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Editorial Response 1

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Stony Brook has several newspapers, all of seem to lean to the left. I feel that it's important to occasionally point out some of the flaws in the reasoning that goes into these editorials on this blog.

Today's entry comes from the Stony Brook Statesman, and was written by Marie Huchton. It's from the November 21, 2002 edition of the paper. Although the paper maintains online archives, the editorials do not seem to be present online. As a result, I'll reproduce relevant parts of the article here, with commentary. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'll point out that I've cut out parts of the article to save myself some typing. I've tried not to change the meaning.)

The article is entitled "Drowning out War Whoops". After a short introduction to the topic of the article, the author states that she is "trying to create critical discussion, not spark a pacifist revolution".

I'm game. There are three points that the article tries to make that I want to discuss. The first point is:

The first step in avoiding WWIII is to keep diplomatic channels open. Despite the protests of the U.S., and the delaying tactics of Iraq, the U.N. is working to find a resolution within the limits of international law.

International law is a series of treaties and agreements that countries enter into out of there own interest, not something concrete like the legal codes of individual states are countries. While this is generally a good thing (I would not want some outside body imposing its ideas about what speech should be allowed on US citizens), it also makes it impossible for a useful outcome to be achieved in Iraq through the mechanisms of international law. Iraq has shown time and time again that it is unwilling to disarm peacefully. I don't see any reason to believe that, without the clear and present threat of force, Iraq will choose to disarm now.

The author then goes on to say:

No, I don't think that Iraq should be allowed to build weapons of mass destruction, but I don't think bombing Baghdad will accomplish anything either.

Well, it's good to see that we agree that allowing Saddam to posses WMD is a bad thing. I guess it's possible that a Clinton-style bomb and leave campaign targeting Baghdad would not accomplish anything. But I don't think that a US attack on Iraq (backed by a UN resolution and a coalition of allies) will be limited to bombing. Instead, it will be backed by ground forces. It seems unlikely to me that if the United States chooses to remove Saddam from power, the campaign will be unsuccessful in removing him from power.

Finally, after several paragraphs of ranting on how the media is pro-war (which, watching much news, I just don't see), the author concludes:

European nations have already had their centuries of globe-spanning imperialism, and it looks like America is currently trying to create its own empire of pro-American, pro-free trade democratic sycophant nations.

My response to this is to say, "so?"

Hutchton is not charging the United States with trying to conquer these nations (otherwise, they would be merely territories, not nations). Instead, she's complaining that the United States is trying to bring democracy to nations (like Iraq) that are currently being ruled by oppressive dictatorships.

I think that people have the right to determine their form of government on a regular basis. Free political speech is an essential corollary to this right. I don't have any problems with the United States trying to expand this to other countries.

I'm not sure if this is, in and of itself, enough for the United States to justify war with another nation. But I can't see the fact that the US is spreading democracy as a good reason to oppose it.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2002-11-30 01:08

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