Debate:Iraq War

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The brilliant and controversial journalist Christopher Hitchens seems to be the only one who supports the war in Iraq while not being a Republican blinded by George W. Bush (or Joe Lieberman). I listened last night to his debate with George Galloway -something I recommend for everyone to hear (link to audio)- and I have to admit I found Hitchens very convincing.

He believes that regardless of the fact that we were misled into war, and Bush and Blair led a propaganda campaign, and the evangelical Christian right went into a lather about killing Muslims; it still was a just and necessary war.

There are four ways a country can lose its sovereignty according to international law

  1. Irresponsible development of nuclear weapons Violating the non-proliferation act in letter or spirit.
  2. Invading and aggression against other sovereign nations Iran, Kuwait.
  3. Genocide: 'nuff said.
  4. Playing hosts to terrorists etc. Also 'nuff said, it was a retirement village for terrorists.

Regarding WMD's: it's no secret that Hussein tried developing nukes, n 1981 -though it was unpopular in the world at the time- Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor; Richard Clarke said on Real Time with Bill Maher (October 6, 2006) that America was (secretly) glad that Israel took out the reactor. I think we can all imagine what the world would be like of Hussein had nukes. He also USED WMD's against the Kurds, and was constantly trying to get more.

As for me, I've had differing opinions on the war throughout the years. When the war began, I was still a young pup in Yeshiva without much understanding of the world, or the rationale (and lack thereof) for war. It was on the Jewish holiday of Purim when the war began, I was with my family and we were glad to hear that Saddam Hussein was now under attack.

A small note on Jewish hatred of Hussein: When coalition forces attacked Iraq in 1991, Hussein decided the proper response was to bomb... Israel. Now Israel very much wanted to retaliate with all their considerable military might, but were begged by the coalition no to. Why, you ask? The only way Muslim countries would go along with the attack was if Israel wasn't involved, (in fact, only two Islamic countries even recognize Israel after six decades; Egypt and Jordan). In return for their cooperation, Israel was given two batteries of MIM-104 Patriot missiles to intercept the 39 Scuds fired on them (from what I hear [I was a child in 1991], the Patriots didn't do much to stop the scuds; miraculously, only three Israelis were killed during the war). So there you have my tribal hatred for Hussein and his minions.

A year and a half later I started reading a lot more, listening to the news, and between reading and watching the likes of Michael Moore, Al Franken, Bill Maher (I owe my interest in politics to him) etc. I realized that A) We were lied to in the run-up to war and B) The war was being horribly mismanaged. I became against the war for those reasons.

After listening to Hitchens, it occurred to me that despite the above, the war itself may be just and necessary. I'm wondering what you all think.

ДЛеяиея Come see if I suffer fools gladly | A place for my stuff 07:19, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

Note: I STRONGLY recommend everyone to listen to the debate - if only for its entertainment value - it's 1 hour and 53 minutes long so you may want to put it on your Ipod. ДЛеяиея Come see if I suffer fools gladly | A place for my stuff 07:19, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

P.S. Anyone have a spare Ipod? Mine broke today. Gifts would be nice but I'll pay for it if need be..." ДЛеяиея Come see if I suffer fools gladly | A place for my stuff 07:19, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

Against[edit]

Whether the Iraq war could have been just or not seems moot to me. I find myself completely unable to trust the motives of those who led us into the war and those who are ultimately in charge of its progress. From where I stand it seems like lives are being destroyed because GW has issues with his dad who did the right thing when he stopped at the border (and you've no idea how hard it is to admit that anyone called Bush did the right thing!) Silver Sloth 07:53, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

I have strong oposition to this war and have much to take issue with in this article. Let's start with the areas in which a country can supposedly loose it's sovereignty

  1. Irresponsible development of nuclear weapons Violating the non-proliferation act in letter or spirit.
There was no evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, and did not have the capability to do so. Over the years, Pakistan, India and Israel (allegedly) have all contravened the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Iran is making moves towards nuclear power, but it is not yet proven they are developing nuclear weapons. The US is contravening non-proliferation by pursuing its nuclear defense shield, which will frankly be as much use as a chocolate condom no matter how many $billions they throw at it
  1. Invading and aggression against other sovereign nations Iran, Kuwait.
Yes, they have done this, no argument. This wasn't used as justification though
  1. Genocide: 'nuff said.
Years ago, Saddam did murder many people with chemical weapons. Those weapons were supplied by Britain and the US. In the years after the first Iraq war, the coalition partners, largely driven by Clinton and Madeline Albright supported sanctions that lead to the death of half a million children by not allowing essential medicines into Iraq
  1. Playing hosts to terrorists etc. Also 'nuff said, it was a retirement village for terrorists.
Utter bull. There were no terrorists in Iraq until the coalition invaded. Saddam was ideologically opposed to Bin Laden - in fact they hated one another.

Fundamentally, the war was wrong because it was carried out on a lie. It was no bad thing to remove Saddam, but the planning and execution of the war and its aftermath were utterly useless. While the US and its partners were working out how to make Iraq stable, hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed or displaced. It is a humanitarian disaster.

It makes me very sad to think of the lives on all sides that have been lost just to secure lucrative contracts for Bush's allies. It makes me worried about who they are thinking of going after next on a trumped up lie (The precedent has been set, so who's to say they won't do it again?). And all this time, the countries that could really do with outside help are left to their own divices, because they are either too hard to invade or because there is no money to be made. Zimbabwe, North Korea, Burma are all in a desperate state, but where is the help?

The war has had a detrimental effect on the view the world has of the US and its allies. It has been like a terrorist recruitment commercial, as the world has seen the terrible state that Iraq decended into and heard of atrocities carried out in Abu Gahraib, torture carried out by America, Guantanamo, and murders carried out unpunished by Blackwater. The world is not a safer place as a result of the invasion - quite the opposite.

I could easily go on, but I think my position is clear enough. Bondurant 08:24, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

In short, the US and UK governments did the right thing (removing a genocidal dictator oppressing his people) for the wrong reasons (ones that simply weren't true). This makes them totally and utterly wrong. Since the actual war itself, it's only a slight exaggeration to say that certain events inside Iraq have made it seem like a case of, 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'. Coupled with that is the fact that it wasn't too long ago that the self-same genocidal dictator that was removed from power was seen as a friend of the West. Zmidponk 09:45, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

I am aware of all the lies that were said to pursue the war, that it was mismanaged catastrophically and that there was mass cronyism in the awarding of contracts (often to corporation that wouldn't do the job and took the money, watch Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers for more on that). My main question wasn't whether we had the right, or if we did it the right way; I'm asking was the idea of invading Iraq, (regardless of US complicity in him getting his hands on WMD's in the first place, one recalls the prewar joke "'How can Bush be so sure the Hussien has WMD's?' 'He still has the receipts'") a good thing.

For those that answer in the negative -as I'm sure many of my colleagues here will- I ask this question: Is it ever justifiable to topple a regime if they are -for lack of a better word- evil (i.e. mass-murderers)?

Please note that I too am against the current operation in Iraq. These are question I am seeking answers for.

