Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Yes I Still Support The Iraq War

This last week marked the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War and so it offered many pundits a chance to write anguished pieces of self examination in which they told why they wish they had opposed the Iraq War. (Then there's the variant in which those who were opposed all along snear at those who are late to the anti-war party.)

My reactionary tendency revolts against the late breaking attempt to jump on the band wagon, but even setting that aside I can't find it in myself to see toppling Saddam Hussein's dictatorship as an unworthy endeavour. If anything, the main injustice I see in the Iraq War was in not having gone all the way to Bagdad in 1991. We left the Iraqi people hanging out to dry in 1991, allowing Hussein to crush the uprising which we encouraged but failed to support. Hussein remained a brutal dictator, but one ruling at our sufferance from 1991 to 2003. I think removing him at any point during that time would have been a just and noble action.

Certainly, there is a great deal that could have been done better in the aftermath of the invasion and toppling of the regime. I wish that it had been done better and that suffering and loss of life, both Iraqi and American, had thus been less. It seems odd, however, to argue that ending Hussein's dictatorship could only be just if we knew for a certainty ahead of time that all of our actions in the region afterwards would be carried out with competence and success.

There's a lot that the Bush Administration can be blamed for, and in many ways the Iraq War and its aftermath were ill-managed. But even in its current unpopularity, I still support the basic justice of seeking to finish the job that we started in 1991 and end one of the world's nastier little dictatorships while it was still easy to do so.


August said...

The key to understanding that we should be against the war is to understand we don't get what we supposedly went to war for in the first place. Saddam is gone, but the Iraqi people still suffer and are arguably in a worse position now. The ethnic fighting is likely to kill more people than the Baathist regime did, and it should go without saying our war on their soil certainly contributed to innocent Iraqis dying. As for our own position, our meddling in the Middle East tends to destabilize the region and incites hatred against us. Indeed, Saddam Hussein existed in the first place because of U.S. policies against Iran, so even his harsh regime is evidence against D.C.'s foolish policies. The game continues, with these 'Arab Spring' movements and continued bellicose statements coming from the State Department with regard to Syria and Iran. Unfortunately, our tax money pays for this propaganda, and it is train we should all want to get off. It ought to be clear by now that the D.C. objective is continuous war, made easier by demonizing bad foreign leaders who can't possibly beat the U.S. military- at least until one of our idiot leaders upsets Russia and/or China because, frankly, they aren't going to put up with too much more of this.

Benjamin I. Espen said...

The Iraq war messy and expensive, but I don't really see any other way we could have handled it. The first Gulf War and the subsequent toppling of Qaddafi give us interesting contrasts.

In 1991, we fought a quick and painless war, that didn't really settle anything, so we spent the next decade enforcing a no-fly zone against Iraq. This defacto state of continuing war had to stop eventually. My late friend John Reilly liked to point out that there were many just reasons to go to war with Iraq, but perhaps more than anything else at some point we either had to conquer Iraq or slink home because we were committed to protecting the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs.

The 2003 war cost a lot of money and lives, but we stuck around to try and keep the chaos from spreading, which seems to have actually worked despite obvious screwups.

The civil war in Libya was completed with the ignominious death of Qaddafi, another cheap and painless war, but at least this one left us without lingering responsibilities. But having left the locals to fend for themselves, now weapons and fighters are spilling out and causing havoc in nearby countries, but since our guys aren't dying that apparently isn't our problem.

Kristin said...

How do you respond to the common argument that the decision to go to war was based on false claims and/or a desire for oil? If these claims are true (and I'm not 100% convinced that they are), then I don't think going to war was justified.

Darwin said...


The idea that the US invaded Iraq in order to gain control of its oil strikes me as deeply implausible, and I think that's pretty well born out by the fact that we didn't seize and exploit Iraqi oil once we did in fact invade.

False claims perhaps needs a little more parsing. It was well established that Hussein had repeatedly tried to lay his hands on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It was thought pretty likely that he currently had the former two, and was making at least some efforts to get hold of the last. What was perhaps arguable is whether the WMD issue with Iraq had become measurably worse in 2003 than it had been in prior years. Arguably not. I think what changed (and what caused the run-up to war) was that the US's willingness to put up with letting Hussein fool around with possible WMDs reduced considerable because of 9-11.

What I think was a surprise to everyone was when things came up as empty as they did when the US invaded. Even a lot of Iraqi soldiers and generals apparently expected chemical weapons to be deployed by Hussein.

Art Deco said...

The key to understanding that we should be against the war is to understand we don't get what we supposedly went to war for in the first place. Saddam is gone, but the Iraqi people still suffer and are arguably in a worse position now. The ethnic fighting is likely to kill more people than the Baathist regime did,

The death toll from political violence is currently running at about 4,000 persons per year and is almost entirely confined to six provinces where live about 40% of the population. The reported death toll from political violence during the period running from 1958 to 2003 and from the Iran-Iraq War is likely very soft data, but conventional figures offered up are in the range of 1.3 million. Unless you are anticipating a ghastly eight years long war between Iraq and Syria, Iraq and Turkey, Iraq and Iran, or Iraq and Saudi Arabia conjoined to 50 years of car bombings, I think we have a ways to go. Keep in mind, the violence is largely the work of Sunni gangs who fancy they've a right to rule the other 82% of the population.