Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Well, a while I promised a post about my thoughts on Iraq. As people who know me will be unsurprised to hear...I supported the invasion.
I would have preferred Iraq to follow the rules outlined for it in the treaty (which it agreed to) that ended the first Gulf War. I would have preferred for the United Nations to act to enforce the resolutions it passed concerning the breaches in the agreement. I would have preferred for more nations to support the United States with more than words, in its 1998 decision (in the form of a law passed by both the Republican House and the Democratic Senate, and ratified by the Democrat President Bill Clinton) to pursue regime change in Iraq.
However, since none of these situations occurred, I was supportive of the US decision to pursue this position with military action. It was a unilateral action if you insist, though there were 38 other nations who supported the action militarily (though not all with boots on the ground). This coalition was smaller than the coalition from the first Gulf War, but larger than the coalitions that fought with the US to win the First World War, and also larger than the coalition that won the Second World War.
Since we invaded and caused Saddam to run and hide, I have been supportive of our actions. I am sympathetic to the calls for more troops to go to Iraq, if that would mean that they would all be safer, but I tend to defer to the Pentagon about stuff like that. I am also sympathetic to calls for more armor for our troops, but I also realize that sometimes speed and maneuverability are better protections than the thickest armor, and that you can't always have both. I also tend to defer to the pentagon about those decisions.
I think that bringing democracy to a dictatorship is a good reason for our actions. Especially if the dictator in question is murderous and crazy. Other reasons that justify our actions are as follows:
- There was legitimate concern, at the time, that Saddam was in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. This was worrisome not only because it meant he was breaking one of the central tenets of the treaties he had signed, and that he was evidently able to hide said weapons from the best of the U.N. inspectors, but also because he had used such weapons before. Against not only the citizens of his country, but also against another nation (Iran). It's true that the newspaper headlines released after the American WMD investigation said that there were no WMDs in Iraq, but that isn't an accurate representation of what the report said. The report essentially said that there weren't any missiles loaded and ready to be launched. They listed programs that were close to being operational, and they listed components that they had found. They also said that they had not been able to search the whole country thoroughly. Watching the news, one could have seen many of these examples. 100,000+ chemical and biological ready missiles were found during the invasion, missiles that only lacked easily produced chemical and biological elements to be called WMDs. We found several mobile biological weapons labs. We recently found lots of nuclear material in the desert of Iraq, waste that could have been produced while trying to produce fissionable material for warheads. Such material could not have been produced for peaceful means, because Iraq was not allowed to have nuclear power plants. Those are things I've seen in the NYT...
- Iraq was suffering from lots of restrictions on its trade, meant to curtail its ability to produce weapons. These sanctions were not completely effective - Saddam was still able to obtain some things that he needed - but they were effective enough to hurt the civilian population. People were hungry, and couldn't get the medicines that they wanted. I don't like sanctions. In my view, they often kill more people than open conflict, and they don't hurt the people in power enough to make them change their actions.
Saddam was a dangerous man, and a crazy man. He is now in jail, and most of his henchmen are either dead, on in a cell as well. This would not have happened if we hadn't done anything. I regret that it wasn't done sooner. Iraqis are getting their country put back together, and it's nothing short of amazing. The government they have produced is not perfect, but it's a lot better than some of the alternatives. Our first attempt at self-government was also failure. It took us more than a decade to realize it, however, and I don't think that Iraq will take so long to fix its mistakes. They are already a long way towards that goal after their recent elections for the first permanent government.
As far as US troops staying in the country - it would be murder for us to withdraw now. We are doing our best to train the Iraq Army. We are doing pretty well with the equivalent of enlisted troops - they have quite a lot who are on par with the American standard. (something which not many countries can claim for their own forces) However, it takes a lot longer to train the higher ups to deal with strategy and many other things that are necessary for military success. I welcome the day when American soldiers can return home, but it won't the right moment for a few years yet. Iraqi troops already control a large amount of real estate, and every day more of them are stepping up, but our troops still provide necessary guidance.
The reason I'm thinking about this now, is that I came across a graph of civilian casualties for a number of different conflicts. You can look at the graph here. Please notice that it comes from the NYT, and that the statistics come from other than American government agencies. The numbers come from reported casualties, not predictions. That means they are accurate, but probably an under-representations. But realize that they are all under-represented in the same way.
Now, take a look at the numbers for the two Afghan conflicts - one is much smaller than the other. Thank you, American Soldier. Now, look at the numbers for the Iraq War, and the number for the Iraqi Internal Violence. Again, one is much smaller than the other. Remember also, that these numbers come from reported casualties. Please, direct your attention again at the numbers for the Iraq War, and then at the numbers for the Bosnian Ethnic War. One is the result of US unilateralism, and they occurred in the same amount of time. Thank you, unilateralism! I also noticed the numbers for Darfur - I wish we could intervene as effectively there, however, there are other reasons for our current position. I might explain them later, if you remind me.
I hope this has been informative, or at least interesting. Please feel free to try and tear me apart in the comments, I look forward to the debate.

Update: Here are some more thoughts.


  1. I'm not going to get into this with you, but I WILL haggle you about your fourth-to-last word. It's spelled "forward."

  2. Thanks for the tip - but please e-mail me next time...then I can fix it faster. But I did a pretty good job if you only found a mistake in the last four words, thank you very much.

    And I would love it if you got into this with me, so to speak. In fact, if you don't respond and show me all the fallicies in my judgement, I shall have to believe that you agree with me and just don't want to say.

    Anyway, how are we supposed to have better ideas, if no one ever challenges them?

    So to any of my readers - please challenge my ideas.

  3. And, please everyone pick a name and stick with it...you don't have to make an ID - just click other and pick a name and stick with it...
    heck, you could even make up multiple identities for the comments...