The Dartmouth Observer

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Wednesday, April 23, 2003
When War?

There are many anti-war protestors in the trans-Atlantic developed country zone and in the modernizing Middle East who held, and still hold, the opinion that the war we fought was immoral. Robert, quoting Mill, suggests that the bankruptcy of spirit, 'the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war', is more condemnable than any war. Chien Wen sided in favor of the war, the liberation and democratization of Iraq in his schema, as a basic commitment to human rights. The anti-war movement could have been captured by the clever buzz phrase 'Why War?' as many on campus sought to do. The truly reasonable anti-war crowd and/or the part-time doves would rally under the phrase 'When War' if only to emphasize that the flurry of protest that erupted was not suggesting that war was never justifiable, but that this war, right now was not justifiable.

Why 'When War' then? 'When War' emphasizes that a priori we doves realize that war is sometimes necessary but not in all cases. We also note that some states of non-belligerency are more dangerous/ more unethical than the pursuit of war. In fact what activists such as David, Chien Wen, Andrew or Robert would suggest is: for the Sunnis, the Kurds or the Shi'ia of Iraq the situation we call 'peace' was positively horrific. 'When War' would take the more naunced approach that sometimes war is justified, and sometimes peace is immoral. When these situations exist should be determined based on some basic principles and a case-by-case analysis. I hope that readers are willing to offer comments on when they feel that interventions are justified and whether specious reasons like democratization are sufficient.

What I found most interesting is that while we in the West protested the war, many of the Kurds and most notably the Kuwaitis greeted the war with nothing but enthusiasm. On the first day of the war, the headlines in Kuwait were 'It's about time.' The Financial Times of London opines on the current Kuwaiti "Most of Kuwait's 750,000 citizens have loathed Mr. Hussein since he invaded their country in 1990, and have felt grateful to the US for liberating them the next year. Yet Kuwait knows that by siding with Washington it has exposed itself not just to terrorism and Iraqi missiles - 17 were fired at Kuwait after the invasion of Iraq began - but also to the danger of isolation in the Arab and Muslim worlds." I hope that this war won't have too many repercussions against the Kuwaitis. They persued the course that they thought was correct.

"Kuwaitis not only supported the war in large numbers, many also welcome the likely after-effects in the Middle East. Even those who are uneasy about the US military presence in Kuwait are keen on "democratizing" the region, a goal that unites normally hostile camps of liberalism and Islamism. Of all Gulf states, Kuwait has the longest record of experimenting with modern democratic institutions."