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The Iraq War
Of all the conflicts in the world today, the Iraq War is the most visible and the most widely debated. Despite the removal of a ruthless dictator, Saddam Hussein, and the people’s liberation from his cruelty, the citizens of Iraq continue to experience suffering in a new form in the quagmire of an insurgency left behind. With a mounting death toll and the garnering of a worldwide stigma, a reminder of why the Iraq War is necessary is needed to restore confidence in the cause- if indeed such a valid justification exists. With the United States suffering from economic woes and a loss in faith in its government; with Iraq experiencing chaos and death every day; now more than ever we need a plan to soothe the fighting and create a truly independent Iraq.
Justification for the invasion has been offered in many forms, by many people. Of these, the most popular and widely spoken belief is that the U.S. and its allies are waging a "war on terror" by neutralizing a regime that supported terrorism. However, this line of logic is difficult to follow if one is to assume that the United States’ reason for waging such a war would be to stop those involved in the September 11th attacks: Osama Bin Laden and his followers. Bin Laden’s only history in Iraq was a bitter conflict with Hussein; to assume that they would cooperate for so long, even to get a common enemy, is unreasonable. Justifications involving September 11th and the resulting war on terror are therefore unfounded.
Another, this time only semi-plausible, explanation was the possibility that Iraq had been producing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Iraq’s constant defiance in the face of the United Nations sanctions placed against the country after the invasion of Kuwait, combined with the ruthlessness and hatred of Saddam Hussein, made Iraq’s possible possession of WMDs a convincing international security threat. If Iraq had continued to defy the U.N., then there would have existed reason for the United States to appeal to the Security Council (through multilateral means) to take action in the form of a pre-emptive war. However, Iraq conceded to U.N demands by allowing weapons inspectors to enter and search the country. These inspectors reported no evidence of WMDs. Flawed U.S. intelligence said otherwise, of course, but flawed intelligence nullifies any explanation it gives for war- especially when contradicted by U.N. inspectors within Iraq itself. Why, then, did the United States feel the need enter Iraq?
It is at this point in the debate that many war supporters fall back on the liberation of the Iraqi people as a compelling cause. True, Saddam Hussein was evil in every sense of the word. His torture, execution, and rape rooms existed, and the discoveries of his violations of human rights continue to appall the world. However, it is a well-known fact that modern international norms value state sovereignty over human rights. The behavior of the United States violated these norms when it invaded Iraq. It also contradicted previous actions by the U.S., such as the unsigning of the Rome treaty (providing for the International Criminal Court) over concerns for its own state sovereignty. Had the United States always been an advocate for the changing of international norms, its actions in Iraq might have been more understandable.
As it stands, the war in Iraq is only justifiable in that it put a stop to the flagrant abuses of human rights reigned over by Saddam Hussein. This is only by technicality, as the means, timing, and previous actions of the U.S. all contradict what its government claims to be valid reason for the war in Iraq.
Regardless of the justification (or lack thereof) for the war in Iraq, the current situation still stands. The United States is engaged in guerilla warfare in a country ruled by an infant and unstable government that is the United State’s responsibility. Progress has grinded to a halt with increased violence, and the enemy is hidden among the very people that the war was intended to help. Many speculate that the violence will take many more years to die down.
In such a situation, with anti-U.S. sentiment so strong within the area, many speculate that the presence of U.S. soldiers is doing more harm than good. (Especially with images from Abu Ghraib and recent reports of entire massacres carried out by U.S. soldiers.) In such a case, it would be better for the United States to garner what little international support it can, by going through the United Nations and presenting the problem as it stands- while admitting responsibility for the problem to begin with. Then, hopefully, the United Nations will respond with its support- or, at the very least, agree to command re-uniformed U.S. troops. (Barring this, the United States should pull out everything but its trainers. The insurgency attacks are almost always directed at American troops.) Blue helmets in Iraq would attract less violence than the U.S. flag, and be able to better protect the people there. This lull in violence would in turn allow the forces of the Iraqi government to undergo more thorough training, carried out by trainers under U.N. command. Slowly, the international forces would be replaced by Iraqis, allowing the government there to establish its legitimacy in both name and power- officially ending the insurgency and any international involvement in the domestic dealings of the country.
In a case such as this, where justification is uncertain at best and the blame falls mostly onto the U.S., it is important for the Bush administration to act quickly. The international community should be cooperative with U.S. requests, if only to soothe the suffering of the Iraqi people- the stigma towards the United States should not be extended to innocent people. With quick and decisive, but well thought-out action, Iraq may be able to see its sovereignty restored within the next few years.