The Unconvincing Case for War. (Comment)

Article excerpt

RECENTLY, THE PROSPECT sponsored a debate on Iraq. Interestingly, both teams were ostensibly liberal Democrats. Arguing for a U.S. invasion were Jonathan Chait, a Prospect alumnus and author of a recent New Republic cover piece on the liberal case for war, and Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst, National Security Council staffer under Clinton and author of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq. Opposing invasion were Bill Galston, a former Clinton and Gore adviser and a leading theorist of the Democratic Leadership Council (which this page often criticizes), and Ben Barber, author of the best-selling Jihad vs. McWorld. Both Barber and Galston have written cover pieces for this magazine opposing the Bush policy on Iraq.

Pollack is as good as the hawks have. His core argument is that Saddam Hussein will acquire nuclear weapons and will not hesitate to use them, either for blackmail or in actual warfare. Therefore, it logically follows that we should have the war sooner rather than later. Pollack, however, sets the bar fairly high. The United States should not go it alone; it should have a clear plan for the reconstruction of Iraq, and the war should be about geopolitical security, not about oil.

But as Galston observed, both respectfully and devastatingly, what we are facing in Iraq will be "George Bush's war, not Ken Pollack's war." Bush is willing to invade, with or without allied and United Nations support. At this writing, Kofi Annan and our allies are challenging the view that air combat in the "no-fly zone" (an American invention, not a UN condition) constitutes a material breach of the cease-fire and UN resolution. Nor is there a reassuring U.S. plan for occupation and reconstruction. And Iraqi oil could well be seen as war booty.

But the mother of all issues here is whether Saddam Hussein really would use nuclear weapons. …