This war is a catastrophe, all the more so for being avoidable. There was—there remains— another way to stop Saddam Hussein: the combination of sanctions and genuinely multilateral enforcement. Now the unintended and half-intended consequences are spilling out like Kuwait’s oil, with more horrors, no doubt, in store on every side.
Many brutalities, many brutalizations. This war is the terrible simplifier all around. On the prowar side one hears euphemisms for denying the terrible sufferings. The rationality of the think tank and the thrill of the video game generate fantasies of neat war and neater settlement. In some quarters, especially Israel, there is we-told-you-so pleasure that the just demands of Palestinians can once more be deferred. On the antiwar side one hears flaming anti-Semitism, harsh indifference to Israeli casualties and fright, refusal to recognize that something is at stake besides the lone superpower’s desire to show off its smart bombs. The deep truth is that the United States has blundered into an Arab civil war between radical nationalism (latched to a fascist tyrant) and bloated emirates—a monstrous war likely now to go on, one way or another, for the rest of our lives, to the great economic and political and, I want to say, spiritual detriment of all....
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