TCS Daily

In My Name

By Josh Chafetz - April 17, 2003 12:00 AM

The rallying cry of those who opposed war in Iraq has been "Not in My Name." They sought to wash their hands of the war, to abdicate moral responsibility for its consequences. Fair enough. But I have been arguing the necessity of this war for some time now. So let me now talk about my moral responsibility.

In my name, statues of a tyrant have been cast down, portraits of a tyrant have been stomped upon, and fear of a tyrant has dissipated. In my name, the courageous men and women of our coalition armed forces have largely been welcomed as liberators, not invaders. In my name, the residents of Baghdad shouted thank yous, "Good, George Bush!" and "Down Saddam!" to coalition troops. In my name, a Baghdad imam told a reporter, "I'm 49, but I never lived a single day. Only now will I start living. That Saddam Hussein is a murderer and a criminal."

In my name, the gates to a children's prison were thrown open, and kids whose only crime was that they refused to join Saddam's youth groups were free to go home to their families. Torture chambers have been discovered and shut down throughout the country. Political prisoners have been freed.

In my name, the al Qaeda-linked group Ansar al-Islam has been wiped from the face of the earth, with the help of our brave Kurdish allies. The Kurds no longer live in fear of being attacked with weapons of mass destruction, and those who have ordered such attacks in the past are either dead or in hiding. In my name, the ones who survive will be
brought to justice.

In my name, the oil wealth of Iraq has been saved for the Iraqi people. Saddam's forces were only willing or able to light a few oil wells on fire, and those have almost all been extinguished already. The speed with which our forces moved prevented Saddam from perpetrating another environmental calamity, as he did during the first Gulf War, when he dumped 11 million barrels of oil into the Arabian Gulf (more than twenty times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill). During the first Gulf War, Saddam also dumped oil into the desert, creating the largest landlocked oil spill in history. That, too, has been prevented.

In my name, we have fought one of the most humane wars in history. Damage to civilian infrastructure has been kept to an absolute minimum. Indeed, coalition forces went out of their way to kill as few enemy soldiers as possible! Coalition deaths have been remarkably light - far fewer than the 5,000 many predicted, and, thus far, far fewer even than the more than 380 Americans alone who died in the first Gulf War. Civilian casualties, too, have been kept low - as of this writing, even the absurdly inflationary figures of the Iraq Body Count Project show fewer than 1,850 dead, somewhat less than the tens of thousands predicted by some before the war started.

In my name, humanitarian aid is already reaching some Iraqi civilians, and more is on the way. In the new Iraq, this aid won't be diverted to weapons programs or palace construction, as it was under Saddam. We have promised to bring freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq, and many of us will watch over our government like the hawks that we are to make sure it does just that.

There are also some things that have not happened in my name. There have been no attacks on Israel or Turkey in my name. Almost all of the attacks on Kuwait have been harmless because of Patriot missile defenses employed in my name. Turkey has thus far refrained from significant interference in northern Iraq. And while we have seen anti-war protests, and even a few riots, there have been no waves of terrorist attacks, no uprisings of the "Arab street," and no general conflagration in the Middle East.

But I must be honest: this war has costs, and those, too, must be borne in my name. Coalition soldiers have given their lives for their countries, and I deeply grieve their loss. Innocent Iraqis have been killed or wounded, and every Iraqi casualty is a new tragedy in a country that has seen far more than its fair share. There is much work left to do, and there are dangerous days still ahead. That work, too, will be carried out in my name.

So, to my friends in the anti-war movement: you were right. None of what has transpired so far has done so in your name, and none of what transpires in Iraq in the future will do so in your name. Not in your name. In mine.

Josh Chafetz is a graduate student in politics at Merton College, Oxford, the co-founder of the Oxford Democracy Forum, and the co-editor of OxBlog.

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