Skip to comments.My Liberal Professor Gave me an A on this Essay (Vanity)
Posted on 12/05/2003 9:58:10 PM PST by Lunatic Fringe
The Right Decision: Defending the Invasion of Iraq
Imagine living in a country where you had no rights. Imagine that your words could be misconstrued as criticism of the government, and that the consequence of such an act could mean the rape of your daughter, or the torture of your wife. Imagine that as an Olympic athlete, failure to achieve victory could mean your painful death. Living under the government of Iraq is a life of fear.
In Iraq, there is rampant poverty in the oppressive shadow of excessive opulence, lack of food and medical care, and no opportunities to better your life. Add to this the fear of attack from rival nations and the possibility of being forced to defend a government you despise, and you can begin to formulate in your mind the kind of existence that the people of Iraq have endured for decades.
These and other factors must be taken into consideration when a leader is faced with the decision of invading a foreign nation. Is the act justified? How do you defend it against those who would oppose you? Will your own citizens be willing to lay down their lives for the cause? In this paper, I will explore the root causes of the current situation in Iraq, and why, in spite of international opposition, the United States is justified in its decision to forego the United Nations, invade the country of Iraq, and remove Saddam Hussein from power.
The issue to go to war with Iraq has sparked international outrage as well as deep support. Not since the Vietnam Conflict has the United States been more divided on an international issue. Millions of people around the world have staged demonstrations regarding the war in Iraq, either supporting or criticizing the decision by the U.S.-led coalition to remove Saddam Hussein from power. In scenes reminiscent of 1960s protests against Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, citizens around the world have taken to the streets to defend and oppose unilateral action against the government of Iraq, with emotions running high on both sides of the debate.
Several international interests are at the center of the debate. The governments of the United States, Britain, and Spain, along with several smaller nations from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, have combined to form the Coalition committed to removing Saddam Hussein from power through the force of an international, U.S.-led military force. In opposition, France, Germany, and Russia, along with influential but oppressive Middle East regimes, attempted to block Coalition action through diplomatic negotiations and public statements through the international media. The United Nations was hopelessly deadlocked as members of the United Nations Security Council debated the correct course of action. Smaller elements of geo-political influence have also played a part in the debate to go to war. International concerns over oil supplies, the influence of U.S. policy in Israel, the proliferation of deadly weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and state-sponsored terrorism all combined to form a complex issue that culminated in one question: should Saddam Hussein be removed from power? Although the strongest and most contentious element of the debate has been the issue of WMDs, there are many more important issues that should be considered. Human rights, the moral obligation of world governments, and the stability of the Middle East region have been made secondary factors. However, I believe that the freedom of the Iraqi people is by far the most important element of the equation.
Saddam Husseins Baath Party came to power in 1968 as the result of a bloody coupe d'état. Through murder and intimidation, Hussein quickly rose through the ranks of the Baath Party. He became the de facto ruler of Iraq and subjugated Iraqs political and economic policies. On July 17, 1979, he declared himself president, claiming to expose a Syrian conspiracy involving the former president and senior Baath party officials. By the end of the night, over 200 Baath party leaders were either imprisoned or executed (Ritter 60). This brazen power grab became known as The Night of the Long Knives. It established Husseins willingness to destroy the lives of influential Iraqis in order to maintain his hold on the government. In his obsessive quest to remain in power, Saddam Hussein brutally put down any opposition to his rule.
A long war with Iran in the 1980s demoralized Iraqi troops, and summary executions of private citizens served his policy of power through fear. Saddam Hussein frequently sacrificed his own citizens in order to maintain control of the government. His new life of wealth and power would not be denied to him. In his USA Today editorial, Zainab Al-Suwaij, an Iraqi-born American citizen, describes Saddam Husseins treatment of his own people: [He] waged a brutal campaign against the Kurds, killing thousands with poison gas; tens of thousands of other civilians disappeared throughout the 1980s (Al-Suwaij).
