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John Simkin

Just War

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The following letter was sent by Conservative Christians to President Bush on 3rd October, 2002. Are you convinced that the invasion of Iraq was a Just War?

The Honorable George W. Bush

President of the United States of America

The White House

Washington, DC 20502

Dear Mr. President,

In this decisive hour of our nation's history we are writing to express our deep appreciation for your bold, courageous, and visionary leadership. Americans everywhere have been inspired by your eloquent and clear articulation of our nation's highest ideals of freedom and of our resolve to defend that freedom both here and across the globe.

We believe that your policies concerning the ongoing international terrorist campaign against America are both right and just. Specifically, we believe that your stated policies concerning Saddam Hussein and his headlong pursuit and development of biochemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction are prudent and fall well within the time-honored criteria of just war theory as developed by Christian theologians in the late fourth and early fifth centuries A.D.

First, your stated policy concerning using military force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction is a just cause. In just war theory only defensive war is defensible; and if military force is used against Saddam Hussein it will be because he has attacked his neighbors, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and harbored terrorists from the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation so viciously and violently on September 11, 2001. As you stated in your address to the U.N. September 12th:

"We can harbor no illusions. . . . Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in Northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians and forty Iraqi villages."

Disarming and neutralizing Saddam Hussein is to defend freedom and freedom-loving people from state-sponsored terror and death.

Second, just war must have just intent. Our nation does not intend to destroy, conquer, or exploit Iraq. As you declared forthrightly in your speech to the U.N. General Assembly:

"The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. . . . Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq."

This is clearly a just and noble intent.

Third, just war may only be commenced as a last resort. As you so clearly enumerated before the U.N., Saddam Hussein has for more than a decade ignored Security Council resolutions or defied them while breaking virtually every agreement into which he has entered. He stands convicted by his own record as a brutal dictator who cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement he makes. And while he prevaricates and obfuscates, he continues to obtain and develop the weapons of mass destruction which he will use to terrorize the world community of nations.

The world has been waiting for more than a decade for the Iraqi regime to fulfill its agreement to destroy all of its weapons of mass destruction, to cease producing them or the long-range missiles to deliver them in the future, and to allow thorough and rigorous inspections to verify their compliance. They have not, and will not, do so and any further delay in forcing the regime's compliance would be reckless irresponsibility in the face of grave and growing danger.

Fourth, just war requires authorization by legitimate authority. We believe it was wise and prudent for you to go before the U.N. General Assembly and ask the U.N. Security Council to enforce its own resolutions. However, as American citizens we believe that, however helpful a U.N. Security Council vote might be, the legitimate authority to authorize the use of U.S. military force is the government of the United States and that the authorizing vehicle is a declaration of war or a joint resolution of the Congress.

When the threat of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba presented a grave threat to America's security, President Kennedy asked for the support of the U.N. and the Organization of American States, but made it clear, with or without their support, those missiles would either be removed by the Soviets, or we would neutralize them ourselves. The American people expected no less from their president and their government.

Fifth, just war requires limited goals and the resort to armed force must have a reasonable expectation of success. In other words, "total war" is unacceptable and the war's goals must be achievable. We believe your stated policies for disarming the murderous Iraqi dictator and destroying his weapons of mass destruction, while liberating the Iraqi people for his cruel and barbarous grip, more than meet those criteria.

Sixth, just war theory requires noncombatant immunity. We are confident that our government, unlike Hussein, will not target civilians and will do all that it can to minimize noncombatant casualties.

Seventh, just war theory requires the question of proportionality be addressed. Will the human cost of the armed conflict to both sides be proportionate to the stated objectives and goals? Does the good gained by resort to armed conflict justify the cost of lives lost and bodies maimed? We believe that the cost of not dealing with this threat now will only succeed in greatly increasing the cost in human lives and suffering when an even more heavily armed and dangerous Saddam Hussein must be confronted at some date in the not too distant future. We believe that every day of delay significantly increases the risk of far greater human suffering in the future than acting now would entail.

How different and how much safer would the history of the twentieth century have been had the allies confronted Hitler when he illegally reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936 in clear violation of Germany's treaty agreements? It is at least possible that tens of millions of the lives lost in World War II might not have been lost if the Allies had enforced treaty compliance then instead of appeasing a murderous dictator.

