Third Party & Independents Archives

Jus Ad Bellum

I post this question with some pause, because I know it is a subject that is of great debate and controversy. However, I’ve come to respect the opinions of the contributors to Watchblog, and would genuinely like to hear the opinions of my colleagues regarding the “justness” of the Iraq War.

The question is: Is the war in Iraq a Just War?

First, to set the stage, I did a bit of reading from Cicero, St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Thomas Aquinas, all pretty heavy thinkers for their time. The synthesis of their opinions regarding the justification of war has been codified in the following seven rules:

Rules for a "Just War" (Source - Wikipedia online encyclopedia)

Just Cause - Force may be used only to correct a grave, public evil, i.e. aggression, self defense, massive violation of the basic rights of whole populations;

Comparative Justice - While there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to override the presumptions against the use of force, the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other;

Legitimate Authority - Only duly constituted public authorities may use deadly force or wage war;

Right Intention - Force may be used on ly in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose; Correcting a suffered wrong is considered a right intention, while material gain is not.

Probability of Success - Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success;

Proportionality - The overall destruction expected from the ue of force must be outweighed by the good to be achieved.

Last Resort - Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted.

When I read these rules justifying war, I must conclude that the war in Iraq is not justified on its own merits. I do not believe the the criteria of Legitimate Authority, Probability of Success, or Last Resort was met. My belief is that the United States had no legal authority to act unilaterally against Iraq. I do not believe that the United Nations authorized the United States' and coalition forces invasion of Iraq. I do not believe the Probability of Success criteria has been satisfied, as while we have successfully removed Saddam Hussein from power, we have not succeeded if one of the primary justifications supporting the Just Cause criteria was to make the people of Iraq safer. I do not believe we satisfied the Last Resort criteria as we had an opportunity to continue weapons inspections indefinitely and to maintain the containment actions that had been in place with Iraq since the end of the first Gulf War.

Now, I realize this is a somewhat academic exercise, since I expect few people consult a "rule book" before deciding to go to war. However, the criteria listed above do provide for the basis of a good debate.

From my perspective, the war in Iraq is not justified. I would like to hear what you think. What is your opinion?


Best Regards,

Dennis

Posted by Dennis at September 20, 2005 4:36 PM
Comments
Comment #81642

“Legitimate Authority - Only duly constituted public authorities may use deadly force or wage war;

Probability of Success - Arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success;

Proportionality - The overall destruction expected from the ue of force must be outweighed by the good to be achieved.

Last Resort - Force may be used only after all peaceful and viable alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted.”

Someone forgot to mention these things to the leaders of Al Queda.

Posted by: bugcrazy at September 20, 2005 5:22 PM
Comment #81644

Just War - Yes. As well as overdue.

Handled properly? No.

The Case for Invading Iraq

Right Action, Wrong Reasons

The Legal Basis for Preemption


Posted by: Rhinehold at September 20, 2005 5:30 PM
Comment #81645

” Someone forgot to mention these things to the leaders of Al Queda.”

True, and as we all know two wrongs make a right!

Posted by: jbob at September 20, 2005 5:41 PM
Comment #81649

“Someone forgot to mention these things to the leaders of Al Queda.”

Very true. But I fail to see what that has to do with this? Especially after Cheney, Rumsfeld and others have stated no Al qaeda connections with Iraq.

Posted by: chantico at September 20, 2005 5:54 PM
Comment #81654

I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq; but you have had to narrow the points to fit your view.

The United States government is duly constituted.

I think that a government able to defend itself, and replacing a brutal dictatorship, is still a very likely outcome (but not an easy one); and the the United States certainly did not KNOW going in that it had an inadequate chance of success.

Last resort is entirely another issue. I do not think the United States met this. However, read some Iraqi bloggers - and how they felt the United States was not going to invade after Saddam played games with the arms inspectors. You might get a little different view.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 20, 2005 6:07 PM
Comment #81657

May I congratulate the Republicans for the Progress being made in Iraq? As you know, we have passed the 1900 dead mark in this Republican War. I extend my admiration and awe on the GOP for its success in killing so many for so little gain. One hopes that such profound dedication and competence shall show itself again in our imminent war against Iran and North Korea. Perhaps Halliburton and other core Conservative Constituents will once again reap the profits for these Spreading of Freedoms. Did I mention that gambling websites are taking bets on when the 2000 mark is passed? More profit for the GOP!!!

Remember, we are fighting them there so we won’t fight them here!!!

Posted by: Aldous at September 20, 2005 6:14 PM
Comment #81659

Dennis,

“Now, I realize this is a somewhat academic exercise, since I expect few people consult a “rule book” before deciding to go to war.”

You can have a nice philosophical discussion from this post, but I have to raise this question:

What is the American “rule book” for going to war?

That seems a bit more relevant than a “rule book” devised by a bunch of dead philosophers.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 20, 2005 6:16 PM
Comment #81673

By those definitions it is easy to make the case that the Iraq war was justified and therefore Just.

However, if one uses equality of harm and benefit as an equation for measuring whether war did more harm than not engaging in war, then a very strong case can be made that the Iraq war was an unjust war. What good is a doctor’s oath to do no harm if the doctor saves a patient’s leg, but, the surgical stress kills the patient? This is the standars I always use to determine if an action is, was, just or not based on the best available and honest appreciation of information at the time a decision is to be made.

At the time we invaded Iraq, there was no imminent threat, and our intelligence community had that information. There was no delivery system for Iraq to deliver WMD to the US even if they had WMD. The crimes against humanity were largely, but not completely, in the past. Has the war killed, maimed, and created hardship for far more people than would have been the case had we not invaded? I think the answer is unequivocally, yes, and therefore, the war was no just.

Other criteria produce other results.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 20, 2005 7:32 PM
Comment #81675

David,

“The crimes against humanity in the past”: Do not try to get a majority vote on that proposition in Iraq

Sorry, Iraq bloggers still say that whatever suffering they have gone through in the last three years has been worth getting rid of Saddam. And Iraqi’s are the only one to weigh that particular balance.

If you are going to weigh the cost in lives to the United States alone - of course you are right. Iraq posed no military threat to the United States.

So: if the goal is liberating the Iraqi’s - just war

If the goal is protecting the United States directly - Unjust war.

Long term strategic protection offered by stable, democratic friend in region - well that is a big question.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 20, 2005 7:43 PM
Comment #81678

Iraqi Bloggers? HA!!! Considering that Conservatives are willing to hire “independent” shills to promote their agenda, it would not surprise me if that is the case here. Besides, it would be the height of stupidity for an innocent Iraqi to publicly post his disapproval of the war. Last thing you want is for a one-way trip to Abu Ghraib for some pyramid time.

Posted by: Aldous at September 20, 2005 8:01 PM
Comment #81680

What is the American “rule book” for going to war?

That seems a bit more relevant than a “rule book” devised by a bunch of dead philosophers.

Posted by Stephanie at September 20, 2005 06:16 PM
—————————

Stephanie, I really WOULD like to see the American rule book. Got a copy handy?

Posted by: Dennis at September 20, 2005 8:07 PM
Comment #81681

—-
Stephanie, I really WOULD like to see the American rule book. Got a copy handy?
—-

Rule #1: Money Talks!

Posted by: tony at September 20, 2005 8:10 PM
Comment #81682

JCHFleetguy,

terrific reply,

Sorry, Iraq bloggers still say that whatever suffering they have gone through in the last three years has been worth getting rid of Saddam. And Iraqi’s are the only one to weigh that particular balance.

If you are going to weigh the cost in lives to the United States alone - of course you are right. Iraq posed no military threat to the United States.

So: if the goal is liberating the Iraqi’s - just war

If the goal is protecting the United States directly - Unjust war.

Long term strategic protection offered by stable, democratic friend in region - well that is a big question.

————————-

On the “long term strategic protection offered by stable, democratic friend”… Will they be a friend? I truly hope so.

Posted by: Dennis at September 20, 2005 8:11 PM
Comment #81684

Several excellent replies, thanks very much.

Now, what should the test for going to war be?

Posted by: Dennis at September 20, 2005 8:12 PM
Comment #81685

Aldous,

Ah! Nationalism and racism rear their head - how could Iraqi bloggers know about Iraq; and of course if they disagree with you massah must be in charge.

There are plenty of anti-government and anti-war Iraq blogs - Saddam isn’t there anymore. I read both so I can give you a list if you want to filter your “truth” properly.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 20, 2005 8:20 PM
Comment #81687

Someone forgot to mention these things to the leaders of Al Queda.
Posted by: bugcrazy at September 20, 2005 05:22 PM

True, except Al Queda had nothing to do with Iraq, and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11!!!

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at September 20, 2005 8:30 PM
Comment #81689

Paul

Terrorism is fungible. Iraq had no operational link to 9/11, but Iraq supported terrorism around the region, openly and surreptitiously. Beyond that, you may recall that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi fled to Iraq after we drove him out of Afghanistan nearly two years before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Maybe he wasn’t allied with Saddam, but of all the countries in all the world where he could have fled, he chose Iraq.


Aldous

Numbers are always interesting. In all the time we spent fighting various bad guys since 9/11, we lost about 2/3 as many people as we lost on 9/11. We also know that around 1800 U.S. military personnel died annually as the result of training incidents, ordinary automobile accidents etc during the peacetimes of the 1980s. If you check the BBC story I referenced on the other side of this blog, you see that almost 12,000 died as a result of a heat wave in 2003. Statistics are interesting things. A number taken out of context can mean almost anything.

Posted by: jack at September 20, 2005 9:07 PM
Comment #81695

Just cause-
self defense and “liberating” the Iraqis are both just causes. However, Self-defense doesn’t really fly in this case because there was not a real threat.

Comparative justice-
Considering the nature of the conflict, this one is difficult to quantify. What was the harm to the US? Who is harmed the most by US invasion? I don’t know that it applies in this case

Legitimate Authority-
President Bush technically has the authority to go to war, if allowed by congress, which also happened. No real argument on this one, although I can think one up about how manipulating the intelligence negates the authority granted by the people. It’s also been argued that congress was manipulated and lied to, but I really think they were just spineless wimps.

Right intention-
The neocon goal of increasing American Hegemony in the region is not a right intention. Again, if the war was sold as being to liberate the Iraqis, this would not be in question. The ever-changing rational, however, leaves in question what the intention even is, let alone whether it is a “Right” intention

Probability of success and proportionallity are debateable.

Last resort-
Clearly No. There was no imminent threat, there were no WMDs, and Bush wasn’t even willing to let the weapons inspectors finish.

