Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Iraq War: Cold cut argument.

  1. Nov 4, 2004 #1
    In a brainstorming exercise in my English 151 class a few weeks ago, my teacher told us to write down all of the things that we feel strongly about on a sheet of paper. I couldn’t write anything. As she requested our papers I hastily wrote down a few things, but none of them I truly felt strong about. I have come to the conclusion that the mode of thinking that I have developed the last couple of years has raised an incredible uncertainty in viewing just about any feeling, thought, or idea. There are just too many circumstances to count, too many to calculate, too many to take into account and far too little understanding to take the few facts that we do know and turn them into legislation or put them into a working model. There are too many variables to be sure of anything. Like Descartes, I am trying to work from one principal and to then work that principal into all decision making in relation to it. The few principals that I have come to accept, the only principals I see to be true, are these:

    -Life is the most important thing to humans.
    -Quality of life is also important.
    -The decisions we make should always be aimed at achieving the highest sustainment and enhancement of life for all people fitting into the definition of a human.

    Please consider the following illustration:

    I see a scale, it contains two things. The two things I speak of are related, and as I see it, can be counted with the same units. At the bottom of the scale there is basic human existence, life. This existence does not have any good qualities, other than existence itself, as I hope the reader believes to be good. The upwards movement of the scale has a direct correlation with quality of life. That is, as the scale goes up, the quality of life is understood to be increased. Now, I believe many people subscribe in this rationale, but the great trick that we will most probably never know, is the exact mathematical ratio between certain units of quality in regards to the actual unit of life. If we knew these things, we could truly weigh on a scale of math how many deaths are worth a certain cause.

    I don’t pretend to know this ratio. I am not confident that 17 units of quality for 25 human units are worth are worth one human unit. I can’t even fully define the unit, but I do believe such a relationship exists. The stand I have taken and described is one known in the philosophy world as consequentialism. I believe that circumstances should be plugged into an equation, and that the modes of action which yield the greatest units of life and quality should be the modes of action taken.

    Therefore, the line of action taken regarding Iraq should be one that yields the greatest amount of life and/or quality of life. There are two basic choices we will review, war, and no war. There are of course, other options we could have made, (ex assassination of key leaders, scaled back bombing campaign which only targets certain factories and/or military facilities, increased sanctions forcing the leaders of Iraq to concede to our demands) but we will just focus on the affects full scale war, and the affects of no war.
    We will now review the cost of war in both units of life and units which help improve the quality life, also known as money.

    Body count:

    Estimating the body count is a very hard thing to do. However, relative to other tasks we are being asked to take in determining if this cause is just, this is the most concrete thing we have to work with. We first examine Iraqbodycount.com. This website will be used by many of my classmates as the end all body count of deaths in Iraq. What these students do not understand is that these numbers are compiled by press reports. Press reports, although sometimes very explanative and revealing, are not the only source of information concerning deaths. As many people know, the acts of war are often concealed during war by a government in order to keep the enemy from knowing movements. Classified information containing almost all bombings done in Iraq by coalition forces has not been released yet. It is admittedly by our own government known that the leading cause of civilian casualties in a war are these bombings. So, because this information hasn’t been released to the press, and because Iraqbodycount.com uses only press reports to compile its numbers, we can assume that these numbers are not representative of the actual numbers dead in Iraq due to war.

    A more objective study made by The Lancet publishing group, an international health journal which aims to reduce the numbers dead in coalition air strikes, was published on October 29th. The numbers gathered in this study are based on cluster sampling of houses throughout various cities in Iraq and recording the mortality rate of their residents. They then extrapolated their findings to the entire population of Iraq and found that there were 100,000 non-combatant deaths approximated throughout Iraq, most of which were woman and children. Most deaths were a result of violent acts, through air strikes. I take this study to be more revealing of the truth, because it was based on a survey of real Iraqi citizens and not at the word of western reporters.

