A friend of 10 years' standing whom I've met only once (ain't the Net wonderful?) took me to task in email over my "Saddam isn't scary but maybe taking him out is moral anyhow" thoughts. This guy needs a blog but doesn't have one; he writes:
It's a booty raid and a bit of revenge, plus some payoff for election debts by a nepotissimus nonelectus to Daddy's friends. Sure, if someone takes out Sadammit, that will be a good thing. The problem is ... do we do it now and incur some costs, or later and incur some costs? Also, the means matter. Maybe we should be looking for a minimal victory instead of occupying like a colonist.
<rant>America has never been a first strike country, and from where I sit, what we are doing to our civil liberties just for a little more safety is unacceptable. That will bite us in the butt. As to the French, German, Chinese, and Russian opposition: they are the very countries that armed the s.o.b. Their morality, as Shania says, "don't impress me much". But we still shouldn't be starting the fight. We had enough to do trying to get alQaeda wrapped up and we had the world's support for that. Now, we have lots of friends telling us we've gone nuts.</rant>
Thanks, guy. I haven't got much insight into the broad ebb & flow of US opinion, but if much of it is like my friend's, the Administration has a real problem.
As of this Saturday morning, apparently the US now insists on a regime change as a condition of avoiding war. This is arguably more moral than the silly idea that Saddam is a major threat to the world; and it might have worked if they'd started out that way. But it's not what resolution 1441 says, so this is not exactly going to help their chances in the Security Council.
For example, this morning Jean Chrétien, our Prime Minister, said "If you start changing regimes, where do you stop? This is the problem. Who is next? Give me the list. It is the disarmament that is important here." And Jean is not exactly a shit-disturber in the Chirac style, so this kind of thing is significant.
I wonder if future histories, looking back on this episode, will capture the general overwhelming weirdness, with the protagonist governments talking entirely past each other, and the population at large pointing in different directions from their leaders.
As of now, I gather the carrot-and-stick pressure on the non-permanent Security Council members is getting pretty fierce. This group of countries, which in normal times might make up one of the less glamorous World Cup playdown pools (Mexico, Guinea, Chile, Angola, Cameroon, and Pakistan) is probably not having fun.
As for what the historians will say: I guess that depends how it all plays out, doesn't it?