Today, I read that in a book called “The War Over Iraq” Bill Kristol and Lawrence Kaplan ask “Well, what is wrong with dominance, in the service of sound principles and high ideals?”
The answer, of course, is very simple. The Soviet Union also had “sound principles and high ideals”, in fact very high ideals. But there was a lot wrong with Soviet dominance and even those high ideals didn’t turn out to be that high. Just ask those East Europeans. Or people in Afghanistan. The very simple answer to Messieurs Kristol and Kaplan’s question is that your “sound principles and high ideals” may not be that sound and high in other peoples’ eyes. That’s what’s wrong with dominance in the name of principles and ideals.
Contrary to what Messieurs Kristol and Kaplan think there is no exclusive ownership of sound principles and high ideals. Like all other human notions, principles and ideals are relative. Which is widely known because otherwise, we’d all be living in an anarchistic society, right? If everybody had the same principles and ideals we wouldn’t need any laws preventing people from stealing and killing and raping and pillaging.
And that brings us right to the core of the problem with the Iraq war. Because it does violate international laws and norms - laws and norms literally constructed because of the suffering and death of millions of people during two World Wars - the Iraq war is pretty much the equivalent of lynching. There is a reason why lynching is not tolerated in democratic societies and these very same reasons apply to this war.
Of course, we all know that the law isn’t always ideal. How could it be? It’s made by humans. But in most democratic societies people like to improve their laws instead of abolishing them (It is tempting to make an exception for Mr Ashcroft here because otherwise one would have to stretch the meaning of the word “improve” quite a lot).
And that, I think, is the strongest point to make against this war - apart from the fact that thousands of people are being killed: The war abolishes the law and goes back to the stage of killing and pillaging and I’m not only talking about the literal sense here (as bad as that may be for all those unfortunate Iraqis and “Coalition” soldiers).
Note to Messiers Kristol and Kaplan, and especially to Mr Blair and people at The Economist who like to sound as if they have permanently occupied what they consider to be the moral high ground: There’s something seriously wrong with your principles and ideals if they result in the death of thousands of people, even if most of them are foreigners. Just think about it. It’s not that hard to figure out.