Should you believe France or Russia? They are indeed crucial members of NATO and permanent veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council. But as we are now beginning to see, the moralistic stance of these countries is perhaps not so much a function of their enlightened attitudes towards humanity as a product of good, old-fashioned self-interest and greed.
Russia, the state that extended the first words of solidarity to the Bush administration immediately following the Sept. 11 atrocities, is at present accused of selling night-vision goggles, guided anti-tank missiles and radar-jamming equipment to the Iraqis. Russia’s President Putin has said that the charges are false, but do we believe the Russians? It would certainly put a damper on their anti-war, pro-peace position if they were hampering U.S. forces and in the process would cause more Iraqis and Americans to be killed, all in the name of a profit.
Of course, our dear friends the French have managed a tremendous power grab by opposing the American agenda at every turn. Nevermind the fact that Jacques Chirac chided some of his Eastern European neighbors for siding with the U.S.; there are more interesting French issues at hand. Now the French position is that if weapons of mass destruction are used by Saddam Hussein against Coalition forces, French forces will come to our aid. How noble of them.
I think they have realized that in cozying up to Saddam, they may have alienated the U.S. beyond the comical (freedom fries) towards the serious (long-term rift in diplomacy). Oh, and of course there is the fact that France is already the biggest player on the Iraqi oil scene, with development rights to 25 percent of Iraq’s reserves. But of course, we shouldn’t be so cynical about a country that says it is for peace, should we?
Should you believe the civilian anti-war movement in this country when it claims that this war is unjust, illegal and self-destructive? I have neither the time nor the space to tackle this issue in full, but I will say this-the U.S. forces are already in Iraq, so what is point of continued disruptive protest? The voices of the anti-war movement in this country were heard, and the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq anyway. That battle of left versus right has already been waged and lost. Now we have American and British men and women in harm’s way, and we should all hope for a swift end to this war so that they can return to their families. The men and women of our armed forces are fighting a war you may or may not agree with, but they deserve our full support. I can appreciate the need to debate the wisdom and justice of invading Iraq before the issue was decided, but U.S. forces are there and need to finish the job with minimal loss of life.
There is also the issue of rebuilding Iraq. If the U.S. did at this point in time pull out of Iraq and leave the Shiites and Kurds at Saddam’s mercy-a mistake we already made-our “damaged” credibility worldwide would become non-existent. The American people must accept the hand that has been dealt by the doctrine of preemption and support the rebuilding of Iraq, a task that will occur soon enough. President Bush has said it will “require a sustained effort,” but more importantly it will require a unified front at home. We owe it to the people of Iraq who are suffering right now to stay on task this time. You can say what you want about the motivations for a war with Iraq, but to leave without trying to rebuild it while the bullets have already started to fly would be devastating to us, to them and to our image to every nation around the world that eagerly awaits the outcome of this mess.
We all have the right to question, but at some point we must take sides. Future events may prove me wrong, but much of what has been debated for the past year on the Iraqi issue will come to light in the coming weeks. Weapons of mass destruction will either be found or not, terrorism will either increase or remain contained and the Iraqi people will either benefit greatly from the U.S. or the country will be thrown into violent turmoil. I only ask this of those who engage in the Iraqi debate-remember what was said by all sides. Remember the governments that claimed they were righteous and accused others of evil; remember the people who professed to have the answers and ignored the reasoning of others. The French and Russians claim moral superiority, and the anti-war movement claims to know the way to peace and security. In time we will know whom should have been believed so that in the future we will know whom we must believe.