We are extremely grateful that we have a president who has learned the costly lessons of the twentieth century and who is determined to lead America and the world to a far different and better future in the twenty first century. As you told the world's leaders at the U.N.:

"We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand."

Mr. President, we make that stand with you. In so doing, while we cannot speak for all of our constituents, we are supremely confident that we are voicing the convictions and concerns of the great preponderance of those we are privileged to serve.

Please know that we join tens of millions of our fellow Americans in praying for you and your family daily.

Sincerely Yours,

Richard D. Land, D.Phil.

President

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. Chuck Colson

Chairman

Prison Fellowship Ministries

Dr. Bill Bright

Founder and Chairman

Campus Crusade for Christ International

D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.

President

Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc.

Dr. Carl D. Herbster

President

American Association of Christian Schools

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John, I think the letter authors properly enunciated the generally accepted principles of a "just war".

Query I have is whether our "secret war" against Cuba met these standards?

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As you know, the vast majority of Church leaders condemned the invasion of Iraq as an illegal war. However, it does not surprise me that evangelical supporters of Bush were able to come to this judgement. After all, Charles Colson is a bit of an expert in defining illegal activities. We all know what he got up to when he had power under Richard Nixon.

Let’s take a look at the reasons they give for the invasion of Iraq War:

“We believe that your policies concerning the ongoing international terrorist campaign against America are both right and just. Specifically, we believe that your stated policies concerning Saddam Hussein and his headlong pursuit and development of biochemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction are prudent and fall well within the time-honored criteria of just war theory as developed by Christian theologians in the late fourth and early fifth centuries A.D.”

We now know that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. This was based on a lie manufactured by the CIA and MI6. Colson could of course argue that he believed Bush when he told the American public that he had WMD. If that is the case, has he now changed his mind about the morality of the war?

“In just war theory only defensive war is defensible; and if military force is used against Saddam Hussein it will be because he has attacked his neighbors, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and harbored terrorists from the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation so viciously and violently on September 11, 2001.”

It is true that Iraq attacked its neighbours (Iran and Kuwait). They don’t point out that the US government gave considerable help to Iraq in the invasion of Iran. I suppose at that time Republicans thought that was a “Just War” as well. Kuwait was dealt with at the time by the UN. George Bush senior rightly stated at the time that this only gave him permission to push Iraq out of Kuwait. Although he was much criticised at the time he was in fact right to obey international law by not invading Iraq.

Under international law it is not legal to invade a sovereign nation that is waging war on its own people. Nor does it come into the concept of a Just War that is primarily concerned with defending yourself when attacked. The Far Right Christians are aware of this and so add the passage that Iraq “harbored terrorists from the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation so viciously and violently on September 11, 2001.” The problem with this argument is that it is untrue. There was never any Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq before the invasion. There is now of course. What is more, they have good reason to argue that they are fighting a Just War as they are fighting back against occupying troops.

“Second, just war must have just intent. Our nation does not intend to destroy, conquer, or exploit Iraq.”

Clearly the US does not want to “destroy” Iraq. However, it has clearly done a great deal to destroy its infrastructure. It is not having much success at conquering Iraq, though no doubt it wishes to do that. The overwhelming number of people in the world do indeed think that the US wishes to “exploit” Iraq. Does anyone really think that the US would have invaded Iraq if it did not have such large supplies of oil?

“Third, just war may only be commenced as a last resort.”

This was of course one of the main arguments put forward by Christian leaders why the invasion of Iraq was a “Just War”. Critics of Bush and Blair constantly asked the question: “Why now?” It is a question they have never been able to answer.

“Fourth, just war requires authorization by legitimate authority. We believe it was wise and prudent for you to go before the U.N. General Assembly and ask the U.N. Security Council to enforce its own resolutions.”

It was clear to all concerned that despite US attempts to bribe and bully nations into agreeing to invade Iraq, the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N. Security Council were unwilling to sanction the war. Therefore, Bush and Blair went ahead with fighting an illegal war.

