The Dartmouth Observer

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Saturday, September 14, 2002
(First off, so there's no confusion, I'm actually pretty ambivalent about war on Iraq. So I got that part out of the way.)

Why all of the sudden are we concerned with an invasion of Iraq as a "pre-emptive" attack?

We have pundits and politicos opposing the war on Iraq as a "pre-emptive attack." I have only one question: where were these people during Kosovo?

I opposed the 1998 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia virtually alone. No one helped me back up my arguments, and often people would tell me I was (sigh) "just wrong," despite whatever facts I had to offer. A minority of conservatives and libertarians also opposed NATO action in Kosovo. That NATO bombing was a so-called pre-emptive attack. For those of you who don't remember Clinton's speech to the nation when the bombs started falling, his reason was not the alleged war crimes of the Serbs or Slobodan Milosevic. Instead, he claimed that instability in the Balkans led to the two World Wars, and so other nations must intervene for the stability of all of Europe. Nevermind that foreign nations meddling in the Balkans started the World Wars, so his analogy falls apart. Also, Yugoslav forces were operating in Yugoslavia--no foreign nation had been attacked. So, NATO and US action in Kosovo is similar to what action we may soon take against Iraq: pre-emptive.

The similaritys do not end there. One may counter that we responded to the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. However, a big issue of that debate was that such atrocitys occur all around the world, and that Kosovo was nothing special. I used that argument myself until someone pointed out that just because we don't choose to seek justice in other parts of the world, it does not mean that choosing to do so in Kosovo was wrong. Point taken. But if that justifies NATO's pre-emptive attack in Kosovo, it also justifies a pre-emptive attack against Iraq.

One may also counter that Milosevic's actions during Bosnia gave us a reasonable cause to believe that the Kosovo situation could erupt into a real regional threat--plus national boundarys were violated. Don't Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and his excursions against the Kurds in northern Iraq also count as such reasonable cause? What about his policys on Israel?

Why do some of the same people who supported pre-emptive action in Kosovo, now suddenly oppose it in Iraq? Why do the media, which reported the Clinton's administration's statements on Kosovo without critical inquiry, now cast a critical eye over the Bush administration's plans for Iraq?

I don't care that they oppose the proposed war on Iraq. There are good reasons to oppose it, and they need to be brought out. But during Kosovo, which has many parallels to Iraq, I used these same arguments, and I was hung out to dry, and even publicly denounced as an apologist for genocide. My arguments were simply ignored. Now they're using my arguments without shame, and I want to know why.