-- ДЛеяиея Come see if I suffer fools gladly | A place for my stuff 10:42, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

Call me a simplistic fool with no concept of the real world but... I look to Libya - once the all time bad guy in the middle east and north African area. By dint of long and careful negotiation we're at a point where we no longer feel the need to carpet bomb the place. Sure, Gadaffy still isn't up for the Nobel Peace prize but he's no longer #1 bad guy either. So, what am I driving at - in my view there needs to be a very present active threat - invading Poland, for example - before you send in the troops. Negotiation always needs to come first, and second, and third... Just not liking the guy isn't enough and we weren't there with Iraq. Silver Sloth 11:22, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

Define "evil," DLerner. I agree that people like Robert Mugabe, Saddam, Kim Il Sung, the Taliban, etc could certainly be defined as evil and the world is or would be a better place if they weren't in control of entire countries. If you want to remove them from power, is it the right thing to do to invade their countries without any plan for long-term peace, and to kill thousands of innocent people?
Where does the definition of "evil" end? Is the Wahabist regime in the US' great ally, Saudi Arabia evil? A country where women are not allowed any liberty at all, such as being able to go out unaccompanied in public, drive cars, hold jobs, etc. (probably the same as Andy Schlafly's ultimate vision of a conservative US).
How about Vladimir Putin, who's standards of democracy are a joke, who has killed dissidents as if the soviet days had never gone away?
Is the US evil for allowing torture and rendition of terror suspects?
Regime change has never worked well, a lesson that the west never seems to learn. Who knows what the long term consequences of regime change in Iraq will be?
If anyone wants a good long read of why the west is so consistently messing up in the middle east, it's worth trying to read Robert Fisk's The Great War for Civilisation. If you can stomach 1300 pages of tragedy, it is a book that will change your outlook on the Middle East. Bondurant 11:44, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

I think the invasion was wrong, for several reasons.

  • Bush had made up his mind to invade, regardless of evidence. See about the Downing Street Memo.
  • The Bush administration lied. They lied about WMDs and Hussein trying to acquire weapons, and deftly caused people to associate the Sept. 11 hijackers with Iraq, not Saudi Arabia. It's amazing how many people thought that the hijackers were Iraqis.
  • We went in with no plan past the "Mission Accomplished" propaganda aircraft carrier landing. Bush wanted to be a great military president, but he and his cronies didn't do their homework.
  • Our unilateralism alienated allies, squandered any international sympathy and good will we had, and made us a hated symbol of imperialist jingoism.
  • We created a power vacuum, which was filled with terrorists. Life became worse for many people. Hussein, while very bad, was also secular and in some ways progressive (relatively). Women could get an education. They weren't killed for not wearing a habib.
  • Our moral authority has completely crumbled. We torture. We kidnap. We started a war on trumped up evidence. Any demands by us for another country to obey international law (ahem, Russia) sound hollow and weak.
  • We have overstretched our military. We have actual threats out there, and Iraq is a colossal drain on our military manpower. It scares me to hear neocons talk about invading Iran. With what soldiers? CorryTalk 13:07, 13 August 2008 (EDT)

I have a problem with the idea that the U.S. should have any troops outside U.S. borders for any reason, or should have a military larger than the one we had during the 1930s or 1820s when there is no formal Congressional declaration of war. Congressional declarations of war should be specific and limited, and when there is no Congressional declaration of war there is no reason why there should be a U.S. military larger than what is needed to perform, say, ceremonial duties in and around Washington, D.C. Come to think of it, Costa Rica has had no military since...what is it, 1949, and they have had the most stable long-term democracy in Central America. So much for the crackpot notion that no military = weakness = opening yourself to attack and invasion. In fact the exact opposite is the case. If the U.S. had no military or only a ceremonial military or an inactive citizen militia, there would have been no 9/11. The Iraq War has ensured many more 9/11s will happen and has vastly helped Osama bin Laden's recruiting efforts. Our correct response to 9/11 would have been to recognize that the U.S. was wrong to have ever gotten militarily involved in the Middle East, and to pull all U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and cut off all military aid to both Israel and the Arab states. Secret Squirrel 21:47, 14 August 2008 (EDT)

Interested?[edit]

If I were to post another argument in favor of the US having invaded Iraq in 2003 in principle, but with reservations about its execution since, would anyone be interested, or has everyone lost interest and gone home, as in the Hitler/Christian thread? This argument may or may not also include an opinion on why the US should not withdraw from Iraq, at least not too quickly nor too soon. BlueSprite 10:59, 2 December 2008 (EST)

By all means. I'd LOVE to read a well-reasoned argument for why we should've gotten our head stuck in that bannister, and why we need to keep pouring money and human lives into that hole for the next hundred years. Because Eris knows BUSH hasn't made any that didn't amount to "TERRORISM! Booga Booga!" --Gulik 05:24, 6 December 2008 (EST)

A case for war[edit]

Put as simply as I am articulate enough to do, the war in Iraq was based on the following observations:[edit]

  • The events of September 11th 2001 showed that there was a deep and dangerous malaise in the middle east, and that the root of it was Wahabism as well as the complacent and autocratic governments that tend to dominate in the middle east.
    • "We finally got the guy who didn't cause 9/11" -- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • Never did I imply that Hussein was responsible for 9/11. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • The key center of Wahabism is of course Saudi Arabia, a country which could not be touched directly by any non-muslim country without grave consequences.
    • So we took it out on someone who couldn't fight back. This part of the plan was commented on by many critics, including me. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
  • The United States had some influence in the middle east, but no avenues of hard power.
"Hard Power" (which I am presuming means "the ability to bomb the fuck out of anyone we want to") is the wrong tool for fighting Terrorism. The correct tool is police & detective work, but those don't make enough money for Halliburton.
Of course, "Hard Power"'s other use, the ability to strong-arm those heathen Otherplacians into doing the Imperial Will of America, will only produce the kind of anger and resentment that causes MORE terrorists. So it's exactly the wrong tool for the alleged purpose, but exactly the right one to set up the next round of Oil Wars. --Gulik 22:20, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • US attempts to get nations in the middle east to pursue US interests in rooting out Al Quaeda had met with outright disdain.
  • The geopolitical keystone of the middle east is Iraq.
    • That's your excuse for invasion? "Location, location, location"? --Gulik 23:10, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • One of them, yes. In spite of your clever quip and mocking tone, I see no reason to discount it as a good one, when taking together with the rest of it. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • Iraq was noteworthy for being under the rule of the most authoritarian and unscrupulous of the autocrats of the middle east.
    • ...Who we helped put in power, and supported when he was fighting Iran. Oooops.
      • The US did not put him in power. Yes the US supported him in Iran. This does not affect the argument in favor of war in any way that I can see. Yes I see the irony. Too bad irony on its own is not an argument. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
    • Funny, I remember when they said the same thing about Mommar Kaddafi, and he hasn't been blowing things up lately. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • Interesting you note that. I wonder why that is? In case you're wondering, just a few months after the US invaded Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi decided to cooperate with the US on a variety of old bones of contention, as well as finally putting the Lockerbie bombing to rest. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • Iraq represented a legitimate security threat because of its WMD programs.
    • Wrong. No WMDs, no matter how sincere Colin Powell sounded. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • True. Nevertheless, all the evidence pointed to the fact that they did. You can't make policy on what you don't know. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
    • And on the most pragmatic level, it wouldn't have mattered if Iraq had had nuclear weapons, nerve gas, giant robots, and a crack troop of cyborg gorillas, they STILL wouldn't have attacked the US or anyone we cared about (ie--not the Kurds), as we'd've turned their entire country into a glowing parking lot at the first use, and Saddam knew this. Yay, deterrence. --Gulik 23:13, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • Not a threat to the US, silly, a threat to the Middle East, something which I've already established the US decided it was critical to change. To do this with an Iraq armed with WMD... BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • Iraq was in violation of international law and the terms of a cease fire. Generally, violations of the terms of cease fires lead to war.
    • Such as...?
    • And, of course, negotiation was utterly out of the question. Only the cleansing fire of fuel-air bombs could eradicate this blight on humanity. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • Perhaps you're familiar with the first Gulf War. I've already answered this question, by the way. Negotiation had failed for 10 years. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Hence:[edit]

