Monday, September 27, 2004

Supporting the war in Iraq

In response to this challenge at

First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

At the time, and for as long as I have been aware of the situation, I thought it necessary to remove Saddam Hussein based primarily on the suffering he caused the Iraqi people, the tension he caused in the region, and the succour he gave to terrorists (Al-Qaeda or not). Despot is bad, no-despot is less bad. To remove such dictators is the reason we have supra-national bodies like the UN, and if they are not going to do their job, someone ought to. In the real life case of Iraq, time = death because the longer the UN equivocated (to placate French, Russian + Chinese oil deals, or whatever) the more people suffered in Iraq. Doing nothing or taking longer had costs that are rarely mentioned. The seen and unseen as Bastiat might have said.
I still think the same now because I do not believe in using hindsight to alter original beliefs. My concerns now are not whether it was a good idea, because it was at the time, but whether doing it differently would have made any difference.

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

On the one hand, I am concerned that so many soldiers and civilians are dying and that the post-war operation was relatively poorly planned. However, I am more inclined to think that the situation would not be very different if the UN had invaded, or if things had been done properly, however defined. When I saw Iraqis looting their own hospitals at the very start of the war, I was shocked. I took this to mean that all was not well with Iraqi civil society - despite all the horrors heaped upon them by the dictator, cannibalising their own society suggests that even the UN would have floundered. Perhaps they would have floundered to a lesser extent, but I have not been persuaded in this direction. Whilst it is valid to criticise the invasion by referencing the problems now occuring, you also have to show how it could have been different, and beyond implying that all would be fine if anyone other than the US had been involved, this angle is in my opinion, not well supported. Furthermore, the more religion is involved in its fanatical form, the less likely it is that any Western force would better US performance.

Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?

Difficult. One would be decreasing body counts, although this could occur for reasons other than Iraqi/terrorist resistance. Second would be the success of fair democratic elections, irrespective of who was elected. Successful democratic elections will maximally legitimise US withdrawal. Over the longer term, the easy indicator to use is economic activity - if the Iraqi economy grows and if money is repatriated + invested, and if migration toward Iraq occurs, we will know we have succeeded. I think the last point is particularly important - we know the US is better, crudely speaking, than Cuba, because no-one risks death to swim to Cuba. Most ambitiously, if Iraq embraces Western values (rather, resists Islamic policies) such as equality for women, we will know we have helped.

I have plenty of caveats and uncertainties that flesh out my position and I am not too far from reversing my view, or just stating that I don't know, so the answer above is a simple framework.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice site!
[url=]My homepage[/url] | [url=]Cool site[/url]

19 July 2006 at 20:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work!
My homepage | Please visit

19 July 2006 at 20:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! |

19 July 2006 at 20:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there.

Just wanted to say we must Support the U.S. Navy.

Anyway, found a good support song and web-site on the internet to support the U.S. Navy
I liked it and thought that it is a good song. It is important now that all our troops know that we stand by them no matter what.

Check it when you can.

Pass it on.

18 November 2006 at 22:05  

Post a Comment

<< Home