Acrimonious argument swarms around America's new role as the world's enforcer of order, currently exemplified by the rhetoric of war with Iraq. The Bush doctrine of unilateral preemption has been accepted by default, and debate on the subject has been crushed by the conflict's seeming inevitability. The left has decried the potential humanitarian and international impacts of a U.S. strike against Saddam Hussein, with little success in the face of the administration's foreign policy agenda. The critical question raised by the current crisis, however, has nothing to do with Bush, Hussein, or Iraq. America's role in the world, and more specifically the methods by which the United States exerts its immense power, is what is going to be shaped in our dealings with Iraq, and the rest of the world, over the next few years, determined ultimately by how our generation reacts.
An interventionist foreign policy is a necessity for the United States, given the interests of the American economy around the world. The power possessed by America in the current age cries for men and women of conscience to wield that power responsibly. The profound errors of Bush's current policies are creating a dangerously isolated position for the United States in the world. The American military is one of the most powerful forces on the planet, and to ignore the potential good which could be wrought by its intelligent usage would be a terminal error for Americans, even those of a leftist, pacifistic persuasion.
Whatever the death, evil, and destruction wrought by the U.S. war machine, it cannot deter the United States from taking decisive action to effect positive changes in our sick and broken world. No commentator on current events, no matter how opposed to the Bush administration's policies, has failed to acknowledge the depravity and brutality of Hussein's regime, but few have examined how common such brutality is among the worlds rulers, dictators, and un-elected presidents.
Starvation is the fact of life in both North Korea and Iraq, two members of Bush's "axis of evil." Given the impossibility of allowing all nations access to world markets, and the potential to manufacture or acquire further weapons, military action is, in fact, the most practical and humane option available to the United States. Inaction will allow the Iraqi and North Korean governments unacceptable freedom to expand their power and their ability to inflict harm upon themselves and their neighbors.
Continuing the current economic and political isolation of both through sanctions is, as demonstrated by the continued plight of the Iraqi people, a burden borne by the peoples of those nations far more directly then those in power. Sanctions have proven just as deadly as any military strike, and diplomacy without strength is nothing more than an utterly useless gesture when faced with a ruthless and intelligent dictator at the head of even a small nation-state.
The fact is, as long as any dictator remains in power, the only effective way for that nation's people to achieve freedom and prosperity is through a violent overthrow of the entrenched ruler and his power base. Death and destruction are inevitable in any war, but when life and freedom are being actively threatened, it is incumbent upon the United States to use its power in the defense of the ideals it has always claimed to stand for.
War is a horrible and violent act, but what the immense economic power of the United States allows is for an outcome which is far more positive then the critics of war with Iraq allow. The creation of infrastructure, industry, and a free and stable government are all within the power of the United States to accomplish anywhere it sets out to achieve "regime change." The simple fact that the United States possess unequaled military power begs our generation to utilize this power for the greater good.