Sunday, January 16, 2005

War in Iraq, justified or not?

A friend of mine asked in the comments if the war in Iraq is still justified since no WMD's were ever found. From past experience I know that I can never prove to anyone opposed to this war's satisfaction that it was the right thing to do, or the moral thing to do. It's the same as arguing religion. I can try to argue against the negative case though, and here's one attempt:

Some arguments against war, and this war:
- All war is wrong and immoral
- This war is wrong because it is illegal
- This war is wrong because it is the wrong war in the wrong place in the wrong time.

All war is wrong and immoral.
This is the pacifist's argument and is completely viable in a world where there are no violent people or countries. It's a beautiful thing to be a pacifist, as long as you are willing to watch someone kill your family, friends and neighbors and do nothing. Once you are willing to fight, then it is just a question of who, what and when you are willing to fight.

The Iraq war was wrong because it was illegal
This argument says that the only legal wars are when you are attacked, or if the UN authorizes the war. The UN resolutions called for Iraq to positively prove WMD disarmament or face severe consequences. The last resolution asked for by the US that would have asked for war and removal of Saddam was never passed due to opposition by France and Russia. We knew then that France and Russia had economic reasons for keeping Saddam in power, we know now that using money stolen from the Oil for food program, Saddam had bribed the leaders of those nations as well. There was no way that a UN resolution explicitly calling for war would ever have passed the veto of france and russia. Whether the existing resolutions calling for severe consquences were enough to grant legality is something that can be argued over, but never solved.

This war is wrong because it was the wrong war in the wrong place in the wrong time.
This could be called the Kerry argument. Saddam is evil, it would be nice to get rid of him, just we should have waited, or we should have had better or more proof. This is rebutted in the Duelfer report of last fall, which was trumpeted in the press as "no WMD's found", when the
first page of the report summarizes how Saddam's goal was to end sanctions, then reconstitute his WMD programs.

Saddam Husayn so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted.
Whether or not the WMD's existed, or were taken to Syria, Saddam was the true WMD and had to be removed before sanctions were ended or became ineffective.

From President Bush's speech just before the war:

We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities.

The cause of peace requires all free nations to recognize new and undeniable realities. In the 20th century, some chose to appease murderous dictators, whose threats were allowed to grow into genocide and global war. In this century, when evil men plot chemical, biological and nuclear terror, a policy of appeasement could bring destruction of a kind never before seen on this earth.

Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations -- and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.

Some links from the run- up to war:

Iraq in material breach of UN Resolutions (8/02) (Dec 02)
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said today that Iraq had violated a United Nations resolution by turning over what he said was a false and incomplete list of its weapons, a finding that he said could lead to "serious consequences."

WMD's moved to Syria


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