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The ethics of rebuilding Iraq

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csmonitor.com's Josh Burek spoke to ethics expert Rush Kidder about the ethical aspects of rebuilding Iraq and spreading democracy around the globe. Mr. Kidder is founder and president of the Institute for Global Ethics.

csmonitor.com: [Former Pentagon Adviser] Richard Perle has talked about achieving "high moral purpose" in Iraq. What ethical standard has the Bush administration used to achieve this "high moral purpose"?

Kidder: [Americans] are conflicted. We love the idea of peace - as well we should. We also feel guilt that we've accumulated a living standard far beyond other countries. What we are seeing is a broad, rather rapid, shift from the concept of deterrence to the concept of preemption.

What has pushed us in this direction is that there's a new parameter here. And that is the presence of widespread suicide as a weapon.

The problem is, of course, you can't deter suicide bombers. You have to preempt them. What we need to understand is that there are various forms of preemption. In Iraq, what we've seen is the bluntest of those instruments ... heavy armor used as preemptive technique. What we have to move to is the ultimate preemption, which is not armor, but intelligence.

csmonitor.com: What are the ethical tensions involved with building democracy?

Kidder: The looting is this tremendous outburst - a pent-up ... sense that "I have been stifled and imprisoned for 30 years, and I suddenly have a euphoric freedom. What am I going to do with it? How do I know? Everything I've been raised to think is that this moment of freedom is a sudden thing. If I don't seize this, there'll be another Saddam [Hussein]."

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