So, I think it can be argued both ways, except on the last resort rule, which was clearly violated. Also, I think that that one is the most important. If we’re going to lose thousands of American lives, we better make sure that they were actually necessary.

I agree with David that the benefit to America should be weighed extremely highly in deciding whether to go to war or not, but principally in a negative sense, as in harm to America could prevent us from going to war for a just cause, but material benefits short of self-defense are not justification for fighting an otherwise unjust war.

Jack,
How do you get that terrorism is fungible? Terrorists are not capable of or motivated to attack all countries equally. An attack on Israel is not the same as an attack on us, no matter how close our relations.

Yes, people die from things besides war. However, 1900 young, healthy American are now dead because of the war, and they would not otherwise be. That is a BAD THING. I would suggest that trying to minimize it is antithetical to supporting and valuing our soldiers, but we all know that Republicans are the patriotic ones, right?

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 20, 2005 9:27 PM
Comment #81697

Brian

The classic problem with anyone doing anything at all is that others can point to the real costs and pretend that other courses of action would have been cost free.

1900 men killed is a cause of distress. But if you compare leaving Saddam in power without sanctions, which without WMD would have been the result-right, it is probably lesser number than we could have expected from the other courses.

That is your choice. We didn’t invade and destroy a peaceful kingdom. We overthrew a tyrant responsible for provoking war with four of his neighbors. A man who had committed genocide, who had claimed to be a deadly enemy of the U.S. and whose oil for bribes programs was helping him avoid the pain of sanctions, while according to humanitarian groups 50,000 Iraqi children died each year unnecessarily. This was a really bad guy. If we had not gone in, he would still be there.

Let me preempt the “U.S. armed Saddam crowd” that by now is preparing to write their baseless drivel. The U.S. was responsible for 0.46% of Saddam’s arsenal – less than provided by Brazil or the Czech Republic.

Posted by: Jack at September 20, 2005 10:07 PM
Comment #81700

Thanks Jack, the human cost of the sanctions had slipped out of my mind.

With sanctions we could kill 50000 Iraqis a year with no loss of US life. Gee, that would be the right thing to do wouldn’t it? [Sarcasm alert]

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 20, 2005 10:38 PM
Comment #81701

Now, does that make the last resort argument a little less clear. The argument that we could have left sanctions in place and given the inspectors more time to get around Saddam’s foot-dragging was not cost free in human lives, was it?

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 20, 2005 10:41 PM
Comment #81704

Jack,
Yes, there would have been a cost to doing nothing. However, your conjecture on what that cost would be is just that, conjecture. You assume that the sanctions would be lifted. You assume that even if the sanctions were lifted, he would be able to get his hands on nuclear material. Both of those possibilities are big requirements.
The occupation has costs, too, beyond the American dead. Who knows how our treatment of our allies will come back to bite us next time there is another threat. The constitution in Iraq sets up a loose federation. How will a mostly independent Kurdistan affect Turkey? What if the country is partitioned? What will happen to the people in the Sunni areas, who will be severly restricted in resources in that case? It’s obvious that America is not good at dealing with insurgencies, will this embolden other countries to behave worse than Saddam, knowing that an occupation by America is not really a possibility? I can make my theoreticals just as big as yours. What is real, though, is that we insulted the world, lost sight of our goals, lost a lot of good young people, and have nothing of direct benefit to America to show for it.

About the sactions. I read a good article about them here. It says

Are “a million innocent children…dying at this time…in Iraq” because of U.S. sanctions, as Osama bin Laden claimed in his October 7 videotaped message to the world? Has the United Nations Children?s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) discovered that “at least 200 children are dying every day…as a direct result of sanctions,” as advocacy journalist John Pilger maintains on his Web site? Is it official U.N. belief that 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 are dying each month due to its own policy, as writers of letters to virtually every U.S. newspaper have stated repeatedly during the past three years?

The short answer to all of these questions is no. The sanctions, first imposed in 1990 after Iraq?s invasion of Kuwait, are administered by the U.N., not the U.S. They were first imposed on all exports from Iraq and occupied Kuwait, and all non-humanitarian imports, in an effort to persuade Saddam Hussein to retreat within his own borders. After the Gulf War, they were broadened to include a dismantling of Iraq?s biological, chemical, nuclear, and missile-based weapons systems, out of fear that Hussein would otherwise lash out again. Estimates of sanctions-era “excess” child deaths — the number above the normal mortality rate — vary widely due to politics and inadequate data, especially concerning children older than 5. The dictatorial Iraqi government, which has blamed nearly every civilian funeral since 1991 on sanctions, claims there have been more than 600,000 deaths of under-5-year-olds these past 11 years (4,500 per month) and 1.5 million deaths overall. … Arriving at a reliable raw number of dead people is hard enough; assigning responsibility for the ongoing tragedy borders on the purely speculative. Competing factors include sanctions, drought, hospital policy, breast-feeding education, Saddam Hussein?s government, depressed oil prices, the Iraqi economy?s almost total dependence on oil exports and food imports, destruction from the Iran-Iraq and Persian Gulf wars, differences in conditions between the autonomous north and the Saddam-controlled south, and a dozen other variables difficult to measure without direct independent access to the country.


It goes on to talk about how those figures are generally exaggerated, based on a 5-day study that was later retracted, and took the majority of their data from before the oil-for food program was instituted. Furthermore, the big figures are extrapolations of what would have happened had a declining child mortality rate continued to decline, and comparing that to what actually happened. It’s kind of like claiming that a cut in the rate of benefits increase in social security is a rate cut.

Also, if you look at the Iraqi deaths since we invaded, I seriously doubt that conditions have improved. Given that Iraq is basically in a civil war already, who knows how long it will be before any benefit to children is seen.

The primary responsibility of our military should be to maintain our own national security. Invading Iraq has done the opposite.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 20, 2005 11:21 PM
Comment #81705

By the way, does the fact that you feel responsible for the child mortality rate in Iraq mean that you fully support programs to lift the US out of our miserable standings on infant mortality? If not, how is it different?

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 20, 2005 11:24 PM
Comment #81706

Dennis,

“Got a copy handy?”

Yeah, it’s called the Constitution.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 20, 2005 11:46 PM
Comment #81709

Brian Poole,

“So, I think it can be argued both ways, except on the last resort rule, which was clearly violated. Also, I think that that one is the most important. If we’re going to lose thousands of American lives, we better make sure that they were actually necessary.”

Give me an example of an American war that fits the “last resort” rule. Afghanistan wasn’t last resort. We could have begged and pleaded for decades for them to just hand Bin Laden over. We could have pressed the global community to put sanctions on them for harboring an international criminal. We could have done a lot of things that wouldn’t have necessarily solved the problem. Instead, we went to war, which didn’t exactly solve the problem.

The only one I can think of that might qualify is the Civil War, but even there war wasn’t the last resort, after all the North could have just let the South secede. Even if a nation is invading you, that doesn’t mean you have to go to war. You could simply turn the other cheek and accept the regime change.

IMO, war isn’t a matter of “last resort,” because there are always other options.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 12:01 AM
Comment #81710

Although I really didn’t want to get into this debate, I can no longer hold my tongue. While I’ll not defend the words and actions of the Republican Party that did not required “Hard Proof” of WMD’s as they had with President Clinton. Or will I attempt to defend the Democrats that followed blindly and voted to give President Bush the power to do whatever was necessary to get Saddam to step down. I won’t even defend President Bush for putting America into a corner that forced our hand to go to war.

Nevertheless, Saddam stated that he was willing to pay terrorists and their family a sum of $25,000.00 dollars for an attack against “Iseral(sp) and her Allies” (ie America and Great Britian) a month or two after 9/11. Thus, America had “Just Cause” to ask for his removal.

The “Probability of Success” was great until President Bush failed to follow the “Powell Doctorine” and removed the General who had the courage to tell him the Truth.

As far as using “Proportionality Force” to take out Saddam, well that is up to debate. Because I do believe a “Total Assault of Bagdad and the Sunni People” would of been more effective than racing across the country. If you think about it, President Bush attacked every where else but the heartland of the Sunni Triangle. IMO that was a mistake.

Although President Bush screwed up by not forcing Saddam to disarm his Army after Iraq failed to come clean over the WMD’s so that America could get a positive vote in the UN, what else could we have done to get Iraq Leaders to turn over Saddam?

It is true that President Bush listened to Rumsfield and his lack of imagination to plan for the aftermath in Iraq, but do you honestly believe that the Adminastration wanted to win the peace in Iraq that quick?

IMO that is why America is having so much trouble in Iraq. Do we want to make it a “Killing Grounds for Terrorists” or would of it been in our best interest to go in, kick butt, and provide enough Troops to keep the terrorists out? This is the question that all Americans need to ask themselves and the Republican Party must come to terms with the American Public. For eventhough America had the Authority to take down Saddam’s ruling party, the way this Adminastration has gone about it is “Totally Screwed up.”

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 12:14 AM
Comment #81711

If I could boil down what just war theory basically means, it would come down to this. The war does what it’s supposed to do, for the right purposes, in the right places, at the right time, and it’s got the kind of resolution that prevents it from becoming an interminable affair.

These are not just moral goals, but practical strategiclaly sound ones.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2005 12:15 AM
Comment #81712

Stephen,

“These are not just moral goals, but practical strategiclaly sound ones.”

And that’s where we’ve gone wrong. IMO, this could have been a clean win with plenty of positive results, both for us and the Iraqis. That’s what should have happened. America, with all our power, with all our might, should have been able to accomplish that.

IMO, it’s not that we lacked reasons to go in there, nor that we were unable to do the job once we were in there, it’s that our leaders didn’t choose to do the job in the best way possible. Whether it’s too much too soon, or too little too late, I don’t know. I do know that Bush has access to military experts that I do not have access to, and he should be using their expertise much more than he has been.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 12:30 AM
Comment #81713

I have thought about the “more boots on the ground” scenario. It is certainly not right now, and I am not sure if it ever was.

The one thing at least the administration did well from the beginning was to understand any long term solution was going to be political, not military. 300-500,000 culturely isolated American troops might have settled the military situation faster (maybe); but it may have been a political disaster. Certainly, I think it is difficult to believe that 2-3 times as many targets would have lowered the 1900 number appreciably.

We have arrived at the point where in October the Kurds, Shia, and now Sunni are going to walk to ballot boxes and vote. Regardless of whether the constitution passes or not, in December the same thing is going to happen. Al-Qaeda in threatening that process is just isolating themselves.

Whether perfectly carried out or not, this process is working itself through democratically.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 1:04 AM
Comment #81715

jchfleetguy,
All wars are won by political solutions. Even WWII ended in a political solution. The secert is to find a right solution before you send troops into harms way. And if you can’t get the other Leader to listen to reason than you must be willing to use “Absolute Force.”

