Iraq: The Short Run and
The Long Run

By Erik Rauch

4 April 2003


The motives for this invasion have been questioned for many reasons, including that Iraq rather than North Korea was chosen as a target. The leaders of France, Germany, and many other western and eastern countries, who refused to join the so-called "coalition of the willing", were reflecting the abhorrence of their constituents. A good case has been made that the invasion is a bad idea even in the short run, with its likely destabilizing and galvanizing effects. Nearly 1,000 innocent civilians have now been killed by the conflict.

But there is an even bigger issue. It's not just about this conflict, it's about future ones. The way the administration acted - on highly questionable evidence, and with near-total disregard for the international community - makes it more difficult to solve future conflicts. It disregarded not just the United Nations, but even NATO and its heretofore closest allies. The trust that has been lost was precious, and the moral authority will be hard to replace. These are crucial to solving future conflicts.

In the long run, this method of solving conflicts is utterly counterproductive. Even if this invasion leads to more security in the short run - and there are good reasons to believe it won't - future stability cannot be guaranteed by a lone power acting in its own interest, especially not one whose leaders have such a narrow horizon. This is not a sustainable solution.

In the same way that the death penalty is wrong because we now have the means to keep people safe from criminals without killing, the war is wrong because we have means to avoid it.

The fact that the UN and most of the allies were not strongarmed into sanctioning the invasion, and thereby accepting the might-makes-right principle, is the one bright spot in all this. The peace process almost worked, and that, at least, bodes well for the future, when it will be needed if peace is to be lasting.


Text ©2003 Erik Rauch. This text may be freely reproduced provided that the entire text is reproduced without change.

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