“Fifth, just war requires limited goals and the resort to armed force must have a reasonable expectation of success.”

Bush clearly did not have limited goals. In fact, it is still not clear when Bush plans to withdraw his troops. If Bush’s goal is to obtain a stable and democratic Iraq, then it is highly unlikely that US troops will ever be withdrawn while he is president.

“Sixth, just war theory requires noncombatant immunity. We are confident that our government, unlike Hussein, will not target civilians and will do all that it can to minimize noncombatant casualties.”

Any use of long-range weapons will obviously kill large numbers of civilians. Medical organizations working in Iraq have estimated that so far over 100,000 civilians have been killed in the war.

“Seventh, just war theory requires the question of proportionality be addressed. Will the human cost of the armed conflict to both sides be proportionate to the stated objectives and goals?”

That is a question that will eventually be answered by the electorate. However, given the corrupt political systems that have been established in the UK and US, it is likely to be some time (if at all) when Bush and Blair are punished for their war crimes. However, I have every confidence that historians will make the judgements that will destroy their political reputations.

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Guest Stephen Turner
That is a question that will eventually be answered by the electorate. However, given the corrupt political systems that have been established in the UK and US, it is likely to be some time (if at all) when Bush and Blair are punished for their war crimes. However, I have every confidence that historians will make the judgements that will destroy their political reputations.

:dis Hear hear, Ive just cast my vote, & for the first time I have voted for a party other than Labour.(Greens) I will not return to the Labour Party whilst its leader is an unrepentant war criminal.

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John, bottom line is: Are the people of Iraq better off, and is the world better off, with the brutal dictator and murderer Hussein gone and the Iraquis working toward a constitutional democracy despite the factionalism and religious differences that exist within that country?

I think history will say "Yes".

If your prediction that Iraq will revert to a theocracy of fundamental Moslems, then the judgment of history may be different.

But if democracy prevails in Iraq, it may very well spead to ther Middle Eastern countries, with great results for years to come. Consider for instance how women are repressed in the strict Moslem states. This would be like a democratic domino theory I guess.

We were right to fight Hitler. We were right to fight the Cold War. Look at Germany now. Look at Japan. The former countries of the Soviet Union are having difficulties, to be sure, but progress is being made.

I think history has already judged that the isolationists of the thirties like Joe Kennedy (and many Republicans) were wrong in opposing the war against Hitler. If democracy does prevail in the Mid-east (as I am sure we all hope it does) I think history will record the same judgment with respect to those who opposed the war against Hussein.

So, while you I am sure sincerely believe that history will prove Bush and Blair wrong, I must assume that you hope that history will prove them right.

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John wrote:

Under international law it is not legal to invade a sovereign nation that is waging war on its own people.

But should this be the case where a dictator is waging genocide against an thnic group solely within the boundaries of his own country? What about Hitler and the holocaust? What if the madman has no extraterrortorial ambitions so that, strictly speaking, the national interest of the US (or GB) is not at stake? There are some difficult questions here, to be sure.

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We were right to fight Hitler.

Agreed. But it is completely false to suggest that Saddam Hussein is in anyway similar to Adolf Hitler. The UK went to war with Hitler because Nazi Germany invaded our allies. The US went to war with Hitler because his ally (Japan) attacked Pearl Harbor. Iraq did not invade us or our allies. We invaded Iraq. That is a very different situation to the one that existed in the 1930s.

John, bottom line is:  Are the people of Iraq better off, and is the world better off, with the brutal dictator and murderer Hussein gone and the Iraquis working toward a constitutional democracy despite the factionalism and religious differences that exist within that country? 

This is a matter of opinion. Is it really correct to say that the people of Iraq are better off since the removal of Saddam Hussein. Tell that to the relatives of the 100,000 Iraqis that have been killed as a result of US action.

It is true that elections have taken place in Iraq. However, it is far from a democracy. A large number of people are so opposed to this enforced democracy that they are willing to die for the cause. As you know, the rate of people dying in Iraq has increased since elections took place. Once the US removes its troops from Iraq the government will collapse and a full out civil war will take place. The situation is very similar to the one in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. The US backed government can only survive while its troops remain in place. Eventually, the US government will have to accept defeat and withdraw its troops. Let us hope the US will not take as long to realize this as it did in Vietnam.