We can win the battle with Al Qaeda very easily; however, in order to do so President Bush must have the courage to take on his on faith as well. Having seen the fury here over religion, do you think he can keep his Right-Wing Base and still take on a political debate over OBL’s “Ali?”

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 2:26 AM
Comment #81717

Stephen, that is no standard at all. Just empty rhetoric out of some campaign speech somewhere. Let me show you why with a few questions:

“The war does what it’s supposed to do,”

And who decides what that is when a myriad of reasons are offered? Should the President determine what a war is supposed to do as was the case with Bush? Or should Congress representing the people determine what the war is supposed to do. Or, as we have seen, should the outcome and history determine after the fact, what the war was supposed to do?

“for the right purposes,”

Same questions as above.

“in the right places, at the right time,”

These are military decisions are they not? If we don’t trust the military to govern us at home domestically, why would one consider them empowered to know for us at home where are the right places and the right time to conduct war if my questions above are NOT clearly answered? To know the right time and places requires knowing what the goals, objectives and purposes are.

“and it’s got the kind of resolution that prevents it from becoming an interminable affair.”

How can one know a priori, at what time a war becomes interminable when the question is always asked in the present? You do realize the answer will always be soon enough to not be interminable - future tense!

Your definition of a just war is worthless as far as I can see. Unless you intend to provide the definition of right for our nation in which case we should just throw the Constitution into the sea, since one person definitions of the affairs of state is a dictatorship, not a democracy.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 21, 2005 2:39 AM
Comment #81724

Henry:

You bring up WWII, and there are great differences between that war and this one. One such difference is the willingness to use whatever weaponry you have at your disposal. In WWII, both side firebombed cities with casual disregard for civilians. I don’t know the numbers, but in Dresden, London, Nagasaki etc, many many innocent people died. In this war, great care has been taken to avoid this, though of course perfection has yet to be reached.

A second difference is the amount of information and the timeliness of it. Some Americans were upset that they did not know the war plans—the Shock and Awe, or the race to Baghdad. In WWII we found things out well afterwards; in this war, we found things out as they happened.

And with so much information comes the ability to critique in real time. This can be good, if done by knowledgable experts. When done by a public generally ignorant of military strategy, it becomes more an exercise in theory.

Had society known about the mistaken intelligence at D-Day, the disaster at Dieppe which preceded D-Day by a couple years, the staggering number of casualties expected and experienced, and had they acted as society has during the Iraq War, WWII’s outcomes might have been different. We’ll never know what a perceived lack of support might have done to the morale of our troops.

Lastly, it appears that today’s society expects perfection, and is willing to use “outcome based” logic. This means that the outcome is the most important thing—but this is a false logic to use in planning. Planning can be perfect, and the outcome can still fail. Take for instance a football play as a simple and easy to understand example. Coach draws up the play, the line blocks, the quarterback fades and launches a pass to a wide open receiver in the end zone to win the game…..only to have the receiver drop the ball.

The outcome is failure, but the planning was impeccable.

Some of this happens in wartime. Its easy to look back and suggest we should have done things differently. Some said we should have left the oil fields alone and protected the museums and stopped looting. Some say a larger force—others say a smaller force. You said a total assualt on Baghdad while others preferred a series of lightning strikes.

Some of the war planning has not been good, but lets not forget that it is always this way in war. We cannot expect perfection.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 21, 2005 7:40 AM
Comment #81725

Dennis
The question you pose is akin to the old “if a tree falls in the forest do you the noise” rubic taught in logic classes.

The question “Is the War in Iqaq Just?” really should be “Is the war againsy terrorism just?”as Iraq is but one of many battlefields.

Had the Unites States really declared on Iraq,the war would have been over in 15 minutes…..several well placed bombs would have taken care of the situation.

Instead we did not not declare war on the Iraqi people…had we been at war withe people the above solution would have occurred and troops would be home by now.

We declared war on terror and fanatisism..which has taken a peaceful religion and now has mutated it into something unrecognizable with what the Phrophet comtemplated.

Similiar to what Hitler and his thugs did,using Nationial Socialism as a cover to ahhiliahte millions of people,Bin Laden and his henchmen have used the cover of Islam to declare war on Western thought and society.

Had not the invasion of Iraq occurred(Note I said invasion) then 15 million people today would not be free.

If Saddam’s regime was not in cahoots with Al Queada,then certainly they were car pooling together.

Saddam certainly encouraged terrorism to flourish through-out the entire east….many Palestian suicide bomers not only were financed by his regime but their families later received cash bounties.

Iqar is and was a stragetic objective in this World War…the erroneous WMD claims were just that…not dispositive of anything…we took out probably one of the top three figures on the war on terror by removing this guy and eliminating a friendly country from the terrorist’ list.

That is the point,Dennis.The third World War has started.

Today liberals rail against Bush.

His poll numbers are at 40%.

Yet if an election were held today against John Kerry,he would trounce him.

Why?

One reason is instead of gnashing his teeth and pretty much dicking around,he acted in a forceful method by removing the Taliban and eliminating the safe harbor of Iraq.

Perhaps Bremmer should not have stood down the remmants of the military.For sure Bush should have said nothing instead that “bring them on”quip.Perhaps 150 things that did happen shouldn’t have.

This I know:
One year ago today,there were exactly 5 battalions of Iqaui military.This morning there are 125 battalions….a twenty fold increase in 1 year.

In twelve months the question becomes moot:Iqauis will be soley responsible for their own security..with a working constitution and the end resultwill be a far more stable country in the fight against terror.

Iraq will never become another Iran either.
Iran has non-Arabs(Persians..different race) with a theocracy based on the Khomeni principle of direct politial involvement.Iraq is Arab,and the brand of Shiasm precticed by the vast majority of them..the Sistianni view reject this philosophy itterly and completely.

What we are witnessing is the Islamic Reformation….similiar to the struggle that went on throughout Europe centuries ago..(with millions upon millions killed) as Christianity struggled to take shape.

Now the same is happening with Islam.Two philosophies colliding….the fundamentalist view,and the moderate view,and the West was and is the victim.

Our (all of us) problem is that we have never understood the culture or the gigantic picture.

Instead here the discussion has become purely partisian.

We as a Western society do not understand…and seem unmotivated to learn…about the causes of terror//and I blame everyone….even(God forbid)…the democrats.

I think at the next presidential debate the first question asked any candidate should be:Can you name for the audience the five pillars of Islam and discuss the differences between Shiiasm and Sunnism and also tell the audience
why if you consider Wahhabism a threat to the United States.

If that candidate can’t answer that question,his microphone should be turned off.

Posted by: sicilian eagle at September 21, 2005 7:45 AM
Comment #81727

One more thing:
I read St. Augustine and also Cicero …in Latin.

“Oderint dum Metuant”…..Cicero

Posted by: Sicilian Eagle at September 21, 2005 7:50 AM
Comment #81729

Sicilian Eagle - Well, I can’t read Latin, so had to struggle through with English.

You also wrote:

“This I know:
One year ago today,there were exactly 5 battalions of Iqaui military.This morning there are 125 battalions….a twenty fold increase in 1 year.

In twelve months the question becomes moot:Iqauis will be soley responsible for their own security..with a working constitution and the end resultwill be a far more stable country in the fight against terror.

Iraq will never become another Iran either.
Iran has non-Arabs(Persians..different race) with a theocracy based on the Khomeni principle of direct politial involvement.Iraq is Arab,and the brand of Shiasm precticed by the vast majority of them..the Sistianni view reject this philosophy itterly and completely.

What we are witnessing is the Islamic Reformation….similiar to the struggle that went on throughout Europe centuries ago..(with millions upon millions killed) as Christianity struggled to take shape.

Now the same is happening with Islam.Two philosophies colliding….the fundamentalist view,and the moderate view,and the West was and is the victim.”

It is very encouraging that the people of Iraq seem to be making progress. I am hopeful for them. I also know that the picture is not quite as rosy as you describe. While Ali Al-Sistani may not follow the pathy of Khomeni, Muqtada Al Sadr does. Al-Sadr is young, charismatic and heavily involved in the political process. He should be considered a threat to stability in Iraq. He is incredibly anti-Sunni and anti-Kurd and has a major following of young, angry Shia men.

Now, as a Liberal (albeit a Liberal Hawk), I’m hopeful that the Iraqis can move forward and put their differences aside. If they can then the region has a chance to stabilize. If it doesn’t, then we are probably looking at a middle eastern version of the Balkans.

Posted by: Dennis Sherrard at September 21, 2005 8:29 AM
Comment #81732

JBOD,
You left out the major difference between WWII and today’s Iraq. Back than we was fighting a standing Army, today we are fighting small bands of rebels and terrorists. Therefore, our leaders have to be smarter. Don’t forget, a year ago the information given by this Adminasration to the American people was shown not to match the facts on the ground. A total disconect from reality by the Commander in Cheif, and that is unacceptable for any President.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 10:05 AM
Comment #81734

Dennis
“let them hate..so long as they fear” Cicero

(of course,he was killed,beheaded,had his hands cut off as well as his tongue..oh well..seemed like an appropriate quote at the time)

About Al Sadr…rest assured at some point he will be marginalized.However,even he is nationalistic and that says it all.

The Balkanization analogy is a real possibility but really,so what?Historicially speaking,Iraq is a 20th century invention by the West.

Here is what matters:In the north 25% of the population (the Kurds) will be forever thankful to the USA.In the south,the Shia,while resentful,nevertheless,after considering the alternative,are likewise happy that Saddam is out.The Sunni (and not all of them either…the Baathist Sunni..have the most to lose and habe teamed up with Al Queada but not for ideologicial reasons.Saddam and Bin Laden at best had a grudging relationship based on the principle of” an eneny of my eneny is my friend” thing.
Anyway,here is my prediction:By New Year’s eve,Bin Laden will be dead.Just a feeling…and usually I am never wrong.

Posted by: sicilian eagle at September 21, 2005 10:09 AM
Comment #81735

Stephanie,
Just add the words “to achieve the purpose” to the end of “last resort.” There are a number of legitimate reasons to go to war, as listed under just cause above. However, if the purpose in going to war is to remove weapons of mass destruction, one should ensure that they are there, first, then make sure that you have tried all other means before you invade.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 21, 2005 10:13 AM
Comment #81738

Brian,

Like spending 12 years trying to accomplished what was agreed to on both sides to take 3 months? Like passing resolution after resolution while we starved the citizens of Iraq to death with oppressive sanctions?

