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A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq Paperback – July 11, 2005
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Before the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003, there were writers and thinkers who distrusted Bush but favored the war largely on human rights grounds: members of that contingent recall, defend and re-examine their arguments in this meaty, provocative, if often academic, collection. "Had there been no war," editor Cushman (a professor of sociology at Wellesley) points out, "Saddam Hussein would still be... torturing and killing." Many contributors make that claim their bottom line. Several explain why they thought the war just in principle, without defending it in practice: "If I knew in spring 2003 what I know now," says the historian Jeffrey Herf, "I would not have supported the invasion." Other writers do not so much defend the war as attack glib arguments against it: Dissent magazine editor Mitchell Cohen denounces "all-explanatory dogma" from right or left; British philosopher Daniel Kofman denounces "confusion in the antiwar movement." Philosophers and political science professors take up the theories of Immanuel Kant and John Rawls. Europeans, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, denounce reflexive anti-Americanism; onetime Polish dissident Adam Michnik explains his "very strong... support for the war" in a revealing interview. Strongest of all in their rhetorical force are a pair of speeches from Tony Blair, the last two of the volume's 24 entries. Though it will change few minds, Cushman's volume may include the most articulate support yet for America's Iraq adventure—even if some of its voices express second thoughts. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The scholarship contained in this collection is superior: it includes the leading and most sophisticated advocates of liberal internationalism from the worlds of the academy, politics and the media. The arguments are complex and nuanced, and contribute to a new understanding of the Iraq war." - Richard A. Wilson, Director of the Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut "This is a first-rate collection. By bringing together isolated, important, and at times iconoclastic voices on the issue of the invasion of Iraq, The Third Force makes for critical and provocative reading." - Michael Barnett, Stassen Professor of International Relations, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota"
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For those who are interested in the Iraq War, this collection is, I feel, indispensable. Not because the authors agree (they do not) but because the debate in this volume has about it a quality that has been largely absent from the Iraq debate: candor. Thus while the authors disagree on fundamental issues such as:
* was the war in Iraq, on balance, justified;
* did the governments that lead us to war lie or act in good faith;
* was the suffering of the Iraqi people alone sufficient justification for war; and
* do we have what it takes to see this war through
they do so without simplifying the arguments and without assuming that the Iraqi people agree with their positions.
For as profound as their disagreements are, the authors agree that:
* Saddam's regime was genocidal;
* leaving Saddam in place was not costless either (and most immediately) to the Iraqi people or (eventually) to the West; and
* the Bush administration has terribly botched the occupation, thereby endangering the whole enterprise.
And finally these authors point out that when in a public policy debate, the liberals sound like Henry Kissinger while the conservatives echo John Rawls, the political landscape is out of joint.
This is the sort of debate liberals like myself had every right to expect in the days and months preceding the Iraq invasion. We did not get it (for reasons addressed in this volume). We get it here; in this collection of essays. I highly recommend it.
Seeing the way liberals had reacted to Iraq was one of the biggest reasons why I have started calling myself moderate instead of liberal. I'm not trying to imply that the word liberal is monolithic by any means, but seeing the way so many different types of liberals were so strongly opposed to this war (many times out of pure hatred of George W. Bush and nothing else), really made me take serious look at what I thought.
Some of the articles in this book are a bit dense, and the average reader might not be able to get through them, but there are numerous other brilliant articles in this book that make a very strong case for their arguments. Put simply, the main point of this book is that a perfectly logical case can be made in favor of invading Iraq from a humanitarian perspective.
The authors in this book are not fans of Bush in any way, but yet they still make the case that getting rid of Saddam Hussein is a good thing. One of the contributors, Adam Michnik, put it best when he said "I believe you can be an enemy of Saddam Hussein even if Donald Rumsfeld is also an enemy of Saddam Hussein."
Throughout the book, the authors pose tough questions such as "If Bush really did lie about the weapons (and knew that none were in Iraq), why did the U.S. not arrange to plant the weapons after the invasion? A simple, but ironclad point in my opinion. The authors also tackle many of the liberal points used to argue against the war. Michael Moore is mentioned several times and because of this book, I am firmly cemented in my view that Moore has about as many positive contributions to make to the political world as Ann Coulter (which would be next to none).
Something I found particularly interesting was that a lot of what was said could be found coming from the right, but the point here is that the talk of liberating the Iraqi people from these authors are genuine. Hearing someone like Sean Hannity making these arguments isn't convincing because he's only for liberating another country if a Republican President is the one doing it. You never hear Hannity-types making the liberation argument in any other case.
I sincerely hope that anyone calling themselves a liberal that is opposed to the war in Iraq reads this book. It really challenges liberals to look at Iraq from the humanitarian perspective and I would venture to say that if you're a Michael Moore fan or a Noam Chomsky fan that could make it through this book and not have second thoughts, you're no different than the Republicans and conservatives you accuse of being blinded by ideology.