  • It being vital to US interests that nations in the region cooperate with the US in the uprooting of Al Quaeda specifically and terrorist organizations in general,
    • You needed to talk to every country in the mideast EXCEPT Iraq, then, seeing how Saddam kept them pretty well squashed when he was Dictator. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • Now you're following me. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
        • Bwuh?
        • BWUH?!
        • BWUH?!?!?
        • Are you seriously arguing that it's okay to invade a country, kill their people, blow up their buildings, overthrow their government, let a low-intensity civil war break out, etc, etc....because we want to scare their neighbors?! If so, you and people like you are the best recruiters Al Qaeda could possibly hope for. --Gulik 16:13, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Yes. Sort of. Obviously, it's best to try to minimize the negative effects. But insofar as these are consequences of war, and war being justified, that is essentially what I'm arguing. I would say that "scaring their neighbors" is a little simplistic, but I suppose that's the essence of the argument.
Al Quaeda was in no need of help recruiting. The AQ modus operandi in fact was all about vetting applicants for operational security. Recruiting is only a part of what is necessary to mount attacks on the US. 18:06, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • It being established that there is a good legal case for war with Iraq,
    • Um, no. The case was "9/11! WMDs! TERRORISTS WILL EAT YOUR CHILDREN!!!!@!!!1one!". You'll note the UN was NOT backing BushCo up on this one, and most of the Coalition of the Billing were only helping the US because we paid them. Justice was NOT on our side in this one. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • I was referring to the case made to the UN. What the UN said and what it did were two very different things. More on this later. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • It being the case that Iraq represents a threat (if minor) to the US and a major threat to the region, as well as US interests in the region,
    • Um, NO. Hussein wanted to go on dictating, and he must've noticed that Bush was gunning for his ass from the moment he took office. And we'd already done a Godzilla on his army ONCE, and could do it again. --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
    • Pakistan seems to have been and continues to be the biggest threat in the region (I would also include the world as of Nov. 2008) with Iran a close second. Iraq was at best a distant third. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 14:11, 8 December 2008 (EST)
That Pakistan is the biggest threat is a keen observation. Of course, it's not part of the middle east, but I get what you're saying. The situation in Pakistan is much more delicate and complex, however, but I think you're right. It has been my opinion since about 2004/5 that Pakistan is, in fact, the unspoken central front in the so-called war on terror. BlueSprite 18:08, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • Diplomacy having failed to convince any of the nations in the region to cooperate with the US in the uprooting of Al Quaeda specifically and terrorist organizations in general,
    • So, we decided to go after the wrong one.
    • WHY do you keep invoking the Dread Specter of Al-Qaeda when it's pretty well documented that Iraq was NOT once of their sponsors? Or do you know something the 9/11 commission and the CIA don't? --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • Why do you keep ignoring what I'm trying to say? I'm talking about changing the middle east as a whole, not Iraq. Iraq was the doorway to the middle east. That Iraq was not a sponsor is totally irrelevant to the argument I'm making. The argument is: the middle east needed to change. Diplomacy failed. Iraq was the optimal entry point. BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Paring out the emotional appeal, I'm left with the statement: "This seems arbitrary, and resulted in 500,000 dead."
War results in death. The cost is unfortunate, but implying that kill 500,000 people was an aim of foreign policy is absurd. The observation that 500,000 people died is therefore really begging the question.
It seems a little arbitrary, I agree. But if a case has adequately been made for war, then what is left is to choose the target. I think the evidence points to Iraq being the best target, yes. BlueSprite 14:43, 8 December 2008 (EST)

It was therefore observed as necessary to make a fundamental change in the middle east, one that brought with it the ability of the United States to project hard power in the region. It was further observed that the geopolitical keystone of the region was weak militarily, was an unpleasant regime, and that there existed a strong legal case for war already on the books.

In a sense, Iraq was both collateral damage and a target of opportunity. Nevertheless, I maintain that it having been established that the status of the peace in the middle east was unacceptable without the cooperation of nations in the region to pursue our interests against terrorism, and that diplomacy bore no results.

Yeah, and how well has that worked out for us, anyway? --Gulik 16:13, 8 December 2008 (EST)
In terms of achieving the strategic goals of the US, I would say pretty well, actually. See my section on the results of war for more info. BlueSprite 18:13, 8 December 2008 (EST)
    • "When in doubt, beat someone up?" --Gulik 23:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)
      • It sure is easy to come up with clever quips if you just ignore the argument, huh? BlueSprite 12:55, 8 December 2008 (EST)
        • I have been paying attention to your argument. I have found it to be sickeningly immoral and devoid of fact, and thinking like you pretty much has guaranteed that the Iraqi's children's children will curse our names. --Gulik 16:13, 8 December 2008 (EST)
That's not clear to me, though it may be the case. I hope not. Sorry for the outburst, but it seemed to me that you were pointing out things I had already pointed out, and that you were making statements that were addressed by things I had already said. I haven't seen you make a lot of arguments here, most of your statements, like this one, have been emotional appeals based on an opinion which you state without a supporting argument. BlueSprite 18:13, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Results of war[edit]

This is not obvious to many, but it is nevertheless true. Observe what has taken place in the middle east since we invaded. Saudi Arabia has risked civil war to reign in Wahabism, whereas before the Iraq war they politely took and ignored our calls. Libya has done a political about face and has normalized relations with us. Syria has withdrawn from Lebanon. The U.A.E. has permitted us to conduct strikes on their territory. Our entire relationship with the middle east has changed to allow the US more influence in the region, and to place Wahabism and terrorism on the defensive rather than allowing it to remain, as it was, something that was blithely tolerated.

You might want to sign each section you created. Anyway, my response to your triumphal glee at the "results"? Mussolini made the trains run on time. We have the blood of hundreds of thousands and the ruined lives of millions on our hands as a result of this perfidy. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:47, 7 December 2008 (EST)
First of all, there is no triumphal glee. You confuse a willingness to argue and belief in correctness for self-righteous enthusiasm. That I am here at all and putting forward arguments rather than slogans is evidence that I have already accepted that there is something I've missed, and am prepared to be corrected by force of argument.
Getting to your point. Your criticism is valid. But I did not create this section as an argument, but merely as an observation that I think most people generally miss, particularly people who take the view that Iraq was built on Bush's stupidity/religious zeal. The argument here, then, is not that this justifies the war, but rather that there are complexities to the situation that the arguments thus far presented have not taken into account. I hope thereby to pique people's curiosity and get them to examine my argument on the assumption that there might be an interesting point of view therein. BlueSprite 12:10, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I accept that your results are correct to a point. I find them short-sighted and Ameriocentric. They all seem to come from the early days of the war. Would not the landslide election of Hamas also be a result of the war? What about the Israel/Lebanon conflict of July 2006? The de facto take over of Pakistan by radicals? Mumbai? Which leads me to also believe that your terrorism is on the densive statement is woefully naive in a similar vein to Dick Cheney's deaththrows comment.
I would contend that the Islamic fundamentalists would believe that they caused the ruin of the Republican party. They caused the American (and thereby the world's) economy to crash. Whether or not these statements are true or correct does not matter, what they believe is what is of concern. --Edgerunner76Your views are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter 12:42, 11 December 2008 (EST)

Caveats[edit]

The US have nevertheless made some mistakes. Failing to predict the influence of Iran was of course the most fundamental, critical, and costly mistake that was made. Other mistakes include the failure to predict the insurgency, and the failure to properly prepare the armed forces for an occupation, something which to this day has not been corrected. BlueSprite 13:32, 6 December 2008 (EST)