So, while you I am sure sincerely believe that history will prove Bush and Blair wrong, I must assume that you hope that history will prove them right.

No I cannot go along with that idea either. If Bush is successful in obtaining a pro-American front government in Iraq he will be tempted to repeat the process in other countries.

The idea is based on a false premise that Bush wants a democratic government established in Iraq. What Bush wants is a government that runs Iraq in the interests of American capitalism. You have to ask the question why Bush is less keen to bring democracy to other countries. For example, Uzbekistan. Elections took place in this country in December, 2004. However, opposition parties were not allowed to take part and President Karimov was allowed to maintain his control of Uzbekistan. Not one member of the US administration criticised these elections. On the surface this may seem surprising as Karimov is a former member of the Communist Party. However, Bush does not mind communists when they are his communists.

Uzbekistan is a country with a government that wages war on its citizens. According to the UN report published in 2002 torture in Uzbekistan is “widespread and systemic”. Last year Human Rights Watch produced a book with more than 300 pages of case studies. This included the boiling to death of Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov.

Over the last couple of days an estimated 700 civilians have been killed while peacefully protesting against Karimov’s government. However, Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, announced to the press that Karimov’s troops had opened fire on “Islamic terrorists”. He also urged them to seek democratic government “through peaceful means, not through violence”. Jack Straw, the UK foreign secretary did indeed condemn these attacks on peaceful demonstrators but insisted that: “It’s for the people to decide on a change of regime, not outsiders”. This is the same Jack Straw who helped facilitate regime change in Iraq.

Bush has not been interested in human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. In fact, when the British ambassador in Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, complained about these human rights abuses, Bush put pressure on Blair to sack Murray. This he did and as a result Murray stood against Jack Straw in the recent general election.

Bush not only refuses to condemn Karimov, he helps to prop up his regime. For example, in 2002 the US gave Uzbekistan over $500m in aid, including $120m in military aid and $80 in security aid.

Why is Bush so keen to keep this communist dictator in power? The same reason why he removed Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Oil. The US has troops stationed in Uzbekistan. The reason for this concerns the building of a pipeline to bring central Asia’s hydrocarbons out through Afghanistan to the Arabian sea. Control of Uzbekistan is vital in order to preserve this pipeline. So, as you can see, Bush cares nothing for democracy or human rights.

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Uzbekistan is a country with a government that wages war on its citizens. According to the UN report published in 2002 torture in Uzbekistan is “widespread and systemic”. Last year Human Rights Watch produced a book with more than 300 pages of case studies. This included the boiling to death of Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov.

Think of it as the sonofabitch school of foreign policy. Legend has it that when Franklin D Roosevelt was confronted with the multiple cruelties of his ally, the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, he replied: "He may be a sonofabitch, but he's our sonofabitch."

More than 60 years on, that serves as a pretty good expression of American, and therefore British, attitudes to Islam Karimov, the tyrant of Tashkent who has ruled the central Asian republic of Uzbekistan since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

That he is a sonofabitch is beyond dispute. Like so many despots before him, Karimov has looked to medieval times for ever more brutal methods of oppression. Hence the return of the cauldron, boiling alive two of his critics in 2002. Uzbekistan holds up to 6,000 political prisoners; independent economic activity has been crushed; religious practice is severely restricted; there is no free press; and the internet is censored. On December 26, when the world was marvelling at Ukraine's orange revolution, Karimov was hosting an election that was not nearly as close - he had banned all the opposition parties.

But, hey, what's a little human rights violation among friends? And Karimov has certainly been our friend. Shortly after 9/11, he allowed the US to locate an airbase at Khanabad - a helpful contribution to the upcoming war against Afghanistan. Since then he has been happy to act as a reliable protector of central Asian oil and gas supplies, much coveted by a US eager to reduce its reliance on the Gulf states. And he has gladly let Uzbekistan be used for what is euphemistically known as "rendition", the practice of exporting terror suspects to countries less squeamish about torture than Britain or the US. This was the matter over which the heroic Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Tashkent, fell out with his employers: he argued that Britain was "selling its soul" by using information gathered under such heinous circumstances.

