About Iraq--was it justified?
By Paul Bergstrom, Oct 26, 2004
Prior to the war, I discussed why I thought the war in Iraq was the right thing to do. Like everyone else, I assumed that shortly after we went in, we would find huge stockpiles of chemical weapons and perhaps other horrors. So far, we have found lots of horrors but no WMD stockpiles. But this does not alter the justification for the war!
Suppose some guy is threatening my daughter with a gun. Suppose I somehow fight him off, killing him in the process. Later, it turns out the gun was not loaded. Was I any less justified in defending my daughter? In the same way, Hussein threatened the world in general and the USA in particular. Remember, he kicked the inspectors out, he shot at our pilots patrolling his country, he acted as if he had lots of forbidden stuff, and he made his people endure crippling economic sanctions presumably to keep it. Perhaps he did all this just to maintain a bluff - but we would have been idiots to think so based on information available prior to the war.
In real life, one must act on incomplete information. In real life, perfect options do not exist. One must make choices. Remember our options before the Iraq war: remember, we had been patrolling the "no fly" zones in his country and otherwise "containing" him for a decade. This was an unstable, unsustainable situation. We must either finish the job of 1991, or we would eventually pack up and go home - leaving Saddam ultimately to do whatever he wanted. We had no other long-term options. Remember, Saddam was only "cooperating" with inspections because of our threat of war. We could not keep up this threat indefinitely. No reasonable person believes he would have continued this cooperation after US troops left the region. Remember, prior to Sept 11, 2001, France and others were pressuring us to lift economic sanctions without further cooperation. Backing down would have meant leaving Saddam not only in power but without any credible threat of intervention. He would have been free to do whatever he wanted. Does anyone doubt he would have quickly rebuilt his WMD programs?