How tactful. There's also:
  • Completely ignoring the Pentagon's requests for additional men and materials, since Dick Cheney KNEW the NeoCons' plan for a 'lightweight army' would work.
True. This represents a serious failure. One of the most serious, in fact, but this is what I was referring to when I said: "failure to properly prepare the armed forces for an occupation." BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
  • Ignoring the largest collection of antiwar protests IN HISTORY.
On the one hand, protests are irrelevant, since a nation goes to war when it has to. On the other hand, it is absolutely the responsibility of a commander in chief in a democracy to explain the cause. A failure to rally your people to war once it has been decided it is necessary is one of the most serious failures a leader can be guilty of.BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
There was ZERO 'need' for the Iraq invasion. Saddam was no 'imminent threat' to the US, no matter how much BushCo screamed about mushroom cloudes over Washington DC. --Gulik 13:03, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Begging the question BlueSprite 14:45, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • Outing Valeria Plame as a CIA agent in vengeance for her husband's failure to agree with Bush.
Regrettable, and harsh on the person. Certainly there was a failure of leadership somewhere, but I don't regard this event as particularly significant in terms of the argument to go to war or not.BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
  • "De-Baathification" of the army and government, giving the country a HUGE mass of unarmed young men with guns and a grudge against the US.
Very probably a serious tactical failure.BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
  • Apparent total failure to predict the vicious Shiite vs. Sunni infighting that broke out the moment Saddam vanished.
I think I mentioned this.BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
  • Allowing Al Qaeda to get a foothold in Iraq. (Hussein was an evil baby-eating dictator, but he was a _secular_ evil baby-eater, with no use for AlQ's fundamentalism.)
Actually, I regard this and AQ's subsequent defeat in Iraq as a tremendous achievement. Whether or not it was planned is not clear to me, but I definitely think it's a good thing.
  • Botching the initial invasion. Allowing hospitals, museums, and a warehouse full of explosive to be looted was rather poor form. But at least the Oil Ministry was safe, so we know where Bush's priorities were!
A tactical mistake, but in my view an understandable one. I wouldn't fire any generals over this.BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Then you are a VASTLY more forgiving man than I am. I'd say Operation Iraqi Liberation deserved a round of Force Chokes for everyone from Bush on down. --Gulik 13:03, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I don't see what purpose firing a general would serve in this. Maybe someone in the state department, but even that... I think the broad strokes of foreign policy and strategy are vastly more important than preventing a few days of looting. Sorry. BlueSprite 14:47, 8 December 2008 (EST)
A few days of looting, and a few YEARS of anger, a few years of sickness and misery and death....but, hey! It's Iraqis, not Americans, right? They're not actually people with souls, they're just carbon-based placeholders in the geopolitical game of Risk Bush was playing, right? --Gulik 16:19, 8 December 2008 (EST)
I don't understand how you're tying the looting to years of sickness and misery and death. Care to elaborate? The rest of it is a straw man. BlueSprite 18:19, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Wrecked hospitals and water-mains don't grow back overnight. --Gulik 18:57, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Seems overly dramatic to me. Property damage takes time rebuild, true. But invasion generally comes with property damage. If you accept a war as necessary, then you have to accept a little bit of property damage, and when looking at wars in general, I'd say the extent of property damage is still fairly tame, if regrettable. BlueSprite 19:26, 8 December 2008 (EST)
And if you don't accept it as necessary....? --Gulik 21:59, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • Abu Ghraib. Hey, Iraqis! Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, only less competent!
Clearly a serious mistake.BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
  • The summary execution of Saddam Hussein for just ONE of his many crimes, presumably to shut him up before he could say anything embarrassing. (I'm mildly amazed he GOT a trial.)
This hardly seems relevant to me. He was no longer a player and clearly guilty of some nasty things. Perhaps there was some injustice, perhaps not, I don't see this as having any real bearing on the military, political, economic, or social situation in Iraq.BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
  • Massive incompetence and corruption among the contractors the US hired.
Unfortunately, we went in with a gutted logistics network. Bill Clinton felt we no longer needed logistics in the same way as before. Bush should probably have rebuilt the network. Mercenaries are generally not pleasant, but they seem to have done the job for the most part. That there needed to be a review of terms is clear.
Right, because Clinton was President in 2003. And he attacked Iraq on 9/12/2001, leaving no TIME for any sort of build up. Sheesh. --Gulik 13:03, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Now you're being deliberately obtuse. Clinton pared down the US military during his tenure. The logistics services bore the brunt of this reduction. The mercenaries the US employs are primarily tasked with logistics. BlueSprite 14:50, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Right, because bush just didn't have any time in those two years to re-mobilize. It had nothing to do with their Free Market mania, or Cheney's Halliburton stock, honest! --Gulik 16:19, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Goodness. Can you read? "Bill Clinton felt we no longer needed logistics in the same way as before. Bush should probably have rebuilt the network." BlueSprite 17:01, 8 December 2008 (EST)
  • Sending soldiers to do police work.
Shall I go on? Because I can. Oh, HOW I can. I'm sure there are ways BushCo could've screwed this up worse, but it's hard to think of many. --Gulik 02:18, 7 December 2008 (EST)
There are clearly mistakes. I mentioned a few of them myself. I acknowledge that there are more. But unless you have something to say about the nature of the threat, the diplomatic or legal situation on the international scene, my argument stands. That there were mistakes does not change the fact that the US was justified in going in, and that it has had serious, fundamental, and positive results. BlueSprite 12:24, 7 December 2008 (EST)
What threat? Hussein was not going anywhere! Unless you know something both the UN and the Corporate Media have missed. --Gulik 13:03, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I gave a pretty detailed case above. That there is room for debate is clear, but I don't think "Hussein was not going anywhere" is enough for me to concede any particular point at this time.BlueSprite 13:34, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Since, in your twisted little scenario, Hussein could've been Mahatma Gandhi reborn and you'd STILL be waving the war flags, yeah, I guess it IS kind of irrelevant. --Gulik 16:19, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Not true. Hussein being Gandhi would have changed the calculus on where to strike significantly, I would think. It would probably change what the middle east looked like, and may call into question the whole need for going in, but this is a hypothetical in a complex situation, and the fact is that Hussein was not Gandhi. Far from it, in fact. BlueSprite 17:07, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Response to BlueSprite from EMC[edit]

That the US-led invasion of Iraq was justified so the United States could develop avenues of hard power and influence in the Middle East to which Iraq was a key target due to its geopolitical influence is nonsense, and this intention has clearly backfired. We opened up a front for Iranian-supported proxy insurgents to attack our troops (which is evidence of Iran's continuing resentment against the US despite our ousting of Saddam). An Iranian political analyst even noted that, "Iran is now being challenged by a superpower in Iraq – in that sense Iran is not a winner. The Americans are building four major bases in Iraq, one only [10 miles] from the Iranian border, with two McDonald's and everything."[1] So far as neighboring nations are concerned, Iraq's neighbors have expressed feelings of concern with the US' dominant presence so close to their borders. Though feelings of pro-radical Islam are dwindling, feelings of anti-Westernism are flourishing due to (drumroll!) American presence in the Middle East, especially Iraq.