Brushing Murray's qualms to one side, London and Washington remained grateful to Karimov. A procession of top Bush administration officials trekked to Tashkent to thank the dictator for his services. Donald Rumsfeld, not content with that 1983 photo of himself shaking hands with Saddam Hussein, praised Karimov for his "wonderful cooperation", while George Bush's former Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, admired the autocrat's "very keen intellect and deep passion" for improving the lives of ordinary Uzbeks.

And perhaps this egregious example of sonofabitchism would have remained all but unnoticed had it not been for the past few days. For having ugly friends can only work if people don't look at your companion too closely - and this week the world saw Karimov in action. When opponents took to the streets last Friday, the dictator ordered his troops to open fire. Uzbek official figures speak of 169 dead; human rights groups estimate the toll at between 500 and 750 - most of them unarmed.

When crowds demonstrated in Lebanon, Ukraine and Georgia, the Americans welcomed it as "people power". But the brave stand in Uzbekistan brought a different response. Washington called for "restraint" from both sides, as if the unarmed civilians were just as guilty as those shooting at them. In the past couple of days, the tune has changed slightly. Now the state department wants Tashkent to "institute real reforms" and address its "human rights problems". It is at least possible that Washington may soon decide Karimov has become an embarrassment and that he should be replaced by a new, friendlier face - but one just as reliable. Less of a sonofabitch, but still ours.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Colum...1486339,00.html

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I wrote:

We were right to fight Hitler.

John replied:

Agreed. (John ands I agree that: 1. the earth is round; 2. we were right to fight Hitler; 3. This Forum is a great teaching tool that deserves far greater exposure; and 4, Probably at least one other thing!

John continued:

It it is completely false to suggest that Saddam Hussein is in anyway similar to Adolf Hitler.

Talk about over-statements. We could start with they were both members of the human race; were both men; both had all their limbs; both wore moustaches, etc. I assume John would insert a qualifier there were no relevant similarities between them.

BUT--BUT-- both were vicious killers. Granted, Hussein killed tens of thousands while Hitler killed millions, but that, I would argue, is a difference in degree and not a difference in kind. Call it genocide; call it ethnic cleansing; but each were cruel, murdering tyrants.

The fact that we embraced Hussein in his war with Iran is unfortunate in retrospect but then war makes even stranger bed-fellows than politics. If one takes the position that foreign policy should never allow alliances with tyrants even in war-time, then both the US and GB were wrong to become partners with Stalin against Hitler. Perhaps there is some merit to this since Stalin himself was a brutal tyrant, of course. However, it is certainly probable that John's countrymen would be now be forced to salute fascists and there would be no Jews in Europe had we not entered this unholy alliance.

I don't think I will have time tonight to adequately respond to all of John's post tonight but I do want to comment that I am stunned, just stunned, that John would assert that Iraquis were better off under the murderous rule of a tyrant than under an emerging democracy. Nevermind the fact that millions of Iraquis risked their life to vote in the election. What counts, according to the post, that there are a few thousand (hundred thousand?) idiots willing to commit terrorism in Iraq to prevent democracy.

Democracy is precious. Tony Blair knows that! I hope John does not kick me off the Forum for this comment but there was a time not so long ago that Americans had to fight Britons to obtain democratic rule. I wonder what John's answer back then would have been to the question: Are Americans better off under George Washington than they were under King George III? Democracy, not despotism, not aristocracy, not totalitarianism, is the hope and future of men everywhere. Unfortunately, history has proven that it sometimes takes the shedding of blood to create democracy. It did in 1776; it did in the 1940s; and it is in the twentieth century in the fight against terrorism.

To seriously argue that Iraquis were better off under Hussein than under an emerging democracy is, I submit, to be on the wrong side of freedom.

And I gotta say this too: it was democracy and capitalism in the United States that created the economic enterprise in the United States that built the planes and ships and military leaders who defeated Adolf Hitler. Winston Churchill knew that GB needed the US if it stood any chance of defeating Hitler.

