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Anti-war Pro-war Iraq

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#1 MuseZack

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 01:12 AM

As someone who's been deeply ambivalent about the wisdom of the Iraq war (i.e. I despise Saddam Hussein and want his regime gone but am suspicious of this administration's motives and worried that the end result will cause more problems than it solves), I'd like to put to others who are more sure of their positions a couple of questions:

For those of you who are against this war, what kind of an outcome would have to transpire for you to think that maybe it was a good idea after all?  Would the discovery of massive quantities of hidden chemical and biological weapons, a relatively brief war with few civilian and military casualties, and a reasonably democratic and inclusive postwar Iraq government that's a beacon to the region be enough to make the bloodshed seem worthwhile to you?  If not those conditions, then what, if any, would make you change your tune on the justness and necessity of this war?


And for those of you who are for the war, I'll ask the opposite question.  Is there any outcome which would make you change your mind?  If no significant WMD caches are found, if it takes a hugely catastrophic battle with massive casualties all around to take Baghdad followed by a bloody, Israelis in Southern Lebanon-style occupation and instability in or even the fall of friendly Arab governments, would that lead you to conclude that containment, inspections, and waiting for Saddam Hussein to drop dead might have been the better course of action?  If not these conditions, are there any others which would make you change your tune on the justness and necessity of this war?


Note:  these aren't trick questions.  I'm genuinely interested in everyone's answers, because I'm troubled by these issues and am trying to sort out my own opinion on the matter.

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#2 Rov Judicata

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 01:29 AM

I was in the same boat for quite some time. I eventually decided I was pro-war. I understand the logic of those who are honestly anti-war, but I disagree.

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Is there any outcome which would make you change your mind?

It's impossible to list everything. However....

1) If we start stealing oil. I think this is incredibly unlikely, but then I would know that our intentions were not noble.
2) If we start getting careless with civilians. We *have* to be careful, or we lose moral authority.

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If no significant WMD caches are found, if it takes a hugely catastrophic battle with massive casualties all around to take Baghdad followed by a bloody, Israelis in Southern Lebanon-style occupation and instability in or even the fall of friendly Arab governments, would that lead you to conclude that containment, inspections, and waiting for Saddam Hussein to drop dead might have been the better course of action?

If no WMD's are found?

Then I'm wrong. Extremely. Critically. If there are no WMDs, then the US was horribly wrong, and everything we did here was unjustified.

I don't think containment, inspections, and waiting for Saddam to drop dead would be good strategies for various reasons. Containment: He can import everything he needs. Inspections: He hires the best people to evade those. He has an entire division of misinformation for that purpose. And when Saddam dies, another takes his place.

Here's what put me over:

In a morally ambigious situations, which will do more good?

People die every day under Saddam's regime. If we wait, more die every day. If we move now, we can prevent this dictator from rape, torture, murdering, silencing dissidents, and executing people on a whim.

No matter what happens, if we stay the course, we're going to save how many lives? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

On ecould argue that human rights aren't enough to go to war (and they'd be right) and that we can't take on every dictatorial regime (and they'd be right to).

But the argument that we can't do *everything* isn't an argument for doing nothing.
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#3 tennyson

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 01:52 AM

I moved from neutral to in favor of war under a UN mandate and was until the missiles were actually hitting Baghad still hopeful that a combination of diplomacy and release of evidence would convince enough of the Security Council that the use of force was warranted in dealing with Iraq and the war could be done under the UN banner. Now that it has happened, I'm in slightly reluctant support of it. There are still a lot of unknowns here but unless" the fall of friendly Arab governments" to quote you or other equally catastrophic things like release of new biological agents or an expansion of the war with other countries on Iraq's side, it looks to me like it will turnout, if not well then at least better than the situation beforehand.
The level of focus on ensuring  the safety of civilians in this war is to me unprecendented. Even twenty years ago the kind of warplanning and fighting that have so far characterized this conflict on the Coalition side would have been unheard of and not just for technical reasons.  