We have hard power in the region now. I don't see anything in your argument to suggest that this is not the case. US failure to calculate Iran's influence was clearly a critical mistake, one that I believe I mentioned. Even so, the US seems to be dealing acceptably with Iran, even if the confrontation has led to a situation that the US did not envision, and even though the situation is not optimal. That the US has hard power in the region and that this has resulted in influence more broadly in the Middle East still seems certain to me. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)
To quote Richard N. Haass and Martin Indyk in their article "Beyond Iraq: A New U.S. Strategy for the Middle East" of Foreign Policy Magazine: "... in recent years, its [the US'] influence there [in the Middle East] has diminished thanks to the failure to achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the protracted war in Iraq, and a lack of success in democratizing Arab authoritarian regimes. For almost a decade, the United States has done little to address the region's principal conflicts and concerns while developing a reputation for arrogance and double standards." I was highlighting, particularly with Iran, that there is a deep skepticism in the Middle East of US policy, even more-so since the invasion in Iraq. It is continuing to grow with a prolonged occupation in the region. Our invasion and occupation has caused the mobilization in a number of countries of individuals of Islam against the United States, in both the combative and ideological sense, which has made the world more dangerous.
Some Muslims have held protests. Populations think somewhat less of the US. In the meantime, people who decide policy in the region have to deal with the fact that the United States Marine Corp is literally on their border. You focus on only one type of influence. I think hard power influences have more than compensated for any loss in soft power. Whether the US would have any soft power in the Middle East even if we resolved many of their greivances is highly doubtful to me. In point of fact, the US is vastly better behaved than the British empire ever was, and yet the rhetoric we hear today sounds like the same stuff they've been saying since the 1700's. Frankly, trying to look good to Islamic regimes in the Middle East is a fools errand. When regimes and populations start producing people whose fundamental interests are slightly compatible with our own, this may become a reasonable point of view. So long as the debate in the Islamic world is whether Theocracy or Authoritarianism is better, I think this is unlikely. The root of their hatred for the United States is not that the US does things around the world that are intrusive, it's that their leaders have failed to make anything of the region. Ultimately, I think there is noone to blame but themselves for this. Say what you will about colonies or arrogance, but no matter how you slice it, the weakness of the Islamic world is a product of the failures of the Islamic world to become strong.
In the meantime, the deep malaise in the Middle East has resulted in threats to the United States that are certainly something about which the US must do something. Diplomacy having failed, I think it is the responsibility of a just government to project its power to correct this problem by any means necessary. BlueSprite 18:01, 8 December 2008 (EST)
The reason I’ve focused on soft power rather than hard power is because I am convinced that soft power is essential. It has occurred to me that you definitely appeal to that which is tangible – the hard power of military presence and political puppetry vs. the soft power of cultural and ideological influence. The US ought to be seeking soft power with the same, or more, vigor than we are seeking hard power. While I would have preferred to avoid diving into the chasm of a debate over the war on terror by presenting a broad argument, it appears it cannot be avoided. Let me put my argument plainly but specifically: the war on terrorism is an ideological war more than anything. As you have noted, attacks do require resources, infrastructure, training, and organization, but let’s not be ignorant of the most vital and necessary prerequisite for terrorism is the ideology behind it.
The governments of the compliant nations in the region are still supporting terrorism, but not committing acts of terrorism. The deepening feelings of anti-Americanism in the Middle East, perpetuated and fueled by the invasion of Iraq, is evidence that the hard power is a futile endeavor unless soft power is pursued. The guerilla warfare conducted by the insurgents makes argumentation for hard power very difficult; combating the terrorist ideology is far more significant and effective. We are ultimately an unwelcome superpower in the region to the region’s populace, and the absence of soft power is leading to a challenge of our hard power in the region by the terrorist insurgency. While hard power is important, is cannot exist alone in the war on terrorism. The fact of the matter is that Iraq may have gained the US temporary hard power, but the value of that hard power is severely diminished by the utter absence of soft power established in Iraq and in the region as a whole. Iraq does not provide us another avenue of positive, ideological influence in the region. It has only provided us another avenue to waste American lives and money while the terrorist ideology is fueled by our invasion and protracted occupation. In hesitance, I’d like to present the old pacifist saying that bullets cannot change hearts, yet a changed heart can stop bullets. emc [TALK]

In our shortsighted attempt to gain so-called influence and avenues of hard power in the Middle East, we've lost face with countries such as Russia, China, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia (a predominantly Muslim nation), Pakistan, and India, as well as with the United Nations and the Arab League, who have all condemned the war and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Though some might not have foreseen the influence of Iran, the outcry of these nations was foreseeable by all. In the face of the international community, we flaunted a middle finger.

I don't know what "losing face" means either in the semantic context of international relations or in the context of its real effect on US influence. Russia, China, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, India, the United Nations and the Arab League have done nothing to frustrate our ambitions or goals in the region. Indeed, they have remained largely neutral or at least marginally cooperative. You may be making a point about political capital, but of those you mentioned, US pursuits in Iraq have only significantly effected relations with Russia and China. But with those countries, the sum of the change has been that they have been less restrained in their pursuit of their own interests in their own spheres of influence, spheres which are completely disjoint from the Middle East. Yes there has been a cost, if the goal is changing the status quo in the Middle East, then nothing that you've mentioned supports the view that US actions have lessened influence in the Middle East. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)
The overwhelming majority of the world population's disagreement with the Iraq War is detrimental to our global influence politically, culturally, and militarily. Period. I don't understand how you can fail to see a connection. It cannot be argued that the war in Iraq has given us hard power and influence (I assume you meant "influence" in the positive sense of the term, which was not gained) when a majority of the states in the Middle East have opposed our invasion and occupation from the beginning and have condemned the US. Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Arab League have opposed the war in Iraq. It is not surprising to those who have an understanding of the politics of the Middle East that the will of the people in these nations, which was calling for action to be taken against the US, was not the will of the government. For this, we should be thankful that the Middle East as a whole is not an exemplar of democracy. How ever, most of these states refused to assist us militarily, and it should be noted that most of these nations have been the origin of numerous insurgents. Feelings of anti-Americanism in the Middle East are obviously fueled by the invasion, hence why a majority of the combatants in Iraq are insurgents. While the governments of these states may not have taken any direct action to impede our "ambitions or goals", a strong argument is to be made that the populace's distrust and condemnation of the US largely effects our operations in Iraq with the continued insurgency and financial and vocal support from to these insurgents. The continued bloodshed in Iraq, fueled by the insurgency, is the primary reason that the Iraqi population and government is hopeful the United States will withdraw soon. US presence in Iraq has created more problems for the Iraqis, has created a terrorist breeding ground due to the presence of US troops in the heart of the region, and has creating rising skepticism of the US' policies in the Middle East in general. This is what I meant by "losing face". emc [TALK] 14:58, 8 December 2008 (EST)
I see a connection, just not a significant one. Ask yourself what has really changed? Europe doesn't like that the US didn't listen to them. OK. No I don't mean influence in the sense that people like us. I mean influence in the sense that people are more inclined to do what we tell them. I acknowledge it's better to be liked than not, but when discussing national interests what's most important is that things get done. A compliant Europe is not really in a position to offer us any help anyway. Neither are they in a position antagonize us. Fundamentally, being nice to Europe is pretty irrelevant right now.
Feelings of anti-Americanism may be fueled by invasion, but that doesn't mean that anti-Americanism wouldn't have been an issue had the US not invaded. Neither does it mean that the US can't get elements of the Middle East to do what it wants by reminding them that the USMC is next door.
While it is true that popular support for causing harm to the US makes some aspects of conducting attacks on the US easier, it is certainly not sufficient. It is also not the case that US actions tipped any balance with its actions in this regard. There was already sufficient popular support for conducting attacks on the US for them to take place. Attacks require resources, infrastructure, training, and organization. Al-Quaeda brought those things. Asking governments in the region to eliminate those things directly enhances the security of the United States, since popular support for causing harm to the United States is very nearly beyond redress. BlueSprite 18:01, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Terrorist attacks do require these, and Al-Qaeda did provide these (of course, not in Iraq). Asking governments falls under diplomacy. Pressuring them to do so through invading Iraq is a war of aggression with the intent of instilling fear, intimidation, and obedience. emc [TALK]

If part of the intent of the invasion was for the US to gain influence in the region, I must question the staunch support of the United Kingdom and what drove the UK to back the US. Understandably, influence in the region would be an effective tool against terrorism, but terrorism is a nonissue on the invasion of Iraq. Thus far, we've stirred resentment between Iraqis and Jordanians and Iraqis and Kuwaitis, made Kurdistan independence more difficult (which would bring about a much greater peace in the region) with our refusal to consider soft partitioning Iraq, creating a terrorist breeding ground, and we've been gradually losing the support of those in the Middle East who initially supported the war with our prolonged and bloody occupation.

