Friday, September 27, 2002

My Love to Molly

Molly Ivins has it the nail on the head. The debate over Iraq isn't just about whether or not we are pro-war or against war, but about what kind of country we choose to be. (She also has some great points about why we want the world to side with us, but I'd rather focus on her first point.)

Say I'm a guy in an apartment in a bad neighborhood. I have the feeling that the guy down the hall wants to do me harm. He might have a gun in there or a pit bull or a baseball bat. I think he might even be related to the guy who mugged me last week. Might even have put him up to it. What do I do?

If you answered, "Kill the guy," then you are on the side of Dubya and his buddies in this war. If you answered, "Get someone to check him out," then you are on the side of those who see the role of the UN and inspectors in this issue. The law, in the case of the two people in an apartment, would agree with the latter answer.

You see, the law does not have a plea of "pre-emptive self-defense." You can't harm someone because you think he might want to do you harm. There has to be a truly "clear and present danger." What that means is not that you believe someone might come hurt you, but they must have the weapon leveled at you or clearly intend to use it. If you shoot first, you've become the criminal.

We have no idea what Iraq has or how they intend to use them. Donald Rumsfeld tried to get around this when speaking before Congress by saying that ''the last thing we want is a smoking gun. A gun smokes after it has been fired. The goal must be to stop Saddam Hussein before he fires a weapon of mass destruction against our people.''

What he's saying here is that he doesn't know what Saddam's got. I don't expect him to find a smoking gun, but at least prove to me that the gun exists.

As Tracy Bonham says, there's a burden to being upright. It's hard to do the right thing and not just do what you want. I agree with Molly Ivins, I don't want Bush, et. al., to turn the U.S. into a criminal nation.


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