Society is better now because the Americans fought against the tyranny of King George III (of course I am not comparing George III to either Hitler or Hussein--there there is in fact a difference in kind!!) and society will be better off because Americans (and Britons) were willing to fight tyranny in Iraq.

Please don't interpret this post as anti-British in any way. It is pro-democratic. Great Britain and the United States share a common heritage and many of the thoughts of the American revolutionaries indeed came from great Great Britons e.g. Locke and Paine. And Great Britain has been Anerica's strongest friend in World War II, the Cold War, and now the war against terrorism.

I just think it is incredible to suggest that ANY people could be better off under a tyranny than in a free democracy.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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BUT--BUT-- both were vicious killers.  Granted, Hussein killed tens of thousands while Hitler killed millions, but that, I would argue, is a difference in degree and not a difference in kind.  Call it genocide; call it ethnic cleansing; but each were cruel, murdering tyrants.

The fact that we embraced Hussein in his war with Iran is unfortunate in retrospect but then war makes even stranger bed-fellows than politics.  If one takes the position that foreign policy should never allow alliances with tyrants even in war-time, then both the US and GB were wrong to become partners with Stalin against Hitler.  Perhaps there is some merit to this since Stalin himself was a brutal tyrant, of course.  However, it is certainly probable that John's countrymen would be now be forced to salute fascists and there would be no Jews in Europe had we not entered this unholy alliance.

Unfortunately we have had hundreds of dictators who have murdered their own people. We still have them. Are you advocating that we invade all these countries? Did you advocate sending US troops to Argentina and Chile when their military governments were murdering their citizens? Are you advocating an invasion of Uzbekistan (I have noticed you have not replied to this part of my post)?

You write about Hitler as if the US invaded Germany to stop him from committing genocide. The truth is very different. The US declared war on Japan because they bombed Pearl Harbor. As a result Hitler declared war on the US. This was a serious mistake as it led to the US taking part in invading Germany.

In fact, the US attitude towards Hitler’s treatment of Jews and political prisoners was appalling. It did all it could to prevent German Jews from entering the US. Even when the Jews got information to the West about what was going on in the extermination camps, the US government refused to take action, claiming it was Jewish propaganda. It is true that Roosevelt wanted to help but said that if he did he would be voted out in the next election. He knew that the Americans did not want to get involved in any “European” wars. I know Bush is very keen to rewrite history but it only works with the historically illiterate.

I don't think I will have time tonight to adequately respond to all of John's post tonight but I do want to comment that I am stunned, just stunned, that John would assert that Iraquis were better off under the murderous rule of a tyrant than under an emerging democracy.  Nevermind the fact that millions of Iraquis risked their life to vote in the election.  What counts, according to the post, that there are a few thousand (hundred thousand?) idiots willing to commit terrorism in Iraq to prevent democracy. 

I also want Iraq to be a democracy. However, this system of government cannot be imposed on a people. In Iraq they understandably see the situation as a powerful country trying to set up a puppet government. A considerable number feel so strongly about this that they are willing to fight the occupying forces. As a result thousands of innocent people are being killed. Those left alive are in a constant state of terror. This situation is different from the one they experienced under Saddam Hussein. However, it is no better, in fact, I believe it is far worse.

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John wrote:

I also want Iraq to be a democracy. However, this system of government cannot be imposed on a people. In Iraq they understandably see the situation as a powerful country trying to set up a puppet government. A considerable number feel so strongly about this that they are willing to fight the occupying forces. As a result thousands of innocent people are being killed. Those left alive are in a constant state of terror. This situation is different from the one they experienced under Saddam Hussein. However, it is no better, in fact, I believe it is far worse.

John, you may feel that way (and so may many left-wing members of the Forum) but, respectfully, you are not an Iraqui citizen and I submit it is the opinions of the Iraquis that really count. Millions of them demonstrated they were willing to die to exercise their right to vote. It's called freedom. Same reason thousands of people have died trying to escape Fidel's paradise.

I hope that if the situation ever became that way in my country (God forbid!) I would be so brave.

I think Iraq should create a monument listing the names of those brave Iraquis who were butchered by the anti-American thugs (similar to the Vietnam War Memorial in DC perhaps). The fact that you have a thousand ignorant Iraquis blinded by anti-US propoganda, mostly young men probably thrilled at the opportunity to spill blood, and motivated as much by blood lust as by politics, in my opinion, means nothing other than the price of freedom is sometimes high.