You're assuming here that the US goal was to root out terrorists in Iraq. As I said, it was, in fact, to root out terrorism in the Middle East in general. It is clear that the US invasion has indeed changed the minds of many Middle Eastern powers in how they pursue terrorism, almost universally on terms that are favorable to US interests.
I made that assumption because I couldn't fathom how the argument that invading Iraq would help in rooting out terrorism in the Middle East.
Alright, let me try to explain. The United States had no ability to project hard power in the Middle East. The US had bases in Saudi Arabia, but was denied permission to make use of them to pursue terrorism in the region. A similar stone wall was reached with other governments in the region. Demonstrating your will and ability to invade a nation independent of their permission is a great way to change minds about the ability of the United States to bring consequences to bear for those who are unwilling to assist the US in its efforts to root out terrorism. I would say that the results have been remarkable. BlueSprite 18:01, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Iraq, which was wholly absent of terrorism prior to our invasion, was not and cannot, after the fact, be used as justification for initially engaging the war and can only be made as an argument for continued occupation because this entire claim is not and has never been a justification for going to war in Iraq. The assertion that invading a country which was wholly absent of terrorism for the purpose of fighting the war on terrorism or "persuading" other nations in the region to combat terrorism is ridiculous since our invasion has led to the infamous insurgency and increased feelings of anti-Americanism in the region. Forget not the support of proxy terrorism against the United States that would have not occurred if it wasn't for our invasion of Iraq. While the war on terrorism is itself an issue to be debated, I simply argue that Iraq is and was seen as a separate issue from Middle Eastern terrorism, particularly by the rest of the Middle East. That we now combat terrorism in Iraq is the product of our invasion in the first place. If you are claiming (and supporting) that the intent of our invasion was to create a new front to combat terrorism in the region, composed of terrorist fighters from foreign nations (which is entrapment), then I would boldly accuse you of supporting war crimes. emc [TALK]
While accusing me of war crimes sounds kind of cool, I guess, any legal argument would need to deny freedom of speech. Barring legal repercussions, I'm not really interested in your clever word-wielding unless there is an argument in there somewhere. BlueSprite 18:01, 8 December 2008 (EST)
For clarity, I was accusing you of supporting war crimes (which is itself not a crime, but something that I'd hope any person with a moral compass would be ashamed of) if you were indeed in support of the war of aggression that is the strategy of entrapment in Iraq. emc [TALK]

That the invasion could have even given us a foothold in the region is a thought, but it clearly has not been the case, and so it will be nothing more than a failed intention which has been thrown back into our face tenfold.

It would be safe to say that diplomacy failed as well if we had actually allowed the weapons inspections and diplomatic negotiations to continue. Instead, we invaded during the middle of the peace process and uprooted the efforts of the international community to deal with Iraq's doings in a responsible manner.

Weapons inspections had nothing to do with the diplomacy I'm talking about. I'm talking about trying to convince Middle Eastern powers to pursue terrorists within their respective borders. These efforts ran into a brick wall. The weapons inspectors do have a bearing on the legal case, and in that regard the inspections definitely reinforced the already solid basis for the legal case to go to war. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)
To me, this seems like a separate issue. The point I was subtly getting at was that if diplomacy was important to our foreign policy with the Middle East, and fighting global terrorism was a legitimate objective and justification with Iraq (which it was not), then diplomacy with Iraq itself over its supposed WMDs ought to have been seen as important as well. So far as diplomacy to persuade nations in the Middle East to tackle terrorism within their borders, I fail to see how the invasion of Iraq would pressure them to do so other than by instilling fear. emc [TALK]

That we could not convince any of the nations in the region to cooperate with the US in the elimination of Al Quaeda and terrorist organizations in general is true in some cases, but is not a justification for invading Iraq which only financially supported terrorism against Turkey and Iran (which are themselves state sponsors of terrorism) and expressed support for terrorism against Israel (no surprise there). According to the US State Department, Iran is and has been for some time the number one state sponsor of terrorism. The State Department has listed Iraq as one of seven states that sponsored terrorism, but experts say Iran, Syria, and, at least in the past, Pakistan, all surpassed Iraq in support for terrorist activities. Additionally, that Iraq supported Al Qaeda is obviously false, and that it actively funded terrorist attacks against the United States, like the supposed supporting of Abdul Rahman Yasin, is untrue (Iraq imprisoned Yasin and offered to hand him over to the US multiple times).

I never made the case that Iraq supported AQ. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)

Ousting the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, his predecessors, and eventual successors, is a matter which is also not justification for the invasion of Iraq. In some pro-war arguments, it seems to be a supplementary, as though this condition's presence makes it a lot like killing two birds with one stone. Again, we are not the World Police. It is not our duty to oust autocratic rulers or corrupt regimes (for if it were, we should find ourselves in numerous other countries aside from Iraq based on this).

I never made the case that the tyranny of Hussein was a justification, just that it added weight to a decision that was already necessary, and that it was a pleasant side effect. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I recognize that Iraq was an unpleasant state for its human rights violations and autocratic rule, but we've also established that this is not a pretense for going to war. It added no weight to an "already necessary decision". This is a "two birds, one stone" argument. This supplementary pro only convolutes and distorts the entire debate and distracts from the burden of providing justification for the war's invasion. emc [TALK]

To date, there exists no evidence that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. It was, for a period of time, attempting to gain WMDs, but to assume that an attempt would have been a guarantee of success is beyond logic, especially in the case of Iraq. Additionally, this rationale assumes that if they obtained WMDs, they would present a threat to us. This meets the definition of preventive war, which, "aims to forestall a shift in the balance of power by strategically attacking before the balance of power has a chance to shift in the direction of the adversary ... Due to the speculative nature of preventive war, in which the adversary may or may not be a future threat, preventive war is considered an act of aggression in international law."[2]

That there was no evidence that Iraq was in possession of wmd is patently false. While only a minor and non-essential part of my case, I will argue this, but at a later date. I will need to muster some documents and take a moment to review the situation, but I'm feeling a little lazy at the moment. I am getting the impression that you did not read my argument, since I never posited that this was a core cause for going to war, or that it was anything but something that lent weight to the legal case. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)
I'll gladly engage you in a debate on the merits of WMDs in Iraq. It is well-known that Iraq's WMDs (which it had obtained by the US, UK, France, and Germany in the Iran-Iraq War) were documented and destroyed for nearly a decade by UNSCOM and UNMOVIC. In a completely hypothetical sense, even if Iraq did possess weapons of mass destruction prior to our invasion in 2003, it would change absolutely nothing. emc [TALK]

If the cease-fire you refer to is the attack against the Kurds (I could be mistaken; if you can recall another violated cease-fire, please correct me), it should be noted that this occurred over sixteen years ago. Also, I have never heard of a US leader using the violation of the cease-fire in '92 as reason for going into Iraq -- or of Iraq's belligerence (mostly towards itself) as a reason either. It is hardly even supportive of the claim that Iraq presented a "threat".

It is not. I was referring to the terms of the ceasefire signed with the US under the auspices of the UN. These terms were violated repeatedly. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Violation of Resolutions 660 and 678 is, arguably, a legal pretense for war (though weak alone). Instead of making a case to the United Nations Security Council and seeking to acquire an additional Security Council resolution (which would have been necessary to specifically authorize the invasion), the US and UK simply invaded. This makes the invasion inherently illegal by the United States and amounts to a war of aggression, which is "the supreme international crime" according to the Nuremberg Tribunal. According to Kofi Annan, "From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it [the war] was illegal."[3] It is not acceptable to argue a legal pretense for the war after an illegal invasion. The appropriate time to argue the legal pretense for the war would have been before the UN Security Council. This was not done. The war is illegal. emc [TALK]

While I concede to the fact the Iraq did impede on various US interests in the region, I must reiterate that Iraq at the time did not present a threat. It may have presented a minor potential threat, but we were not, while our leaders were discussing and preparing the invasion, threatened. Only a strong sense of nationalistic paranoia would cause one to believe that presenting a potential threat in the future would be an appropriate condition for invasion. emc [TALK]

