As this nation remains horribly bogged down in the war in Iraq but nonetheless begins to rattle the ol’ sabers about Iran (apparently since we have oodles of troops and time on our sinful hands), I thought it might be helpful to hearken back to the words of the late, great Molly Ivins, who wrote the following prescient columnâ€”reprinted here from The Texas Observerâ€”4 years ago:
Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
â€“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Normally, making the case for peace over war requires the brain of a gnat. “Jaw, jaw,” said Winston Churchill, “is better than war, war.” Thereâ€™s not much historical evidence that war does anyone any good, only some rare cases of “just war” under St. Augustineâ€™s definition. Mostly war (A) kills a lot of people, causing hard feelings; (B) doesnâ€™t solve anything; (C) has hideous unintended consequences that often lead to more war. Avoid war if at all possible is the first rule of statesmanship.
Conservatives are fond of pointing out there are problems in this world that canâ€™t be solved by throwing money at them. There are even more that canâ€™t be solved by dropping bombs on them.
We are in such a strange position here, preparing to attack a country that has neither attacked us nor threatened to attack us. President Bush calls his new doctrine “pre-emptive war,” but pre-emptive war is what Israel did in 1967, with the Egyptian army massing on its borders. They attacked first under clear threat. John Ikenberry, professor of international relations at Georgetown University, told the Washington Post that this administration has embarked on something “quite extraordinary in American history, a preventive war, and the threshold for justification should be extraordinarily high.”
Try to wrap your mind around the concept of preventive war. We tried having a war to end wars (didnâ€™t work); now weâ€™re having a war to prevent war?
I am perfectly well aware there is a case to be made for taking out Saddam Husseinâ€“you can make it on humanitarian grounds alone. The question is whether itâ€™s riskier to leave him alone or take him out. The oldest of all Texas dicta is, “Leave the rattlesnake alone.” Those of us who spend time outdoors here not infrequently encounter snakes and sometimes have to kill them. But the rule is: You donâ€™t bother the snake, snake wonâ€™t bother you. Saddam Hussein is 68 years old and slipping.
I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni, and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, “Horrible three-way civil war?” And as George W. Bush himself once said, “Unrest in the Middle East causes unrest throughout the region.” [full text]
Anyway, before ol’ Wâ€”or “Shrub” as Molly was fond of calling himâ€”begins to more forcefully claim that Iran has WMD’s and it’s time for another pre-emptive war, the rest of us who have been paying attention these last several years and who still have a shred of common sense and decency ought to ask ourselves: W.W.M.D.? What Would Molly Do?