Did the War achieve its Goals? View comments     
       With Iraq now in virtual chaos under US occupation, a few hundred American soldiers dead and who knows how many Iraqis, it is worth asking whether the war achieved its stated goals. Note that this analysis doesn't attempt to address any hidden goals the war may have had, rather gives the US Government the benefit of the doubt in assuming that their rhetoric represents their real motives.           
Removing the WMD threat
       The danger posed by Iraq's WMD was the reason and justification put forward to the UN for the war. Although the UN itself did not feel that the war was justified at the time on this basis, this is the sole basis upon which Powell argued for the war to the UN.

With no WMD yet found, it is getting more and more difficult to argue that the war succeeded in the aim of removing their danger - if they never existed then there was never any danger in the first place. The US government is now trying to promote finds allegedly proving the existance of a program for the potential production of WMD, yet even if some of these finds turn out to be true (and many supposed finds have already proven not to be), this is a far cry from the imminent threat allegedly posed by existing WMDs.

Making the argument even weaker is the fact that the war lead to looting in which nuclear materials were removed from the Tuwaitha facility in Iraq. While all of the 'evidence' put forward regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons program by the US government turned out to be bogus, these nuclear materials were very real (and were under IAEA surveillance), and the looting of these materials (due to the US troops' failure to protect them) is exactly the kind of thing the war was supposed to prevent.
Fighting Terrorism
       It is difficult to judge at this stage whether the war has 'succeeded' in fighting terror. It mostly comes down to what you consider the most effective means to fighting terror - eliminating the causes/reasons or eliminating the terrorists. The problem with the latter method is that history tends to teach us that violent attempts to eliminate the terrorists tend to result in more terrorists springing up.

Iraq unfortunately seems to fit this model perfectly. The guerrilla attacks around Iraq which are causing US deaths on an almost daily basis appear not to be an organised resistance by Baathists still loyal to Saddam, but rather Iraqi's not feeling so happy with their 'liberators' and essentially fighting for their freedom from the occupying army. Under the US Government's usage of the word 'terrorist', this would make them terrorists, and they have obviously only become terrorists as a result of this war.

I should note here however that under a UN Resolution passed in 1987, the definition of terrorism does not apply to people struggling against racist and colonialist regimes or foreign military occupation.

Thus the Iraqis currently killing US troops do not really qualify as terrorists (and are also probably well within their rights under international law - if such a thing still exists in face of US efforts to undermine it). The other obvious group this definition exempts are the Palestinians - in fact, the UN Resolution mentioned above which defines terrorism in this way was voted against only by the US and Israel for exactly this reason.

Given the very real terrorism the war has caused, the very speculative grounds on which the war was supposed to help the fight on terror (i.e. Iraq's unproven links to al Qaeda), and the fact that this war by nature can only exacerbate the well-known reasons behind terrorism directed at the US, it is very hard to see how the war has succeeded in this goal.
Removing Saddam Hussein

Although Saddam has not yet been caught, and in fact looks like turning into another ghost-like figure ala bin Laden, with the occasional recording inciting followers to new acts of violence against America etc, it is an obvious fact that Saddam has been removed from power in Iraq. Thus this goal has clearly been achieved. However, the goal only has any merit if he is replaced with something better, which given the current situation in Iraq is far from clear.

Liberating the Iraqi people
       This goal was only really pushed once the war began, as more of a justification made for the American public than a real goal or reason behind the war. This is clear in the lack of planning made by the US for post-'liberation' Iraq - if the war was really about liberating the Iraqi people, one would expect the US to have done a better job of working out how they were going to look after these people, and in particular how they were going to give these people actual freedom (i.e. democracy, self-rule etc) rather than simply end up as hated occupiers.

As the WMD justification unravels, the Bush Administration is becoming desperate for other justifications for the war, and this is one of the few available. Ironically however, it is almost becoming more and more apparent that many of the Iraqi people do not feel liberated, and that the US has little intention of giving the Iraqi people true liberation in the form of the self-determination which they all want.

It should in any case be apparent to anyone with a good grasp of Iraqi history that liberation is a very unlikely motive for a British-US led attack, given that the British stole the promised freedom from the Iraqi people after WWI, and after the Iraqi's finally shook off their colonial yoke and got their own leader, the CIA helped the Baathists remove him, bringing Saddam to power. Not exactly a history of help from these two world powers with respect to liberation, which if we ask www.dictionary.com means 'set free, as from oppression, confinement, or foreign control'. The Americans may have set the Iraqis free from the oppression they put there in the first place, but it appears they won't be offering much help to the Iraqis in making the final step in their liberation - setting themselves free from foreign control.
Conclusion - was it worth it?
       With the WMD reason for the war looking thinner than ever, the Iraqi people again fighting for their liberation from the Americans and British, and with new Iraqi terrorists springing up all round the country to kill US soldiers daily, the only success the US can conclusively claim is in removing the guy they put there in the first place - Saddam. It remains to be seen whether Iraq turns out to be a better place without Saddam, and whether this improvement can justify the huge cost of the war, but it should be noted that if war on this basis is to be taken as a precendent for the future - the precedent being that war is justified against any country ruled by an oppressive dictator - then this world has a very worrying future ahead of it.           
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A short anti-war argument View comments     

With the war on Iraq impending, I wrote up a small argument against a war. Of course, the war is now been and gone, however I think it still important to consider, if only because Iraq doesn't appear to be the last on the US's list of countries in need of 'liberation'. Note that this write-up makes claims which the reader may not initially agree with, but all of which are backed up within this site.

