Ask, And Ye Shall Receive
Knowing smart people is a wonderful thing. I asked for both sides of the equation, and I’m getting it. JP Brassard posted this in my comments, and is kindly allowing me to put it in a post.
Yes, there are many valid reasons to topple Saddam Hussein - he is, truly, a Very Bad Man. But those valid reasons do not give the United States and Great Britain the right, nor the moral responsibility, to act unilaterally, against the wishes of the much of the rest of the world and the United Nations. If there's anything the 1990s taught us - the clusterfuck in Somalia notwithstanding - is that multilaterlism, whether on a NATO or a UN scale, is really the only way to go when confronting regimes with brutal human rights abuses. The Balkans spring immediately to mind. East Timor is another, though the UN probably acted too slowly.
The thing is, we are not, nor should we be, the world's beat cop, not even as the lone remaining superpower in the world. I could even say especially as the lone remaining superpower. If the UN thinks that war against Iraq is not the best current course of action, than the US better damn well respect that decision or come off looking no better than ancient Rome contending with the Huns before the death throes of the Empire drove the seat of power east to Byzantium (now Istanbul (though at some point in between then and now it was Constantinople - probably named after one of the Byzantine Emporers, but that's neither here nor there)).
Acting unilaterally in Iraq displays profound contempt for the body the US helped to create after the bloody conflagration of WWII, and damages our credibility across the globe, which will only serve to harm our efforts in the fight against international terrorism (which, as we all know, is the real threat to the United States' national security). Yes, the people of Iraq deserve better than Saddam Hussein, and it would be oh so nice if we could simply march on Baghdad and kick the Mustachioed One square in his power-hungry ass. But we dare not act alone, nor with a "coalition of the willing" (a lovely, insipidly demeaning phrase, that), that flies in the face of the UN, or we risk a further escalation of tensions, the increased likelihood of terrorist attacks against Western civilian targets, and (in the worst-case scenario), region-wide war in the Middle East.
The people of Iraq deserve better. But it must be the world that acts, not just the US.
My little head is close to imploding as I try to figure this all out… I hate to admit it, but I am still riding the fence on the whole Iraq Issue, and it’s not a comfortable place to be.