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Friday, January 18, 2019

Iraq Wasn’t About Policy, It Was About Ethics

Iraq Wasn’t About Policy, It Was About Ethics

by Joe Miller, The Century Foundation

Ten years ago today, the United States invaded Iraq, kicking off what is variously known as the Iraq War and the Second Gulf War.

The policy blogosphere has spent much of the past week engaging in public mea culpas from those who supported the war back in 2003, and some gloating from those who spoke out it against it at the time.

I have two small things I’d like to add to the conversation.

I got it right.

Okay, so I’m not beyond a bit of gloating. Back in 2004, I published an article arguing that the war in Iraq was illegal and that military officers were morally obligated to refuse to go. I argued that officers are morally accountable for decisions about whether they fight, and not just about how they fight, and that the Bush Doctrine’s embrace of pre-emptive war was both unjust and illegal.

That argument was not particularly well received when I first began articulating it in March, 2003. West Point cadets do not take kindly to the suggestion that they have a moral obligation to refuse direct orders, even when that suggestion is coming from the philosopher charged with teaching their just war theory course. Neither do their commanding officers, some of whom contacted me to “express concerns” about our class discussions.

My argument did not turn on the question of whether Iraq actually possessed any weapons of mass destruction, though my skepticism on that front turned out to be justified. Too many others were taken in by a combination of flimsy evidence and jingoism. My friend and colleague paid dearly for our collective gullibility, as did thousands of others with equally valuable, unique and wonderful lives.

Look through the very many Iraq retrospectives, and you’ll see all kinds of conversations about lessons to be learned:

—Why we all were taken in by nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

—How our eagerness to exact revenge on someone for 9/11 led us to war with the wrong people.

—Why we fell for the crazy belief that Gen. Petraeus and COIN could make military occupation work.

—How failing to prepare for the peace hopelessly poisoned the well for post-invasion success.

The lists of “Why We Fell For It” and “What We Learned” all miss one simple truth.

The Second Gulf War was an unjust war.

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2 responses to “Iraq Wasn’t About Policy, It Was About Ethics”

  1. The invasion of Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with ethics. If anything, it is a poster child for unethical behavior. The real factors that influenced that embarrassing crusade were the need to transform a pathetic President, partly responsible for 9/11 because of his ambivalence and ineptitude, into a war President to guarantee his re-election; hatred towards a former ally who got too big for his britches, intolerance, the need to convince a naive populace that something was being done to avenge 9/11, and finding ways to implement the largest re-distribution of public funds to the private sector in modern history. Stop trying to find cute excuses for what the Bush administration did to our society and to our country. Their problem was not ignorance or naivete, it involved deliberate criminal activities that deserve to be investigated, and those responsible for it should spend the rest of their lives in jail for what they did. Over 4,000 American soldiers were sacrificed to benefit a few greedy bastards, over 20,000 were maimed, between 100,000 and 600,000 Iraqis killed, over two million fled their country to save their lives, the entire Persian Gulf region was destabilized when we removed the Sunnis from power and replaced them with Shiites aligned spiritually to Iran, and about $1.5T of our national treasure was squandered.

    • Independent1 says:

      So in short, it was by far the largest case of outright fraud ever perpetrated on any nation on the planet, by a group of outright criminals who should all be in jail for not only their thievery, but also for the thousands upon thousands of cases of manslaughter committed in perpetrating their crime. And for them to not be in jail, and therefore justice not being done, in my mind is also clearly a case of a total injustice being done against not only the people of our nation but also all of humanity.

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