After securing his power domestically, and defeating Iran to the east, Husseins eyes turned south to the rich oil fields of Kuwait. In late 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, prompting international outrage and immediate condemnation by the United Nations Security Council. President George Bush, through backdoor negotiations, formed the largest military alliance since World War II and gave Saddam Hussein a deadline to withdraw from Iraq. The United Nations Security Council unanimously supported this action. Hussein refused to withdraw, and moved his troops to forward positions along the border with Saudi Arabia. A strong international coalition led by the United States succeeded in expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait, crippling Husseins army in less than 100 days. As a condition of the cease-fire agreement between Iraq and the Coalition, United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 declared that:
Iraq shall unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities; All ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 [kilometers] and related major parts, and repair and production facilities (UN 687).
At first, it seemed as if Iraq was willing to tolerate the United Nations resolution. But shortly after the United States withdrew the substance of its forces in the Middle East, Iraq began to resist the resolution. A systematic attempt to hinder the weapons inspectors became apparent. In 1998, Iraq expelled all UNSCOM inspectors. In retaliation, President Bill Clinton ordered a military strike against Iraq. After 12 years of Iraq violating this resolution, along with accusations of supporting international terrorism following the attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush confronted the issue of Iraqs threat to the Middle East and to the world in his State of the Union address. As the months passed, arguments arose both in favor and in opposition to a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Those in favor of taking action against Iraq contend there exists strong evidence that Iraq continues to possess and develop weapons of mass destruction, in violation of Resolution 687. These weapons present a clear danger to the Middle East, particularly in light of Saddams history of using WMDs against Iran and the northern Kurds. In his book The Greatest Threat, UNSCOMs chief weapons inspector Richard Butler claimed that Iraqi Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was quite frank about the fact that they had used them on Iran in the past (Butler 118). Investigations carried out by the United Nations revealed a pattern of deception on the part of the Iraqi government in terms of the status of its weapons program. Iraq moved weapons labs, destroyed documents, lied about the status of missile warheads, and even physically intimidated United Nations inspectors in order to delay the inspection program. The expulsion of the UN team in 1998 made it clear to many inspectors that Iraq intended to expand its WMD program in secret.
In addition to developing weapons of mass destruction, it is believed that Iraq is a sponsor of international terrorism. The nation was added to the U.S. State Departments list of state-sponsored terrorism in 1990 (Overview). Although little concrete evidence has been presented to the American people, there is strong circumstantial evidence of Iraqs involvement in the attacks of 11 September. According to Insight Magazines Scott Wheeler, [s]enior investigators and analysts in the U.S. government have concluded that Iraq acted as a state sponsor of terrorism against Americans and logistically supported the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States (Wheeler).
Opposition to the invasion of Iraq came from the governments of France, Germany, and China, scores of political activists groups, and Presidents Bushs political adversaries within the United States. Those who opposed the war claimed that Coalition forces would harm Iraqi citizens, and that the United Nations must approve the action.
Extreme rhetoric even claimed that President Bush and his administration had a sinister personal and financial stake in the war. Hollywood stars have been the most vocal in opposing the war with Iraq. Acting as a co-host on CNNs Crossfire with Tucker Carlson, Janeane Garofalo claims that the war with Iraq had nothing to do with human rights. It was an attempt at a corporate takeover. This was about oil It's not about human rights (Garofolo). Ms. Garofolo was one of the most vocal of Hollywood stars in her opposition to invading Iraq, but she was certainly not alone. Statements by artists such as George Clooney, the Dixie Chicks, Martin Sheen, and Susan Sarandon have been particularly harsh regarding the Bush administrations policy in Iraq. Opponents alleged that although Saddam Hussein was indeed an evil dictator, the United Nations inspectors should be allowed to continue its search for WMDs inside Iraq.
There are those who took a logical stance in opposition to the war, claiming that removing Saddam Hussein from power would cause more problems than it would solve. In his scholarly review published in Mediterranean Quarterly, Vincent Cannistraro made a prophetic point when he concludes if we were to succeed in removing Saddam, we would have to leave a presence on the ground to support a provisional government (Cannistraro). Such a presence would fuel anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, increasing the threat of terrorist attacks against the United States.
Saddam Hussein has been a menace to the global community. His refusal to comply with international law, his use of chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds, and his support of various terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, is a threat to the United States and the world. The United States embarked on a difficult, but necessary course of action to remove a dangerous dictator, despite international objections and the absence of United Nations support.