Again, I never argued that Iraq presented a threat. Rather, I argued that the political situation in the Middle East as a whole presented a threat sufficient to justify war. While it may seem somewhat arbitrary in this light, going to war with a region is something that's never been done before, and I think if one accepts this assumption, then it is reasonable to select Iraq as the specific target because of its particularly unpleasant nature and its strategic position as a point that borders a large portion of the Middle East. There are other factors that would make waging war on other nations in the region counterproductive, particularly Saudi Arabia, which, as I noted, was the main center of terrorism in the region. BlueSprite 13:56, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Somewhat arbitrary indeed. I would hope that you wouldn't present this argument to the citizenry of Iraq. I'm sure they may find it unpleasant to know that their country was invaded for its location in the world. "Had you been an isolated dictatorship like North Korea, or possessed a more effective military force, we might have reconsidered invading your country," you could say. Because we are talking about invading Iraq and not the Middle East as a whole, I think we ought to look towards whether or not Iraq itself presented a threat (which again, it clearly didn't). If Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, and Syria present a major threat to us, then I fail to see where invading Iraq would help nullify the other threats in the region except through the modes of fear and intimidation. Furthermore, I'd like to simply state that your claim that the Middle East presents a threat as a whole is ridiculous and unfounded. emc [TALK]
And, once it became clear that the Iraqis weren't strewing flowers in our solders' path, THAT particular plan became null and void. How are we supposed to scare the neighboring countries when it's obvious our troops are utterly tied up? But, BS (hm....) will insist that this was a failure of execution, not The Plan. Or something. --Gulik 17:30, 9 December 2008 (EST)

Strong against[edit]

It's surprising to me how few are familiar with just war theory, which, in summation, defines a just military engagement as one of national defense. Even in that circumstance, the continuation of a military campaign against a belligerent nation has to have been provoked by and mantain the follow conditions:

  1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  3. there must be serious prospects of success;
  4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
There's a number of problems with this: When the damage inflicted by the aggressor is certain and grave, a situation has generally arisen in which the balance of the conflict has tipped towards one side or another.
I would posit that rather than showing other courses of action to be impractical or inneffective, you must show that the consequences of following those courses of action are more serious than going to war.
Prospects of success are unfortunately irrelevant. When it is time for a nation to go to war, it must fight. One of the most morally objectionable things a government can do, in my view, is to fail to resist a physical assault on its survival as a state.
Your point about evils is really only valid from a universalist point of view. If you're coming at it from a survivalist point of view, then as soon as the survival of your state is threatened, it is your responsibility to use any means necessary to protect the existence of your state as the only authority which can legitimately preserve the freedoms of souls for which your state is responsible.
This just war theory is just one point of view among many about when it is morally acceptable to wage war. It seems to be the point of view of the United Nations, which in my view is one of the reasons that there is a limit to how effective the UN can be. Please do not infer from this that I think the UN is worthless, because it is incredibly valuable, just not as an international lawmaking body.
Further, all of this ignores the tremendous complexity of identifying threats to a state, the enormity of the number of players in the international scene, and the depth of calculations that people invested in the defense of a country must make, even outside of war or even the desire or immediate possibility of go to war. In short, this theory is fine if you assume that all nations are basically good, and only make aggressive national moves in a blind and lashing manner when they cease to be so. The reality is vastly more complex.
Instead, I think a better theory is based on the principle that the only valid reason to go to war is to achieve a better peace. Thus, the only way for a war to be just is if the cost of achieving a better peace is likely to be less than the cost of abiding the current one. In this event, for a war to be just, it must be shown that the consequences of not going to war are greater than doing so, which generally means that the current peace cannot be improved except through war. BlueSprite 13:12, 6 December 2008 (EST)
The main point to be made is that no act of aggression was made against the United States by Iraq, which is a primary justification for military action. If the prospects of success are irrelevant (whether they're irrelevant because they're unachievable or ambiguous as is the case of Iraq) particularly if the survival of your state is threatened, then I must again say that the initial invasion of Iraq is unjust, for our survival was not threatened.
I would have to agree that demonstrating the consequences of following alternative courses of action are more serious than going to war. I suppose it would follow a question such as, "What can war accomplish that diplomacy, economic sanctioning, and other nonviolent methods cannot?"
Don't be silly. Destruction of nations is probably one of the chief things that such things cannot achieve. Getting states to reject their core interests is another. BlueSprite 15:03, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Just war theory itself gives more complex consideration to specific matters though. Michael Walzer and Noam Chomsky have each written elaborately on situations, past and present, with the application of just war theory, particularly with the war in Iraq. These four contentions can get surprisingly specific. Furthermore, attentiveness to just war theory ought to be a prerequisite to any nation considering using military force, especially since much of just war theory is adopted by the United Nations to which the US and the UK are signatories.
I disagree. I think at least this version of just war theory is far too restrictive to policy for it to be considered anything but dangerously restricting policy options. BlueSprite 15:03, 8 December 2008 (EST)
Whereas you see this restriction of policy options (the only option seriously restricted is the use of military force) as an inherently negative thing, I see it as a positive thing. It encourages the international community and nations as a whole to consider other options before resorting to military force. emc [TALK]
The concept of using war to achieve a better peace (to whom? I ask) is a gamble -- one which happens to involve human life. I'm assuming that your earlier reference to the irrelevant prospect of success applied to the nation on the defensive (whose only real objective is to fight for survival), but I'll put this in your court: if the prospect of success is as undefined and subjective as "creating a better peace" for the aggressor, than the prospect of success for both sides is thus irrelevant (which if applied to the case of Iraq further demonstrates the butchery of the war from the beginning). --EMc 17:08, 6 December 2008 (EST)
Gambling on human life is what states do. Every choice a state makes in peace and in war affects and can destroy human life. War is simply the most dramatic illustration of this fact.
Listen, you can't separate my argument about irrelevancy of the probability of success from the circumstances I put forward for going to war. If there is cause for war, by my definitions, then it is more dangerous to do nothing than it is to go to war. If it is less dangerous to go to war, then yes, the probability of success is irrelevant because it has already been judged less risky to risk defeat than to follow a course other than war. BlueSprite 15:03, 8 December 2008 (EST)

It's quite evident that Iraq has remained a relatively dormant military power for the last fifteen years, with the exception of the Al-Anfal campaign and the '92 attacks in Kurdistan (an issue which is not at all topical to the justification for the Iraq War). Iraq posed no immediate threat to the United States and in no historical situation has ever 'attacked' the United States in any sense of the term. That they were a threat to their neighbors post-Desert Storm is arguable, yet not an immediate concern of the United States.

So far as link titlediplomacy and sanctioning are concerned, I can safely say that the extent of these measures was not exhausted yet, and so to have launched a preventive strike against Iraq before these measures were exhausted is a violation of the United Nations charter (which seem to be a part of the Bush Doctrine), to which the United States is a signatory (some diplomats seem to be forgetting that as well).

The concept of "success" in Iraq is too easy to parody. Let's not forget the impatient call of "Mission Accomplished" by the Bush Administration despite the ambiguous definition of "success" in the botched military campaign that is the Iraq War.

In last contention, I suppose you could justify the Iraq War if you were to sincerely believe it was the duty of the United States to overstep the United Nations and be dubbed the "World Police". It'd be misplaced of me to apologize for the apparent religious origin of the fourth condition in just war theory (given it was a Vatican-endorsed concept), but I would if I could.

Thus far, the "four ways a country can loses its sovereignty according to international law" have been refuted. Iraq's only experimental nuclear facility was summarily destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in '81. There is still no existing evidence to support the claim that Iraq has been attempting to produce weapons of mass destruction since then. Iraq became a vaccuum for terrorism in Baqubah and Tal Afar only after the ignition of the powder keg by the US-led invasion in '03.

In addition, that Iraq lost sovereignty is wholly untrue (see above), and even if by the definition under international law it could have, it was in no way a decision for United States leaders to make.

