No doubt the most controversial political issue of the post-9/11 world is the issue of the American occupation of Iraq. The debate has elucidated the political segregation of the West more clearly than ever before. There are many who support the war, citing a variety of reasons. And there are those who oppose it, citing their own reasons as well. As you have probably guessed from the title of this entry, I think the occupation of Iraq has ceased to become a political issue, because it has ceased to be rationally defensible. In this entry, I will list a few reasons why I find this occupation to be unjust, and downright criminal. At this point, if there are any people out there who want to refute any of my arguments, then I invite you to comment.
Let me also state outright that I’m not a political pundit, and I am not going to make any claims that are based on opinion. This will be an entry written logically, and as neutrally as possible. Within this vein, however, I still propose that I can use the power of words and images to persuade you that the occupation of Iraq is unjust.
Ironically, the story of this war really begins with President Bush, back in May 2003, proclaiming “Mission Accomplished.”
I find myself among the millions of other people around the world asking “What exactly was the mission, and what exactly was accomplished?”
Several weeks ago, President Bush proposed a ‘surge’ of 20,000 American troops to be sent into Iraq. This proposal came despite Bush’s falling approval rating, and a number of surveys suggesting that, among the American people, support for the war has decreased dramatically. Fighting not only continues in Iraq, but has actually increased. According to the BBC, as well as CNN, studies have placed the Iraqi death toll as high as 655,000.
President Bush, on the other hand, has a more generous estimate, ranging it around 30,000. And just for the benefit of the doubt (and in the interest of staying fair to both sides) let’s assume that Bush’s figures are accurate. Let’s assume that only 30,000 innocent civilians have been killed as a result of the invasion.
That’s still a huge loss of human life. I think I speak for everyone when I say “I want to know why they died.” I’ve heard people answer by saying “It’s the reality of war.” I don’t find much logic in this, because clearly the invasion was willfully and forcefully executed by America, despite international law.
Another popular answer is that “America is fighting a war on terror.” I don’t think I need to point out the obvious impossibility with declaring war on an idea. More specifically, one could say America is fighting the “threat of terrorism.” But it just seems strange to me that the nation Iraq should bare the full brunt of that war. For example: what about the terrorists in Spain? What about the terrorists in England? What about the terrorists in Somalia? What about the terrorists in Indonesia? What about the terrorists in Ireland? What about the terrorists in America? Bush and his administration are the first to admit that terrorism operates through an untraceable international network. I’ve often wondered precisely how a war on terrorism can be won, considering this fact. I mean, there have been terrorists in our world for centuries, have there not? Do people believe that terrorism can be meaningfully eradicated? And where exactly does one draw the line between terrorism and aggressive militarism?
That brings me to my first question to those who support this war: can you tell me, in very practical and methodical terms, how a “war on terrorism” can be won?
*If there are any war supporters reading this,
please answer in the comments section.*
My second point is more difficult for some people to discuss. And that is the consequences of war – the uncompromising realities of war – the real situations and circumstances that have arisen because of this occupation:
This is a photograph of Sgt. Ty Ziegel and his high-school sweetheart Renee. Sgt Ziegel lost an arm, and had his face burned off by a suicide bomber while serving in Iraq. I think it’s important that we see images like this. It’s important that we see the kind of sacrifices being made by many soldiers. They have chosen to give their lives to serve America, and I think it’s important that (given the powerful nature of these sacrifices) citizens of the West do everything they can to ensure that this occupation is just.
So who claims that it is unjust? It has been suggested (my people from all over the world, from many different backgrounds) that the occupation of Iraq, as a pre-emptive military endeavour, was designed ultimately to secure the procurement of Middle-Eastern oil; and/or to establish a business-friendly puppet regime that would be sympathetic to the West. Of course, none of us can say for sure that this was the only motivation for America to go to war. But evidence like this makes one wonder:
“President Bush’s Cabinet agreed in April 2001 that ‘Iraq remains
a destabilising influence to the flow of oil to international markets
from the Middle East and because this is an unacceptable risk to
the US military, intervention’ is necessary.'”
~BBC News, 2002
It’s quotes like this, quotes taken directly from the American administration, that have raised so many eyebrows around the world. The suggestion seems to fall upon dead ears, as Bush’s administration consistently avoids the suggestion at press conferences, and in interviews. To me, this only lends further sway to the argument that the occupation of Iraq may be motivated by less noble causes than “the battle against evil-doers.” And consistently, proponents of this suggestion are categorized as “unpatriotic conspiracy nuts,” despite a large body of perfectly concrete evidence.
So, here is my second question to people who support the war: what evidence is there that the procurement of oil is not a factor?
*Supporters of the war: if you have any good evidence, please post a comment with a link.*
We, as a society, really have two different ideas about war. The first idea is that war is an honourable pursuit. War, as a tradition, has been associated with bravery and loyalty throughout the centuries. In classical paintings, for example, soldiers are often portrayed under a shining sun as they, on their mounted steeds, defend king and country from the forces of evil. This is a concept of war that we feel very comfortable with.
Of course, there is another kind of war: real war. This photograph was one of the first realistic images to emerge from modern war, and it is probably the most famous image to emerge from the Vietnam war. The picture shows a naked young Vietnamese girl running to escape a napalm attack from an American helicopter. It is famous for being one of the first images to show the reality of war. Small surprise, then, that millions of Americans began protesting the war.
Today, thanks in large part to the Internet, we are able to see what the war in Iraq looks like. What we see is not the same thing that you see on the 6 o’clock news. I’ve seen dozens of shameful videos taken from the ground, and each one makes me think more and more about what a shameful war this has become:
Listening to these boys, one is reminded of teenagers drinking beer and playing video-games. Their actions and their words hardly merit honour. It is plainly obvious that these particular soldiers have become entirely desensitized to death, and it’s evident that they are not the mature and compassionate people that we should expect our troops to be. I hope that these types of soldiers are the minority. I really just don’t know. There have certainly been ample cases of soldier misconduct during this occupation, including instances of rape, murder and torture. I suppose some would say that is an inevitability of war.
This is my final question to the supporters of this war: is all the death, rape and torture of innocent Iraqis still worth it?
Supporters of this war are essentially supporting actions that have led to the death of thousands on innocent people, are they not? Their reasons for supporting the war must be pretty important. But what are they? It can’t be to protect their country, because statistics show that international sentiment towards America has risen sharply. It can’t be for national security, because statistics show that Americans feel less safe now than they did before the occupation.
And it can’t be to fight terrorism. If anything, they are breeding a new generation of terrorists.
So, to all the war supporters out there: please, would somebody explain to me how this war is a good thing? Precisely why should war be supported?
*Before anybody answers, let me guess: because I’m too uninformed to know that progress in the industrialized world is made possible only by the military industrial complex, OR because I’m a tree-hugging anarchist mindlessly hopping on the left-wing bandwagon, OR because I’m a godless hippie with an unrealistic acid-induced ideology.*