Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.
I’ve not previously written anything about the upcoming war with Iraq, mostly because I hadn’t yet developed a view other than a purely instinctive one. That instinctive reaction was to be against going to war, primarily because of how the case for doing so has been put across. The poor, and so far unsupported, attempts to link Iraq to Islamic terrorism put me off the idea completely because it seemed that Bush and Blair were simply looking for any possible excuse to justify a war against Iraq.
Looking beyond the cobbled together excuses that were initially attempted there are some more serious arguments as to why a war with Iraq may be justified. The top two reasons, in my mind, to go to war with a country are:
1 – The other country poses a threat to you
2 – What is happening inside that country is repugnant to your sense of morality
These reasons then need to be compared against the cost of pursuing a war, in terms of lives lost or damaged, and in terms of political/social results. If, as in the case of North Korea, there is good justification on both fronts for an offencive, you still may not pursue that route because of the cost of doing so.
In the case of Iraq it’s the first reason that concerns me the most, although not as someone living on the American continent, but rather as a European. With the expansion of the EU to include Turkey, Iraq would suddenly have a border with the EU, and if Iraq had the opportunity to develop nuclear weapons then it would have very serious consequences for the security of the EU as a whole. The recent attempt by the UK to justify an attack on Iraq on the basis of the second point, that the Iraqi regime is a horrible and brutal one, has not been taken too seriously because there are so many other countries that would fall into this category. It’s only when the brutality of another country reaches a very high level indeed that we feel the need to act – the cost otherwise is seen as to large (military intervention is never a clean business).
My opinion is that the best way to prevent Iraq from threatening others is to maintain intrusive weapons inspections, based on the best intelligence that the west can gather. If it’s found that Iraq is determined, despite constant inspections, to develop weapons that the rest of the world has prescribed as being unacceptable, then force should be used. This opinion is based partly on the costs that are likely to result from an invasion of Iraq. If the example of Afghanistan is taken, it seems that following a take-over of Iraq we can expect a weak government that can not even provide law and order within the country. This situation is not only dangerous in the long term, it’s also morally repugnant – to take over a country and leave it a lawless mess should be unacceptable.
Last night I noted that I should add a spell checker to my weblog program, and now I have. The code is fairly simple, no custom dictionaries, or other fancy features, just: replace, replace all, skip, and skip all. The actual spell checking is done by aspell, with the python classes controlling it through a pipe.
Additionally I’ve put up a “favicon”, one of those little icons that can sit next to bookmarks. It’s very hard to draw anything visible at that size – and my drawing skills are somewhat lacking – so I’ve gone for a simple OF logo instead. I find it easier to find bookmarks that have these icons for other sites that I use, so hopefully someone, somewhere, will also find this one to be of benefit.
Email: colin at owlfish.com