Thursday, November 18, 2004

The War on Iraq

[Preface: Clearly, this post will be based on a personal bias, and isn't really too philosophical per se, but something I think we should all take an interest in.]

Is it justified? I've been thinking about this a lot lately. If the death count has risen so much since our entering, how can it be considered a humanitarian effort? If so many Iraqis want us out, who are we supposed to be helping? At first the war was justified to the American public because of the undeniable proof of WMDs. Since we found out about the lies and exagerations that backed up that claim, the justification has become more humanitarian in nature. I have no definition of humanitarianism, but I never pictured such acts involving so much death against the wishes of those we are purportedly helping. I'm no ethicist or political scholar, but my naive opinions cannot help but be contrary to those of our political leaders. If we were concerned with humanitarianism, why not help those dozens of impoverished nations who don't have such a checkered past with the US (and hence wouldn't be so resistant) by providing their hungry with food and their homeless with shelter? Why not help those in our own nation who have very little? If you're interested, go to http://costofwar.com to see how much we've spent thus far on the war. Over $145 billion. Is there absolutely no way we might've spent that money in a more productive fassion? Yes, the Iraqi government has not been the best friend of the U.S., but does that mean we need to go to these extreme measures? Are these the actions that the great spiritual and ethical leaders--Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King--would have advised us to do?

When we went to war we broke the UN charter--We broke international law.

Terrorism (def.): The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

I've heard people in the department say that this war is justified, and I've heard others say that the issue is too convoluted to judge either way. I completely disagree with both of those claims. However, I know that we're all intelligent philosophers here, so I'm confident that you have well thought out arguments for your positions. PLEASE help me understand because right now I can't help but see things from only one side.

DePoe--If this isn't the sort of thing you want on the blog, you have my permission to remove it.

17 Comments:

At 8:34 PM, November 18, 2004, Blogger cocodrylo said...

Chris,

That sounds like a good definition of terrorism, but its too broad. I wouldn't call the US invading Iraq a terrorist act. I think it should not include the direct military actions of nation states. However, I think that it could easily be seen as an act of aggression by one nation state against another.

However, bear in mind that state-sponsored terrorism can still occur. The US, in 1985, became the one and only nation state to be charged and formally condemned by the World Court as guilty of sponsoring terrorist activity. This had to do with the Nicaraguan Problem, in which the US funded guerilla warfare against specific "soft targets." That is, civilians. So although our military never invaded Nicaragua (that would be an act of aggression), we did sponsor terrorist activity there.

Another interesting thing: people often cite the atrocities of the Iraqi government. I don't think that Saddam Hussein was great, but we need to keep in mind that the man who "gassed his own people" did so in 1987, when he was shaking America's hand - and we knew about it. In fact, the US was supplying chemical weapons to Iraq at this point. Whether or not these were the chemicals used to kill the masses of Kurds is not something I am aware of, but the historical context of Iraq and its "horrible" record should be known by more people.

This is not to say that there were no humanitarian reasons for invading Iraq (although it seems ad hoc), but it does show that humanitarian reasons don't seem to motivate us all the time (especially when the "crime against humanity" is occuring [1987]). What could be some other motivations?

 
At 9:54 PM, November 18, 2004, Blogger James McGlothlin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:49 PM, November 18, 2004, Blogger Johnny-Dee said...

Just so you know, I think this topic is fair game to blog about, insofar as we keep the discussion broadly philosophical. Let's just make sure our department's blog doesn't turn into a political op/ed page.

 
At 11:58 PM, November 18, 2004, Blogger Johnny-Dee said...

I don't have time to post much of my own thoughts on the justification of the war, but I can point you to a philosopher who thinks there is a cumulative case that justifies the Iraq war.

 
At 2:55 AM, November 19, 2004, Blogger Blar said...

As long as you're mentioning Bill Vallicella's cumulative case argument, I might as well point out that I countered here, he redirected here, and I made one more reply here. I'm basically with Chris on the main issue - all of our main goals, like humanitarianism, democracy promotion, anti-terrorism, and anti-proliferation could have been better satisfied by other courses of action that did not include becoming involved in such a complicated mess.

 
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