Good Plan! Too bad we just went in guns a blazing and didn’t try that course of action…

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 21, 2005 10:29 AM
Comment #81739

Henry:

I’m not so sure what the facts on the ground are. What I hear from those in the military, or those with family in the military, is far far different than what I hear in the media.

In my opinion, the truth is somewhere in the middle. But the media looks for stories, and they often reach their conclusion before they find the story. Look at the massive coverage of Abu Ghraib (American sexual abuse of prisoners) vs the near silence over the United Nation’s peacekeepers raping civilians. One story fits the preconcieved conclusion, while the other does not. You can see this over and over and over.

In that regard, I’m sure we could have done things better in Iraq. That having been said, with every alternate strategy, there would also be problems, missteps and mistakes. The true question is this: Would there have been more or less? And that question is usually unanswerable.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 21, 2005 10:35 AM
Comment #81741

Brian,

“Just add the words ‘to achieve the purpose’ to the end of ‘last resort.’”

Sorry, that wasn’t part of the post. If you want to assume those words, or add them in, that’s another discussion.

Many people in the world, including many Americans, believe there is such a thing as an unavoidable war. There isn’t.

By adding “to achieve the purpose” you’re already amending the rule book. Do you see how easy that was?

Like I said, it makes for an excellent philosophical discussion, but when based in reality, it’s not so good.

For example, since someone else brought up WWII. If you ask the question, why did we get involved, you’re probably going to get one or both of these answers:

We were attacked.

Our allies were attacked.

Or simply, It was the right thing to do.

Now, I AGREE, that getting involved in WWII was the right thing to do, but it was not the ONLY thing we could have done. We could have simply bombed Japan, and left it at that. Then, we would probably have been left alone and WWII could have gone on without us. We probably wouldn’t have been happy about the results, but at least we wouldn’t have had to involve ourselves in an unnecessary war, right?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 10:54 AM
Comment #81742

SE,
If you read Cicero you must’ve not read the thing entire:

Ut sementem feceris, ita metes

Posted by: chantico at September 21, 2005 11:18 AM
Comment #81746

SE

you said:

“Anyway,here is my prediction:By New Year’s eve,Bin Laden will be dead.Just a feeling…and usually I am never wrong.”

I share your hopes, but not your prediction. Care to elaborate on why you feel this way? Have you seen anything that leads you to believe we are closer to OBL now?

Posted by: Dennis at September 21, 2005 11:42 AM
Comment #81749

Rhinehold,
He didn’t have WMDs. Therefore, the alternatives worked. It took 12 years for full verification, but the arms inspectors said that he hadn’t had any since the early 90s. What’s your point? Guns blazing did not have the slightest effect on the WMD status.

You can argue the merits of the sactions’ effects on people, but I doubt that they are worse than blowing them up, or setting the country in such a state that a civil war ensues.

Do you think it is our obligation to feed and provide medicine for everyone in the world? Do you think it is our obligation to rescue everyone who is oppressed in the world? Are we obligated in ending every genocide, toppling every regime that uses food as a weapon against its own people? The only difference between these situations and Saddam is the mythical WMD threat and oil.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 21, 2005 12:14 PM
Comment #81753

Sicilian Eagle

I think at the next presidential debate the first question asked any candidate should be:Can you name for the audience the five pillars of Islam and discuss the differences between Shiiasm and Sunnism and also tell the audience why if you consider Wahhabism a threat to the United States.

Good job. This is absolutely correct - but I doubt if any contender for the Presidency (or the current President) could actually answer it. I will actually have to study for the question.

Henry

All wars are won by political solutions. Even WWII ended in a political solution. The secert is to find a right solution before you send troops into harms way
We didn’t know (other than we were in a fight to the death) going into WWII what the political outcome would be. That was decided at Malta and then more later.

The political solution in WWII was open to us here. Occupy Iraq with 300,000 troops. Install a military governorship (in the case of Japan); write their constitution for them; and retain control until the country was completely rebuilt and running the way you want. Of course, Japan had no neighbors not under our control or friendship. In the case of Germany, we did the same after splitting the country with the Soviets. That led to no long-range problems did it.

Stephanie

Many people in the world, including many Americans, believe there is such a thing as an unavoidable war. There isn?t.

I cannot agree with this. As C.S. Lewis said: There has never been a culture in the history of the planet that valued cowardice. We could have appeased Japan after Pearl Harbor and given them all the territory they wanted (probably including Hawaii). Certainly, Churchill’s predecessor did well appeasing the Germans in Czechoslovakia - that keep Hitler at bay didn’t it? We had to fight WWII. We really had to fight Afganistan.

Could we have avoided the Civil War? We could have allowed the southern states to split off. At least the Hurricane damage in New Orleans would have been another government’s problem and not the US’s. We might have joined back together; and slavery might have died of its own dead weight. Or, they might have plenty of slaves to rebuild the Gulf Coast with.

We really had to fight Iraq I in 1991. I wish we had finished Saddam then; and not hung the rebellion of the southern Shia out to dry so they could be slaughtered. We were looking for UN approval then I guess.

Kerry said something I would agree with: “The United States used to fight wars when it had to; not when it wanted to”. I think even good people can differ on whether Saddam Hussein “had to” go; and whether the United States “had to” take him out. The majority of the Iraqi people ARE happy he is gone; ARE happy we had the courage to take him out; and ARE wondering if we will leave when we can. I just do not want to disappoint them on that last part.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 12:21 PM
Comment #81754

Stephanie,
I’m not a total pacifist, and my not being one does not make me a hypocrite for thinking that the war in Iraq was unjustified. Yes, many people do believe that all war is wrong, that war should never be an option. These people are few and far between, although I respect them for their strength of belief.

Any writing about the guidelines above is an interpretation. I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch to say that when it says “last resort” it means last resort to achieve the just objectives, especially since interpreted how you are saying it should be, it means that war is never justified, while the whole point of the post is to establish when it is.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 21, 2005 12:31 PM
Comment #81755

Brian

One other difference: we had been there before and had history with Saddam. We had a cease-fire (not a peace treaty) in effect with him that he continued to violate.

My own personal opinion is that President Bush the current was removing a bone caught in the throat of President Bush the former. I used to think that a bad excuse; but leaving a brutal tyrant in power to abuse his people for an extra 12 years when you had him within your grasp before does wear on someone - maybe we should have cleaned up the refuse we left behind in 1991. Certainly, the moral argument that continuing to make his people suffer under sanctions because we failed to finish the job the first time is weak.

General

That was then, this is now. We are there; and we “destabilized” their government and destroyed their army. Is it JUST to leave a fledgling Iraqi government to face military forces bent on eradicating democracy and restoring the Baath unprotected and leave (perhaps with a little ceremony as we unlock Saddam’s cell and allow him to return to “his people”)? Or is the only JUST course to finish what we started now that we removed the “stable” government of Saddam Hussein?

I go with the latter. Although uniting together to get the job done will not be as much fun for the left and right. Arguing forever about who let the cows out of the barn is so much more entertaining than the work of rounding them up.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #81758
The only difference between these situations and Saddam is the mythical WMD threat and oil.

Then you should probably educate yourself a bit about what Iraq was and the reasons why this action was necessary (not why Bush said it was).

I’ll help out a bit: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/001765.html

HTH

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 21, 2005 12:44 PM
Comment #81760
but the arms inspectors said that he hadn’t had any since the early 90s

Hmm, some did, some didn’t, Saddam failed to show evidence that he destroyed a large quantity, which he was obliged to do and he had agreed to do. He constantly challenged the UN authority to inspect, shot at US and UK warplanes repeatedly, put a bounty on American’s heads, planned attacks on the US after 9/11, supported international terrorism (top 5 supporter behind Afghanistan), paid 25,000 to the families of suicide bombers (I’ve seen pictures of the checks) and continually threatened the stability of the region with his actions.

Remember, even Hans Blix admitted that he would not have been surprised to see the US find WMD when we went into Iraq because he could not say for sure that there were none there *AND* agreed that Iraq did violate 1441 even though they had made progress it was inadequate for the requirements of the resolution.

But, putting all of THAT aside, the fact that millions of people no longer have to live in fear of being tortured, raped or killed for speaking their mind must be a good thing, IMO.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 21, 2005 12:52 PM
Comment #81761

BTW! I have a great idea! We should send in all of the people who KNEW there were no WMD in Iraq over to monitor the North Korean agreement to destroy their nukes.

No need of monitoring or proof of their destruction needed, we have honest to god psychics right here we could be using! 100% accuracy guaranteed!

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 21, 2005 12:55 PM
Comment #81762

“General

That was then, this is now. We are there; and we “destabilized” their government and destroyed their army. Is it JUST to leave a fledgling Iraqi government to face military forces bent on eradicating democracy and restoring the Baath unprotected and leave (perhaps with a little ceremony as we unlock Saddam’s cell and allow him to return to “his people”)? Or is the only JUST course to finish what we started now that we removed the “stable” government of Saddam Hussein?

I go with the latter. Although uniting together to get the job done will not be as much fun for the left and right. Arguing forever about who let the cows out of the barn is so much more entertaining than the work of rounding them up.”

Posted by jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 12:35 PM

——————————

jchfleetguy,

I agree with you that we need to finish what we have started. I was not in favor of the war when it was initiated. I believed at the time and still do that it wasn’t the right time to deal with Hussein.

However, that’s history. Now, we have to make a determination of how we LEAVE Iraq. Seems to me we’ve got three options: 1. Continue the current course, which is extremely slow and not working effectively, 2. Pull out now, which will exacerbate the situation to the negative in my view, 3. Increase the troop complement in Iraq by 100 - 200% as suggested in 2003 by Gen. Shinseki. I think overwhelming force will buy the Iraqi government enough time to get their military to operational fitness and for the country to get it’s basic infrastructure active and supporting more employment. It’s my understanding the unemployment rate in Iraq is about 50%. Getting young men and women employed and working reduces the amount of recruits the insurgents would have. Full bellies quiet revolutions. Work, sufficient food and health care and increased security will stabilize Iraq. I think the only way to do that is to put so many troops on the ground that the insurgency has no where to go. At the same time, aggressive diplomacy and amensty programs for the insurgents who will lay down arms and commit to political engagement will tear away at some of the less committed of the insurgents.

I’m anxious to hear other ideas. How do we extract ourselves from Iraq?

It will cost more and more money, but I simply can’t think of another “Just” way to leave Iraq so it is stable and secure.