"the discovery of massive quantities of hidden chemical and biological weapons, a relatively brief war with few civilian and military casualties, and a reasonably democratic and inclusive postwar Iraq government that's a beacon to the region be enough to make the bloodshed seem worthwhile", this would definitely, for me make the war and its associated bloodshed worthwhile.

#4 QuiGon John

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 02:49 AM

Interesting questions, Zack.  For myself, I am mostly anti-war but not totally.  My actual stance would be something like "I think it was a bad idea to go in there, but now that we're in, let's get this over with and make sure it was worth the price we paid."

Now, what would make me think it was a good idea to go in?  That would happen if:

a) We find a nuclear-weapons program or large stockpiles of chemical/biological weapons, with evidence that Saddam was about to use these against us or our allies.

b) We find direct Iraqi involvement in September 11th, or

c) It turns out that it wasn't just so many words-- the Iraqi people really do hate Saddam, cheer our victorious troops, and thank us for our involvement.

Of these, I find c) to be something of a best-case scenario; we all know Saddam is bad, but we also know we're not the most popular people over there, either.  It's unlikely the situation would ever be so clear-cut.  B) would mean that we were attacked first, and were therefore justified in retaliating-- but of course, there's little to no evidence that this is the case.

In my judgement, a) is the most likely of my pro-war arguments to come to pass, but it's also a proposition that hinges heavily on George W. Bush being as smart as he thinks he is.  I hope he is, in truth.  We'll see.

As to the casualty figures: With all respect to our brave troops, I'm not sure that's the issue (unless this thing spirals completely out of control and becomes a Vietnam-style debacle).  The question of the moment, I think, is whether we're right to be fighting this war-- not how much it will cost to fight it.

Just my top-of-the-head thoughts...

#5 Bad Wolf

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 02:55 AM

(a) of what John said might make me think twice.  As to (b) it would have to be Iraqi policy maker involvement.  I.E.  Hussein's government was in on it. In that case I'd feel a little better though like Zack, I am deeply suspicious of the motives and I believe motives matter.
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#6 QuiGon John

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:00 AM

^ I should clarify that I meant to imply "Iraqi government" in my b) scenario.  Obviously, a few renegade Iraqis, without Saddam's involvement, wouldn't be the same thing.

I also agree with the "suspicious of motives" statement.  That's why those three things might influence me-- by convincing me that our motives are, in fact, what GWB says they are.

Edited by John Burke, 29 March 2003 - 03:00 AM.


#7 Kevin Street

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:00 AM

MuseZack, on Mar 28 2003, 03:03 PM, said:

For those of you who are against this war, what kind of an outcome would have to transpire for you to think that maybe it was a good idea after all?  Would the discovery of massive quantities of hidden chemical and biological weapons, a relatively brief war with few civilian and military casualties, and a reasonably democratic and inclusive postwar Iraq government that's a beacon to the region be enough to make the bloodshed seem worthwhile to you?  If not those conditions, then what, if any, would make you change your tune on the justness and necessity of this war?
I can't see any developments that would make the war look justifiable or necessary. The US and Britain have pre-emptively attacked another country, and nothing, no hazily worded UN resolution or after the fact discovery can change that. I really hope the war does end quickly, with an absolute minimum of military and civilian casualities, and I really hope the Anglo American coalition sticks around and does a good job rebuilding Iraq into a model of democracy for the entire Middle East - but that doesn't mitigate the seriousness of what has happened.

The worst possible outcome would be if the US continued its new high handed approach to foreign policy and tried to enforce a real "Pax Americana" upon the world.

People like Paul Wolfowitz scare me every bit as much as Saddam Hussein. At least Saddam was contained.
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#8 Rhea

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:02 AM

I'm in the camp with Lil and John.

Additionally, I think a lot of the rest of the world (including some of our allies) now views us as a bully, and that no matter the outcome, we're going to be a long time rebuilding ties diplomatically, not because of the rightness or wrongess of the cause, but because of the clumsy, inept way we went about it.

I'm also worried about who Bush will decide to attack next - and I'm deathly afraid that there WILL be a next time .  :eek2:

Edited by Rhea, 29 March 2003 - 03:10 AM.

