Is the World a Better Place with Hussein Gone?

by Harry Browne

August 8, 2003     

Republican sycophants have been engaging in revisionist history to rewrite the assertions made by the Bush administration before the war.

Absolute proof that Hussein had dangerous weapons has morphed into "we know Hussein had a weapons program" (for which any idle wish to have a bomb qualifies). Irrefutable knowledge that Hussein and Al-Qaeda were Saturday night drinking buddies has been replaced with ó well, just about anything will do.

But the coup de grace the Republicans fall back on, the #1 intimidation technique to be used on anyone who questions the good intentions of George W. Bush, the absolute-sure-fire-canít-miss-youíre-toast-Buddy argument to put everything back in "perspective" is this:

You mean you donít think the world is a better place now that Hussein is no longer in power???

With that thrust, the most dedicated peacenik is guaranteed to melt and stammer, "Well, er, of course no one wants Hussein back but, er . . ."

But rather than duck the question, perhaps we should meet it head on:

Is the world a better place now that Hussein is gone?

Actually, I donít know. Yes, George Bush claims it is. But heís the guy who said in 2000 that he was compassionate, believed in limited government, and opposed nation-building. So, frankly, his word doesnít hold much weight with me these days.

Is Iraq a better place now that it no longer has much electricity, clean water, or food?

Is Iraq a better place now that tens of thousands of its citizens are dead or wounded from U.S. attacks?

Is Iraq a better place after 12 years of U.S.-enforced sanctions that generated starvation and disease?

Is America a better place now that over 100,000 of the nationís finest are in 110-degree heat ó being picked off by attackers, one by one?

UnRevisionist History

Perhaps we should look at the past results of American attempts to create "better places."

Was Indonesia a better place after the U.S. helped bring Suharto to power ó so that he could kill over 250,000 Indonesians and then another 200,000 in East Timor?

Did the Middle East become a better place by the U.S. providing Saddam Hussein with weapons and intelligence during his war with Iran?

Is Afghanistan a better place nearly two years after the Afghan war ó with electricity still not reestablished in many parts of the country, the war lords battling each other, and civil war providing an invitation for the Taliban to come back?

Is Kosovo a better place after the U.S. drove the Serbs out and left the province to the Albanians to "ethnically cleanse" the province?

Is the world a better place with one man in Washington having the power to decide who will live and who will die anywhere in the world?

What do you think?

Obviously, it will be several years before anyone can know with certainty whether the world is a better place for what the U.S. has done in Iraq. And anyone who claims to know now is just whistling in the dark.


In the history of the world, there have been a few thousand rulers who had the kind of power George Bush has today ó the ability to jail people without trial or accountability, the license to spy on every citizen, the power to conquer other countries.

Quick quiz: Name a ruler who had this much power but didnít become an absolute tyrant?

(Hint: There were very, very few.)

Perhaps the real question should be:

Is the world a better place with George Bush having so much power?

And that question I can answer with certainty: no. He has caused Americans to become afraid of the rest of the world, and the rest of the world to become afraid of America.

Next Year

And that leads us to the liberty-loverís dilemma.

Will the world be a better place if George Bush is voted out of office next year?

Thatís not so easy to answer.

It will be tempting for us to want anyone but Bush to be in the White House. And that encourages voting for whoever the Democratic candidate is ó Al Gore, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, whoever.

The Democratic candidate may even pledge never to do what George Bush just did ó take the country into an undeclared and unprovoked war. The candidate may promise faithfully that heíll never meddle in the affairs of foreign countries.

But donít forget that George Bush as much as promised the same things when he was running for President.

The problem isnít the abuse of power. As Michael Cloud has pointed out, the problem is the power to abuse. Whoever gets the power is almost certain to abuse it.

A lot of people voted for George Bush because they couldnít stand Al Gore, and now regret that they did.

Most likely, the same thing will happen again next year ó when many people will vote reluctantly for the Democrat and later regret it when he, too, becomes enamored with his role as ruler of the world ó while simultaneously pushing for universal health care, increased federal control of schools, and the like.

The Choices

To me, there are only two valid choices next year ó and neither of them spells Republican or Democrat.

Choice #1: Vote Libertarian. Itís the only vote you can cast that will never be misinterpreted as an endorsement of things you wouldnít want in a million years.

Choice #2: Donít vote at all. This is a perfectly legitimate option. Itís a way of saying you donít like what either major party is doing. Abstaining wonít of itself make the world a better place, but neither would voting for a Democrat or a Republican.

And either voting Libertarian or not voting at all provides the fringe benefit of being able to live with yourself ever after.

The most important choice you can make is to take care of yourself and your family. Thatís an area where you actually do have some control ó a place where you can make a real difference.

Better Place?

Is the world a better place with Hussein gone?

I donít know. But I do know that Iím making my world a better place by earning a living trying to improve the lives of the people with whom I associate.

I wish George Bush and the Republican intimidators could say the same.