Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Time For Nuance, And A Time For Clarity

Republicans attacked John Kerry’s views on Iraq as being nuanced, but in retrospect Kerry had the right approach. Kerry’s position came down to supporting military action as a last resort if we were found to be endangered by WMD, and opposing going to war if this condition was not met. Perhaps it is nuanced, but at a time when we could not be certain as to whether Saddam had WMD, it was the sensible course. This is also the course advocated by Howard Dean, who has come under attack for his pre-war statements.

In other situations, nuance is not appropriate. When the actual decision is made to go to war, the reasons must be clear. Taking a country to war, especially when not responding to an attack, is a choice where there can be no ambiguity as to the reasons. George Bush’s father went to war to support the position that one country does not have the right to initiate an invasion against another. George Bush wound up taking Saddam’s original position supporting the legitimacy of invading a country which has not first attacked in opposition to the view defended by his father.

We’ve had several posts (including here) on how Bush deceived the country about the presence of WMD. Bush’s claims of a tie to the “war on terror” have also failed to stand up, especially considering how his war has acted to strengthen al Qaeda and give them a presence in Iraq they did not previously have. The argument for democracy didn’t come up until later, and is far too vague a reason to go to war in a world where there are many non-democracies. Going to war requires a clear justification, not a number of weak reasons, some of which were made after the fact. While George Bush may claim he does not do nuance, in the most important decision of his Presidency his position was far too ambiguous.


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