A few important reasons why I don't support a non-UN-backed war on Iraq:

1. Such a war can only lead to an increase in terrorism
       One only has to look into the reasons for Osama bin Laden's hate of the US to appreciate this obvious fact. The Iraqis, arabs and muslims around the world will see such a war not only as a war on Islam, but also for what it largely is about ...           
2. This war is (to whatever degree) an imperialistic grab for oil

Anyone doubting this need only consider Iraq's history. The CIA played a hand in overthrowing the government in Iraq in 1963 which brought Saddam to power. The reason was that the government had moved to nationalise oil (exactly the same thing also happened in Iran). Going back further also gives a long history of the colonial power Britain treating Iraq atrociously in order to control their oil.

Consider further the Bush Administration's deep ties with the oil industry, read about the English and US oil companies already lobbying over who gets to drill the Iraqi oil (Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world), read the report submitted to Dick Cheney suggesting the use of military force in Iraq because the US needs the oil, or consider that a result of the war in Afghanistan was the US finally getting to build a pipeline through the country, or that high oil prices are currently threatening the US economy and could be reliably kept significantly lower if the US were to control Iraq's oil.

3. There are no proven links between Saddam and the Al-Qaeda.
       The best intelligence agencies (those of the US and Britain) in the world have been working flat out to try and find one, yet both reported no link (despite this fact, both Bush and Blair repeatedly cite information discredited by their own intelligence agencies as evidence of a link - if they are so convinced of the case for war they shouldn't need to lie in presenting it). British intelligence reports that even the possibility of a substantial link is unlikely, given that Osama is in ideological conflict with Saddam (in a recent tape Osama termed Saddam and his regime 'infidels').           
4. Before the UN sanctions Saddam had created a country with the one of the highest standards of living in the Middle East.

At least for his own people he had thus done a better job than most other Middle Eastern leaders, and now we're supposed to be saving his people from him? I'm not saying Saddam is all good, far from it, but can anyone honestly claim that we are acting in the interests of the Iraqi people here?

Consider this - over the past 12 years under the UN sanctions, an estimated 5000-6000 children in Iraq have died due to starvation and lack of water and medication in Iraq every week. The blame for this lies not with Saddam or even the UN, rather the fact that the US and UK have always fought against any relaxation of the sanctions, including blocking the efforts of the oil-for-food program. The two successive UN leaders of the oil-for-food program resigned due to this, saying that Saddam had done his best to provide his people with food, however calling the US and UK actions 'genocide'. If the US and UK have pursued a genocidal policy at the cost of 1.5 million Iraqi lives over the past 10 years, can we believe their claim to now be taking war to the people of Iraq for their own good?

5. The threat that Iraq poses to the US is tiny.

Iraq probably still has some 'weapons of mass destruction' of course, but an insignificant amount which pales in comparison to that of many other countries (including of course the US and Britain, but also less stable places such as Syria and the nuclear states of North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel).

Saddam has never been a threat to or threatened the US. This brings into question not only the motives for the war but also whether there is any right by international law or even under Bush's pre-emptive doctrine to initiate one. Saddam's army was pathetic in the Gulf War and is much weaker now. Even CIA Director George Tenet believes that the probability of Saddam Hussein initiating an attack on the United States is low, however 'should Saddam Hussein conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions'.

Saddam gives no evidence to being the irrational madman that Bush paints him to be (except perhaps when pushed into a corner as mentioned above and as evidenced by him firing missiles at Israel during the first Gulf War). His war on Iran was backed by the US, as was initially his invasion of Kuwait. If we are truly concerned about chemical and biological weapons, we might ask why the US has recently undermined the Chemical Weapons Convention by restricting inspections in the US, killed the Biological Weapons Convention and refused to sign an International Treaty banning germ warfare. We might also ask why the US had to edit Iraq's weapons declaration before releasing it to the public, removing 150 American, British and other foreign companies from it who illegally supplied Iraq's WMD in the first place.

6. The US has a deplorable record of foreign intervention over the past 50 years.
       One need only look at all the well documented cases of democratic governments that have been overthrown by CIA covert action and replaced with dictators (i.e. Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, Iran, Indonesia), or the US's blatant ignoring of the World Court (i.e. in the case of the World Court's ruling of $17 billion in damages to Nicaragua for damages incurred in the US's illegal war on it) and other world organisations' rulings or treaties. Such a country has no right to be playing global cop, and when it does we all end up worse off.           
7. Bush's pre-emptive doctrine sets a dangerous precedent.

It is this same doctrine which started World War I, and we can only hope that neither the US nor any other countries continue with this doctrine - the most worrying aspect about this war in Iraq is that it appears to be just the beginning, with Iran and Syria looking likely contenders for being the next 'threats' to the US in need of liberation.

Not only does this war set a dangerous precent, and in the words of Abe Lincoln 'allow (the US) to make war at pleasure', but it may also encourage other countries to seek WMD to combat the US threat - the threat of US force/co-ercion is in fact one of the main reasons countries seek to obtain WMD.

8. The war is illegal.
       The UN Charter was set up for a good reason. Any war which goes against International Law should be at least put into question (Resolution 1441 does not provide authorization for war).           
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