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Still Support The War
by John Mark Reynolds [author, academic] 5/28/07

At some point in pop culture it became difficult to support the War. You can insinuate that Bush stole an election, hint at 9/11 conspiracy theories, or that our troops are morally equivalent to the terrorists and be taken seriously, but not that the War is a good thing. Even Donald Trump (!) has weighed in against the War.

It is now common television-wisdom that everyone sensible thinks Iraq a mistake. Count me in the third to forty percent of the public who don’t share the common wisdom. Am I sensible? Let me give you my reasons for supporting this winnable war.

John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University. His personal website can be found at www.johnmarkreynolds.com and his blog can be found at www.johnmarkreynolds.info.
[go to Reynolds index]

There has not been a major terrorist attack on the United States since 9/11. Our troops are fighting the bad guys in Iraq and globally and not in the United States. We have made mistakes, but fundamentally the strategy is sound. There is no other strategy available that has the hope of ending the threat of global terrorism in our lifetimes.

If the swamp of Middle East despotism is not drained (one despot at a time), then it will continue to breed terrorists.

We are on offense against the terrorists and have a chance to establish a better government in Iraq. The battle there has been harder than we thought partly because our foes have chosen to make it the central theater of the War. In that sense, they have fallen into a Bush trap, fighting us there and not here.

Why is the War in Iraq worth fighting?

First, we could not afford to leave a Middle East power ruled by an enemy who had been cozy with terrorists in the past (though not the exact group that hit us on 9/11).

Sadaam was a brutal man who had used WMD in the past and who was believed by nations such as France and Russia (which opposed removing him) to possess them. He was certainly working hard to get them (purchase or make).

While he did not yet have WMD, he had piles of conventional weapons and money. He was starting to cozy up to the 9/11 terrorists. As 9/11 proves, it is not just a WMD that can kill. Terrorists armed with more conventional arms and empowered with Iraq’s Oil For Food money could do great harm. This situation was developing before the War. This could not stand.

Second, one problem in the Middle East is a lack of hopeful states in which people can live. Iraq is one center of the historic Islamic world. To help the Iraqi people establish a better state there has a real chance of reducing the length of the War.

Third, the War is costly in the blood of our troops, but this cost would be greater still if we had tried to sit in some kind of Fortress America hoping to create impenetrable barriers to attack. We can fight “over there” or “over here.” Which is better for the United States?

Fourth, it is in the long term interest of the people of Iraq that we win. Left alone the Sadaam state would have plunged into chaos at his death (as Cuba might when the Castro brothers die). There would almost certainly have been a civil war that would have killed more people in Iraq since there would have been no equivalent to the elections we have held or the restraining force of American arms.

This chaos is happening now (in addition to terrorist attacks), but the central government grows stronger and has a real chance to establish itself. Large chunks of Iraq (especially the Kurdish ones) have almost entirely escaped the chaos thanks to American arms.

Finally, we are making the government of Iran much more unstable. Iran is fighting us in Iraq, but our being in Iraq is a threat to the Iranian theocracy. They have many internal foes and a revolution is possible in the long term. In any case, a vibrant semi-democratic Iraq (with free television and radio!) is the best check to an expansive Persian state.

In short, the War is only “bad” if one assumes that:

1. Sadaam could have been left in power without severe harm to the United States.

2. There was any easy place to get a start on draining the swamps of despotism in the Middle East. Iraq (because of its history) might have been a better place to start than most (more moderate history).

3. There is an alternative strategy to defeat terrorists that would lead to a lower loss of life.

4. The War is “endless” and we cannot win. This is not true (according to the commanders on the ground). This kind of insurgency has been defeated in the past (by the British for example), but it does take time and treasure. If the US endures, then we will almost certainly win. CRO


copyright 2007 John Mark Reynolds



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