Iraq, Terrorism: A Fistful of Questions

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Hosts of millions supported the Nobel Peace Prizes awarded to convicted terrorist Nelson Mendella of S. Africa, and Menachem Begin of Israel who helped blow up the Hotel King David in 1946. Both began their adult lives engaged in activities we regard today as terrorist, blowing up, or otherwise conspiring to kill bystanders at their designated targets. Are these men heroes or terrorists? Or, were they terrorists who later became heroes of Peace? Each was engaged in a struggle they deemed worthy of killing for. In the minds of supporters of al-Queda, perhaps Osama bin Laden may be a Nobel Peace Prize candidate in 20 years.

The US was heralded for its vital role in putting an end to WW II. Yet, the US unleashed one of the greatest civilian casualty weapons upon Japan the world had ever seen in order to achieve their aim of saving American soldier's lives. Is it justified to lay waste to the civilian populations of women, children, and elderly of your enemy as a means of defeating that enemy's army? Is this not what terrorists do? Were the dropping of the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki not the greatest act of terrorism in human history? Did it not terrorize the government of Japan into surrender, despite the fact all of the Japanese military was willing to die rather than surrender on a field of battle between soldiers?

Does not history dictate to those who do not wish their countries and cultures overwhelmed by others to fight guerilla terrorist style campaigns instead of regular uniformed war style campaigns, given the predictable defeat in the face of overpowering military might? There is very little absolute right and wrong in all of this from this vantage point. Some would say, 'then discard the vantage point.' But, history is trying to teach, (that is the reason for history in the first place) and discarding the vantage point is an absolute refusal to learn from it. Is invasion and waging war with entire nations and cultures warranted by the actions of a small number in those nations or cultures?

Defining terrorists is a bit tricky as noted above. But, treating terrorists as criminals, apprehending them and trying them under law, are actions that are universally accepted by all nations and almost all of the world's people. Electing to invade and wage conventional war on a nation's people because that nation may contain an inhumane dictator or small number of terrorists is not universally accepted by all nations and obviously not accepted by very large segments of the world's people. Therein, lies the heart of the justification for criticism of President Bush's and Congress' actions in Iraq.

Invasion of Afghanistan was justified by an Afghan government that was part and parcel of the support which fostered the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 attacks were little different from a scenario in which uniformed Afghan soldiers calling themselves al-Queda invaded New York killing all they encountered. It was recognized the world over as justified and warranted. Iraq was an entirely different situation; one which was being managed with varying degrees of success. There were other ways of deposing Saddam Hussein, which would have been far, far less costly in lives including American, and dollars, not to mention less costly in terms of diplomatic and foreign relations. They would have taken longer to achieve Saddam Hussein's removal, but, what was the hurry in the first place? He was in check.

I know many folks who side with these views, but could not articulate them as well. I believe Mrs. Sheehan may be one who shares some of these views but is not able to articulate the details and history of why invading Iraq in her view was wrong, and therefore, wasted the life of her son. But, in her own way, she is trying to have the same question answered. What was the hurry? Were there not other alternatives to spending American GI lives?

We certainly had not exhausted all other options like assassination (we have done that before), or spies who could set us up for a surgical strike that could have taken Hussein out without engaging in invasion and war. Bush was chummy with the Saudis. Could he not have struck a deal in which a Saudi led Arab coalition took Hussein out as a means of maintaining stability in the region? I should think the Saudis should have been damned beholding to Bush and America after 9/11, considering so many of the attackers were Saudi and the facility with which we moved Saudi Family out of the US before the public became aware.

Why did Bush elect the absolute most costly means of dealing with the problems Hussein posed? We elected him to protect and defend our nation and our people, not to waste and abuse their abundance out of impatience, ignorance, lack of education, or just plain incompetence. What we are witnessing is an attempt by half the population of the US to hold the President and Congress accountable for their choices and to demand a swift resolution to our involvement in Iraq, while the other half seek to justify their choices as the only ones worthy of our nation.

This deep, deep division in our nation over Iraq is every bit deserved and warranted. As a people, we were divided over invading Iraq before the invasion, even if our representatives were not. History was made in invading Iraq; what lessons if any, will America take from it to make herself stronger, safer, and more prosperous? Or, like a king with all power and wealth, will she continue to justify her actions by virtue of her power and wealth, as so many kings and tyrants in history were want to do? Will half of American voters hold their representatives accountable at the polls in 2006 with anti-incumbent votes? Will the other half vote to bring more hawks into office to deal with Korea and Iran and China in the same way we have dealt with Iraq? Does history teach? Do nations learn?

2 Comments

You make some very valid points about removing saddam by other means such as assasination. However, that still leaves us with a power vacuum in that country. I think it was right for us to go in and remove saddam, however, I also think Colin Powell was right that we did not have a plan for after the war. That is clearly visible now.

I would give iraq 1 more year and if the iraqi people choose not to take ahold of their future, then we need to leave. Given the intelligence at the time (no matter how poor) I probably would have done the same thing. Bush, Clinton, France, Russia, England all agreed on the intelligence leading up to the war, so the nonsense that "Bush lied" is crap. It should be, "bush and rumsfeld had no post war plan would be better"

Traditionalist, thanks for the comments. I agree, we owe it to the Iraqis to give our best shot at training their forces to defend themselves. I would agree, one more year should be the limit. I mean hell, we train our own troops in 16 weeks, and FBI in 18 weeks.

I will say however, that I was one of many who said it was illogical to conclude that Hussien had WMD before we invaded. Hussein's entire life was lived paranoid of the harm others could do to him. He survived by covering his ass everyday of his life. Such a person is not going to leave WMD in his country with inspectors coming and going looking for them. And the reason was simple, if they found WMD, the US would be justified in removing him from power under international law. He was not about to leave his reign in such jeopardy. It was psychologically predictable that he would have gotten rid of the WMD before the first inspectors came into Iraq.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on August 20, 2005 6:09 AM.

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