When is War Justified?

Shock and Awe 7,400 civilians killed
Shock and Awe
7,400 civilians killed

So many people were disgusted by the war in Iraq that when a new proposal arose for similar adventures in Syria, The People rebelled en masse. The People rebelled for various stated reasons:

  1. The Iraq war was so expensive.
  2. The Iraq war was a dismal failure.
  3. The Iraq war was based on lies.

Of the three, only the last reason involves a hint of moral reasoning. Let’s say the Iraq war was inexpensive, a real bargain among armed conflicts. Would it then have been justified? When Eisenhower heard how little money and lives were spent by Truman to subvert the Italian democratic process in 1948, he concluded this was a real bargain and thus black ops and sneaky CIA interference in other nations was launched.

So does “We can pull this off on the cheap” justify an invasion?

Let’s say the Iraq war had been a success. Would it then have been justified? How would success have been measured? Saddam gone? A marvelous democracy set up? A peaceful, prosperous Iraq? Probably many of The People wished for these good things, but it is unlikely that those in power cared much about them-as evidenced by the fact that after all the killing and spending, Iraq today is a bloody mess.

So does “They will be better off” justify an invasion?

Maybe Iraq was a success for the real reason the leaders invaded. They got rid of a pesky uncooperative ruler, installed a compliant puppet and opened Iraq up for neoliberal globalization. As General Smedley Butler said about his career, “War is a racket.” They can’t tell The People that, of course, because it is morally repugnant-which brings us to the third objection.

The Iraq war was based on lies; big, fat, deliberate lies. The lies provided the only justification for an invasion that would have been legit:

  1. The country to be invaded is an imminent threat to the U.S.A.; it is has concrete plans to make war with the U.S.A. and the only way to prevent that is a preemptive strike.

Must not let that smoking gun turn into a mushroom cloud, as Condi Rice dramatically stated (over and over.)

There was no smoking gun, there was no possibility of a mushroom cloud. Saddam had no thought of attacking the U.S.A. He hated al-Quaeda types and crushed them in Iraq. Thus the only moral justification for war was completely lacking.

The war in Iraq was expensive and left the nation in ruins. But that is not the main issue. The main issue is that the war in Iraq was an unjust war, an act of naked aggression and ultimately a war crime, the prime war crime according to the Nuremberg trials, for which perpetrators were hung.

For the future, remember:

It is not: “Will this war be cheap?” or “Might they be better off?” but:

“Is this war justified or is it an act of aggression?”

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