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Frum Iraq With Love

After Spain won the World Cup last year, I used the opportunity to mediate on the nexus between nationalism and the morality of the Iraq war.

For the United States, it seems an unqualified failure and mistake. This brings me back to my original point; should I be looking at this as an American as opposed to the perspective of, say, a Kurd who’s family was gassed by Saddam or a Shi’ite who would have been tortured and killed if Saddam remained in power? Nonetheless, if someone forced me to say if we should have gone into Iraq knowing what I know now, I’d have to say, ‘”no.”

[…]

Anytime someone points to the number of dead Americans or cost to American taxpayers, I wholeheartedly empathize but the provincialism registers with me. I’m not discounting it or faulting it. I think those statistics are important, valuable, and persuasive measures for the ethical case against intervention. But if we were Iraqis fighting for our own home, would 4000+ dead servicemen and a multi-trillion dollar price tag be not worth the cost for the overthrow of a brutal dictator and the promise of self-determination? 

Those thoughts stuck out when I read David Frum’s answer to a question about the Iraq war. Remember, Frum was one of the central proponents of the American-led overthrow of Saddam. Notice our mirrored evaluation.

9. Iraq: Knowing everything you know now, if you had been in Congress in 2002, would you have voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, yes or no?

No. For an Iraqi, there was no price too high to pay to rid the country of Saddam Hussein. For Americans, the issue was not Saddam’s badness, but his nuclear weapons program. Knowing that the nuclear program was not a real threat, the invasion was too large a commitment. The world is a better place without Saddam, but as with everything, the question is one of costs and benefits. The costs to the U.S. were too high, the benefits to the U.S. too few.

Frum and I both feel the heat of this moral dilemma forged in nationalism. We both seem to accept the comforts allowed by the fabrication of the state.

(Hall of Mirrors; Signing of the Treaty of  Versailles)

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