Opposition to the war based on the argument that civilians would be harmed is challenging to defend. The estimated civilian casualties caused by Coalition forces pale in comparison to the human rights violations perpetrated by the government in Iraq. The assertions of some critics of the war that U.S. forces would be targeting civilians in Iraq is absurd, and only serve to invoke a deep emotional response of guilt and shame. The government of Iraq attempted to take advantage of this fear when the Iraqi Health Minister, Omeed Medhat Mubarak, claimed, "[U.S. forces] are targeting the human beings in Iraq to decrease their morale (Iraq Accuses). Peace advocates feel somewhat vindicated when reports of civilian deaths inevitably surface. However, the opponents of the Bush policy to remove Hussein from power did not protest Iraqs systematic abuse of their own people. These critics seem more concerned with portraying the United States as the aggressor, rather than actually dealing with the fact that nearly 1 million Iraqis have died as a result of Husseins policies. One must question the motives of these campaigners for peace. Through either naiveté or self-serving interests, those who claim to be concerned for the welfare of the Iraqi people have for years turned a blind eye to the brutal oppression under which they have lived.
When one compares the death toll under Saddam Hussein with the potential death toll of a U.S.-led war to remove him, the choice to invade Iraq cannot be attacked based on the potential of civilian casualties.
The more ridiculous claims of President Bushs reasoning for war also fail to hold up under scrutiny. As I stated earlier, Janeane Garofalo has maintained that the reason for the Bush administrations decision to go to war in Iraq is American oil interests and profits for oil company CEOs (Garofalo). As proof of a disturbing plot to profit from the war with Iraq, opponents point to the awarding of oil reconstruction contracts to the Halliburton Corporation. Vice President Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995-2000. This connection is cited by anti-war advocates, but they fail to mention that the U.S. government contacted three oil field reconstruction contractors about the possibility of working in post-war Iraq: Cudd Well Control, Wild Well Control, and Boots & Coots International Well Control. Boots
& Coots is a subsidiary of Halliburton, and was the contractor used in 1991 and 1992 to extinguish oil well fires in Kuwait. Most of the current oil reconstruction contracts were awarded to Halliburton due to their extensive experience in Kuwait. The assertion that Halliburtons subsidiary won the contract with little competition because of ties with the Vice President may be true, but it is not the whole truth. And due to the overwhelming victory of the U.S.-led Coalition, damage to Iraqs oil fields was minimal, thus reducing the potential profits for Halliburton. According to Joseph Giannones article in Forbes, the post-war reconstruction costs for Halliburton has exceeded $2 billion as their stocks continue to fall (Giannone).
The argument that oil is the primary reason for Bushs invasion order has never made sense. Oil companies make more of a profit from higher oil prices, not lower.
The flow of Iraqi oil would cause the international oil market to either cut production or face declining prices. As the Iraqi oil industry increases production, OPEC finds itself in a difficult position. By lowering their own production, they risk losing market share. If they cut prices to compete with Iraq, they lower their profit margin. It is the Iraqi people who would truly profit from the legal sale of Iraqi oil. While one cannot deny that oil has played a significant role in the decision to go to war, one could argue that those nations who opposed the war had more of a concern for oil profits than the United States.
Advocates for a peaceful resolution to the U.S.-Iraq conflict claim that the war is illegal because the United Nations Security Council never granted approval. However, the United Nations is an organization whose objective is to keep the peace, not to authorize war.
But even in keeping peace, the United Nations has been a dismal failure since its organization after WWII. In Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, East Timor, Sudan, and Iraq, the United Nations, by refusing to take the side of the oppressed against the oppressor, has become an international organization incapable of resolving conflicts. The United Nations unwillingness to intervene in Rwanda in 1994 cost the lives of 500,000 Rwandans. The United Nations Security Council then claimed it would do more to prevent another slaughter of innocents (UN Council). One of the reasons for its failure is its insistence on neutrality in armed conflicts. After a UN report criticized its own Security Council for failing to stop genocidal acts in Bosnia, Secretary General Kofi Anan admitted through error, misjudgment, and an inability to recognize the scope of the evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to help save the people of Srebrenica from the Serb campaign of mass murder (Roth). This shameful policy has unnecessarily prolonged conflicts throughout the world. It is this lack of political will to intervene when necessary that justifies the United States policy to forego the vote of the UN Security Council.
