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Saturday, November 08, 2003
Some things are worth our boys dying for, but Iraqi human rights aren't among them

There is one position on the Iraq War I find even less appealing than the general anti-war view. This is the view that irrespective of the threat Saddam Hussein posed to this country, it was worth the deaths of dozens of British troops to remove him from power in Iraq because doing so aids the cause of human rights. This callous view that no amount of spilt British blood is too much if it means we save slightly more Iraqi blood is openly defended over at Harry's Place. Gene determinedly echoed this perspective on Thursday with respect to America and to Howard Dean, whom he quotes disapprovingly.

"There are now almost 400 people dead who wouldn't be dead if that resolution hadn't been passed and we hadn't gone to war." The short-sightedness and the disregard for the Iraqi victims of Saddam implied by those words are, in my view, anything but liberal.

It is, in other words, entirely possible that I will not vote in the 2004 election for President.

Well, it probably isn't liberal. But such an attitude does show that Howard Dean's heart is in the right place on at least one issue. For anyone aspiring to be US President, the American people must come first. The idea that one can trade American lives for Iraqi human rights is as fanciful as it is cold-blooded. Just like Britain, America had no duty to send its boys out to the Middle East to die for the human rights of the Iraqi people, and if intelligence had indicated that Saddam Hussein posed no real threat to American national interests, her President should absolutely have let him stay in power and saved those four hundred American lives.

Who are these people to deem themselves fit to decide who lives and who dies, to be willing to sacrifice their fellow countrymen to their own concerns about human rights in some foreign land? We are not the world's policemen, and we should not stump up the cost in pounds or in lives of attempting to be. If Gene and Harry want to go and fight to free enslaved peoples, I will support their international brigade. But for them to call on national armies - of which they are not members - to support and die for their values, rather than these soldiers' countries, is out of this world. Armed forces are there to defend the national interest. It is not our responsibility to secure the human rights of Iraqis (or Cubans, or Koreans). Unless doing so advances British interests then nobody in Britain should have to die to that end. If Howard Dean can see the relevance of such principles to his own country, he's a lot closer to being a fit President than some who supported the war.

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