Should Opponents of a War with Iraq Shut Up About It For the Sake of Peace?

From the viewpoint of those of us not itching for a war, there are really only two good outcomes of the current situation: Saddam Hussein backs down on his weapons program, or his generals take him out and shoot him because they don’t want their troops getting shredded again, and then they back down. The more effectively the case against going to war gets made, the less likely those outcomes get to be, because they will happen only in the face of a credible threat to clobber Iraq militarily if a backdown doesn’t happen. So offering good, solid arguments against a reckless course of action in a free, democratic debate may not be a helpful thing to do.

No, actually, I don’t like that answer any better than you do. But here’s the analysis that supports it. Tell me where I’m wrong.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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