Posted by: Dennis at September 21, 2005 1:03 PM
Comment #81764

jchfleetguy,
The political solution for ending WWII was spelled out at the begining and that was unconditional surrender. If you read about the last months of that war you’ll find out that even after we dropped the Atomic Bomb there was a few leaders in Japan that did not want to surrender and attempted to take over their government.

If that would of happened, America would of attacked the homeland of Japan until those conditions were met. In Iraq, IMO President Bush did not hold to that standard. In fact once Bagdad fell he called off attacking the Sunni Triangle were most of Saddam’s strongest supporters are still resisting their new government.

War is not a nice person’s game, nor should it be entered into lightly. Nevertheless, it is a necessary evil when diplomatic talks break down. At that point, our generals should be told only one thing. Win, even if that means using Shermans tactics to get the locals inhabinants to submit to the right of Law.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 1:08 PM
Comment #81765

“But, putting all of THAT aside, the fact that millions of people no longer have to live in fear of being tortured, raped or killed for speaking their mind must be a good thing, IMO.”

So are you saying it’s the USA’s job to police the world? And if so Darfur just called, as did Iran, oh and Congo, and…

Posted by: chantico at September 21, 2005 1:08 PM
Comment #81767
So are you saying it’s the USA’s job to police the world? And if so Darfur just called, as did Iran, oh and Congo, and…

And if you go back and read my posts here I’ve called for UN action in Darfur but, like usual, they are incapable of even agreeing on the word ‘genocide’. http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/002039.html

So please, take your straw men somewhere else and deal with WHAT I SAID. Did you even read my previous post ‘The Case for Invading Iraq’? Do you even understand how far and beyond most other trouble spots Iraq spots were? No?

Are you so mind-numbingly partisan that you can’t see that Saddam, his position where he was in power and how he was treating the international community and the US itself was necessary for his removal?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 21, 2005 1:16 PM
Comment #81769

Alot of you are forgetting alot of historical facts.

The so called “First Gulf War” was ended with a cease fire agreement between the U.S. and Saddam’s Iraq. President Clinton fired upon Iraq. President Clinton signed a referandum for regeim change in Iraq. The former President of Iraq had 48 hours to prevent this so called “War in Iraq.”

Every violation of the U.N.’s 17 resolutions was “Just Cause” to ressume the “Gulf War.” The fact is that the American people have been too scared to lose life by putting boots on the ground since the Vietnam descrace (political).

After 911, the fear was gone. We were angry. We want to feel safe from attacks where thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of people within our borders could die at the hands of extreamist FREAKS.

Should those freaks get their hands on WMDs, the millions scenerio becomes much more likely. We now know they are not going to get their hands on them in Iraq. This was only possible by doing what President Bush did. He answered the unclear question of whether Saddam had them or not. I feel safer knowing he doesn’t, whether than knowing that I had the U.N. trying to find out if he did.

One more thing: We do not wage war on democratic Nations. We never have. Iraq is a Democratic Nation. There is no “WAR in IRAQ”

Posted by: prub1 at September 21, 2005 1:25 PM
Comment #81771

“Are you so mind-numbingly partisan that you can?t see that Saddam, his position where he was in power and how he was treating the international community and the US itself was necessary for his removal?”

I’ll give you that my prejudices influence my view. I’ll be fair in that. Although I still don’t agree with the statement, there were other more potent threats that we should’ve taken care of by your reasoning first.

That aside, most of the UN didn’t see it your way, and most of the world community didn’t see this obviously painstakingly thing you discuss. Perhaps they’re all partisan. Definetly seems like the easy answer.

Posted by: chantico at September 21, 2005 1:45 PM
Comment #81773

And Rheingold, apologies for not reading your previous post on Darfur. I just read it, and it is admittedly very good (I’m sorta new here so things that happen in the past are a bit of a mystery).

And while I see your point I just don’t agree. For my tax dollars I would’ve rather taken out Iran than Iraq following your guidelines.

Posted by: chantico at September 21, 2005 2:05 PM
Comment #81776

Jchfleetguy,
I think our history made him less of a threat, not more. We had him contained. I agree that removing Saddam was a good thing, but not how and when we did it.

Rhinehold,
I’ve read your article, thanks. Still not convinced.

Hmm, some did, some didn?t, Saddam failed to show evidence that he destroyed a large quantity, which he was obliged to do and he had agreed to do.

So actually destroying the weapons doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that he didn’t fill out the right form that we went to war over. OK.

He constantly challenged the UN authority to inspect,

He argued at the UN? Shocking. War for sure.

shot at US and UK warplanes repeatedly, put a bounty on American?s heads, planned attacks on the US after 9/11,

This is bad, but did he hit any planes, or pay any bounties? We know he’s a posturing jerk, but the question is if he caused any harm to the US or posed a threat that would justify the claim of war as self-defense. See proportionality, above.

supported international terrorism (top 5 supporter behind Afghanistan), paid 25,000 to the families of suicide bombers (I?ve seen pictures of the checks)

The terrorism was not against us, and it wasn’t the group that attacked us. I would think we should get them first. According to your post, 37 american have died as a result of organizations that were partially supported (support is not defined) by Saddam. Is that worth killing 1900 more Americans and countless Iraqis for? I couldn’t get your link to work about where in the list of terror supporters he was, but I would say go after the ones higher on the list than him first. Like Afghanistan. We really should have finished there before moving on.

and continually threatened the stability of the region with his actions.

How? Posturing? He was contained. He didn’t even dare to hit the planes patrolling the no-fly zones. He knew what would happen if he invaded anybody again. He was a loudmough scumbag who did plenty of damage to his own people, but was not a threat to us.

I said before that the humanitarian grounds constitute a just reason. I just think that our national security comes first. This war has set back our national security considerably, as well as pushing us into so much debt that some republicans are actually saying that tax cuts may have to wait!

BTW! I have a great idea! We should send in all of the people who KNEW there were no WMD in Iraq over to monitor the North Korean agreement to destroy their nukes.

You mean the weapons inspectors? I agree. They did a great job in Iraq.

You can argue national security, or you can argue humanitarian reasons. The two are not linked. The national security reasons were overblown at best, lies at worst. The humanitarian reasons are real, but not the worst in the world, nor was Iraq where we could do the most good for the least cost.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 21, 2005 2:14 PM
Comment #81777

Here’s why I think Bin Laden will be dead by the first of the year:

First,we are closing in on him.There are a lot of folks out there listening to the ground…closely.

Second,Now that the Afganistan election is over,I bet a deal will be make…hard info in return for a promise for troops to vacate Afganistan

alternatively

In Pakastan,Musharaff now sees the hand writing on the wall and will flush this guy from his side of the border if he is there.

Finally…the new technology concerning “footprints” of keyboards will revoluliionize intelligence by a factor of ten within six months and

American intelligence is translating more intercepts every day

and translation software that can pick up slang is actually working

and so in ground intelligence.

A little birdie told me to take the odds and make the bet.

Posted by: sicilian eagle at September 21, 2005 2:19 PM
Comment #81779
So actually destroying the weapons doesn’t matter, it’s the fact that he didn’t fill out the right form that we went to war over. OK.

Sort of, yes. Let’s take an easy example. You tell your child to clean his room. It’s imperative that he do so. He says ok, he’s done it, but every time you try to get in to see that it’s been done he deflects the issue, prevents you from going in to check, etc. Then you finally get in and start to look in the closet and he goes out of his way to prevent you from looking in, etc…

No, are you able to say, for certain, that the room was clean? Wouldn’t you be suspicious at this point that he really didn’t clean it? Do you take his word? Or do you move him out of the way and make sure?

He argued at the UN? Shocking. War for sure.

We’re talking Chapter 7 resolutions here. These are binding and are backed by the use of force. They are not passed lightly unlike Chapter 6 resolutions… Yes, it is shocking and the fact that he got away with it for 12 years and almost for good just tells everyone else to ignore those types of resolutions as well. Which kind of makes the UN pointless, doesn’t it? I would rather it wasn’t…

The terrorism was not against us, and it wasn’t the group that attacked us. I would think we should get them first.

Well, we did. THe Taliban is no longer in power, a large percentage of Al Qaeda is behind bars or dead, including the person who thought up, planned and orchestrated the operation of 9/11. That’s pretty good IMO. Not finshed, not completely, but do we just ignore other threats?

As for ‘not attacking us’, Iraq targetted and killed Americans. They were planning to do so again as we know from intelligence given to us by Putin. Do we ignore that, given 9/11 and the knowledge that enough chemicals to kill hundreds of thousands of people were unaccounted for?

That’s really a dice shoot I wasn’t willing to sit for myself…

You mean the weapons inspectors? I agree

Nope, because they couldn’t not say for certain. Remember Hans Blix when the invasion started said that he wouldn’t be surprised at all to find that the missing chemicals were indeed there to be found. Why? Because *HE* didn’t know where they were for sure. If *HE* didn’t know, how could anyone else? They couldn’t, unless they were psychic…

The humanitarian reasons are real, but not the worst in the world, nor was Iraq where we could do the most good for the least cost.

Ok, where else was this combined list of things worse than Iraq:

Humanitarian situation: Over 500,000 children under the age of 5 dead directly because of the sanctions that were in place because of Saddam’s ‘Containment’, a situation many were willing to continue in place.

Unknown state of WMD: We had no way of verifying, because of the actions that Saddam took, what happened to the weapons we could not account for, enough to kill hundreds of thousands of people.

Threat to the US: Saddam threatened the US ahd had plans to attack the US. He had a bounty on American citizens and had even attempted to assissinate a former president. Coupled with starting and running terrorist groups as well as supporting those who were operating outside of Iraq. (Nice containment there).

You can say the ‘national security reasons’ were overblown. I say they were understated. I don’t think we know the full extent of what Saddam was willing to do to strike a blow against the US/UK/Israel for both revenge and to set him up as the defacto leader of the arab community. I personally think he was threatened by the success of binLaden and wanted to ‘top him’. That would fit his profile.

He was a dangerous lunatic that was costing billions in dollars and millions in lives to contain. I advocating taking him out in 1995, but we as a country were too weak to do so then. 9/11 gave us the resolve to accomplish what was necessary but ugly, at least for long enough to get the job done for a capable leader. Of course, Bush has botched the current situation, but that doesn’t make it any less of a necessary just action.

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 21, 2005 2:37 PM
Comment #81785

Dennis and Henry

After being around for Vietnam I am attracted to the idea of doubling or tripling the number of American troops. “Let us have the will to win”. Of course, the lesson of Vietnam was that there were no number of troops capable of proping up a government that did not have popular support.