    100,000 is just representative of non-combatants. Numbers of combatant deaths are another matter. Again we are trying to cross that classified information barrier so estimates are based upon studies and extrapolations. I have found no specific study to work from. The size of Iraq’s army in the past 20 years according to globalsecurity.org has been as high as 900,000 being the 4th largest in the world during the Iran Iraq war to 200,000 just after Desert Storm. The size of the Iraq army at the time of invasion this time is about 350,000 according to BBC news. Just before going into his hole Saddam gave a speech calling for all of his countrymen to rise up and resist the occupying forces. All of the civilians who rose up at his call were considered combatants. All civilians participating in the local militias we are battling now are considered combatants. These people have no uniforms, they are not under contractual agreements with the government, but they are considered combatants. According to a pentagon briefing at the Department of Defense of the United States, at DefenseLINK.mil there were 6 divisions amounting to 60,000-80,000 were “unaccounted for” at the end of the war. I would say that for a very loose guess of the number of “combatant” deaths would be in the range 150,000 to 250,000. Almost the entire population of Fallujah (300,000) is now in the middle of a siege on their city, their neighborhood, their block, and their house. One doctor in Fallujah back in April was quoted in saying “"When you see a child five years old with no head, what can you say?" says a doctor in Fallujah whose name is being withheld for his safety. "When you see a child with no brain, just an open cavity, what can you say?"” I do not want to try and guess how many Fallujah “combatants” are now dead.

    On top of Iraqi deaths due to Coalition forces, we now have a full scaled insurgency group within Iraq causing near civil war. The leader of this resistance movement is a man by the name of Muhammad Al-Zarqawi. He is the same man believed to be in the beheading of Nicholas Berg video. He is the one doing the cutting. Zarqawi is believed to be responsible for 1,500 deaths since the war ended. Every month since the end of the way has yield more casualties than the previous.

    Now we look at American Deaths. The Official and most probably accurate death count of American soldiers in Iraq are 1,129 according to the Department of Defense. Every month since the end of the war on June 1st, 2004 has yielded more casualties than the previous.

    There have been 154 civilian contractors, missionaries, and work contractors deaths. 44 journalists have been killed in Iraq, 33 since the end of major operations on June 1st 2004.

    Monetary count:

    The most comprehensive report released thus far on the monetary cost of the Iraq war was published by the Institute for policy studies (IPS). In the 88 page report titled “A failed ‘transition’: The mounting cost of the Iraq War.” The actual money granted through congress has now amounted to 151.1 billion with another 60 billion on the way soon. However, please consider other economic costs:

    On August 16th, 2004, Oil prices peaked at $48 per barrel of crude oil. These prices have not been seen since 1983. Many economists directly relate this to what is happening in Iraq, a country who is home to the 2nd largest known reserves of oil in the world. Although we did not do large oil business with Iraq, the world market has suffered from this and has thus raised prices for us indirectly due to the supply demand relationship. If this winter is exceptionally cold, expect energy to be even more expensive.

    The economic impact on military families has also been notable. 30 to 40 percent of army reservists earn a lower salary in the military than when doing their civilian jobs. This has created adverse economic affects to the military family.

    A leaked memo cited by the IPS has also stated that the Bush administration plans after the election to make major cuts in education, home ownership, job training, medical research, and even homeland security. All of these programs are of major importance to the American citizen and it is at a very high cost to the middle class specifically.

    364,000 troops have been called into service according the IPS. Once this war is over, they will be coming home. Like many wars in history, recessions have followed wars because of the drop of production of weapons as well as a high rate of unemployment due to returning troops.

    All of what I have listed so far have been primarily United States costs. Iraq has paid even more.

    Unemployment in Iraq doubled from 30% to 60% from before the war to the summer of 2003. Much of the Oil infrastructure was damaged/destroyed by both Iraqi and coalition forces. Looting broke out after the fall of Saddam and now many of Iraq’s hospitals are incredibly short of supplies. Over 200 schools were destroyed by coalition forces.

    Other related costs:

    The damage of the United States’ reputation is one worth large consideration. The United Nations is the world’s recognized body of enabling action and invasion from one country to another. Over 180 countries are members of this organization. The United Nations did not approve of this war on the grounds that the United States did not present sufficient evidence in proving that Iraq presented a threat to the rest of the world. France, Germany, and Russia all vetoed the war in the United Nations, and still the United States went ahead and invaded. The fact that we went in without the UN’s approval could be the death blow to an organization muttered by many as a useless debating society. Europe and much of the world now views us negatively and the consequences could bleed through economically, politically, and socially.

