Register to reply

The legitimacy of the Iraq war

by Andre
Tags: iraq, legitimacy
Share this thread:
Andre
#1
Dec14-09, 05:36 AM
PF Gold
Andre's Avatar
P: 5,458
British involvement in Iraq war blamed on Blair’s ‘sycophancy’

British soldiers were sent to their deaths in Iraq because of Tony Blair’s “sycophancy” towards Washington and the failure of the governing class to speak the truth...
Anyway we also read:

... he couldn’t resist the stage or the glamour that it gave him...

... it is entirely the work of warriors cast carelessly into death’s way by a Prime Minister lost in self-aggrandisement and a governing class too closed to speak truth to power...
If you believed in the existence of WMD's, the war could seem legimate, but what if it was only for the PM wish (and that of others) to satisfy the quest of more power of those who were in power?

So how come that we were so absolutely sure of the WMD? And talking about being absolutely sure about something, how about present days absolute surety of another enemy?
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
Mysterious source of ozone-depleting chemical baffles NASA
Water leads to chemical that gunks up biofuels production
How lizards regenerate their tails: Researchers discover genetic 'recipe'
HallsofIvy
#2
Dec14-09, 06:04 AM
Math
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
Thanks
PF Gold
P: 39,491
There never were any "WMD". George Bush made up the whole thing just to prove he could outdo his father. (He probably believed his own lie- he was dumb enough to believe that whatever he wanted to be true was true.) What Blair's excuse was, I don't know. Certainly the war on Iraq seriously set back the "war on terrorism".
Andre
#3
Dec14-09, 06:50 AM
PF Gold
Andre's Avatar
P: 5,458
Well it has been assumed that Bush knew that Iraq had no WMD's like here

I think it is more subtle than that. There is little doubt that Bush needed an legimate reason to go to war and revenge 9/11 somehow. The flirtation of Saddam Hussein with NBC weapons was no secret, remember the Halabja poison gas attack. Therefore the concern was definitely legimate also given the shown aggression against Kuwait in the first gulf war.

Hence there is little doubt that high political - military - intelligence consultations conveyed the wish of the government in the spirit of "We need to retaliate 911 - So give us an exact overview of the NBC destructive power of Saddam Husain". So intelligence studied all the ground and air recce data and satellite images and found that this could be a sign of WMD and that could be sign too, etc, etc.

Then the groupthink mechanism kicks in, induced by strong willed leadership:

lack of tradition of impartial leadership: the group's leader has a tendency to use power or prestige to unduly influence the group instead of encouraging debate;
So in a possible discussion if those signs could or could not be WMD's the following mechanisms may have played a part.

the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action (Janis, 1982, p.9).
instances of mindless conformity and collective misjudgement of serious risks, which are collectively laughed off in a "clubby atmosphere of relaxed conviviality" (Janis, 1982, p.3).
So like the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Challenger, sound judgement became second to the groups cohesiveness and consensus and the "could's" may have evolved via via might, and probably into "virtually certainty". And obviously nobody wanted to play devils advocate, risking the anger of the group. Maybe "the plan" most accurately describes how it may have happened:

The Plan


In the beginning was the Plan.
And then came the Assumptions.
And the Assumptions were without form.
And the Plan was without substance.
And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.
And they spoke among themselves, saying,
"It is a crock of sh*t, and it stinks."
And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said,
"It is a pail of dung, and we can't live with the smell.
And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying,
"It is the container of the excrements, and it is very strong,
such that none may abide by it."
And the Mangers went unto their Directors, saying,
"It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."
And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying to one another,
"It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."
And the Vice Presidents went to the President, saying unto him,
"This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the company
with very powerful effects."
And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good.
And the Plan became Policy.
And that is how sh*t happens.
Hence there are two notions here:
Firstly: The President and Prime Minister may have heard what they wanted to hear: Yes we are virtually certain that he has WMD

Secondly: they had no idea that their leadership induced groupthink, without devils advocates they were not going to hear anything else than what they wanted to hear.

mheslep
#4
Dec14-09, 12:50 PM
PF Gold
P: 3,097
The legitimacy of the Iraq war

Generally, any time I find the phrase "speak truth to power" embedded in an argument, as it is here by 'Sir Ken' in the Times article, I affix the self-important hyperbole bumper sticker and move on.
mheslep
#5
Dec14-09, 12:57 PM
PF Gold
P: 3,097
Quote Quote by Andre View Post
...
Firstly: The President and Prime Minister may have heard what they wanted to hear: Yes we are virtually certain that he has WMD.
Not just Bush and Blair, Congress and Parliament were also convinced.
Nebula815
#6
Dec14-09, 03:40 PM
P: 18
Quote Quote by HallsofIvy View Post
Certainly the war on Iraq seriously set back the "war on terrorism".
In what way? It has kept the terrorists busy fighting in Iraq as opposed to being able to rest and recuperate and plan their next attacks. In addition, if Iraq can be formed into a functioning democracy, having a democratic ally in that region will go a long way in fighting the GWOT.
BobG
#7
Dec14-09, 05:14 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
BobG's Avatar
P: 2,280
Quote Quote by Nebula815 View Post
In what way? It has kept the terrorists busy fighting in Iraq as opposed to being able to rest and recuperate and plan their next attacks. In addition, if Iraq can be formed into a functioning democracy, having a democratic ally in that region will go a long way in fighting the GWOT.
Actually, it kept them busy fighting in Iraq instead of fighting in Chechnya. Russia should thank us for creating a place more attractive to die in than Chechnya.

