Was the Iraq War Morally Justified?

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Not all decisions that are made are black and white or blatantly laid out in terms of good and bad. Often, the most important decisions are choices between the better of two options. The decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy conclusion but it was one that was made with best intentions. It is my opinion that even though there were some mistakes made in the determination to invade Iraq, it was a just decision on both a security and a moral basis. This paper will briefly look at the background behind the start of the war with Iraq and then examine the rationale of both the pro and con side of this determination. In the following arguments, this paper will concentrate not on security issues as much as whether the war was morally justified.

On January 17, 1991 the United States spear headed a coalition of countries in an intervention into Iraq after Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. Although, this venture was successful from the standpoint that Iraq withdrew from Kuwait, Iraq soon ceased to comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 687 which laid the terms of cease-fire for Iraq. (Rourke 2006) Not only did Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, throw out the UN weapons inspectors but he also continued his persecution of Iraqi minority groups as well as providing financial and political support to radical terrorist groups. After the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in the United States, President Bush declared war not only on the terrorists who had committed the act, but also on those leaders and countries who supported them, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them" (New York Times 2001). In the light of the United States' new commitment to fighting terrorism and its ongoing dedication to protecting human rights, the thought of invading Iraq was a logical one.

The decision to go to war with Iraq was not an unanimous determination by any measure. It had many critics who voiced numerous justifiable objections and even the American were greatly divided on it. In March 2003, shortly before the United States invaded Iraq a poll found that "67 percent of Americans approved ‘of the United States taking military actionagainst Iraq to try to remove Saddam Hussein from power while ... 29 percent disapproved and 4 percent were unsure". (Rourke 2006). This poll shows that while the majority did support going to war, there were many that disapproved of it.

Senator Robert Byrd argues that by invading Iraq, the United States itself has redirected the focus of terrorism to Iraq. (Rourke 2006) In 2003 following the invasion of Iraq, Senator Byrd said, "Today ... it is Iraq that has become the most powerful magnet for Islamic terrorists. ... Ironically, Saddam Hussein and his henchmen are more of a threat to the United States today than they were before the war began." (Rourke 2006) While it is true that there is much instability in Iraq currently, it is my opinion that this situation has been improved by the removal of the Iraqi regime. Without a leader who is funding and encouraging terrorism, terrorist cells have been decentralized and fragmented thus rendering them less capable of staging dramatic, large-scale attacks.

One of the reasons the United States cited in going to war was that it was combating radical extremism and terrorism. Leon Wieseltier disagrees, saying, "this war ... was supposed to strike a decisive blow against terrorism. I do not doubt that seriousness of the Bush administration's intention to protect the United States, but I never understood this argument. We cannot fight Islamic radicalism, I mean militarily, without creating Islamic radicalism. The fight against Islamic radicalism, must be political and cultural, which is why the fight against Islamic radicalism must not be conflated with the fight against Islamic terrorism." (The New Republic 2004) This type of thinking is faulty in that it...
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