The problem is that leftists often seem unwilling to fight for freedom. You will cave in to terrorists. Even if what is going on in Iraq now could have or should have been foreseen, it was still worthwhile to get rid of Hussein. In my opinion, he and his sons should receive the same fate he imposed on thousands of his innocent countrymen.

And a democratic Iraq will not be a US puppet but it will certainly be friendlier to Western democracies than Hussein's Iraq was. And that's a good thing, not a bad thing. A good thing for the United States--and a good thing for Great Britain, too!

BTW, I checked in four of your countrymen a few hours ago. Actually they were from Wales (home of my friend Mark). Hardly ever have I met a discourteous or obnoxious Brit--better than I can say for many Americans I have checked in. (They were frustrated, however, because they could hardly get through the Miami airport because they did not speak Spanish!)

Many of the other points you raise are thought-provoking. Should the Western democracies be "the policeman of the world" as the phrase used to be? Or should we allow vicious dictators to slaughter hundreds of thousands of their countrymen? And does it make a difference if the slaughter is genocidal or merely for purposes of political repression? These are difficult questions indeed.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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You know, one of my favorite songs from the Sixties perhaps best illustrates the point.

By "The Young Rascals":

All the world over, people got to be free.

You see, John, I agree with Tom Jefferson, that ALL men, and that includes women, and it includes Iraquis, are endowed by their Creator with certain rights that OUGHT NOT be taken away from them by ANY government or theocracy!

And that's what "The Young Rascals" meant!

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Tim

It is a logical nonsense to claim that a country under a foreign army of illegal occupation can by be described as a "democracy".

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Andy:

Respectfully (for I have the greatest respect for your work and John's on the Forum),

did the allied forces encourage the participation of all factions and religious groups in the election; and did the allied forces encourage groups that had been fighting each other for years to form a coalition government (granted it remains to be seen whether it wll work); did the allied forces encourage and do their best to maintain a fair election?

were any Iraquis forced to vote?

were any Iraquis forced to vote for any particular candidate;

was the election in Iraq less crooked than the 1960 presidential election in Illinois and Texas? (So substitute Florida in 2000 if you want to).

was the election turn-out in Iraq higher (per centage wise) in Iraq than it was in the US presidential election?

did the UN ever condemn the war as illegal?

(and again please remember that I while I shall make my point as dramatically as I can but I do respect you and John morev than I can adequately articulate)

do you think that any ONE SINGLE Iraqui (of the MILLIONS) who risked his or her life (and risked making his or her children fatherless or motherless (as the case may be) care one [expletive deleted] that you and John think the war was "illegal"?

The millions who risked death to vote make the point, as does the shed blood of the martyrs who died to establish a democracy in their country, far, far better than my words. It may be "logical nonsense" to you; it is FREEDOM to the Iraquis. As Felix sang in 1967: "All the world over, people got to be free!!

Edited by Tim Gratz

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I am sympathetic to Tim's point of view. I joined the Marines to fight in Vietnam because I believed that we were fighting for their freedom. When Ronald Reagan referred to the war in Vietnam as a "noble cause" he was exactly right - as far as those of us who fought in it were willing to sacrifice our lives for the freedom of people we had never even heard of before.

However, the South Vietnamese did not regard us a liberators, but as invaders. So, in reality we were not fighting for their freedom but for our own self-interest - at least as it was perceived then. And so, we lost.

Iraq is not the same as Vietnam, but one disturbing similarity is the insurgency. It forces allied troops to be suspicous of every single Iraqi, which in turn leads to the killing or injuring of innocent civilians, which in turn leads to an increase in insurgency, which in turn leads to greater suspicion.... "My name is Jon Johnson, I live in Wisconsin...."

According to my understanding of "Just War", neither Iraq nor Vietnam qualify as Just Wars. The point may be irrelevant, because we are, in fact, at war and at that point all bets are off. Unlike John, I hope the situation in Iraq does turn out well, despite the boost it may give to clowns like Bush and Rove.

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