I think the little countries that have to be more progressive to compete, such as UAE and possibly even Kuwait, showed a lot more promise for developing democracies than Iraq. Out of over 120 civil wars since World War II, the only ones to be resolved by sharing power in a democratic government were Mozambique and South Africa. Sixty to one is kind of slim odds. (Too be fair, Iraq wasn't actively in a civil war prior to be being liberated, but surely our government had to see the risk of civil war was high - why else do you think Hussein used such extreme measures to keep the Kurds and Shiites in line?)

Sometimes, you look at how a President handles some earth shattering crisis and realize by the President's response that the event wasn't so earth shattering at all.

The country's economic crisis becomes an excuse for achieving goals that will have little immediate effect and that's a positive sign. It means the world isn't going to fall apart today (the day Republicans and Democrats agree on a solution to a crisis is the day you realize the world is on the brink of destruction).

9/11 becomes just an excuse to wipe the "Axis of Evil" off the map is just a positive sign that there was never a chance a terrorist organization such as Al-Qaeda could really threaten the security of the US. (Heck, the US suffered the equivalent of 3 WTC's worth of casualties every month during WWII).
Sorry!
#8
Dec14-09, 05:20 PM
P: 571
Andre, every single time you use the term groupthink against people I lose a lot of respect for you. You seem very closed minded by contiuously throwing that term around like it's 'dat new-new'

Anyways, I'm kind of iffy on if any government body actually believed that they had WMD. Maybe they thought it was a possibility but I highly doubt they actually thought that they seriously had WMD. Yes the war was purely political... then again, that's pretty much the entire purpose of war.
BobG
#9
Dec14-09, 05:26 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
BobG's Avatar
P: 2,280
Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
Not just Bush and Blair, Congress and Parliament were also convinced.
I'm not so sure about Congress. Unfortunately, you have to pay for it now if you want to read it, but Winslow Wheeler's long essay/mini-book about Congress's "Week of Shame" makes for some interesting reading. Or you could browse the Senate's transcripts on line for the week Congress approved the authorization for military force.

Plain and simple BS by Hillary Clinton (D), John Kerry (D), Chuck Hagel (R) .... just about any person that thought we were making a mistake but didn't dare to put a "No" vote on their record if they wanted to protect their chances of getting elected in the event that the US invaded Iraq and successfully sparked a democratic government. They played it both ways. They gave a "Yes" vote, but their comments make absolutely no sense except as a quote they could extract out of context in the event the US invaded and the invasion didn't turn out so well.

You could go through that week's transcript and cross off a pretty sizable portion of the Senate as being just too spineless to ever be entrusted with receiving a "phone call at 3AM".

There were very few Senators that took a very courageous stand on either side. McCain (R) would be one. Biden (D) would come darn close, but backed down at the very last - either because the votes just plain weren't there and it would be folly to keep up the fight, or because all the other Presidential hopefuls had caved and he had to match their move - depends how cynical you are which you believe.
mheslep
#10
Dec14-09, 06:01 PM
PF Gold
P: 3,097
Quote Quote by BobG View Post
...
9/11 becomes just an excuse to wipe the "Axis of Evil" off the map is just a positive sign that there was never a chance a terrorist organization such as Al-Qaeda could really threaten the security of the US. (Heck, the US suffered the equivalent of 3 WTC's worth of casualties every month during WWII).
What is inference of this comment, that the US has no right to respond to WTC events because they don't measure up to WWII?
Nobody posited that Al-Qaeda could actually destroy the US, or any developed country for that matter, but visibly they sure can kill a great many civilians. If left to themselves, AQ would likely have destroyed a city or two given time. BTW, in WWII the US never suffered an attack of any significance on mainland civilians, a very different thing from soldiers killed on the battlefield.
Ivan Seeking
#11
Dec14-09, 06:16 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Ivan Seeking's Avatar
P: 12,500
Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
What is inference of this comment, that the US has no right to respond to WTC events because they don't measure up to WWII?
Nobody posited that Al-Qaeda could actually destroy the US, or any developed country for that matter, but visibly they sure can kill a great many civilians. If left to themselves, AQ would likely have destroyed a city or two given time. BTW, in WWII the US never suffered an attack of any significance on mainland civilians, a very different thing from soldiers killed on the battlefield.
Which is why there were relatively few objections when we went after the real enemy in Afghanistan, right after the attack.
sylas
#12
Dec14-09, 06:29 PM
Sci Advisor
sylas's Avatar
P: 1,750
Quote Quote by Andre View Post
So how come that we were so absolutely sure of the WMD? And talking about being absolutely sure about something, how about present days absolute surety of another enemy?
"We?" How wide was strong confidence in existence of WMDs in Iraq? People who were actually looking at the evidence without regard for politics tended not to be particularly confident, as I recall.