I do not believe that is the situation in Iraq. In Vietnam a popular election was cancelled because the election would have voted in Ho Chi Minh. Our military efforts were all aimed at keeping non-democratic unpopular governments in power against their own population and a next door neighbor (northern Vietnam) willing to support them. In Iraq, a non-democratic government was toppled and the military is there to protect a democratic government as it assumes power and control and to create a popular government. There is the Baath government of Syria to support the resistance. Any political or military analogies with Vietnam die at this difference. We must strive to do nothing that can damage the process of a democratically elected government representing all of Iraq coming to power. That is what I meant by a political rather than military victory. Killing Al-Qaeda and the Iraqi resistance more quickly and efficiently do not necessarily speed democracy.

I assume that nothing we can do will politically deal with Al-Qaeda. These folks are fighting to the death for something they deeply believe - and I personally wish them to succeed in dying for their beliefs. While it is hard on the Iraqi people (Al-Qaeda’s target, not the US) that these murderers came to Iraq; it is good that they are collecting in one place again - it makes it easier to kill them.

The political process has to deal with those Iraqis that: 1) do not trust the dominant Kurds and Shia; and/or 2) do not trust the that 135,000 American troops will not force a non-Iraqi political structure down their throats if need be; and 3) those few lovers of the old regime and the power they lost who continue to fight on.

Group #3 may be as intractable as Al-Qaeda; and will probably join with them, and die with them. With elections coming up in October on the draft constitution (I expect the Constitution to lose actually) and December for either a new permanent or interim Parliment, what would be the effect of 100-200,000 more American troops? Doesn’t this play into the US as an occupying imperialist power? Is this going to help the fears of either of the 1st two groups?

We are just different culturally. Do 2-3 times as many chances for an American soldier to shoot an innocent Iraqi help or hurt the political process? Do Iraqis seeing 2-3 times as many occupying Americans hurt or help the process? Do 2-3 times as many chances for Americans to offend Iraqi civilians help or hurt the process? If we need an extra 100-200,000 troops to control the situation (we do) they need to be the Iraqi troops we are already training. I think this understanding of the effect of flooding the country with western troops may be the best thing the administration has done. Not the military best; but the political best. If they didn’t plan it that way - well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

What will change the nature of this process is if 80% of the Sunni vote in October and December - they have called off the boycott and this is the current estimate. Once they have co-opted into the political process, and can see that their will expressed by their voting is honored, the wind will go greatly out of the Iraqi resistance (but not Al-Qaeda). Of course, the voted will of the Iraqi people must be honored by the US even if we do not like what they say - or Vietnam will suddenly loom large.

Al-Qaeda has switched their war from the “puppet government” (and the “US Imperialists”) to all Shia. They are also threatening any Sunni that tries to vote. Their violence against the Iraqi common people (men waiting for jobs!) is driving the Shia and Sunni together. We could thank them if they weren’t butchers.

I just do not think that more AMERICAN boots on the ground enhances this situation at all - and in fact will likely derail the political process that is working its way out.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 3:03 PM
Comment #81786

Rhinehold,

No, are you able to say, for certain, that the room was clean? Wouldn’t you be suspicious at this point that he really didn’t clean it? Do you take his word? Or do you move him out of the way and make sure?

Moving him out of the way to make sure was what the weapons inspectors were doing. Beating the crap out of the kid for not cleaning his room before you looked in is what we did.

Your personality profile of Saddam is pretty dramatic, but is purely conjectural. I realize that you believe it, but him wanting to be the big dog doesn’t mean he was able to.

The rest of your arguments you just repeat yourself again. I’ve already discussed everything you said.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 21, 2005 3:04 PM
Comment #81788
Moving him out of the way to make sure was what the weapons inspectors were doing.

Erm, how do you figure? How did they move anything, after 12 years they were unable to look in the closet…

If it weren’t for the THREAT of force, Iraq would have never shown anything. All he did was eventually let them in the door but never did let the inspectors see the inside of the closet. They didn’t have the ability to move anyone, that came from the UN (specifically US/UK threatening force). How long do you let him stalemate you before moving him? After 12 years, he’s nearly out of the room to go to college, isn’t he?

As for the rest that you’ve already discussed, you never did convince me that continuing to allow millions of people to die because of sanctions was better than our invasion which put an end to that practice and allowed Iraq to move forward and not stay ‘contained’.

How was it better exactly?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 21, 2005 3:11 PM
Comment #81790

Rhinehold, see my comments at September 20, 2005 11:21 PM. If you think I’m wrong, let me know why and we can talk about it.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 21, 2005 3:16 PM
Comment #81798

jchfleetguy-
What is the deal with the Right and our troops? According to them, every report critical of the war or President Bush brings a tear to their eye, and every additional soldier is nothing but an additional target!

Stop for a second. Every soldier carries with them a weapon. More soldiers means more firepower, which can be spread over a greater area. As for the cultural isolation, you can blame the way the Pentagon set up its bases and hired its contractors.

Always the politics. If the Right didn’t focus so much about the politics of the war on terror, they’d actually get things done, because they wouldn’t be paralyzed by political second guessing.

Fact of the matter is, more soldiers means more place we could cover without moving out of towns and giving the enemy the chance to retake things.

As for the election, it means nothing if a stable government doesn’t grow out of it, and the violence of the past few years is anything but conducive to that.

The Republicans are not getting one very important fact: bringing peace rather than waiting the violence out makes it easier to consolidate gains, to make progress. We should have never started reconstruction without resolved islands of peace. Without them, all gains are subject to compromise by the enemy.

The greater the peace and material comfort of the population, the greater the political and psychological resistance to insurgency and social unrest.

David Remer-
It’s the universal standard, actually. Wars are social animals, with social purposes. With war as complicated as it is, it helps to know what your purpose is ahead of time, and know it for damn sure. This is where defensive war has its charms: you have a ready-made goal in mind.

No matter who decides what those reasons are, it is important to know, because otherwise the war effort will only lead to greater chaos as muddled goals guarantee muddled results. I would think that such purposes should be clear enought to produce consensus.

That’s what made the WMD/Terrorist part of the argument so important- everybody could consent to that, and understand the purpose of the war then. Unfortunately, it was a consensus built on deceptive advertising, and when that justification fell apart, we were left with the muddle of purposes and party lines we have now on the war.

The military decisions, by necessity, follow after that. If your intent is to disarm Iran, for example, you first strike at and secure certain sites accordingly.

It’s difficult to get all these things right for sure, but that’s why such compelling reasons can and should be required for a first strike war. In a defensive war, or one where we intervene with a clear purpose in mind, we don’t have to have such exacting knowledge, as the situation itself tells us what’s needed.

Your questions raise legitimate issues, but I think the Just War protocols neatly fold into them. You just have to ask yourself how we get to the decision, rather than simply accept them at face value alone.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2005 4:41 PM
Comment #81800

Brian Poole,

“Do you think it is our obligation to feed and provide medicine for everyone in the world? Do you think it is our obligation to rescue everyone who is oppressed in the world? Are we obligated in ending every genocide, toppling every regime that uses food as a weapon against its own people? The only difference between these situations and Saddam is the mythical WMD threat and oil.”

I don’t think we’re capable of helping everyone, but we should help those we can. Do I think we’re obligated to do this…yes!

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 4:53 PM
Comment #81802

My thoughts on WMD and “not a real threat” … Saddam wanted to be thought of as a threat, he acted as a threat and sought to become a threat. There. That seems pretty simple to me, and a perfectly justifiable reason to kick his a$$ outta there.

Posted by: Guest at September 21, 2005 5:14 PM
Comment #81804

Stephanie,
I agree that we should help who we can. However, we need to be smart about it. Do we give out three hundred billion dollars to try to ensure Iraqi freedom, even though we can’t actually afford it and it will harm the economy for our children? Do we provide medicine for everyone in the world, although many Americans can’t afford it? Every cent we spend helping others is money that we can’t spend at home. We’ve spent so much on the Iraq war now, that politicians of all affiliations are scrambling to come up with money to pay to help the victims of Katrina. As Jack is fond of saying, there’s always an opportunity cost.

Righting wrongs around the world has always been part of America’s idealistic nature. I think we would be less if we stopped. We really don’t want the holocaust to happen again. However, we again need to balance the needs of America against our desire to solve the world’s problems. We can do it, we just need to be smart about it. We can’t save everyone, so we need to maximize our ability to save those we can.

As far as obligation goes, I think that our government’s obligation is to protect and serve us. If there is any obligation to help others around the world, it is more of an individual obligation. Enough people have indicated that they want to do so through the government to make it a government function, but I don’t think it’s a government obligation except in thier general obligation to fulfill the will of the people.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 21, 2005 5:17 PM
Comment #81809

jchfleetguy,
By adding more troops (approx 150,000) we could shut down the borders. This major problem has never been addressed by the military. In fact, one might say that certain people want Al Qaeda to come into the country. However, by using our troops to shut off the free flow of weapons into Iraq the citizens could be safer.

As far as politics in Iraq, the President should of done the same thing they did in Afganistan. Additionally, he should of asked the Arab League to host the conference. In creating an environment that allowed for “Great Debate” without fear among the leaders, they would of been more inclined to get their constitution done faster.

Also the Sunnis would be more receptive to change if more of their cities would of been leveled. Instead by stopping short and rejecting outright the Bath Party we gave Al Qaeda a foothold. Yet, IMO I think that was Rumsfield’s game plan and that is dangerous for our troops in the long run. Simple reason & logic would of told a person that in order to keep the peace (respectfully) you would need as many troops as there are law enforcement agencies in CA. considering the sixe of Iraq is comparable in size.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 21, 2005 5:22 PM
Comment #81813

Stephen, the implication of my critque of your standard was apparently missed. While I don’t disagree with your reply, what I was getting at is the power of the President to engage the nation’s people in wars without popular review and consent. This is a form of military dictatorship hidden inside a democratic system and must he ended.

The power of Congress granted in the Constitution declare and authorize spending for war has been all but eliminated completely disenfranchising public approval of war. We need to move back to that place where the President has the power to retalliate against attack, but, it literally, according to the Constituiton, requires a declaration of war by Congress before any other kind of military conflict can be waged.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 21, 2005 5:32 PM
Comment #81832

David

According to them, every report critical of the war or President Bush brings a tear to their eye, and every additional soldier is nothing but an additional target!
I didn’t say they were an additional target - I said they would be a political and social irritant to the Iraqi people. I also said doubling the force would give double force to the argument that this is an “imperialist occupation”.

I think that is quite a bit different.

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 8:08 PM
Comment #81833

oops that was a reply to Stephen

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 8:09 PM
Comment #81843

Guest-
Nothing simple about it. We needed to save our ass kickings for the people with the capability to do us the most harm, not the pretenders trying to act all big and bad.

