In the summer of 2002, President Bush declared that the U.S. was going to disarm Iraq through warfare. Such an invasion was the first test of the new policy expressed by President George W. Bush of “preemption,” which declares that the United States has the right to invade sovereign countries and overthrow their governments if they are seen as hostile to U.S. interests. Months have past since the end of major conflict yet the situations has not improved much. Although President Bush had good intentions, his preemptive war on Iraq is morally and strategically misguided. This raises major questions regarding the justification, legality, and cost of the war itself.
The two main justification President Bush validate the attack was Iraq’s connection to Al Qaeda and Iraq’s Possession of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). In the weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, information was leaked to the media of a meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence officer and one of the hijackers of the doomed airplanes that crashed into the World Trade Center. In response to the leak, the FBI and CIA conducted a thorough investigation and found no evidence that any such meeting took place (Rai). In addition, none of the hijackers were Iraqi, no major figure in Al Qaeda is Iraqi, and no funds to Al Qaeda have been traced to Iraq (“Stopping Al Qaeda”). It is also unlikely that Saddam’s regime, which has savagely suppressed Islamics within Iraq, would be able to maintain close links with Osama bin Laden. In fact, Osama’s former intelligence chief, Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal, noted that Bin Laden views Saddam Hussein “as an apostate, an infidel, or someone who is not worthy of being a fellow Muslim”( Rai). The other justification was Iraq’s possession of WMDs. Despite speculation of possible Iraqi efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction, no one has been able to provide firm evidence that Iraqis are actually doing so currently. In the aftermath of the Gulf War and the following inspections, virtually all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and capability of producing such weapons were destroyed. The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) oversaw the destruction of 38,000 chemical weapons, 480,000 liters of live chemical weapons agents, 30 missile warheads modified to carry chemical or biological agents, and hundreds of pieces of related equipment with the capability to produce chemical weapons (Rai, Milan. War on Iraq). Iraq is no more a threat to the U.S. than any other sovereign country.
President Bush tried very hard to convince the American people the war was legal but in reality it broke many laws. Bush emphasized a need for a preemptive war even though it is unlawful. A preemptive war is a war of aggression. Under international law, a preemptive war can only be justified as an act of self-defense only when there is a genuine and imminent threat of physical attack (Preemptive War). There is no evidence that Iraq had tried or will try to attack the United States. President Bush even recently admitted that no credible connection has been found linking the September 11 attack and Saddam Hussein. A few weeks after September 11th, Congress to pressured President Bush into trying diplomacy (U.N. Inspections) before starting a war. After months of looking the U.N. inspectors did not find any weapons of mass destruction, but President Bush still ordered the U.S. military to attack Iraq, on the premise that Iraq had failed to prove they had no weapons of mass destruction. This attack can only be recognized as war, which by the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Paragraph 11), only Congress had the authority to declare. The Attack on Iraq is not only immoral, it is illegal.
As demonstrated in the past, the cost of war will be great on both sides. The United States was determined to move forward with its plans of a large-scale military operation against Iraq to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein. It is estimated that a full-scale invasion of Iraq will cost up to $200 billion (“Waste of Precious Resources”). Military expenditures like that will take away money from vital services. The majority of battles for U.S. forces will be in urban environments. The U.S. soldiers will be faced with bitter, house-to-house fighting. As of December 14, 2003, there have been 456 soldiers killed in battle and more than 2600 wounded. To minimize American casualties in the face of such stiff resistance, which largely came from within crowded urban areas, the United States engage in heavy bombing of Iraqi residential neighborhoods, resulting in very high civilian casualties. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan states that ” modern estimates show that civilians make up 75 percent of all war casualties” (“Continuing Collateral Damage: The Health and Environmental Costs of War on Iraq”). No country in the Middle East supports a war on Iraq. They supports disarmament, not regime change. The international community has been unresponsive in helping to fund the rebuilding and securing of Iraq. This leaves bills of $4 billion per month on the shoulders of the American people, with no end in sight (Adams). While the benefits of invading Iraq are gloomy, the costs are all to clear.
In going to war with Iraq, the United States engaged in a unilateral, unprovoked attack on a sovereign country, whose regime it once supported. President Bush’s good intentions were overshadowed by the moral and strategic misgivings of his preemptive strike. Serious problems came up regarding the justification, legality, and cost of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. George Bush’s preemptive attack on Iraq was reckless and irresponsible. What at stake is just the lives of thousands of Iraqi and American soldiers and thousands more Iraqi civilians but also our credibility as a world leader. . The most effective solution to such arrogance of power is democracy. Seldom in U.S. history has it been so important for everyone to raise their concerns publicly and challenge their elected representatives to honor their legal and moral obligations.