This can sometimes be a hard ideal: to put aside political or social concerns and just stick with evidence on its own real merits. The same thing applies for all kinds of other issues today that may have implications for politics. There are many such issues in all kinds of different fields today. Are you perhaps alluding to disputes over causes of the Aids crisis?

It doesn't matter what issue you might mean. In all cases we should aim to stick with the evidence, on its own merits, and not let concerns about policy or politics alter the evaluation of facts. This applies equally to overconfidence in weak inferences for some extraneous reason, or denial of strong inferences for some extraneous reason. That way you have a much better ground for rational politics or policy; certainly better that what followed in the wake of the WMD boondoggle.

Cheers -- sylas
russ_watters
#13
Dec14-09, 06:55 PM
Mentor
P: 22,283
Quote Quote by mheslep View Post
What is inference of this comment, that the US has no right to respond to WTC events because they don't measure up to WWII?
No, he's saying that since the resources devoted to Afghanistan were far smaller than the resources devoted to Iraq, al Qaeda wasn't considered a serious threat (otherwise the larger resources would have been devoted to it).

I disagree with that, mainly because of Bush's lack of forward thinking: He devoted to each the resources necessary to win a conventional, self-contained war and by the initial goal he set out for each (topple the existing regime), both succeeded. What he didn't count on was how difficult it would be to keep the peace afterwards.
russ_watters
#14
Dec14-09, 06:58 PM
Mentor
P: 22,283
Anyway, WMDs are not the only reason that the Iraq war could be legal/just. Hussein was an aggressive dictator who was a threat to both his own people and his neighbors. Removing him was a positive thing, with or without the WMDs.

Please understand that I'm not saying that it was a good idea to attck Iraq. It wasn't. There was no imminent threat to us and our resources would have been better spent in Afghanistan. But the war was just and the outcome was a better world.
Ivan Seeking
#15
Dec14-09, 07:05 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Ivan Seeking's Avatar
P: 12,500
Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
Anyway, WMDs are not the only reason that the Iraq war could be legal/just. Hussein was an aggressive dictator who was a threat to both his own people and his neighbors. Removing him was a positive thing, with or without the WMDs.
Be that true or not, it was not how the war was justified. So the bottom line is that we attacked a country for no reason. That is a war crime. The only reason Bush got his bogus war was the claim that Saddam was imminent threat, when in fact the former chief weapons inspector was going ballistic denying the claims from the Bush admin.

This business of retroactive justification is absurd and you know it. Bush never would have gotten his war based on the justifications used now. That is a simple fact.
lisab
#16
Dec14-09, 07:12 PM
Mentor
lisab's Avatar
P: 2,985
Quote Quote by sylas View Post
"We?" How wide was strong confidence in existence of WMDs in Iraq? People who were actually looking at the evidence without regard for politics tended not to be particularly confident, as I recall.
Wide enough that "we" went to war.

It was amazing to live during that time...it didn't really matter how many people were true believers that there were WMDs, the fact is that most were marching lock-step without questioning what they were told. I felt like I wasn't in America any more, there were virtually no dissenting voices.

On 3/19/2003, Sen. Byrd became one of my heros (yes I know his background, but that speech took guts).
Nebula815
#17
Dec14-09, 07:14 PM
P: 18
One thing to remember is Iraq was not invaded solely over WMDs. That was one of the reasons, albeit one of the big ones.
Nebula815
#18
Dec14-09, 07:20 PM
P: 18
Quote Quote by BobG View Post
Actually, it kept them busy fighting in Iraq instead of fighting in Chechnya. Russia should thank us for creating a place more attractive to die in than Chechnya.

I think the little countries that have to be more progressive to compete, such as UAE and possibly even Kuwait, showed a lot more promise for developing democracies than Iraq. Out of over 120 civil wars since World War II, the only ones to be resolved by sharing power in a democratic government were Mozambique and South Africa. Sixty to one is kind of slim odds. (Too be fair, Iraq wasn't actively in a civil war prior to be being liberated, but surely our government had to see the risk of civil war was high - why else do you think Hussein used such extreme measures to keep the Kurds and Shiites in line?)
I didn't mean Iraq was necessarilly a great nation from the standpoint of, "Let's invade a Middle Eastern nation and turn it into a democracy," I just meant that since we have invaded it now, it is, long-term, probably better to stay the course and turn it into a democracy if this can be done as that will go a long way as an ally in the long run in that region.

9/11 becomes just an excuse to wipe the "Axis of Evil" off the map is just a positive sign that there was never a chance a terrorist organization such as Al-Qaeda could really threaten the security of the US. (Heck, the US suffered the equivalent of 3 WTC's worth of casualties every month during WWII).
If the terrorists were ever able to detonate a nuclear weapon of some type within the nation. I'm not saying invading Iraq was the solution to this, but I think Al-Qaeda was most definitely a massive threat to U.S. security.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
What to do about Iraq Current Events 426
Iraq: No way to win Current Events 48
America has a right to force their views apon iraq? Current Events 26
War in Iraq, What now? Current Events 11
The war in Iraq Current Events 4