Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraq War: For or Against?

Election day in Iraq has just concluded with only 36 dead and a larger than expected turnout, though not much is really confirmed yet.

At the moment, it looks like the elections are a victory for Bush and Neocons. It was the big game and the insurgents came out flat.

To be honest, I was and am against the Iraq war. Saddam is a piece of shit and the world is a better off place without him in power, but I think the war and its aftermath is still a very dangerous gamble. Yes, there is a chance that a democracy can be implanted and that would certainly be a good thing. But there is a better chance, in my opinion, that US involvement in Iraq will result in a civil war and/or another brutal dictatorship, costing many, many more lives and, for the US, billions and billions of dollars that we don't have (we do have a pretty big deficit right now, in case you didn't know). It bothers me that most Bush supporters I've argued with on other sites will not even acknowledge that there is a very real possibility that Iraq AND America might be much worse off in the long run.

However, I distance myself from most people who make up the anti-Iraq war/Anti-Bush crowd who are simply unwilling to acknowledge that the Iraqi people and eventually the whole Middle East might be better off from the Iraq War and subsequent country building. How many of the "anti's" admitted to being disappointed when the war was concluded quickly, seemingly preferring a long and drawn out conflict that would certainly take far more Iraqi lives than American? How many delight in pointing out the number of dead amassed since Bush announced victory? Too often I get the feeling from some "anti's" that they would love nothing more than to see chaos and a high body count of Iraqis and Americans only to justify their hatred of Bush and/or America.

What if the elections do lead to immediate positive changes? What if the Iraqi army and police force continue to strengthen in numbers to the point that foreign troops can be signficantly reduced within a few years? What if by this time next year the majority of Iraqis feel positively about the US and UK's involvement in Iraq?

Despite my misgivings of the war, I really want the above to happen. I want to be wrong. I take zero satisfaction of being "right" when people suffer.

Now you can argue, as I have done before, that the positive scenario above may not be likely, but it is certainly a possibility. There is, at this point anyway, nothing remotely noble about the insurgents. Nothing.  If the US continues to rebuild the country and really respects the new government's sovriegnty (am I hoping for too much? maybe...) then time is not on the insurgents side and we could see that positive scenario come to pass.

And if it does, those who protested the war should admit that to an extent they were wrong. We can grumble about Bush's true motivations and how much money Halliburton made, but in regards to the Iraqi people there would be no choice for those capable of being intellectually honest but to admit that things worked out for the better.

And how about all of you current Pro-Bush/neocons? What if one of the negative scenarios comes to pass and Iraq is nowhere close to being a stable country 5, 10, or even 20 years from now? Would you be willing to admit that Bush fucked up in a major way and the naysayers were basically right?

A while back I engaged in a debate on an Internet forum about the Iraq invasion shortly after the US had beaten Saddam's forces and the search for WMDs was on (the original reason for the war, for those who might have forgotten). The anti's said the WMDs would not be found and that the war was based on deceptive claims. The pro's said the WMDs certainly existed and would eventually be found, thus justifying the invastion.

At that time I posed a challenge to both sides:

  • If a signficant stockpile of WMDs were actually found, would the anti's then admit that Bush had some justification for invasion?

  • And if WMDs were NOT found, would the Pro-Bush people be able to admit that the invasion was a mistake?

Neither side took me up on it, nor gave any other possible future scenario that might prove themselves wrong. It became evident that those particular posters on both sides of the fence were not really interested in what was really true. They were either pro or anti Bush (or anti-America) and no amount of facts were going to disrupt their firmly established worldview.

Well, now the WMD issue is old news and freedom and democracy are the new justifications for the invasion.

Ok, I'll play along. There is nothing to gain about gloating over the nonexistence of WMDs and the fact is we are in Iraq and need to make the best of the current situation.

The Challenge

So can I propose a new challenge to both sides for those capable of admitting that there is a chance, no matter how slight, that their current views might be wrong?

I'm talking to those who are honest enough with themselves to admit that they might be wrong. I'm talking to the few out there who are capable of changing their worldviews when previously held ones do not stand up to new evidence.

If you find the way I structured the following questions restricting or even manipulative, then feel free to alter them.

Under what future circumstances would you admit that the war was right or wrong?

For the Pro-War crowd:

1. In terms of US/UK involvement in Iraq, if conditions are about the same as they are now (cost in lives and dollars) and Iraq is not an independent democracy by the year _____, I would change my views and consider the Iraq war and US led involvement a mistake.

Now for the Anti's:

1. If foreign troops (US and allies) are gone by the year _____, leaving Iraq a relatively stable and independent democracy, I would change my mind and view the Iraq war and US led involvement in a more positive light.

For the record, I'll give my own answers:

If foreign troops (US and allies) are gone by the year 2008, and Iraq is a relatively stable and independent democracy, I would change my mind and view the Iraq war and US led involvement in a more positive light.

I say 2008, because it is unrealistic to expect such major changes in a few years. However, if we are not much better off in 2008 than we are now then I think it is clear that war was far more costly than anyone bargained for.

Back to all things Korean in the future.

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