The only real debate about the war in Iraq is on the right. The left reflexively opposes anything Bush does and hence wind up making ideological fools of themselves for mere temporary political points (that haven't worked at all, mind you). Right Wing News
has an excellent post on the Left's admitted unseriousness when it comes to the war in Iraq. I also completely discount the left's appeasement ideology as a serious plan. Those who espouse appeasement can afford to only because they know the USA will cover their butts when it gets right down to it.
In any event, on the right there are those that emphatically support the war, and always have, not only because it was in our national interest, but for the good we are doing the Iraqis (the "neocons" at National Review, for example). Many of these same right wingers also believe the U.S. should have intervened militarily in Rwanda, or really, anywhere else there is mass genocide, on strictly moral grounds, whether or not the U.S. interests were immediately apparent.
Then there are those that supported the war strictly for the U.S.'s interests and, while happliy acknowledging the side benefits to Iraqis, don't think that should factor in to the equation. John Derbyshire
, for example. Derbyshire's argument is that chaos in Iraq is just as good as a stable democracy there in terms of Iraq not producing a nuke to use on us. Point taken, but nukes are not the only worry. 9/11 was not a nuke.
Then there are those good old classic libertarians, best exemplified by the editorial staff of the Orange County Register. Keep the hell out of every country unless it is attacking us. Would this work if applied consistently? That is to say - end all foreign aid, pull our troops back from everywhere
, pull out of NATO, etc.? It ain't gonna happen. It's like making an argument about reforming social security by stressing that the entire system, along with the income tax, should be scrapped. A fine intellectual exercise, but let's stick to the real world. Though they are invaluable in reporting stuff like this
to cool neocon heads lest they become too optimistic that we can change a culture of barbarism into a civilzed society over night.
I fall into the democracy side. Chaos doesn't last. Afghanistan was a land of chaos until the Taliban made it decidedly unchaotic. Sure, there were pockets of resistence, but rebels didn't stop the Empire from blowing up Alderaan, if you get the analogy. Like Derbyshire implies, if we impose chaos on Iraq, we'll have to keep capping the next Saddams forever. We'll also royally piss off (and likely get killed) all those brave Iraqis that support us, plunging the U.S. further along the hatred scale in the muslim world.
Before modern times, wars were won in one of two ways: (1) total devastation, salting the earth, enslaving the survivors, pillaging all of any worth, then going home or (2) stay and imperialize. Simply whooping on someone, then leaving and allowing the defeated to lick his wounds and come back at you is not a good plan. Think Hannibal's sack of Rome. Germany got pummeled pretty good in WWI. If we pummel Iraq, pummel Afghanistan, or pummel multiple terrorists, we will not win. They will regroup and come back at us.
What ends conflicts is the establishment of democracy and (I'll even give President Clinton some props here) establishing trade. Democracies don't attack each other. China won't attack anyone either. Why? How much money will they lose if they do? Trillions. Japan and Germany aren't going to attack us ever again. We don't have to continually cap the next Hitler or Tojo. We're done. We should at least try this approach with Iraq.