much from the New York Times recent "revelation" that America supported Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war in spite of Iraq's use of poison gas -- says that while Hussein may be something of a monster, he is, in many ways, "our" monster. He's a guy that we helped create, helped prop up during the darkest days of his war with Iran and then failed to take him out when we had our one (legitimate) chance in 1991. Our current opposition to Saddam strikes those who make this argument as hypocritical at best and vengeful at worst.

The problem with many of these historical arguments is that they don't address the current problem, and the current threat of Saddam. Western (mainly British) colonial meddling may have created modern Iraq and American balance-of-power politics in the late Eighties may have strengthened and sustained Saddam, but neither of those historical facts change the present threat. No one can dispute that Iraq is working feverishly to build weapons of mass destruction. No one can dispute that Saddam has declared an intention to destroy Israel and is perhaps Palestinian terror's largest financial supporter. No one can dispute that Saddam has violated the Gulf War cease fire accords and has tried -- among other things -- to assassinate a former President of the United States. Now, with word that Al Qaeda leaders may be hiding in Iraq, the link between Saddam and the perpetrators of the September 11 atrocity grows.

The real question is whether Saddam Hussein's regime presents a clear and present danger to the United States and to the people of the United States. I think the answer to that question is yes. And if the answer is yes, then our past failures and historical guilt should not necessarily influence whether we act but how we shape Iraq after we have acted. We can and should learn from our past mistakes, but -- at the end of the day -- the government of the United States has an absolute obligation to protect its citizens against foreign enemies. Iraq is a declared enemy of the United States -- one that is working to create the weapons and military capability to fully effect its malevolent intent. It makes little sense to wait until your enemy attains the military capability he seeks before taking action.

The most effective critics of a war against Iraq are not the ones who point to past failures or who question the motives of Bush and his advisers. The most effective critics are the individuals who can make the case that Iraq's present regime does not represent a threat to the national security of the United States.

BALANCE OF POWER POLITICS. Discussions of America's past support of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war raise interesting questions regarding the morality and effectiveness of balance-of-power politics. At the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, Iran was unquestionably hostile to the United States (it was holding our people hostage) and was potentially the most significant military power (outside of Israel) in the Middle East. If it was successful in defeating Iraq, Iran would have been transformed from a regional power to a regional colossus -- and an even greater threat to American interests. America's support of Iraq was an example of realpolitik in action -- with all of the attendant risks and consequences.

When Hitler invaded Russia, America threw the full weight of its support behind Stalin. As the war on the Eastern Front raged, the Soviet Union (one of the most murderous regimes in human history) was saved in large part by the massive infusion of American military supplies. Yet few people would argue that our support of Stalin constituted an endorsement of his evil or precluded us from opposing his expansionist and brutal ideology when World War II ended.

Our past support for Hussein -- like our past support of Stalin -- was a regrettable consequence of being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. It does not, however, bind our hands today.

8:12 AM

Tuesday, August 20, 2002  
I'M BACK. After a week in Dallas -- a week that featured a balky laptop with a malfunctioning modem -- I am back home and blogging again. While I was gone, I received several e-mails responding to my posts detailing my vision for a viable and effective Christian legal strategy. In the coming days, I'll select a few of the best comments or arguments and post a response.

In the meantime, thanks for being patient with my absence, and may the blogging resume!

7:50 AM

INVASION PERSUASION. The Weekly Standard features an excellent article that focuses the Iraq debate not just on the clear military threat presented by Saddam but also deals with critical issues of national resolve and moral courage. The question is not just whether Saddam will survive to threaten us and our allies -- the question is whether we as a people are willing to step up and fight to preserve our national and civilizational ideals:

"The problem today is not just that failure to remove Saddam could someday come back to haunt us. At a more fundamental level, the failure to remove Saddam would mean that, despite all that happened on September 11, we as a nation are still unwilling to shoulder the responsibilities of global leadership, even to protect ourselves. If we turn away from the Iraq challenge--because we fear the use of ground troops, because we don't want the job of putting Iraq back together afterwards, because we would prefer not to be deeply involved in a messy part of the world--then we will have made a momentous and fateful decision. We do not expect President Bush to make that choice. We expect the president will courageously decide to destroy Saddam's regime. No step would contribute more toward shaping a world order in which our people and our liberal civilization can survive and flourish."

In 1940, one of Western Civilization's greatest nations mobilized to meet the threat of genocide and conquest. Yet, even as its soldiers dug in at its borders, the rot of decades of moral exhaustion and existential cynicism destroyed the will to fight. France's collapse in the face of Blitzkrieg was not so much military as moral. After suffering a fraction of the casualties suffered in World War I, before Hitler's Panzers had even begun to complete their conquest, France surrendered. Within months, the soldiers of its national army were firing shots in anger against the Allies. America may have eventually saved France's government and restored its territory, but we did not (and could not) save its soul.

As synagogues burn again in Europe, and as France leads a continent down the familiar, dark road of moral equivalence and cowardice, only America (and Israel) stand strong against the genocidal ambitions of the Islamo-fascist threat. If we suffer a moral collapse, who will save us? Who will ride to our rescue?

7:42 AM

SAVING US FROM OURSELVES. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the Family Policy Network's effort to prevent the University of North Carolina from requiring incoming freshman to read a book about Islam. While the Family Policy Network's lawyers fume about "political correctness," they should listen to the wisdom and confidence of the very Christian students that they seek to protect. The New York Times quotes a student member of Campus Crusade for Christ:

"I don't believe that intolerance of other religions is the guide that Christ set before us to follow," said Maggy Lampley, a junior, who was sitting behind a table encouraging students to join Campus Crusade for Christ. "He wanted us to show that he was the way and the truth, but not through ignorance and intolerance. I think reading books like this is a good way to make people more open-minded."

Maggy is exactly right. As Christians, we should welcome debate. Let the left seek to limit academic freedom. Possessing absolute confidence in our message, we need to embrace discussions -- even public-school led discussions -- about religion and view the resulting dialogue as a golden opportunity to re-introduce a newly-inquisitive nation to the grace and hope embodied by Jesus Christ.

7:12 AM

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