disagreeing with wiesel

Andrew Stern sent along an essay by Elie Wiesel. I disagree with the idea that “rational people” must be in favor of the coming war.




With all due respect to Elie Wiesel, we're unlikely to be killing tens of thousands of Saddam Husseins when we start bombing the hell out of Iraq.

It's entirely possible to respect Colin Powell without respecting this call for war, just as it's entirely possible to respect a war on terrorists without respecting torture as a tool of information gathering. What harm would there be in providing the world community with proof? Even if Bush didn't want to show his cards to the rest of us, you would think he could at least whisper his evidence into Jacques Chirac's and Vladimir Putin's ears.

Saddam Hussein is undoubtedly a bad man, I would not have him over for dinner. But I don't think I'd sit down with our President for falafel either. It's pretty silly to confuse opposition to the present US policy with advocacy of Hussein. His crimes against humanity in the 80s would not justify our crimes against humanity tomorrow, or in a few weeks from now.

How many Iraqis are likely to suffer under Hussein while he is under the continuous scrutiny of the United Nations, and how many are likely to suffer as the result of air-fuel bombs, daisy cutters, smart bombs and cruise missiles we might soon unleash? There is little evidence that Hussein is actively pursuing anything like the genocides to which Wiesel compares Hussein's activities. If the biological weapons are there, keep up the pressure, intensify the inspections, and find and destroy the weapons. But don’t kill thousands of innocent bystanders in the process.

I'm not convinced that time always works in the favor of dictators. And regardless of how you feel about it, the question of whether Bush I stopped his war too soon in '91 has nothing in '03 to do with the question of how Bush II manipulates the “war on terror” to settle old scores and serve the oil interests that elected him.

Also, all other concerns aside — I hear this is going to cost us something like $500 Million a day? What about jobs programs, education, health care, the arts, public transportation, school lunch programs, and all those other things that aren't worth $500 Million a day? What about those moral responsibilities? Not to sweat the small stuff . . .


> A essay by Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace laureate, Holocaust survivor, author of
> 40 books
>> Peace Isn't Possible in Evil's Face
>> Rational people must intervene against the likes of Hussein.
>> By Elie Wiesel, Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace laureate, is a Holocaust
> survivor and author of 40 books.
>> Under normal circumstances, I might have joined those peace marchers who,
> here and abroad, staged public demonstrations against an invasion of Iraq.
> After all, I have seen enough of the brutality, the ugliness, of war to
> oppose it heart and soul. Isn't war forever cruel, the ultimate form of
> violence? It inevitably generates not only loss of innocence but endless
> sorrow and mourning. How could one not reject it as an option?
>> And yet, this time I support President Bush's policy of intervention to
> eradicate international terrorism, which, most civilized nations agree, is
> the greatest threat facing us today. Bush has placed the Iraqi war into that
> context; Saddam Hussein is the ruthless leader of a rogue state to be
> disarmed by whatever means is necessary if he does not comply fully with the
> United Nations' mandates to disarm. If we fail to do this, we expose
> ourselves to terrifying consequences.
>> In other words: Though I oppose war, I am in favor of intervention when,
> as in this case because of Hussein's equivocations and procrastinations, no
> other option remains.
>> The recent past shows that only military intervention stopped bloodshed in
> the Balkans and destroyed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Moreover, had
> the international community intervened in Rwanda, more than 800,000 men,
> women and children would not have perished there.
>> Had Europe's great powers intervened against Adolf Hitler's aggressive
> ambitions in 1938 instead of appeasing him in Munich, humanity would have
> been spared the unprecedented horrors of World War II.
>> Does this apply to the present situation in Iraq? It does. Hussein must be
> stopped and disarmed. Even our European allies who oppose us now agree in
> principle, though they insist on waiting.
>> But time always plays in dictators' favor. Having managed to hide his
> biological weapons, Hussein's goal is to be able to choose the time and the
> place for using them. Surely that is why he threw out the U.N. inspectors
> four years ago. If he now appears to offer episodic minor concessions, just
> as surely that is because American troops are massing at his borders.
>> In certain political circles, one hears demands for proof that Hussein is
> still in possession of forbidden weapons. Some European governments
> evidently do not believe Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's statement that
> Hussein has such weapons, but I do, and here is why:
>> Powell is a great soldier and one who does not like war. It was he who
> prevailed upon then-President Bush in 1991 not to enter Baghdad. It was he
> who advised the current president not to bypass the U.N. system. If he says
> that he has proof of Hussein's criminal disregard of the U.N. resolutions, I
> believe him. I believe that a man of his standing would not jeopardize his
> name, his career, his prestige, his past and his honor.
>> We have known for a long time that the Iraqi ruler is a mass murderer. In
> the late 1980s, he ordered tens of thousands of his own citizens gassed to
> death. In 1990, he invaded Kuwait. After his defeat, he set its oil fields
> on fire, thus causing the worst ecological disaster in history. He also
> launched Scud missiles on Israel, which was not a participant in that war.
> He should have been indicted then for crimes against humanity. Serbia's
> Slobodan Milosevic was arrested and brought to trial for less.
>> Add to the evidence against him Hussein's conversation with CBS anchor Dan
> Rather. Listening to him declaring that Iraq was not defeated in 1991 made
> one wonder about his sanity; he appears to live a world of fantasy and
> hallucination.
>> The nightmarish question of what such a man might do with his arsenal of
> unconventional weaponry is why, more than ever, some of us believe in
> intervention. We must deal sooner rather than later with this madman whose
> possession of weapons of mass destruction threatens to provoke an
> ever-widening conflagration.
>> What it comes down to is this: We have a moral obligation to intervene
> where evil is in control. Today, that place is Iraq.

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