By its very nature, military actions proposed through the United Nations Security Council requires the approval of France, Russia, and China, all permanent Security Council members with the power to veto any resolution. These Council members are all representatives of countries who took part in illegal arms smuggling with Iraq, and therefore were culpable in the prolonged episode of the failure of the United Nations weapons inspection program. Evidence of this violation of the United Nations embargo was outlined in William Safires March 2003 editorial titled The French Connection. In his column, Safire delineates the methods used by France, Russia, Syria, and China to bypass United Nations sanctions and sell weapons and technology to Iraq. In his summary, he cites this as the reason for their refusal to support a U.S.-led Coalition to oust Hussein: This detail about the France-China-Syria-Iraq propellant collaboration makes for dull reading, but reveals some of the motivation behind the campaign of those nations to suppress the truth (Safire). Indeed, to the embarrassment of France, embargoed weapons manufactured in France were found by Polish troops just weeks after invading Iraq (Sherwell), and a well-publicized incident of an attack in Kuwait using Chinese made Silkworm missiles made headlines.
The failure of the United Nations to bring a peaceful solution to the conflict in Iraq left no alternative but to go to war. Its history of disappointing victims of brutal regimes, its unsuccessful attempts to keep the peace, and its complete lack of will to intervene in armed conflict has made the United Nations an irrelevant mediator in the global community. It is ironic that those who claim President Bush ignored the United Nations Security Council resolutions fail to recognize the inability of the Council to resolve conflicts and enforce United Nations sanctions.
The war in Iraq is not only justified, but long overdue. The crimes committed by the government of Iraq since Husseins rise to power are horrendous. Husseins aggressive nature towards its neighbors has posed a threat to the region for years. His escalating involvement in international terrorism has made the threat of an international incident very real. The interest of the United States, and indeed the rest of the world, is that the Middle East is free and democratic. And finally, the extreme human rights violations perpetrated by Saddam Husseins regime voids his right to claim the leadership of the Iraqi people.
Husseins history of attacking his enemies is well documented. He purged the Baath Party of left-leaning members after his rise to power in 1979. During the 1980s, he continued the policies of the Baath Party regarding the oppression of Kurds in northern Iraq. In 1980, he launched an eight-year war against Iran, during which he ordered the use of chemical weapons. And in 1991, he ordered the invasion of Kuwait (Butler 83). Political assassinations are the preferred method of eliminating domestic opposition in Saddam Husseins Iraq. And in 1993, he expanded such methods into Kuwait where an assassination attempt on former President George Bush was unveiled and several Iraqi nationals were arrested, including members of Iraqs Intelligence Ministry.
The argument that Iraq has been tied with terrorism has not been as widely publicized over the years as Husseins other atrocities. Speculation of Iraqs involvement in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 has never been proven or even publicly supported by the United States government. But on November 15th, 2003, The Weekly Standard published an article that cited a Senate Intelligence Committee memo that lays out in 50 well documented intelligence facts the connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, dating as far back as 1990 and as recently as March of 2003. According to the article written by Stephen Hayes, the memos most glaring evidence came from a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, who stated in an interview that:
Iraqi intelligence established a highly secretive relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and later with al Qaeda . Additional meetings between Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda were held in Pakistan. Members of al Qaeda would sometimes visit Baghdad where they would meet the Iraqi intelligence chief in a safe house. The report claimed that Saddam insisted the relationship with al Qaeda be kept secret. After 9-11, the source said Saddam made a personnel change in the IIS for fear the relationship would come under scrutiny from foreign probes (Hayes 43).
This memo cites intelligence sources from all over the world, and the failure of the international media to report these findings is curious given the overwhelming support of the global community to bring to justice those who aided Al-Qaeda in the September 11th attack.
In a world dependent on oil, the interests in the Middle East are self-evident. Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies claims, We cannot afford to be wrong about the ability of key exporters to meet growing world oil demand or to make up for disruptions in supply. According to the study published by the CSIS, the global demand for oil will nearly double in the next 27 years. The Middle East controls nearly 65 percent of Earths entire oil assets and they are the only ones that have unused producing abilities (Schoeff). Even relatively minor political events can have an effect on the global oil market. Stability in the Middle East is vital to this market, which has been difficult to achieve with Iraqs government posing a threat to its neighbors.
