Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Norm Geras:
The justification for [the Iraq] war under international law, and as made by those who led it, did not centre on regime change for humanitarian reasons. But the moral case for getting rid of Saddam depended on this from day one. To suggest otherwise is an act of deliberate self-blinding.
I've concurred with Geras about this before.

Still, Geras understates the extent to which the moral rationale formed part of the justification under international law. See the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, Sec. 3 ("It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.") and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 ("Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region, and that Congress, supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688"). And such moral reasons are not undercut by the unfortunate fact of civilian casualties, especially given that coalition-caused deaths have declined dramatically.


Marc said...


"We stopped the fighting [in 1991] on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict."

Senator Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada)
Addressing the US Senate
October 9, 2002
Congressional Record, p. S10145

Reid and I think alike on this. Well, used to think alike.

OBloodyHell said...

> coalition-caused deaths have declined dramatically.

There are more critical elements to this:

1) The deaths directly attributable to coalition action (i.e., NOT including those cause by terrorist in response to coalition action) are, to the best of my knowledge, not substantially above those of Saddam & his ilk as he tyrannized his own subjects.

2) More critically -- the deaths that have occurred served a higher purpose, of stabilizing the region and giving the Iraqi people a chance to make a nation of their own which was free of such tyranny in the future. The deaths, in short, were not for naught, but towards a goal that most Iraqis would support were it not for any personal element of the loss. That's not necessarily enough for the bereaved, but it seems to me that it does beat the hell out of knowing that your loved one died solely because Uday or Osay decided they didn't like the way their shirt fit that day.
3) If one child died, but others lived orders of magnitude better as a result, then that, too, can be a morally balancing component. One cannot justify ending one life to improve others does not mean that one life ended by accident in a situation which improved that of others is morally unjustifiable. Making such a choice is morally problematic. Making a choice which might -- possibly result in such an event is one we make every day. Each time you get in your car and drive down the street, there is the possibility that some small child will run out in the street in front of you and die as a result of that choice. Are you morally bound, thereby, to not drive a car as a result? Or is that accepted as a part of the natural order of things, that "Sh** happens" -- even to the innocent? That is of little satisfaction to the parent of the deceased, but it is justification for why we aren't all totally paralyzed by limits on the morality of actions which might inadvertently harm others.

The real problem with the libtard viewpoint is one of their usual -- they insist on attempting to look at choices made in a vacuum, as though there was no consequence of making the alternative choice. This is the logical defect within Pascal's Wager, and the distinction between Pascal's Wager and proper reasoning behind the Precautionary Principle.


OBloodyHell said...

...(from above)...

Choices don't occur in vacuums. When you choose "not A" over "A", you are, in fact, making a choice not only to avoid the downside of A, but also to relinquish the upside of A, which may well outweigh the downside. This "vacuum", where the upside of A is completely irrelevant, is a simplistic and foolish approach towards any problem choice.

Using the Iraq war as an example, to ignore Saddam was not only to ignore the effects of his continued rule on his people, but also to ignore the longer term consequences of that, which included the continuation of his rule under his rather blatantly even more evil and rapacious children, Uday and Osay. To ignore him is to condemn the people of Iraq -- millions of people -- to their misrule for forty, fifty, sixty, or even seventy years.

The Iraq war's consequences may well have been worse for the first 5 years, but, if successful in the long run, offers a very different future set of options for the Iraqi people after that time.

The USA has no place intervening where it isn't wanted -- we cannot make the same choice in Darfur, for example -- we have neither a vested interest there to justify the imposition onto our own peoples, nor is it possible to intervene in a fight until the majority of people involved recognize that intervention is required or desirable (In this it represents something akin to a domestic abuse situation -- until the spouse acks that something needs to be done, then there is no possible action by outside forces which can change the situation favorably)

Iraq was different. The people there did not support Saddam, AND the USA had a vested interest in removing him from power. The confluence of both of these made action on the part of the USA both moral and desirable.

Marc said...

Iran had more reason to pursue nuclear weapons when Saddam was around. Nobody ever talks about that. The U.S. and Israel are not a threat to an Iran without nuclear weapons, but Saddam was. Especially if Saddam was trying to get nukes, which he was in the early 90's.

OBloodyHell said...

> Iran had more reason to pursue nuclear weapons when Saddam was around.

Not that they needed one, LOL.

> The U.S. and Israel are not a threat to an Iran without nuclear weapons, but Saddam was. Especially if Saddam was trying to get nukes, which he was in the early 90's

More critically, Marc -- Hans Blix himself -- hardly a Bush shill -- AFTER investigating the actual situation in Iraq post-invasion, stated that at the start of the war, Saddam was, once sanctions were relaxed, within 90 days of industrial level production of either Botulin or Anthrax (I forget which) and another 90 days of the other of those two. That is, he was less than six months away from producing both of those in quantity once sanctions were dropped. Given the fact that he was tossing around literally BILLIONS in bribes, it is blatantly obvious that those sanctions were eroding at a rapid pace -- call it two years (probably substantially less) before they fell.

The invasion started in 2003. So 2005 he would have initiated production efforts. 2006 he would have had quantities of both Anthrax and Botulism for direct use against obvious enemies, like Kurds and Iran, as well as secondary enemies like the USA and Israel. Given that he operated three of the six known Muslim terrorist training camps in the world, is there any real doubt that he would have handed over dirty-bomb adequate samples to one or more terrorist groups for use against the US and/or Israel?

Q.E. D -- By now, four years later, an attack killing tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, would have happened.

So we could have
a) way more than 10,000 US citizens dead
b) we could have 5000 soldiers dead, a forward-looking Iraq, and 30 million free Iraqis, many of whom think well of the USA and its citizens.

A or B, A or B.... I dunno, I guess that's a really tough one! Well, it is if you're a liberal, anyway...