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#9 Josh

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:19 AM

I'm largely neutral, but leaning more towards anti-war than pro-war.

I think what disturbs me the most is that we went to war on a bunch of "what ifs." What if Saddam has WMDs? What if he's connected directly to 9-11? It doesn't cut it for me.

What if we went to war on what ifs? Oh look! We already have. If it turns out that Iraq has no WMDs, America is going to look very very very very stupid... more stupid than they already do, at any rate.
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#10 GiGi

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:25 AM

Kevin Street, on Mar 28 2003, 03:51 PM, said:

I can't see any developments that would make the war look justifiable or necessary. The US and Britain have pre-emptively attacked another country, and nothing, no hazily worded UN resolution or after the fact discovery can change that. I really hope the war does end quickly, with an absolute minimum of military and civilian casualities, and I really hope the Anglo American coalition sticks around and does a good job rebuilding Iraq into a model of democracy for the entire Middle East - but that doesn't mitigate the seriousness of what has happened.

The worst possible outcome would be if the US continued its new high handed approach to foreign policy and tried to enforce a real "Pax Americana" upon the world.

People like Paul Wolfowitz scare me every bit as much as Saddam Hussein. At least Saddam was contained.
Kevin has put my feelings in to words quite well, so I am quoting him.

In addition a couple things I fine deeply disturbing...

One, Bush and Rumsfield saying that we will keep fighting no matter what until the government under Hussain has fallen.  

Two, there is speculation that the fight for Bagdad could be a bloody one in the streets.  If it comes to this, the very thing the US wants to avoid, will we stop then?  Will we back off and rethink our approach?

Bush and Rumsfield are not sighting any conditions that will cause them to stop. How bad will we let it get?  How much will it cost (in resources and pain and suffering)?  How long will it last.  They are not giving any clear answers to some very important questions.

I was a young child during the Vietnam war, I watched that on TV as I grew up.  It is something I never want to have happen again.  That was supposed to be a *short* conflict too.  We were liberating them too.  It didn't work then and it doesn't look like it is working now.  The only people really benefitting are the bomb manufacturers.

#11 Neptunian

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:37 AM

For those of you who are against this war, what kind of an outcome would have to transpire for you to think that maybe it was a good idea after all?


Heh, forming an opinion in retrospect, to me, is like judging the morality of an act based on its consequences rather than the intention that motivated it. There is no possible outcome that can make me change my opinion at this point because there are too many factors to consider. One, the casualties. Two, the UN's decision being overridden by a party that will most likely suffer no consequences (in terms of international law, not retaliation). No other country could get away with it. Three, the US unwillingness to give the UN a more prominent role in the post-war Iraq makes me suspect the US motives even more. And those are just the left brain arguments.


Would the discovery of massive quantities of hidden chemical and biological weapons,

No, for two reasons: one, biological weapons can easily be produced by anyone who knows a thing or two about them. Two, there would still be no proof that Saddam had the intention to use them. Also, I believe that there has been too much deliberate panic spreading. I mean, if Al Qaeda had really wanted to spread a deadly virus, why didn't they use the more deadly and less easily containable type of anthrax? Why not any other virus? Same with Saddam: if he really wanted to use the WMD, he would have done it the moment it became obvious to him that he couldn't stop the US from attacking Iraq. Too many questions left unanswered, too much repetition of the Saddam-is-a-monster mantra. Heck, there are questions left unanswered about 9/11 and the whole Afghanistan deal didn't turn out all that well in the end.


a relatively brief war with few civilian and military casualties,

No longer a possibility. 100 000 more US soldiers have been sent to Iraq. That's a pretty reliable guarantee of more casualties on both sides and the distinction between military and civilian casualties doesn't matter all that much to me.


and a reasonably democratic and inclusive postwar Iraq government that's a beacon to the region be enough to make the bloodshed seem worthwhile to you?


