Ovid (publius_ovidius) wrote,

Year-Old Thoughts on the Iraq War

(Reposted to clean up the formatting. Sorry 'bout that)

pdx42 stumbled across an old post of mine to a local mailing list and requested that I post it here. This was originally posted about a year ago, so some of the information might be outdated, but it's still an interesting read.

--- "*******" <*******> wrote:
> Hussein's human rights atrocities are much worse than most of the
> nations on your list of those we should attack.

"Much worse than most"?

I dunno. In reading what Amnesty International has to say (and I think it's a given that they're probably a *wee* bit more knowledgeable about human rights than most), Iraq seems to be about the middle of the pack.

(I'm surprised that Amnesty has as much information as they do since N. Korea is about as closed as Albania under Enver Hoxha)

Of course, if you want to read a long, depressing litany of human rights violations, just check out the USA Section.

Mind you, the above nations were merely the one's on Deprived's list (he's a friend who has posted to the list this email was originally on). There are still plenty of other nations out there whose governments have behaved as despicably as Iraq, if not more so. This isn't about "freeing" a people. Frankly, I don't know what it's about. However, we can ask ourselves if this is a Just War. When Bush Sr. referred to Gulf War I as having "just cause", he was referring to the "jus ad bellum" (Just Cause of War) principles. There are actually a number of internationally recognized principles that comprise "just cause", so it's worth asking if we have just cause.

  1. The war must be declared by legitimate authority.
  2. The threat must be lasting, grave, and certain.
  3. All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective.
  4. There must be a real chance of success.
  5. The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.

So, taking this in reverse order:

5. Given that "President" Bush refuses to rule out the use of nuclear "bunker busters", this one is still very much in the air.

4. How do we define success? Did you see "President" Bush's speech where he announced our first missile strikes? I don't have a copy of his comments in front of me, I do recall he kept stressing, over and over, how we need to fight terrorism. We send in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard (they're over there?) to ensure that we don't have to send in our police, firemen and paramedics.

With such a strong emphasis on doing this to suppress terrorism, it appears that while our goal of removing Hussein will probably succeed, this will likely make the other goal fail.

3. Essentially, this means a war of last resort. Is it a war of last resort? After much pressure (something I give the Bush administration some grudging credit for), we finally got inspectors back in Iraq and they were actually showing signs of progress. Rather than let things go too far, however, we decided to attack. While the UN resolution 1441 required serious consequences for non-compliance, it never said war. Never. While I certainly blame France for being frickin' stupid and saying "we'll never agree to war", the US administration was just as stupid in saying "we'll never agree to anything *but* war".

So, was this a war of last resort? Only if someone believes it was either war or giving up. The inspectors went back into Iraq in late November of last year, they spent a few weeks getting up to speed and by the end of February, we made it clear that we were going to war. Three months to search a country? (and with the US making bold claims about WMD but refusing to share intelligence). What a joke.

2. The threat from Iraq had to be real. Yeah, right. We saw them rattling their sabers this time. This is an impoverished country, riddled with starvation and disease and whose military has been sharply restricted to defensive capabilities. We have to remember that Gulf War I never ended. We've been bombing this country continuously since the early nineties (using the very illegal no-fly zones).

1. How do we determine if the war was declared by legitimate authority? Did we hurt our legitimacy when we cited plagiarized intelligence reports to support our case? Did we hurt our legitimacy when we cited forged documents to support our case? (Even our intelligence services were reported to doubt their authenticity.) Did we hurt our credibility when we repeatedly tried to tie Iraq to Al Qaeda, but our own intelligence services deny the link? Did we hurt our credibility by trying to "buy" the support of other nations? (and got to watch Ari Fleischer get laughed out of a press conference for denying it?)

Frankly, I don't think that lying and bribing are tools of a "legitimate authority".

There are five criteria to be met for "Just Cause of War". If only one or two of those was in doubt, then perhaps we might argue we have just cause, but given that four of the five criteria are in doubt, we clearly do not have "Just Cause". (and the fifth may be violated if Bush makes good on his threat to allow us to pre-emptively use nukular (sic) weapons).

The USA has world-wide sympathy and support after 9/11, even from our many of our staunchest enemies. We have worked very, very hard to squander this. With the majority of the world opposing our behavior, we have to ask how our nation (where, according to some polls, almost half us believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11) has come to believe, once again, that we are right. I've actually heard people babble that we support this war when the rest of the world doesn't because we're so much more knowledgeable than the rest of the world. American arrogance at its finest.

Incidentally, if you read through that list again, you'll see that it's possible that we might have had Just Cause had we handled this situation differently. If we had, we likely wouldn't be facing world-wide opposition to this debacle. I don't dispute that Saddam should go, but pissing on the rest of the world is hardly the way to go about it.

Side note: for any who are curious about US law on this matter, ponder Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution (emphasis mine):

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
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