David-
Perhaps you’re right, but then you get into all kinds of issues about the chain of command, and our ability to respond in situations where a declaration of war would be too politically inflammatory, yet staying out the way would compromise our interests.

Skepticism would be the best response, next time around. We didn’t require a great deal of evidence this last time. Next time, we should ask better questions.

jchfleetguy-
Being a little bit occupied is like being a little bit pregnant. You either are, or you aren’t. If you are occupying them, and security is an issue, your light occupation is a liability. The sooner we attain control, the better, and going light on the soldiers means the insurgents can make us play whack-a-mole, because we can’t secure locations on an ongoing basis, without letting the insurgents have safe havens. We only win if we can establish firm control. They win both if they exhaust us with Wild Goose Chases or if we allow them the luxury of safe-havens to prepare from.

Doubling the forces there would give us the ability to establish control, and attenuate the ability of the insurgency to continue its operations.

All in all, there is little sense at all to the notion of disillusioning the insurgency in slow motion. We have to cripple their ability to fight, and do so in a way that reduces the violence.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 21, 2005 9:10 PM
Comment #81851

Stephen, the Korean Police conflict, the Viet Nam action, and now Iraq, are all the proof I need that the founding fathers got the war powers in the Constitution right and we are screwing with it at our peril, again, and again.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 21, 2005 9:49 PM
Comment #81859

Stephen,

That is a plan. Maybe better than mine. I am actually pretty agnostic on the issue - I just think there are some long-term ramifications with putting another 150,000 Americans in the country that are difficult to see (and which we would all get to argue about in another 3 years)

Posted by: jchfleetguy at September 21, 2005 10:48 PM
Comment #81869

jchfleetguy,

Please don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t suggesting we don’t fight when we should fight; but realistically we never have to fight. If you don’t believe that humans are really capable of resisting the urge to fight, then you haven’t met enough Jehovah Witnesses. ;-)

In a philosophical debate, using “last resort” would prevent all wars from being “just wars.” There’s really no such thing as “last resort” for wars without being faced with the consequences.

Personally, I think we were justified to go into Iraq, because (with the games he was playing) there was a chance that Hussein did have WMD and there really wasn’t any legitimate reason NOT to do it (IMO) had it been done properly. Now, as for how we went into the war and what we did once we were there, there the justice seems to slip away from us and that’s what I personally object to.

Perhaps I’m delusional, but I really, honestly believe that America coulda, shoulda, woulda done a lot better if our resources had been handled efficiently and strategically. Unfortunately, again IMO, that isn’t what happened and thus the war is not going nearly as smoothly as it ought to be going.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 21, 2005 11:53 PM
Comment #81872

Brian Poole,

I never said you were a hypocrite (at least not on this thread) nor was I trying to imply you were one here. I was merely pointing out, for the purpose of debate, that there is no such thing as a truly unavoidable war. “Last resort,” as it was describe at the beginning of this thread, and war do not mix. You changed the “rule book” that Dennis suggested by qualifying “last resort” to meet your intentions. Thus, this rule book, at least in your mind, is flexible to suit your purposes. Thus, it could be equally flexible to suit another’s purposes. Thus, it’s not much of a rule book. If it isn’t flexible to suit your purposes (and thus another person’s purposes as well), then it isn’t much of a rule book, IMO, because no war could be a just war, which I don’t believe.

So, in short, using this rule book to say Iraq wasn’t a just war isn’t, IMO, fair, because no war was ever a just war. If you start adjusting the rule book to make a war you believe appropriate appear just, then the Reps have just as much of a right to adjust the rule book to make the Iraq war appear just.

“Any writing about the guidelines above is an interpretation. I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch to say that when it says “last resort” it means last resort to achieve the just objectives, especially since interpreted how you are saying it should be, it means that war is never justified, while the whole point of the post is to establish when it is.”

And my point is that the premise set out, i.e. this rule book, isn’t a very effective or appropriate means to determine what a just war is, because of this significant problem that as it stands no war would qualify.

Just cause = Hussein was a grave, public evil as determined by his past behavior.

Comparative justice = While we, the opposing army, was not overly injured by Hussein, many of his own people were suffering significantly more injustice than the ruling Baathist party.

Legitimate authority = We, as the most powerful democracy in the world, have a duty to protect those being abused by their government.

Right intention = We were determined to ensure that Hussein didn’t use WMD on us, or sell it to someone else who would.

Probability of success = We were very successful at ensuring no WMD were used on us, and freeing the Iraqi people from the injust rule of Saddam Hussein. (Counting the insurgency as a separate conflict, because neither Saddam Hussein, nor his government, nor WMD are currently involved.)

Proportionality = The destruction in Iraq is minimal compared to the use of WMD, especially if the heavily feared nuclear holocaust were to occur in America and/or Iraq.

Last resort = All peaceful and effective methods were exhausted, because Hussein was consistently dishonest with his dealings.

Now, this was primarily a tongue-in-cheek exercise, but justifying this war, with only slight adjustments to the rule book purposed, wasn’t very difficult at all. If you can do it, why can’t I?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 12:22 AM
Comment #81874

Stephanie,
Good posts. I didn’t think you called me a hypocrite, I was just saying that that position is not hypocritical,and writing in first person. I can definitely see your point that the last rule, as stated, doesn’t say much.
The fun thing about this thread is that all of it is debatable. A book with rules open to interpretation is not bad—just look at the constitution. In the case of a book with flexible rules, you can debate in which way they should be flexed, and how far. You can argue the intent of the framers, which interpretations make the most sense, etc. It just takes things up a notch. If you want to interpret the rule book to prove your point, though, you have to say why your interpretation is better than mine.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 22, 2005 12:45 AM
Comment #81877

Brian Poole,

“The terrorism was not against us, and it wasn’t the group that attacked us.”

Did Germany attack us in WWII? I mean, before we attacked them for our allies sakes? Should we have simply attacked Japan and left Europe to determine its own fate?

What’s the difference here?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 1:00 AM
Comment #81882

Brian Poole,

I apologize if this is getting confusing, but I’m just working down the list right now.

“I agree that we should help who we can. However, we need to be smart about it.”

I agree we need to be smart about it. Watching everyone (with power) sit on their thumbs while the travesty of Danfur unfolds is…well, the only word that comes close right now is disgusting. Yet, we Americans don’t seem to be in much of a position to go it alone, since we’ve already got our troops heavily committed in two foreign nations, less heavily committed in many, and we’ve still got to protect home base. It’s sad, and much of my anger and disgust at the UN is that they continue to do nothing effective there.

“Do we give out three hundred billion dollars to try to ensure Iraqi freedom, even though we can’t actually afford it and it will harm the economy for our children?”

Frankly, the argument that “we can’t actually afford it” doesn’t wash with me. We choose not to afford it. Bush chooses not to afford it. But, if we were motivated enough, we could afford it.

I’ll explain it this way. I’ve been facinated by our own Civil War for a long time (relatively, I’m only 25), and have looked closely at what I can. My relavent conclusion is this: Those people made a LOT of sacrifices to have their war. We’re talking rich people giving up a VAST amount of luxuries to provide for their soldiers and their government with what they needed. Rich, pampered women sweating in the equivalent of VA hospital, nursing the wounded. And old men volunteering to be soldiers, because they were too short of bodies. And all this for the unjust war of the South!

Even our response to 9/11 and Katrina doesn’t COMPARE with the sacrifices these people made.

So, when you tell me we “can’t” afford it, it really makes me flinch. We haven’t even tried yet.

“However, we again need to balance the needs of America against our desire to solve the world’s problems. We can do it, we just need to be smart about it.”

I agree. I just think “being smart about it” means going an entirely different route. The smartest thing America could ever do at this point in our unfolding history is excise the corruption from our system. If we were honest with what our resources are, if we were honest with how we spent our tax money, if we were honest with how government contracts were run, then we would find ourselves fully capable of taking care of our own AND helping others who need it (not a comprehensive list of what would need to be done). Still not all, but we would be able to help more while helping our own fully.

“As far as obligation goes, I think that our government’s obligation is to protect and serve us. If there is any obligation to help others around the world, it is more of an individual obligation. Enough people have indicated that they want to do so through the government to make it a government function, but I don’t think it’s a government obligation except in thier general obligation to fulfill the will of the people.”

Believe it or not, I agree completely! :-)

I believe freely given donations, managed by non-profit organizations, is a much more effective way to deal with most of the world’s problems. Volunteer funds and volunteer hands are much more needed in most places. However, when it takes a soldier…then, that’s where governments typically get involved. Now, if we could have a privately funded volunteer peace keeping army…

Is that legal? Ah well, the idealist in me collides once again with the skeptic.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 1:42 AM
Comment #81886

Brian Poole,

“A book with rules open to interpretation is not bad—just look at the constitution.”

Well, that’s what I started with. See, for me, ethnocentric as it may be, I really don’t want dead foreign philosophers to determine which wars we fight, nor do I think it prudent to have people interpreting dead philosophers determine which wars we fight. I think Americans, with a strong understanding of both what America is or was and what it could yet be, should determine which wars we fight, even if they are dead Americans, such as George Washington and those who wrote the Constitution.

I’d much rather look at the justness of the Iraq war through the writings of our own, then through the writings of ancient dead foreigners.

Now, before anyone accuses me of hating dead ancient foreign people, let me clarify. America as a political experiment, has been a mixed success. Some things in our history have been pretty ugly. Some things in our history have been absolutely beautiful. The facts are fairly simple, we have a lot of our own history and our own political philosophers to draw on that understood America. We should draw on them before we rely on anyone else, because Cicero and the like didn’t, couldn’t understand America. And, because America is what it is, some of the rules have to change.

“If you want to interpret the rule book to prove your point, though, you have to say why your interpretation is better than mine.”

My examples were predominantly tongue-in-cheek. Frankly, I think it’s a little too late to determine the justifiability of the war. We’re there and we aren’t doing our job…most of us aren’t even sure what our job is, and there’s not much of a consensus of what our job should be. I’m still waiting for some help to figure out how we can effectively pressure Bush into a) determining what success means and b) actually working towards success without c) letting our enemies know what we plan.