Oil certainly played a factor in the decision to go to war, but probably not to the extent claimed by anti-war protestors. This is a convenient and simple argument, one that can easily be condensed into a 10 second sound bite. But the interest of oil is also a justified position when arguing in favor of the war. Time and again, Hussein has demonstrated his desire to control a majority of the worlds oil supply. Had Hussein succeeded in his 1991 campaign in Kuwait, and had he been successful in invading Saudi Arabia, he would have been in a position to demand concessions from the world regarding a number of policies affecting the United States, Israel, the Middle East and beyond. In contrast, the United States post-war policies in both Kuwait and Iraq seek not to control the worlds open supply, but to open it up to all nations in a free market system.
Finally, Iraqs abhorrent record on human rights is almost as shameful as the worlds indifference to the deaths of an estimated 1 million Iraqi citizens. Amnesty International has documented human rights abuses in Iraq since the 1960s. The organization claims one hundred thousand citizens have been executed, hundreds of thousands of conscripts died in the Iran-Iraq War, and 5,000 Kurds were murdered in the chemical attack on the town of Halabja in March of 1988. In addition to the deaths of Iraqis, Amnesty International has acknowledged horrendous reports of torture, rape, and religious persecution. The systematic use of amputation, mutilation, hangings, eye gouging, electric shock, and other unspeakable crimes has been the preferred method of order and justice utilized by the Hussein family (Amnesty International).
There are those who say, Violence never solves anything. I would respond by saying that although it should be a last resort, violence has proven throughout history to be a solution to government oppression. It is through violence that the American colonies won independence. It took a brutally violent war for American slaves to finally throw off the shackles of servitude. It was violence in World War II that crushed fascism in Europe. It is a sad fact of human history that those in power often seek to sadistically oppress its own people, and this truth justifies a violent reaction.
The responsibility of any government is to protect and represent its citizens. The denial of basic human rights without due process justifies the removal of that government. It is the responsibility of free citizens of the world to support and liberate those who remain under the shadow of cruel subjugation. The United States and Great Britain have taken a bold step forward in a new global policy of freedom. On his recent state visit to Great Britain, President Bush declared, liberation is still a moral goal and freedom and security still need defenders (Bush).
This moral duty is being ignored by the United Nations and its member nations. It is the leadership of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair that will hopefully bring a moral clarity to the leaders of the world, and a message that tyranny will no longer be tolerated.
Liberal professors are fine and dandy. As long as they can be fair and objective when doing their jobs.
Unfortunately there's fewer and fewer of those left.
Maybe a lesson on pre-judgment.
BTW, excellent paper. Especially IMO for the important points rarely raised, such as oil, opec, and their interrests being against the war, not for.
It is the responsibility of free citizens of the world to support and liberate those who remain under the shadow of cruel subjugation.
I never heard of it before too.
Until a few days ago.
In the Vanity Fair piece about Joseph Wilson. He was involved in it, on the Bechtel side apparently.
The largest problem in your argument is the inconsistency between the soveriegn rights of the U.S. and the obligation to resolve oppression overseas. The argument falls apart when extended to such oppression as in China, North Korea, and the Congo, places of severe oppression about which we do nothing. The stronger argument relies on American self-interest. It is in our interest that we fight oppression around the world, but it is not always in our interest. During the Cold War, for example, we supported oppressive regimes in order to fight a larger evil.
I would add to it all the dimension of power. This one will knock you down to a D-, but it is no less true for it. By exercising power, the United States has prevented another or other powers from dominating the region and global politics in general. Clinton foreign policy capitulated to the our enemies the power vacuum that followed the end of the Cold War. Gulf War I served not only to stop Iraqi aggression, it cut across Cold War alignments. Sadly, Clinton failed to follow upon the opening. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have revived the opportunity to reshape the world away from Cold War divisions and towards more constructive power relationships. The current low-level antagonism with Western Europe is one of the welcome products of it.
Good stuff, LF!