I've been avoiding discussing Iraq because I don't have a simple go or no go position on going to war in Iraq. I don't trust my government to tell me the truth so there's no "follow our leader" option I'm willing to accept. At the same time, I do think Iraq could eventually be a long-term problem which could rise up and bite us in the future. I tend to take a middle of the road position of not attacking now but still keeping that option open.
The problem with this is that we can't keep a quarter million troops on standby for any extended period of time. How can we insure Iraq isn't manufacturing or mobilizing biological or chemical weapons? How can we be sure they aren't transferring them to terrorists? How can we also retain the option to strike hard and effectively if we find out they are? I can't come up with anything I think would be effective and domestically and internationally acceptable.
If I don't like the options presented to me and yet can't offer one I think would be more desirable, I have to say, "Let those in charge make the decision and be responsible for the outcome". This seems to be a cop-out and I don't like that.
It seems unfair to make the argument against Saddam by accusing him of gassing 5000 of his own (innocent) people when we're apparently willing to kill tens of thousands of (innocent) people to "save" them. Shades of Vietnam, "We had to destroy the village to save it." Both he and we are willing to kill innocents to prevail. Not much moral clarity there.
On the other hand, (I hate that phrase), if we're sure of the danger, we have to take action to protect ourselves even if it means a pre-emptive strike. Reducing the problem to a simple one of two neighbors, under what circumstances would it be OK to shoot a neighbor first because you truly believe he'll do something bad to you if you don't get him first? I'm not aware of any circumstances where the police or district attorney would accept such action except under the immediate need for self-defense. And that isn't obvious in our present situation.
As I write this I find myself accepting a situation of permanent, large scale inspections tied in with a predeclared unilateral or UN declaration of war if the inspectors are restricted in any way. But even that seems full of holes and amounts to an excuse for not making a decision now. The President is going to make the decision and whatever we do and however we feel doesn't really matter.
Abraham Lincoln once commented, " If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference." This is where President Bush stands now. Action or inaction will be equally criticized. The public will assess the results of whatever happens and decide whether we were lead well or poorly.
This leads to another quote, " If you take the credit for the sunshine, you must take the blame for the rain." If the public must accept one person's decision for action, I think they won't accept any excuse for poor results. This will end up with the public accepting or rejecting the results without allowing any mitigating circumstances. The hawks or the doves will have majority support after the results are in.
This does seem to be a case where we're just along for the ride and are free to offer our criticisms after the fact.