A little noted fact about virtually all liberal criticisms of the Bush policy in Iraq is that they have a common theme. That theme is appeasement. Appeasement in the first instance of the outlaw regime of Saddam Hussein, and in the second of the jihad that terrorist armies in the Middle East are waging against us. I am not speaking here of the Michael/MoveOn.org left that is actively rooting for our enemies and wants us to lose the war. I am speaking of liberals who do not share Moore's agendas (but often refuse to recognize them) and who believe that their no-holds-barred attacks on our war effort are done in the interests of American security.
The other day Senator Barbara Boxer referred to WMDs as the only reason the Congress voted to authorize the use of force. Most liberals are not this brazenly ignorant. But the fact is that most liberal critiques of the war emphasize WMDS and completely ignore the dilemma that confronted George Bush on December 8th 2002, a dilemma whose resolution was the actual cause of this war.
December 8th, 2002 was the day Security Council Resoluton 1441 set for Saddam to comply with what was the last of 17 UN resolutions designed to hold him to the terms of the truce in the Gulf War of 1991. These terms were set in two UN resolutions (687 and 689). On December 8th Saddam defied this resolution as well. I have never seen an argument by war critics that claims that Saddam actually complied with this UN ultimatum. The ultimatum said comply "or serious consequences will follow" -- a diplomatic euphemism for war. I have read Hans Blix's book Disarming Iraq and he clearly says Saddam did not comply. He also says in the same book that the utlimatum meant war if Saddam failed to comply. Blix is himself an appeaser and -- to be fair -- also states in the book that he didn't think war would be justified even though Saddam had failed to comply.
So any critique of Bush's war policy that is not simply an argument for appeasing Saddam has to begin by making the case that it would have been okay to let Saddam violate the 17th UN resolution, and also to leave Saddam in power. In fact, John Kerry has made a stab at this position suggesting that we could have contained Saddam. I'd like to see the actual defense of this position. The cost of containing Saddam was one billion dollars a week, 100,000 troops maintained the desert, and the main focus of U.S. foreign policy permanently fixed in minding this one rogue state. Moreover, it would have meant that US/UN ultimatums were in effect meaningless. How would that impact the prospects of peace? As Tony Blair put it to the French at the time, not enforrcing UN resolution 1441 would have meant fundamentally undermining international law.
The war we face is a serious one; it is made even more dangerous by the fact that the liberal opposition is an argument for appeasement that makes us the guilty part and serves only to encourage those who want to destroy us.