The Case for Force Against
By Nicholas Provenzo
Note: The following text is Nicholas Provenzo's opening remarks at the George Mason University Objectivist Club's debate on war with Iraq on Tuesday
Ladies and Gentleman, Good Evening.
There is no honest question that Saddam is evil. Saddam is a dictator in the classic Stalinist model and Iraq is the antithesis of a free republic. Rather than make reason, persuasion and individual freedom the hallmark of its regime, Iraq relies upon the systematic use of brutal force to govern. And just as Saddam has used brutal force, including chemical weapons to subjugate the people of Iraq, he has used brutal force against his neighbors, such as he did with Kuwait during the Persian Gulf war.
That Saddam is a menace who has no legitimate right to rule should be obvious. No one has a right to a dictatorship. A proper government rules by the consent of the governed, and any government guilty of the mass abrogation of rights can claim no right for itself, including the right of "self-determination".
But there are many dictatorships in the world today. The question must be: Does Saddam pose sufficient threat to the life, rights and freedoms of Americans to compel the US to act against him militarily?
The answer is yes. It has been this way for years. It’s only in the post 9-11 world that America's leaders have had the courage to finally face the facts.
Saddam is not an inward looking dictator, content to rule his own people. As evidenced by his past attacks on Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, Saddam seeks strategic control of the Persian Gulf. By supporting the use of violence in other Arab states (such as the cash rewards he has provided to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers), on every question of conflict, Saddam’s first instinct is to use force.
But it is primarily Saddam’s development and use weapons of mass destruction that compels the US to act against him. Defeated by the US and its allies in the Persian Gulf War, Saddam has failed to live up to the cease-fire agreement that spared his country from further attack. In the cease-fire agreement with the US, Saddam promised that he would dismantle his weapons programs and submit to comprehensive inspections to prove that Iraq was no longer a threat to the world’s security.
Yet Saddam has chosen to defy that agreement time and time again. He has defied the no-fly zones erected to prevent him from murdering his own citizens and he has continued Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs in defiance of the world. Since inspections ended in 1998, Iraq has maintained its chemical weapons effort, energized its missile program, and invested more heavily in biological weapons; most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. These are the actions of a man who seeks to expand his power at the price of the safety of the rest of the world.
Today, Saddam posses chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles. If left unchecked, he will probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade and if he follows his pattern to date, he will use it, either against the US or one of our allies. I consider this clear evidence that neither Saddam’s motives or his word can be trusted and that he is of sufficient threat to justify military action.
Saddam can easily be compared to Hitler in the late 1930’s. Just like Saddam, Hitler too signed treaties to limit his armaments and promised to the world that his intentions were honorable. And just as in the 1930’s, it has been the policy of the world to appease Saddam, even despite his bloody history. With a record like Saddam’s, unheeded calls to reenter the family of nations can only be taken as a threat.
We can not be safe in a world where a man like Saddam rules. We must not allow Saddam to further re-arm himself. We must take the action necessary to remove him from power, discredit the institutions that made him possible and restore a government to Iraq that does not threaten its neighbors.
The world should stand with us on the question of Iraq, but if it fails to display the courage necessary to remove this threat to its security, so be it.
But if we can reach an understanding that Saddam is a threat who must be removed once and for all, we should have the confidence that we do not require the permission of the world to act on that knowledge. No other nation has the right to veto US foreign or military policy.
Nor should the US hide behind the UN as cover for our actions. The UN was powerless against the Soviet Union, even as its citizens were being murdered by the thousands. The UN was again powerless as China slaughtered its people, again by the thousands. The UN has condemned Israel time and time again for the crime of self-defense. Rather than serve as a means of expanding freedom in the world, the UN instead serves as a platform for all the tyrants of the world to wave their finger in contempt of freedom. "We shall bury you" was a threat made in the very halls of the UN.
Supporters say that the UN is a means for the US to engage the world. If by engagement, they mean that on every question of American national security, we must first seek the UN's stamp of approval, that's hardly engagement. I call that the abandonment of our right to act in our defense. If anything, the free, peace-loving world should be glad that the US is finally showing resolve against Saddam Hussein after too many years of appeasement.
Given the nature of Saddam, his lack of a commitment to peace and reason, and his aggressive eye bent on domination of the Persian Gulf, Saddam has made himself sufficient threat to the safety of security of the United States and its allies that we must remove him.
If Saddam had any hint of rationality, this would be a conflict that could resolve itself by peaceful means. But given Saddam’s nature as someone who lives by the gun, its high time the free people of the world make him go by the gun.
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