Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The War in Iraq

There are several ways to view the United States’ and Great Britain’s nearly duolateral war on Iraq. The most commonly reported in European media is that the attack was uncalled for and violated the UN’s peoples’ right. The main question about the war, however, is why it was started. Below I give the five most prominent of the possible reasons.

1. The Bush administration wanted to get their hands on Iraqi oil.

Although this is a view quite widely held by the more anti-American people, it is a highly uninformed and overly cynical view. In order for it to become clear that, more or less literally, fuelling the US economy wasn’t the real reason for the war, one only needs look at the cost of the war. The current deficit, in part created by the war in Iraq, is a serous threat to the US dollar as a reserve currency; The Economist has a great article on this. This means that whatever short-term economic gain American business will experience through the rebuilding of Iraq is miniscule to the risk that the deficit puts the entire economy at. (Another reason for the US deficit are the badly planned tax cuts by Mr. Bush, this will be a subject for a later time, however.)

2. Messrs. Bush and Blair believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

This is a fully viable option, not least because the first UN inspection team found an immense amount of chemical weapons material, and the second inspections found nothing – not even evidence of the destruction of such material. In further defence of an attack based on suspicions of violations of the UN sanctions; the first UN inspectors were figuratively thrown out of the country – something that should have started a war, but NATO was busy in the Balkans at the time, an operation, which by the way, wasn’t supported by the UN either (Russia used its veto right in the security council).

3. The war was started to liberate the people of Iraq.

This, unfortunately, is an unlikely reason to go to war. Cynics would say that the US only liberates people who live in countries of interest, such as Kuwait. Although it is certainly true that NATO could act more often to try and stabilise, e.g., a lot of African countries, soldiers swear an oath to protect their own country, not others. Although this may seem callous, there would most certainly be fewer people willing to serve in the military if they thought they might be sent of and die for something they don’t believe in. The UN has peace-keeping forces for precisely this purpose, although there are way too few of them.

4. Intelligence suggested that Iraq had a connection to Al-Qaeda.

Saddam Hussein did have a connection to terrorists; he supported the families of suicide bombers in Israel. He did, however, not have a reason to cooperate with Al-Qaeda, not least because his government was secular and Al-Qaeda is a devotedly religious organisation. It is also doubtful whether Mr. Bin Laden would have trusted Mr. Hussein with information about Al-Qaeda operatives. Osama Bin Laden was trained by the CIA to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, given such a background in guerrilla warfare, he most likely decided early on to organise his terror network in a similar way. That’s why Al-Qaeda is made up of small cells operating independently around the world, a system that benefit from minimal contact with bigger organisations like the Iraqi or Iranian government.

5. The war is part of a greater plan for the Middle East.

This, in my opinion, is the most important, if not the most probable, motive behind the war. From this standpoint the war may in fact turn out to be a strategic masterpiece. Iraq is situated in the middle of this highly unstable region, it therefore provides an opportunity to project force in the entire region. What most people don’t realise is that Iraq also sits on the most precious commodity in the region; fresh water, in the form of two rivers. This combined with the fact that the Iraqi people is quite secular compared to the other countries in the region, and that they hardly could be worse of than under Saddam’s rule, presents a golden opportunity to spread democracy and American goodwill in the region. Also, during the transitional faze between the fall of Mr. Hussein’s government and the establishing of law and order, terrorists from the entire Middle East would flock to the country in order to attack American soldiers. Although this certainly causes a lot of grief for the families of the soldiers, it does serve to reduce the amount of terrorists that will try to attack civilians in the US and Europe – something that the soldiers actually did sign up for.

There is, however, a problem for Messrs. Bush and Blair with this reason for the war, namely the explanation they gave for going to war (a combination of No. 2 and No. 4). The problem is whether is acceptable to send soldiers into harms way, without telling them why they’re being sent. This is a quite philosophical question, especially since telling the world that you’re going to try and reform the Middle East would be seen as exceptionally arrogant and might cause ill will in the region. Thereby if the troops had been told the truth about why they were sent, that goal may have been made unachievable – making soldiers die for nothing rather than an untruth.


Anonymous Fredde said...

I think you´re basically right in your analysis of the Iraq war. The oil-argument is hardly plausible. The US has to date spend approx. 150 billion dollars on the war. When this adventure is over they will probably have spend twice that amount. Secondly, many of the Oil CEO´s in the US were against the war since the feared it would screw up the oilmarket. Thirdly, if the US wanted to get their hands on the oil, it would have been easier to lift the sanctions and let U.S. companies deal with the iraqi government. The real reason for going to war were, as you mentioned, the plan of re-modeling the Middle East. A pretty noble cause if you ask me. By introducing democrazy in Iraq, this will hopefullt have a positive effect on the nieghbouring countries. First Afghanistan, then Palestine and now Iraq. Three democratic elections in three different countries in the Middle East. It wouldn´t have happend without the military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. That´s for sure. As a bonus, Libya dismantels its nuclear program. That wouldn´t have happend if the US haden´t invaded iraq. Pappa Kaddafhi got scared. To bad the EU doesn´t realise that you can get pretty far with military power.



February 12, 2005 at 7:42 PM  

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