On the Other Hand...

by Jim Davies 

To War, or Not to War?


It's a long time since I was so undecided. This is a tough question!

Everyone who thinks is expected to form an opinion. Virtually the whole Establishment, Dems as well as Reps, seem solidly behind the proposal to invade Iraq, and that should be enough to drive a contrarian like me to oppose it; but this time the pro-war people have some good arguments while many in the anti-war crowd seem just to have dusted off the old "No War For Oil" banners without having too busily engaged their brains.

The latter was true in 1990, however, and I did not then hesitate to march in protest against the First Gulf War, even though surrounded by noisy Marxists in NYC whose reasons for opposition were very different from mine. There was then not a shred of defensive need for the US to be involved, so the issue was clear: no threat, no war.

The Arguments in Favor

This time, though, there clearly is a threat; 9/11 has happened and if the highly-aggravated Saddam Hussein hasn't already provided weapons to Al Q'eda, he surely will if Bush climbs down. So there's one strong rationale to take him out.

There are other arguments, attractive even to freedom lovers like me. Assuming a short and victorious war, the whole population of Iraq will escape a vicious tyranny; they will enjoy a lot more liberty. Big gain!

If (as I expect) Bush also places pro-American puppets in charge of Iran and Saudi Arabia while the military is "over there", the same will be true of the populations of those countries. Big gain!

Further on that assumption, the Saudi money faucet that presently finances Al Q'eda will be turned off; the terrorists won't go away (in fact for a while they will be even more virulent in their hatred of the USA) but they will be starved of finance and so will wither. Big gain, for Americans!

And finally if the war is waged over UN and NATO objections, those two useless and dangerous organizations will afterwards fade away, to the considerable relief of all who fear how they might damage our liberties, especially the former. Big gain!

The Arguments Against

The biggest of course is that war means killing people, and killing people is wrong. There may be moral justification for assassinating Saddam, and maybe his top henchmen, but wars don't do that. Wars kill a large number of ordinary folk, and then the real villains only at the end, if at all. And assassination is off the table, lest the world's political upper class should be endangered by the precedent set.

Then further, as Harry Browne's excellent web site shows, there is plenty of reason to suppose that Bush & Co have been lying to us about the "need" for war, just like pretty well all his predecessors lied to voters about the supposed "need" for the wars they started. Probably Saddam does not have any weapons of mass destruction; probably he has not so far armed Al Q'eda; probably he is just one of a very nasty set of Pols running countries around the world with scant regard for the wellbeing of their subjects. And very probably Bush's real motives are (1) to get his hands on Middle-Eastern oil (2) to avenge his father's loss of the 1992 election and (3) to solidify his position as World Emperor. GWB is short, like Napoleon. It may explain a lot.

For the US government to throw its weight around the mid-East, especially over the protest of many "allies", would further alienate foreigners and in the long run bring much harm to the fair name of this Land of the Free, which nobody ever appointed World Cop. More good reason to make love, not war.

Neither of the Above

The trick being currently pulled on all of us is, however, to pretend that those are the only two options. W-r-o-n-g ! The War/No-War choice being presented is between invading Iraq - or backing down, losing face, letting the UN protract its endless, fruitless, toothless negotiations. This is false: there is a third alternative.

No, I'm not saying it's a choice many will warm to, or even notice; but that should not stop those of us able to tell which way is up from adopting it and presenting it. In fact, we should; we should escape the collectivist trap, above, and take with us as many as we can.

This third choice is to see and say that the entire collectivist paradigm is false. The whole notion that "states" can decide whether or not to go to war with each other is nonsense! The whole massive, suffocating assumption that government ever has any valid reason to exist and decide things for us is a total myth! Humans are individuals, not collectives.

As framed above, the question is whether the "United States" should or should not invade "Iraq". But these entitities do not exist in reality! Properly phrased, the question becomes "Should the political thugs now controlling people in an area known as part of North America compel or not compel those people to fight and kill the people in a certain area of the Middle East now being controlled by a different set of political thugs?"

Once the question is posed that accurately, the correct answer begins to leap out: a pox on all their houses! Let's now rid ourselves of the political thugs and get back to the important business of running each of our own lives without any government interference!

The "collectivist trap" in which one might be snared by the above A/B choice is that anyone ever needs government for any "defensive" purpose. None of us ever does! In the incredibly unlikely event of invasion by a foreign government, self-defense by 200 million armed and determined adults would be far more effective than anything a collectivized military could do; a fact exlored further in "Defending a Free Country".

Government always leads to war. Always has, always will. Therefore, who needs it? - the notion that anybody might is explored in "A Modern Fairy Tale" and this Eve of War provides a good time to re-read it - and change the paradigm.

The Result

In proposing this third way, I undertake an obligation to suggest what would happen if it were chosen - if, tomorrow morning, Americans got out of bed and abolished government outright, so making it the happiest day in human history. I'll focus on how this would affect the current controversy about Iraq and the increasingly resentful Muslim world.

Very simply: the antagonism and resentment would dissolve, for the perceived US threat to their interests would vanish overnight. No more would a self-appointed World Cop menace their sandy domains. No more would a Great Satan finance Israel, their traditional enemy; the State of Israel would for the first time ever have to stand on its own feet and therefore reach a peaceful accommodation with its neighbors. No more would any Al Q'eda member have motive to carry out Allah's judgment against American targets. They may conspire to raise the world market price of oil, but what else is new? - and without a government to distort the fuel market domestically, freshly liberated American enterprise would find alternative fuels in short order - quite possibly, distilled from corn grown on every farm in the flyover states.

In short, a new era of peace and prosperity would begin. And if it can't be done as soon as tomorrow morning, at least work with us, will you, to bring it about as soon as it can?

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