The Iraq War – Should we have gone? Part I

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

As I argued in the first post of this series, if someone views terrorism as primarily criminal acts instead of acts of war, it is unlikely they will see any justification for the war in Iraq, and that is at the root of much of the current debate. Yet even if it is agreed that we are engaged in a war on terrorism, it does not automatically follow that we should have gone to war in Iraq. In the current debate it is almost taken as a given that the Iraq war was a mistake, and even many former supporters no longer defend it. This lack of defense stems from a number of factors ranging from an actual change of opinion, to the fact that in the current debate over the war, whether or not we should have gone in the first place is seen as largely irrelevant to the question of what we should do now. Yet I believe that the question of should we have gone to war in the first place is key, for I believe we should have gone in, and the reasons we should are important to understanding why it is so vital that not only should we stay but that we must win.

The reason that most people know is Weapons of Mass Destruction or WMDs. While some were found, the large stock piles that were expected never were. As a result, for the far left this quickly became the only reason, and their absence, proof that Bush lied. The issue of missing WMD’s is so complex, and so politicized, and with still so many unanswered questions that it’s ultimate unraveling, barring any new revelation, will probably be many years in the future. Of course for the Bush-lied crowd, no further answers are needed.

But for those who seek a rational explanation, serious questions remain, such as why were so many intelligent agencies around the world mistaken? (If the Bush-lied crowed is correct, Bush would have to be the smartest person in the world for he was able to discern what no one else could see!) If Saddam didn’t have them, why did he continually block the inspectors from full access? Why did his top Generals believe he had them? Why didn’t Saddam comply with UN Resolution 1441, which gave him a “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations?” The 2nd in command of the Iraqi Air Force has said the weapons were flown to Syria in the months leading up to the war; was he telling the truth? Others claimed that the Russians moved the weapons and destroyed evidence of their existence. Duelfer said they could not “definitively say whether or not WMD materials were transferred out of Iraq before the war” and Kay said “There is ample evidence of movement to Syria before the war — satellite photographs, reports on the ground of a constant stream of trucks, cars, rail traffic across the border. We simply don’t know what was moved.” The only thing that can be said for certain, is that he did have them at one point (after all he used them); he did violate 17 UN resolutions asking him to account for them; and yet no large stockpiles have been found.

Despite the fact that no large stockpiles of WMDs were found, there are two reasons why this does not affect the decision to invade. The first is the simple fact that all decisions must, by definition, be limited to the evidence available at the time. It would be nice to be able to wave a wand and have all the information we would like, but then if such fantasies were possible, it would also be nice to just wave a wand and have all those who oppress and threaten others become nice friendly people. Magic wand do not exist, so unfortunately, decisions must be made in the real world, and given the evidence available at the time even most critics of the war believed Saddam had WMDs.

The second consideration is that given the fact that Saddam was in violation of UN resolution, as Donald Rumsfeld pointed out before the war, “the burden of proof is not on the United Nations or on the inspectors to prove that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The burden of proof is on the Iraqi regime to prove that it is disarming, as required by the successive U.N. resolutions.” It was Saddam responsibility to show that it did not have weapons, and yet they continually blocked and impeded the U.N. inspectors. If someone is holding a gun to a child’s head, and refuses numerous demands to put the gun down, and so is shot and killed by police, would it make the police’s decision to shoot wrong if it were later found out that the gun was not loaded? Of course not.

On the other hand, if we are going to focus on information learned after the invasion, along with fact that no large stockpiles of WMDs were found, we must also include the fact that Saddam Saddam intended to produce them  after sanctions were dropped and worked hard to undermined them. One thing the war did uncover was that the Oil for Food program had been thoroughly corrupted by Saddam and was being used to funnel billions to undermine the sanctions. In fact, given what has been learned, it is very likely that some of the countries which opposed the war were being influence by Oil for Food money from Saddam. Thus without the war, it is very likely that by now the sanctions would have already collapsed and that Saddam would be producing WMDs.

So if one looks at all the evidence, in context, this still is a valid reason for the Iraq war. Though admittedly one that does not lend itself to the sound-bite debates that drive current politics. Still it was not the only reason, and in the next post I will look at some of the others reasons, some of which are just as much a factor for staying as for going in the first place.

May 21st, 2007

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