As to answer your question, I did the tongue-in-cheek adjustments for the sole purpose of making Iraq into a “just” war, to prove that these tenets for what a just war is aren’t very useful. I considered doing it with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, but I considered that to be too risque since some people here really just don’t understand what sarcasm is.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 2:08 AM
Comment #81914

“Well, that’s what I started with. See, for me, ethnocentric as it may be, I really don’t want dead foreign philosophers to determine which wars we fight, nor do I think it prudent to have people interpreting dead philosophers determine which wars we fight. I think Americans, with a strong understanding of both what America is or was and what it could yet be, should determine which wars we fight, even if they are dead Americans, such as George Washington and those who wrote the Constitution”

—————————-

Interesting comment Stephanie, but I think you’re a bit off base here. The United States entire system of government was constructed around what dead foreign philosophers had to say. Starting with Plato and continuing on through John Locke, most of the thought that shaped our Constitution was based on previous work (from dead foreign philosophers).

Check out the following book:

“America’s Debt to Greece” - by Phil Conley

“The men who framed (the) Constitution were students of poltical science as advocated by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. And in their deliberations the Americans used numerous illustrations of confederacies, leagues, and co-operative defense organizations employed by Greek city-states.” (page 47)

Of course Americans should determine which wars we fight. No one is saying we shouldn’t. However, we should pay attention to what history has taught us. What is the old maxim: “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes”?

I think it is imprudent NOT to consider the lessons of the past when making decisions about killing people.

America has a rich history of extremely of precedent to fall back on regarding forming decisions about our domestic and international policies including whether or not we go to war. However, it is hubris to think that we have all the answers and shouldn’t consider the lessons from the past (even if the lessons were foreign.)

Posted by: Dennis at September 22, 2005 8:25 AM
Comment #81998

Stephanie,
I agree, if we are motivated and willing to sacrifice we can accomplish great things. The question is, are we motivated? Are we willing to sacrifice? There was great support for the Iraq war as long as there is no draft and no tax increase. That’s been the promise with this war, that war can be cheap and easy. Institute a draft and see how much support the war would have. Even now that we see that we could use the money for Katrina relief, most people want to cut back in Iraq.

War should not be cheap or easy. It should demand sacrifice, because otherwise it becomes trivial and we forget what a horror it actually is. Iraq was not worth enough to anyone in America to give up tax breaks to fund it, let alone increase taxes or call for increased military service. To me, that shows better than anything exactly how important it actually was, even to those who were pushing for it.

War is not a game. If the cause is not important enough that you would send your own child to fight and die for it, you shouldn’t be calling for war.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 22, 2005 3:36 PM
Comment #82028

Dennis,

I know how our country came to be. At least, a lot of it. What you don’t seem to take into account, is that our forefathers took the philosophical debates of the past and mutated them to meet the needs of the people they were trying to unite and represent. That doesn’t seem to me to be what you were doing. As you wrote your qualifications for a just war, no war qualifies, which may be true to a certain extent, but it isn’t very practicable.

“However, we should pay attention to what history has taught us.”

History has taught some of us that ignoring insane foreign leaders that are bent on world domination is bad for our national health.

“I think it is imprudent NOT to consider the lessons of the past when making decisions about killing people.”

I agree. I think Hussein’s past (and not Bush’s original reasons) made this war justified. The timing and the application of strategy… At first the timing seemed appropriate, because I wanted to know that Hussein had no WMDs to deliver to our enemies or to use himself. In hindsight, we probably could have waited, but there really isn’t a way to determine that now. The application of strategy that’s been used is, IMO, piss-poor and needs to be adjusted, but piss-poor strategy determines how effective a war is, not it’s justifiability.

“However, it is hubris to think that we have all the answers and shouldn’t consider the lessons from the past (even if the lessons were foreign.)”

I didn’t say any such thing. Here’s what I said (emphasis added):

“We should draw on them before we rely on anyone else, because Cicero and the like didn’t, couldn’t understand America.”

America is (or, at least, was) a fairly unique institution in regards to history. What has importance for Americans isn’t always the same as it has been for historic national entities. For instance, I don’t think the Patriot Act (in applicable terms) would have even made the ancient Grecians flinch. Yet, some of us Americans consider it oppression in a grave and dangerous form. Differences like that need to be taken into consideration when applying lessons of the past or else we’ll make an even worse mistake.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 4:54 PM
Comment #82034

Brian,

“War should not be cheap or easy. It should demand sacrifice, because otherwise it becomes trivial and we forget what a horror it actually is.”

I agree completely. War is nasty messy business that most Americans have seen too often in the form of movie magic, where nobody really dies. Many people forget what war really is and some just don’t know.

“To me, that shows better than anything exactly how important it actually was, even to those who were pushing for it.”

Some of us were willing to sacrifice a lot more then we were ever asked to or given an opportunity to do.

“War is not a game. If the cause is not important enough that you would send your own child to fight and die for it, you shouldn’t be calling for war.”

While I agree with what I think you were saying, I have to disagree with what you actually said.

I’ll use myself as an example. My oldest son (step-son) is now 9 years old. I am unwilling to send him to Iraq, because if he could even lift and fire a gun, he’d be more likely to hit a fellow American or his own foot then an enemy combatant. He has absolutely no chance to survive in a military conflict, since I doubt the terrorists would hesistate to kill him because he’s only a child. My three birth children all have life-long developmental disabilities. They will never be qualified to serve in the military. Do these things mean my opinion as to whether my representative democracy should go to war or not doesn’t matter? I don’t think so.

How about the man who is already in the military, but doesn’t think his eighteen year old son is ready to join up and is not willing to “allow” his son to go if he can do any reasonable thing to stop him, yet he’s willing to go himself? Is his opinion valid?

Do you have to serve in the military or have a child that could reasonably succeed in the military to have a valid opinion on war? That doesn’t sound the least bit American at all.

Now, if you’re suggesting that you should not support a war you are unwilling to make reasonable sacrifices to achieve success for, then I would totally agree. However, if the qualification is my willingness to send my young children to a battlefield, then we’re back to no war being justifiable.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 22, 2005 5:17 PM
Comment #82040
Numbers are always interesting. In all the time we spent fighting various bad guys since 9/11, we lost about 2/3 as many people as we lost on 9/11. We also know that around 1800 U.S. military personnel died annually as the result of training incidents, ordinary automobile accidents etc during the peacetimes of the 1980s. If you check the BBC story I referenced on the other side of this blog, you see that almost 12,000 died as a result of a heat wave in 2003. Statistics are interesting things. A number taken out of context can mean almost anything.

Well, that settles it then. If they are going to die anyhow, we might as well use them to catch some shrapnel! Better they get a flag drapped coffin then be spent on a heat wave. Support the troops!

Posted by: Taylor at September 26, 2005 8:28 PM
Comment #82072

Stephanie,
When I made the assertion that “If the cause is not important enough that you would send your own child to fight and die for it, you shouldnt be calling for war,” is a hypothetical. I think your answer avoids answering the question by getting overly specific. Everyone who has children can imagine what it would feel like if they died. Imagine them grown up, dying in the war, and ask yourself if it would be worth it to achieve the war’s objectives (In the case of Iraq, you’ll have to figure out what they are, because not even the president knows anymore). If it wouldn’t be worth it to sacrifice your kids for the effort, how can you ask someone else’s kids to die for it? Because they will.
People in a war do not make “reasonable sacrifices.” They make ultimate sacrifices. Without a purpose worthy of their sacrifice, war is unjustified.

Posted by: Brian Poole at September 27, 2005 1:01 AM
Comment #82795

Brian Poole,

“Imagine them grown up, dying in the war, and ask yourself if it would be worth it to achieve the war’s objectives (In the case of Iraq, you’ll have to figure out what they are, because not even the president knows anymore).”

First of all…If my children chose to join the military, then I would support their choice to do so, irregardless of the war. In that case, IMO, you are supporting why your child/children decided to join the military, not why the President/Congress decided to send them to war.

Secondly, if we’re talking draft…I don’t think we should use a draft. The quality of soldiers you get is not going to be as high and you’re going to have to invest more effort in enforcing it. Also, the government is obviously doing something wrong (and not necessarily fighting the war itself) if a draft is necessary, at least when we’re talking about a representative democracy.

Now, assuming we’re talking about my children being drafted into the army, and not them choosing to go (and, at the same time, removing all real world qualifications as to their ability to actually be soldiers), then I would find the current Iraq situation to be a justifiable means for my childrens possible deaths if 1) the objective was to free Iraqis from tyranny and provide them with a stable government that they then could rule on their own AND 2) the war strategy used was actually intended to secure the nation (meaning Iraq) not futz around.

Because qualifications 1 & 2 do NOT represent the current situation, I do not support our current war efforts in Iraq. However, my prefered solution is not to pull out because we’re not fighting to win, it’s to start fighting to win.

Currently, our military is made up of volunteers. I support their decision to join the military. I have people I love who’ve made that decision, both currently and in the past, and I support, thank, and applaud them for it. Because our military is a voluntary military, I feel it is absolutely necessary to separate the decision of our soldiers to fight for their country and the decision of determining what “fighting for our country” means. If my children are ever willing and able to choose to join the military, I will support them in that choice irregardless of the war that may be fought. While I may argue that the politics of the war are not valid, saying that my sons’ choice to participate is not valid will never happen. (which I why Sheehan, imo, is disrespecting her son)

As for the hypothetical nature of your question…I’m going to have to assume one of three things 1) you don’t have children yourself, or 2) if you do, you’ve never known your child’s life was in very real danger, or 3) men and women are really VERY different in how they think about the lives of their children.

Asking me to consider a hypothetical situation where my children’s lives are at risk, and to logically tell you how I’d react…I can’t do it. It’s not that simple. I can tell you how I’d like to react or how I should react, but until I’m in the situation I cannot tell you how I will react.

In the past, I’ve reacted in many different ways, including darting out in front of a speeding car, panicking, and organizing a calm, intelligent search. Those are three very different reactions to different real-life circumstances. I’ve lived through more than one adrenaline rush that gave me exception strength or speed. I’ve also panicked and fell to incompetent tears. I know I’m capable of doing the right thing. I know I’m equally capable of doing the very wrong thing. Therefore, I know I cannot tell you with any certainty what I would do. Hypothetics be damned!

“People in a war do not make “reasonable sacrifices.” They make ultimate sacrifices.”

I have to disagree. I don’t consider death the “ulitmate sacrifice,” but that is because I have a firm belief in a post-mortal existence. Besides, to quote Emiliano Zapata, “It is better to die on your feet, then to live on your knees.”

“Without a purpose worthy of their sacrifice, war is unjustified.”

And I think that is a much more reasonable guideline, then Dennis’ rule book. In that sense, I think the current Iraq post-war conflict could be justified if it was being handled appropriately and effectively, but that it is not currently justified because it is not being handled either appropriately or effectively, and that the solution is to change how our government is handling the war not to throw up our hands as if it were a lost cause.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 29, 2005 9:54 PM
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