    The cost of going to war in Iraq may have well drawn attention away form other aching places on earth. North Korea has now gone nuclear reportedly since last month. Civil war in Sudan is now ripping the country apart as leaders of each side liquidate mass peoples. AIDS in Africa and all around the world cause more deaths a year than all war combined. Iran, Iraq’s neighbor, is a true example of evil if I have ever seen one. The war on terror in Afghanistan is now far less effective because many troops have been drawn away into Iraq. Each of these issues is worthy of in depth discussion.

    The cost of this war in both lives and units of quality of life are extensive. Hundreds of thousands dead, millions of lives have lost units of quality due to monetary and infrastructure depletion. The cost has been high for citizens of the United States, citizens of Iraq, and citizens around the world. Is the cost worth what has come out of it? Let us examine.

    The largest reason The United States gave for invading Iraq was that Iraq was hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction and had the intent of using them against the United States and its allies. Weapons of Mass Destruction are weapons capable of inflicting mass casualties in dense populations. It is in my view that if these such weapons are in the possession of someone who has the intent to use them against me or my people than I would feel justified in attacking that person and his people as long as the lives and quality of life units gained in this conflict are more than what would happen if these weapons of mass destruction were inflicted on my people and which affected my people’s lives and quality of life units.

    It is important to remember that the reason going into Iraq was not so that we could benefit from any sort of consequence; it was so that we could stave of disaster and prevent a catastrophe.

    However, The United States has not come across such evidence yet, and it appears that Iraq had never produced these Weapons of Mass Destruction. Even President Bush has conceded that we will probably not find these Weapons of Mass destruction, and that the threat apparently was never there.

    He and his administration does however assert that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Looking back on Saddam’s human rights history, I must agree that he was a bad person. The new question we must ask now that we have realized that the imminent threat Iraq posed was non-existent is whether or not all of the resources we have expended are worth the consequences gained since he was in power.

    Saddam was a bad guy, I agree with that statement. He has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths himself. The Iran-Iraq War cost millions of lives between the two countries, and the brutal tactics he used against his own people are more than worthy of mentioning. However, studies show that he in his state at the time of the invasion was not necessarily practicing the same practices he had in the past years. He had no Weapons of Mass Destruction, His army proved feeble in combat, and his population seems repentant of his doings. Was Saddam capable of bringing about an equal or greater loss of lives and units of quality of life used in removing him and his regime? I think not.

    Good things have come from the war. True democracy, as I hold to be a good thing, has been granted 25 million people. An evil dictator has been taken out of power. A western guided country has been planted in the heart of a fundamentalist middle-east. Are these things worth hundreds of thousands of lives, depreciation of millions of people’s quality of life, and disagreement around the world?

    Like I said, I think the important thing to remember is that the reason we went into war has changed. The reason we were given to invade was one which told us we were staving off disaster. The story now is that we have removed an evil dictator and that the people of Iraq will now be free. The costs are more than paid for if the first story was true. The costs of the second story do not come close to off the lives and quality of life units lost in this brutal conflict. So, in final review, I stand by the proclamation that the Iraq war was not justified because it did not satisfy the two standards of decision making that I had set forth at the beginning of this paper. The amount of lives and units of quality of life saved or enhanced in taking action was I believe not worth the amount of lives lost and units of quality of life lost in invading.


    this is just something I threw together in one night for my philosophy 106 class there are errors but I think it makes a strong case and cuts through much of the unneccesary issues about the war. Its simple, life and quality of life, nothing else.

    If you really want to read up on whether or not the Iraq war was justified I strongly recommend reading "A failed transition" at http://www.ips-dc.org/iraq/failedtransition/
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2004 #2
    Are all human lives worth the same?
  4. Nov 4, 2004 #3
    All wars of the present seem justified on noble grounds, and all wars of the past seem like acts of stupidity promoted by ruthless people and supported by ignorant masses.

