February 19, 2003

The Guardian's Jonathon Freedland correctly

The Guardian's Jonathon Freedland correctly identifies the chief weakness of the current Peace Movement of which he is an unusually serious-minded member: a lack of convincing alternatives to the use of force as a means of removing Saddam. Outside of a fringe of Sparticists and other like-minded wackos, very few peace protesters actually intend to send a pro-Saddam, "stop picking on the dictator" message. Nevertheless, that's the message that is being sent. (Like it or not-- it's true.) Or at minimum, the charge that they are, in effect ("objectively" as Orwell-appropriators like to put it) demonstrating in favor of Saddam's regime and against the dream of democracy will retain its sting as long as the opposition to military action is framed in solely negative terms. (Platitudes like "give peace a chance" don't count; you have to explain how you propose to allow peace to stand a chance. Doing nothing has already been tried.)

Freedland's proposals to that end, however, are pretty feeble:

One approach would be to use this moment of pressure - admittedly brought about by the threat of war - to demand Saddam not only give up his armoury but also open up his society. The UN could demand that Hans Blix's team be joined by a squad of "human rights inspectors", keeping tabs on, say, the fate of political prisoners.

The "admittedly" clause gives the whole show away, particularly as the paragraph ends with this sentence: "if the same pressure that is currently being applied to Baghdad on arms were transferred to freedom and democracy, it could bring results." Like it or not, this pressure is, and can only be, military. How, exactly, is this "transfer" to be effected? "Human Rights Inspectors" vs. Saddam. Who do you think would win?

Another suggestion: lift the sanctions in exchange for voluntary "democratic reforms." Seriously? It would all be strictly enforced by the UN and "muscular rights inspectors," of course.

The boldest proposal: round up a million Iraqi exiles, tag them with electronic monitoring devices, and send them back to Iraq: "if the regime arrested or harassed them, the UN human rights monitors would be on hand to help." Sounds like a plan. Any takers?

Come on. Freedland says these ideas are "worth a try." Asking the question is a step in the right direction, but you're going to have to do better than that.

(via Glenn Reynolds.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at February 19, 2003 08:04 AM | TrackBack