Carving up 10 anti-war arguments at holiday gatherings

By Michael Medved

In the midst of this joyous holiday season we will all enjoy a series of family and social gatherings sure to provide festive food, abundant libations and freewheeling political rants. It could be your Uncle Murray or perhaps your sister-in-law Fawn, but this year one or more members of your clan will inevitably offer some indignant objection to the upcoming war against Iraq. Here, as a public service, we present a handy guide to the top-10 arguments against that war, and the most direct and effective ways to counter them.

  1. War never solved anything.

    Not true – war has successfully solved many (if not most) of the major problems and dangers in history. What “solved” Hitler? Negotiation, compassion, psychoanalysis? No, the willingness of Churchill and Roosevelt to slaughter as many Germans as necessary before we achieved regime change in Berlin. Decisive, crushing victories (like World War II) lead to long-term solutions (like the utter transformation of Germany and Japan), while indecisive and hesitant outcomes (World War I, the Gulf War) often lead to further struggle and instability.

  2. We have no right to attack Saddam because our aid made him powerful and he once functioned as our ally.

    Not true, and not even vaguely relevant. During the Cold War, Iraq was a client state of the Soviet Union, not the United States, and Saddam has always been outspoken in his Marxist, anti-Western fulminations. It’s true that the U.S. foreign-policy establishment tilted toward Iraq in its bloody war against Iran, but only because the Islamic fanaticism of the Iranians represented a more direct, immediate danger to the United States.

    Suggesting that fleeting cooperation some 20 years ago means that we have no right to oppose Iraq today makes no sense whatever. We provided massive military and financial support to Stalin during his desperate battle against Hitler. Does that mean that we had no moral right to oppose the aggressive designs of the Soviet Union when it turned against us within months of the conclusion of the world war?

  3. It’s all about oil.

    Not really, but so what? Are we supposed to ignore the fact that our whole economy, and therefore our national security, depends upon imported oil? Why is it even theoretically inappropriate to fight in order to ensure the continued delivery of a substance so essential to our survival and independence? Meanwhile, Saddam’s psychotic and despotic regime would represent a profound danger to the world even if he controlled no oil assets whatever. The United States imports almost none of its petroleum from Iraq, but our European “allies” (the French, in particular) get a great deal of their energy from that country – and therefore ardently oppose the idea of waging war. On this issue, it’s the appeasers – not the hard-liners – who are “all about oil.”

  4. Instead of planning war we should be developing alternate energy sources to lessen our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

    Sure, it’s a good idea to secure new energy supplies – beginning with the long overdue drilling of the fertile oil fields contained in 4 percent of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Meanwhile, the fond visions of windmills and solar panels solving our national addiction to that nasty black goo will do nothing to change our immediate economic or strategic situation. Even the most visionary and optimistic views of “renewable” energy development indicate that these emerging technologies can play a significant role only some 10 or 20 years in the future – by which time regime change in Iraq will have surely occurred in any event, due to the eagerly awaited demise of the mustachioed megalomaniac.

  5. If we make war on Iraq, it will only enrage the Arab world and provoke even more terrifying assaults by terrorists.

    The logic behind this assumption is that our enemies don’t really hate us yet, but that if we dare to harm Saddam, they’ll just go nuts. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to understand how much more hostile you can feel once you’ve already declared (as Osama did in 1998) that every American, civilian or military, adult or child, richly deserves to die. The truth is that our enemies don’t hate us for what we do, they hate us for who we are. The “don’t get the crazy Arabs mad” argument rests upon the premise that their fury arises in reaction to some action or policy of the United States, rather than as an expression of their own self-destructive insanity and suicidal evil.

  6. The U.S. is no better than Saddam because we’ve murdered some 1.5 million Iraqi children with our sanctions.

    At times, leftists offer this same argument using the figure of 500,000 Iraqi children, or 2 million Iraqi children, or whatever other number sounds good at the moment. It’s a stupid lie – contradicted by reports of the United Nations – and simply shows that whoever repeats it serves as an unpaid but loyal propagandist for Saddam. The U.N. has repeatedly reported (as recently as last month) that the Iraqi standard of living and health care has been going up, not down, for the last several years – in part because of the “Oil for Food” program administered as part of the sanctions regime.

    Starvation remains a problem in that country – not because of a lack of resources or trade, but because of the deliberate and cruel policies of an evil regime. The magical mystery tours of Saddam’s palaces by the United Nations inspectors demonstrate that the problem for Iraq isn’t a lack of wealth, but a misallocation of wealth by a monstrous kleptocracy. In one of the dictator’s palaces, all eight walls of an entrance hall were decorated with verses of poetry in praise of Saddam, inlaid in solid gold.

  7. There is no connection between Islamic terrorists and the Saddam Hussein regime.

    This statement represents one of the few examples of anti-war activists disagreeing with the official line of the Iraqi government. That line emphasizes the proud support of the heroic and revolutionary Iraqi people for Islamic fighters everywhere, including the holy warriors of al-Qaida. Meanwhile, the al-Qaida crew similarly expresses its solidarity with Saddam – as they did in their Internet statement (widely validated by intelligence agencies in the West) claiming credit for the recent Kenya attacks, and linking future assaults to potential war against their friends, the Iraqis. If Iraq expresses solidarity with al-Qaida, and al-Qaida expresses solidarity with Iraq, peaceniks face a difficult challenge in arguing that they represent utterly disconnected phenomena.

  8. All the talk of war against Iraq has caused us to lose focus on the war against terrorism.

    Even if the president of the United States happens to focus on Iraq in his speeches, that doesn’t mean that the several hundred thousand Americans who have been dedicated since Sept. 11 to rooting out Islamic terror suddenly gave up or pulled back on their efforts. If our military and counter-terrorist capabilities don’t allow us to simultaneously combat a gang of murderous thugs like al-Qaida and a fourth-rate military power like Iraq, then we have been even more tragically weakened by eight years of Clinton defense cuts than even the gloomiest conservatives assumed.

  9. If we go ahead with war against Iraq, it will represent a betrayal of our values and mark the first time in history that we attacked another country that never attacked us first.

    Only those with a truly pathetic public-school education could believe such rubbish, since we fought the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, World War I, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, our campaigns in Bosnia and Kosovo, and many lesser engagements – all with no direct attack on the United States. Great powers face great threats – and dangerous enemies. Why would a war prove easier or more appropriate after Saddam develops, or uses, nuclear weapons – rather than before he’s completed such deadly development?

  10. Iraq is no military pushover and we will suffer appalling losses in any war we launch.

    No credible military analysts agree with this assessment, and the peaceniks don’t believe it either. After all, some of the same “activists” issued the same dire warnings about imminent disaster before the first Gulf War, not to mention our recent efforts in Afghanistan. According to any impartial analysis, the Iraqi military is vastly less powerful than it was at the time of the prior Gulf War, and our capabilities – including our mission-appropriate high tech weaponry – make us much better prepared than we were last time.

    The truth is that for many of the critics of Bush administration policy, the real fear (as some of them actually admit) isn’t a bloody American defeat but a swift, relatively painless U.S. victory. Their belief is that it’s a bad thing for the world if America becomes even more powerful, more dominant, in the Middle East and around the globe. They’re dead wrong, of course – all humanity – especially the 200 million Arabs who suffer under the fanatical oppression of their own regimes – will benefit from a sweeping U.S. victory and an increase in American influence.

With these brief but logical ripostes, you should feel prepared for even the most contentious holiday gathering, and feel ready to carve up any sanctimonious Uncle Murray along with the goose or turkey. Merry Christmas!