Iraq and North Korea: If only it were so simple…

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Society
July 23rd, 2003 • 10:08 pm

I was recently referred by a reader to this page at USS Clueless, which attempts to rationalize the US intervention in Iraq, especially in light of the fact that both Bush and Blair and their representatives are now trying to cast themselves as leaders whose actions will be cautioned by History with a capital H:

We are not, however, doing this [regime change in Iraq] out of altruism. We are not trying to give them [the Iraqis] a liberalized western democracy because we’re evangelistic liberal democrats (with both “liberal” and “democrat” taking historical meanings). We are bringing reform to Iraq out of narrow self interest. We have to foster reform in the Arab/Muslim world because it’s the only real way in the long run to make them stop trying to kill us.

There is thus no inconsistency with the fact that we fought a war to free Iraq’s people from Saddam’s cruelty while simultaneously not seeming willing to do the same for North Korea, whose people are probably suffering even more badly. At the moment, it doesn’t appear to be in our narrow self interest to do that for the people of NK.

There are, unfortunately, several problems with such an argument. Mostly, it assumes, once again, that there was strong evidence that Iraq was a direct danger to the US. And the claims about the elusive weapons of mass destruction were precisely used to establish this. If the claims were wrong, then it means that the danger was not as obvious as argued.

However, if the danger didn’t really exist, what does that do to the “narrow self-interest” of the American people that the author is referring to? It makes it, in turn, non-existent. There was and still is no real evidence that removing Saddam from power makes or will make the US safer.

The claim that regime change in Iraq will trigger changes throughout the whole Arab/Muslim world is hopeful at best — first of all because the Iraqi regime was not an Islamist regime. It was a secular regime. How does removing a secular regime and opening the doors to a rise in Islamist extremism in the country help prevent terrorist attacks on the US? The mind boggles.

Wasn’t/isn’t it more urgent to deal with Muslim extremists in Pakistan, where the existence of weapons of mass destruction is clearly established?

Self-interest was definitely involved in the US intervention in Iraq, but it is not the self-interest of the American people. It is the self-interest of a morally-bankrupt US administration and its high-placed connections in the business world. One hopes that History will make this very clear very soon.

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