My Turn: Some issues need to be addressed

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2003

In response to Eva Small's letter published in the Empire on March 17, most of the people (peace marchers) she is so "tired of" do not love Saddam or Iraq any more than she does. They do not wish to live there as she seems to claim. I cannot speak for those who went to Russia during Stalin's years, but my bet would be that they, too, were acting in support of an ideal rather than an individual.

That is the crux of the current peace movement as well. It has nothing to with Iraq except that Iraq happens to be the country we are considering invading. Unfortunately, many people fail to differentiate between the individual and the ideal. Eva is convinced Saddam is evil and therefore we are justified in destroying sovereign rights to get at him.

Those who march for peace, on the other hand, realize that any country's right to decide its own future should not be dependent merely on America's opinion of them. Yes, Iraq is unpopular. Yes bad things are probably happening to innocent people there. But that does not justify our intervention and there are some very important reasons why intervention is not (and should not be) justified.

Who gets to decide what constitutes evil? You may agree with Bush's definition now, Eva, but if you give that right to the American president now it will apply to all elected in the future. In all likelihood there will be a future president with whom you do not agree. What would prevent him/her from using this same power against you (or some country with which you agree - Israel, for example). Military force should only be used in defense, as was established by international law at the end of WWII.

It should be obvious that it isn't Iraq we are trying to defend. We are trying to defend the sovereign right of every nation to decide its future. This applies to America as well as Iraq. If we justify taking that right away from Iraq, it is entirely plausible that at some future time someone will take that right away from us. How can we preserve a right for ourselves that we knowingly take away from another? And if we press forward with an unprovoked attack against Iraq based merely on our displeasure with its method of government, what is to prevent other countries with equally destructive military capabilities from doing the same to us?

Let's put it in a little more real perspective, Eva. I do not agree with your philosophy. I realize that children in your home are being taught this same philosophy. This fact may make me feel less secure about the future of our great country, but does it give me the right to bomb your house? No. Does it give me the right to endanger your family to change your mind? No. Does it give me the right to interfere in the functioning of your household in any way? No. And anyone who claims such a right is no American.

Intervention can only be justified when proof exists of criminal action. Bush has no such proof in Iraq. He couldn't even convince a majority of the 15 Security Council members (let alone the U.N. at large) that Iraq was guilty of international crimes. We have no right to invade. We may not agree with Iraq, and we may wish to end what we perceive to be the suffering of its people, but we still have no right to invade.

Patrick McGonegal is a web-developer/technical consultant who grew up in Juneau and lives on Douglas Island.

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