I don't think that's a possibility either. No matter how bad Saddam's regime is, the Iraqi people have a 10 year old grudge against the US (60 % of the population has depended on various humanitarian organizations for food since the US imposed sanctions, and that's one ugly number so I won't even go into how many children over there died because basic meds couldn't be afforded), so they aren't likely to elect someone who'll play by the US rules. Also, Saddam's been known for his paranoid killing of people who were potential threats to his power, so I doubt there are any serious candidates at all, meaning the US will probably have to put people of their own choosing in positions of power, and this will most likely outlast the definition of "transitional period".

BTW, you contradict your previous theoretical (im)possibility when you say "bloodshed".   :suspect:



If not those conditions, then what, if any, would make you change your tune on the justness and necessity of this war?

As I have a problem using those words in the same phrase, I guess I'm hopeless. Good thing I'm also right... er, left.  :wideeyed:


I'm totally missing the purpose of this thread, no?

#12 G1223

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:44 AM

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#13 Bad Wolf

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:47 AM

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Heh, forming an opinion in retrospect, to me, is like judging the morality of an act based on its consequences rather than the intention that motivated it.

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#14 Neptunian

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:49 AM

^^ Hehehe... reminds me of one of our Niet discussions. Or was it a Dylan thing?  :cool:

#15 Bad Wolf

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 03:50 AM

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Heh, forming an opinion in retrospect, to me, is like judging the morality of an act based on its consequences rather than the intention that motivated it.

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#16 Gvambat

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 04:02 AM

The best outcome I can see currently see would be if the war ended quickly, with an absolute minimum of bloodshead, especially civilian casualties.

I don't see that happening right now, but I hope.

Circumstances might be able to convince me that war was nescesary, finding large stockpiles of weapons with evidence that they were going to be used, soon. Evidence that there was actually a reason for a war now.

But I don't think anything could convince me that we went to war for the right reasons, or that this is a just war. The ends cannot justify the fact that we went to war for the wrong reasons.
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#17 EvilTree

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 04:44 AM

And for those of you who are for the war, I'll ask the opposite question. Is there any outcome which would make you change your mind? If no significant WMD caches are found, if it takes a hugely catastrophic battle with massive casualties all around to take Baghdad followed by a bloody, Israelis in Southern Lebanon-style occupation and instability in or even the fall of friendly Arab governments, would that lead you to conclude that containment, inspections, and waiting for Saddam Hussein to drop dead might have been the better course of action? If not these conditions, are there any others which would make you change your tune on the justness and necessity of this war?

I don't consider any war a 'just' war. See my posts on the Just War thread.

A necessary war would be a better term.

I was anti war, then neutral, then pro war because of one factor: what is the lesser evil? Leaving Saddam in power, or kill a bunch of Iraqis and get rid of Saddam's regime and hope that a better regime comes to power in Iraq, for the better of the Iraqi people.

And having considered Saddam's record of killing and making the innocent suffer and what he might do in the future, I came to conclusion that it is better to get rid of him now, then wait out to see if that wanker dies anytime soon.
I also came to pro war conclusion after the war started, too. I guess I'm also in 'might as well finish what started' bandwagon. :p

US has already embarked on some sort of crusade to asskick dictators. Taliban in Afghanistan is the first, now Saddam in Iraq. Who is next?
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#18 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 04:57 AM

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MuseZack: And for those of you who are for the war, I'll ask the opposite question. Is there any outcome, which would make you, change your mind?

First war is never a “good” idea but it is the last option you have and I think we’ve reached that stage.  Then you better make sure once you step over that border that you do everything for the best result.  The UN had their chance to work out a solution for over the past decade and they utterly fell flat on their faces.  People still say that sanctions and containment would have worked.  Yet anyone who is watching the news knows that the very countries that most supported those sanctions over war were the largest violators of them.  Just look at Russia and the news of their illegal sales of war supplies to Iraq in the face of US opposition prior to those sales.  I have to ask how are sanctions supposed to work when the very countries that are supporting them are making exorbitant amounts of money for smuggling goods right in the face of US protests.