    It's a shame we never learn from the past...
  5. Nov 4, 2004 #4
    each individual i believe learns from the past in his or her own way but does not learn why there was devastation in the past. and as a society or a whole population, we havent learned
  6. Nov 4, 2004 #5
    This **** we are in will never end, we were born killers,whole humanity exist thanks to our killer instinct.
    If you won't kill then sombody else will kill you for few cents.
    My worst fear is in the near future when humans start to explore other planets and other solar systems.What could happen to beings living there when we meet them and find that they are inferior in technology but poses something valuable to us? they gonna die.
    This human virus must be stoped here on earth,I can't wait for nuclear armagedon.
  7. Nov 11, 2004 #6
    Oh absolutely!

    I'm in total shock. Before we actually invaded Iraq I couldn't believe the arrogance of our president when dealing with the U.N. Here's the truth as I see it,...

    Diplomacy didn't fail George W. Bush. George W. Bush failed miserably at diplomacy!

    I mean, let's face it. Bush is not a diplomat. He's a wild-west sheriff gone mad. On international TV before the war he talked about people in terms of old-west "Wanted Dead or Alive" posters. Is this a new millennium president of the United States of America? Sounds more like what some uneducated idiot would say in a bar!!!

    His non-diplomatic demands to the world "You're either with us or against us" made me sick, and internationally embarrassed. Yet I was holding out hope that he was merely trying to just put on some real pressure with his threats to invade Irag.

    The day that we actually invaded Iraq my heart sank. I couldn't believe that my country, The United States of America was actually attacking a third-world country that we already had under control. This was just completely unbelievable to me. I kept wanting to wake up from this stupid nightmare.

    Yes, Saddam was an idiot. But there were much better ways of dealing with this feeble third world thread. Attacking him out of fear just illustrated the depth George Bush's paranoia. To claim that Saddam was a threat was to actually give Saddam much more credit than he deserved. He just wasn't that powerful.

    Ok, so we're stuck in a military conflict in Iraq. Saddam's helpless feeble army was pulverized within a few weeks. Not much a threat I'd say.

    So, now what? Now we have a lot of people in Iraq that don't want us to be there. Well, hell, let's just call them terrorists and go around and kill all of them now!

    Ok, this is really getting sickening. Maybe the American people will wake up to the fact that we have a non-diplomatic mad man running our country and vote him out. Europe, Canada, and the rest of the civilized world seem have recognized this already, perhaps we can count on Americans to see it too and remedy the problem.

    Well, no need to talk about how stupid that idea was. Now I'm sicker than ever. To think that I live in a country where over half of the people actually bought into Bush's non-diplomatic dictating paranoia style. That's makes me sicker than ever before. I can't believe that he didn't get voted out. Although, to be honest the democrats didn't help matters. They just didn't offer an attractive alternative. Kerry just didn't seem to have any real fire under the hood.

    The worst part about the whole thing is that Bush views his victory as completely support for his actions by the people. I seriously don't believe that people are supporting his actions. They simply didn't want to give Kerry a chance because Kerry didn't looked like he knew what the f*** he was doing.

    So now Bush is still in power and thinks he has a mandate with the American people behind him. What a shame. It simply isn't true. Half of the American people are totally disgusted with the whole thing. The other half where just afraid of Kerry. I don't think very many were actually in favor of Bush's foreign policies at all actually.

    I'm going to be sick for at least four more years now! I'm also embarrassed to have to say that I'm an American.

    And to those who might say, "Love it or Leave it". I'd like to say that I earned my way in our society. I pulled my weight and more I deserve my social security benefits, etc, etc, etc. I shouldn't have to give all that up just because we have a bozo for a president for the next four years!

    Going into Iraq was a stupid irresponsible mistake. How we can get out now I don't know. But I'll never forgive Bush for getting us into this disgusting mess. And, yes, I believe it was ALL HIS FAULT. He simply doesn't even know what the word diplomacy means. He's clearly not diplomatic. You can't just tell other people that they are either with us or against us. You need to work with other people diplomatically.

    Sorry for the long post. I don't normally get into political issues. But this is so absurd I just had to speak my mind.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Iraq War: Cold cut argument.
  1. Argument (Replies: 2)

  2. A Cold (Replies: 7)