The last remaining justification for the invasion of Iraq is Iraq's supposed violation of UN resolution 1441. During the United Nations' investigation and utilization of diplomacy and economic sanctions, the impatient United States invaded with the sole support of the United Kingdom (the US claimed that Poland was an "ally" two days before they withdrew their support) which was, as already noted, a violation of UN policy in itself.

The United States was wrong in jus ad bellum and is still wrong jus in bello. --EMc 00:19, 6 December 2008 (EST)

As a big Michael Walzer fan--well done, well argued. PFoster 00:21, 6 December 2008 (EST)

Another strong against[edit]

1. Irresponsible development of nuclear weapons Violating the non-proliferation act in letter or spirit.

Pretty much moot since Israel blew up their reactor in what, the early 80s?

2. Invading and aggression against other sovereign nations Iran, Kuwait.

Iran, armed and encouraged by the US. Kuwait, armed by the US (previously) and not discouraged to do so. Also, that was over a decade before we invaded them.

3. Genocide: 'nuff said.

Bad, yes. Solution, invasion and occupation? No. PS, if we are talking about the Kurds, and I think we are, Hussein gassed them with poison (WMD) supplied by the US that was intended to be used against the Iranians (see above).

4. Playing hosts to terrorists etc. Also 'nuff said, it was a retirement village for terrorists.

Saddam paying Palestinian survivors of suicide bombers cash, abhorrent. Solution, invasion and occupation? No.

The West succeeded in ending apartheid in South Africa without firing a single bullet or dropping a single bomb, once serious public pressure resulted in financial disassociation. The (illegal) invasion and occupation, based on proven lies, violated all modern international norms, thus removing its moral imperative (points 3 and 4). Isolating Iraq economically (as they already were militarily) and putting strong international pressure on Hussein to clean up his act would have done the job - in my opinion. If Iraq was even the most pressing issue of the time. Again, in my opinion, the most pressing issue of the time was getting the Bush criminal conspiracy out of the White House. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:07, 7 December 2008 (EST)

Random reply to a comment above: "Iraq was ... collateral damage". How cold can you be? How would you like to be "collateral damage" in someone else's geopolitical gaming? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:12, 7 December 2008 (EST)
Remember, it's only 'deaths' if they're white. Brown-skinned folks are just "collateral damage". --Gulik 23:21, 7 December 2008 (EST)

There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Bush knew it.[edit]

BBC Sez: Report concludes no WMD in Iraq
on the other hand,
Fox News says: Whoohoo! They FOUND SOME! In your FACE you filthy peacenik traitors!

The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s.

....Well, drat. --Gulik 23:21, 7 December 2008 (EST)

Absolute nonsense. Fmr. Senator Santorum is a fearmongerer and infamous distorter of facts.[4] --e|m|c [TALK] 19:12, 12 December 2008 (EST)
There were WMD in Iraq and the New York Times knew it! nobsIt all depends what ISIS is. 20:34, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

Al Qaeda weren't in Iraq until we LET them in[edit]

Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed --Gulik 23:21, 7 December 2008 (EST)

This all depends upon what "Iraq" is. If by "Iraq", you mean the Iraqi regime, or Saddam's regime, that has one meaning. If by Iraq, you mean the territory of Iraq, which includes Kurdistan, that has another meaning. A terrorist entity openly declared its allegiance to al Qaeda in Oct. 2004 (after 8 months of negotiation). The same entity had been operating a chemical weapons compound in Kurdistan since before the U.S. invasion in Mar. 2003 . Whether the entity was under Saddam's direct control, or operated with or without Saddam's consent is immaterial. Either way (operating with or without Saddam's knowledge and consent), Saddam himself as sovereignWikipedia's W.svg is responsible. If the chemical weapons lab is operating with Saddam's consent in violation of international law, he's responsible. If the chemical weapons lab is operating in territory supposedly under his sovereignty and he is powerless to stop it, he has lost his sovereignty and is in violation of international law for pretending to be a sovereign. nobsIt all depends what ISIS is. 20:22, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

How many bombs do we have to drop to make them stop hating us?[edit]

It's weird--like the more bombs you drop, the angrier they get! --Gulik 19:02, 8 December 2008 (EST)

Faulty premise re state sovereignty[edit]

I know nobody has updated this page in six years but that doesn't mean there aren't still people looking at it and I can't sit here and watch such an incorrect reading of international law go unaddressed. The first thing to realise is that there is no way under international law that a state can "lose" its sovereignty because a state is by definition sovereign. To argue that Iraq had lost its sovereignty under IL would be to argue that Iraq wasn't a state. To do that you'd have to argue (as according to the Montevideo Convention) that it either a) didn't have a population, b) didn't have a defined territory, c) didn't have a government or d) didn't have capacity to enter into relations with other states. Whilst Iraq was run by a murderous dictator who had without question committed international crimes of the highest order, Iraq was still by the Montevideo criteria a state, so it is by definition sovereign.

The closest thing to what Hitchens is referring is the concept of a jus cogens norm within international law. To understand what that means you just need a very short (and naturally incomplete) primer in how international law is made. International law is not like domestic law which, generally speaking, is made by national legislatures, courts, etc. International law, meanwhile, is made by states and is done so via agreements (treaties) or custom. Customary law is made by how states act. So if states over a course of time enter into agreements with each other or in some way formalise a means to, say, stop using AK-47 rifles in wars, over a period of time, if the practise becomes common enough to form some kind of consensus, it'll be part of international law. This also works the other way - if states start using them a great deal, things can become legitimised. Around these elements formed by custom, there is essentially still a "debate" going on.

A jus cogens norm is a tenet of international law around which debate is said to have ceased, and therefore any state (or perhaps more accurately, state official) who violates the law in this case can be said to be committing a crime not just against their population, but against the international community in general (this is partially where the idea of a "crime against humanity" comes from). There is some debate around what constitutes a jus cogens crime, but generally speaking most IL lawyers would accept that the following crimes are jus cogens in international law: slavery, piracy, torture, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. There is, in these instances, a duty upon states to prosecute individuals responsible for these crimes, and there may be the case for military intervention in states which condone these activities. However, aside from state sovereignty, one of the most fundamental principles in international law regarding the use of force is that it can only be done in two instances: either in self-defense or with the approval of the security council. That means that states are not permitted to "prevent or punish", say, genocide by the use of military force without security council approval. "Prevent or punish" is interpreted broadly and it can mean economic sanctions or referral to the International Criminal Court. Military force without security council approval is to be avoided at all costs.

Debating the morality of the war is one thing, but Hitchens is making very specific and startlingly incorrect legal points. It's important to remember that Hitchens, whilst at times a compelling writer and speaker, was not a lawyer and had no legal expertise, certainly not in international law, whatsoever. It looks like he's simply reading the conventions and putting his own, novel take on them. In my opinion, furthermore, he saw himself as something of a fighter and really felt he had a duty to "argue his case" for something in which he passionately believed. That can be an admirable trait (though I think not in this instance) but I think what happened here is that Hitchens wanted to believe in the war so badly that he ended up making a whole bunch of spurious arguments that just made him look like an ideologue rather than a rational person. You can argue the Iraq war was moral, you can even argue it was legal, but you can't argue that it was so under the criteria Hitchens lines out. Hitchens arguments in this case, to borrow a phrase, are not even wrong. — Unsigned, by: ‎Admiral angry / talk / contribs

Short response to faulty premise[edit]

One of those that came across this,
The most common definition of the State is Weber's, it includes the idea that one group must exercise a monopoly on the use of force within its given territory. This was arguably (almost certainly) not true in the case of Saddam, therefore arguably not a State.
It seems like these criteria have some base then, by your definition Saddam already violates 2 of those principles. i.e genocide and aggression
There isn't quite consensus but non-proliferation is arguably on that list as well (minus the hypocrisy of certain western powers whom Hitch would mention)
Harboring international terrorists is more of a grey area, if these people took part in crimes against humanity it could be argued.— Unsigned, by: Blamelogic / talk / contribs 23:01, 5 February 2016