As for large illegal stockpiles of weapons; Iraq has all ready used illegal Al-Samoud II missiles to attack Kuwait.  It would be extremely useful and I still expect to see the turn up of large stocks of chemical weapons.  Saddam isn’t exactly stupid enough to leave those things in locations where we can quickly and easily grab them and wave them for the world to see.  As Rov my opinions on this one are tied up in our intentions.  Whether that is in the form of taking every acceptable risk to ensure minimal Iraqi civilian casualties or not screwing Iraq when it comes to oil.    

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Kevin: The US and Britain have pre-emptively attacked another country, and nothing, no hazily worded UN resolution or after the fact discovery can change that.

No country can afford to absorb blow after blow in the form of attacks.  The idea that one can is simply preposterous to me and I think once a nation adopts a policy of “let them come to us on their terms” it is their death knell.  

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Kevin: At least Saddam was contained.

Containment is having the people who say “contain him” then go and sell him illegal weapons systems?  The containment of Saddam as the days go by is becoming more obvious that at best case it was very dubious.  At worse those illegal weapon sales are going to endanger a lot of our troops.

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Eviltree: I came to conclusion that it is better to get rid of him now, then wait out to see if that wanker dies anytime soon.

Saddam’s sons make him look like a kitty cat.  The younger one Qusay is every bit as ruthless and dangerous as Saddam if not more so.  Uday on the other hand seems to be a psychopath that I wonder if even Saddam isn’t scared of him considering the minor government positions Saddam has placed him in.  None of them are really powerful enough for him to threaten Daddy.

PS: Next?  Somalia if I had my way.

Edited by CJ AEGIS, 29 March 2003 - 05:03 AM.

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#19 AnneZo

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 09:55 AM

MuseZack, on Mar 28 2003, 10:03 PM, said:

If not those conditions, then what, if any, would make you change your tune on the justness and necessity of this war?
Zack, I share your ambivalence. I hate this war, the way it came about, and the lies that were told to get us into it.  At the same time, I can't pretend that removing Hussein from power (indeed, from the face of the earth) isn't a good outcome.

What would change my mind on the justness and necessity of this war?  

Nothing. Ever. The ends do not justify the means.  

Lies, huge lies, were told to get us into this war.

The Administration took gross advantage of the country's fear post-9/11 to create an imaginary link between Iraq and bin Laden and now the provisional government in Afghanistan and the soldiers still fighting there are complaining that they can't get the resources from our government that they need to finish that job properly.  This Administration is so fixated on their war on Iraq that nothing else matters.

The discovery of a huge weapons cache would show that Hussein had violated U.N. orders, but that's a U.N. matter to resolve. We're not, in spite of what some people think, endowed with some mystical right to interfere in the business of other nations by the power of some imagined godly virtue in us. I don't have the links at my fingertips, but there are plenty of places online that detail the USofA companies that sold chemical and biological weapons-related material to Iraq, so I think our glass house has a few cracks in it, okay?

Would I be glad of a "reasonably" democratic post-war government in Iraq?  I don't know. Do the Iraqis want a democratic goverment?  Has anyone asked them?  Further, does anyone really believe the USofA will pull out in a month or two and leave the Iraqis to elect their own government?  

I'm deeply conflicted on this war on Iraq.  

I think Hussein's removal can only be a good thing, but the sheer, blind naivete that made this Administration confident that an invasion by an aggressive, hated, foreign power would be greeted with cheers by the Iraqi people fills me with disgust and fear for what they (the Administration) might do next. (They're trashing the economy, dismantling ecological safeguards, and eliminating programs to help the needy wherever they can. What's left, I sometimes wonder.)

Whew.  Okay...I'm calmer. :)  I've been blogging this subject for months and I still haven't run out of anger or cognitive dissonance when I think about it.

#20 AnneZo

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 10:00 AM

G1223, on Mar 29 2003, 12:35 AM, said:

A few things I find really distrubing about the inspections is the discovery of the possible chemical waepons facotries.
I'm fairly certain that a later, and not at all well-publicized retraction was made.  That factory had been known to us (the USofA) for many years and it wasn't producing anything remotely like chemicals weapons.  

(Drat this slow connection tonight that won't let me easily find links....)





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