August 30, 2005

The Ethics of Iraq

Peter Daou provides some interesting contrasts between supporters and opponents of the Iraq War. Here are a few quotes from his essay:

War hawks squeal about America-haters and traitors, heaping scorn on the so-called �blame America first" crowd, but they fail to comprehend that the left reserves the deepest disdain for those who squander our moral authority. The scars of a terrorist attack heal and we are sadder but stronger for having lived through it. When our moral leadership is compromised by people draped in the American flag, America is weakened. The loss of our moral compass leaves us rudderless, open to attacks on our character and our basic decency. And nothing makes our enemies prouder. They can't kill us all, but if they permanently stain our dignity, they've done irreparable harm to America.

The antiwar critique of Iraq is that it is an immoral war and every resulting death is a wrongful one. Opponents of the war view the invasion and occupation as a dangerous and shameful violation of international law. Iraq saps our moral strength and the sooner we leave the better. Opposing the invasion on the grounds that the administration lied its way into it, they see every subsequent death, American or foreign, as an ethical travesty and a stain on America's good name.

Yet to many of Bush�s supporters, anything short of �victory� is a weakening of America in the eyes of its enemies. They believe we are "taking the fight to the enemy," with the word 'enemy' defined so over-broadly as to conflate Iraq and the attacks of September 11th. It�s the �kicking ass and taking names� mentality, moral justifications be damned. Revenge for being attacked is rationale enough. Material strength trumps moral strength.

Faced with the disintegration of the original rationale for war, Bush and his supporters are scrambling to find the elusive moral ground to undergird America�s presence in Iraq. But when you�re on the record invading a country because it was a grave threat and the threat never materializes, you�re left with little but a means-ends argument to justify it. In the eyes of the war�s opponents, Bush and his apologists are mired in an ethical swamp trying to justify the mess they created. Judging from recent polls, what they�ve come up with so far is inadequate.

While bumper-sticker patriotism may have anodyne effects on Bush and his followers, the retroactive ethical justifications for the invasion and occupation of Iraq are flimsy at best. And for so many on the left, the undermining of America's moral strength under this administration is more of a "grave and gathering danger" to America than Saddam Hussein ever was.
The complete essay and debate that follows are here: Daou Report

Kerensky97, an Iraq War veteran and one of my favorite bloggers, made these comments in
An Eye Opener:
I�ve even been told by �friends� that they can�t believe that I �hate America so much� based solely on the fact that I think the war is wrong and we need to get Bush out of office ASAP to prevent damaging the country more. This comment was said knowing full well that I had served in the Iraq war while he refused to join up at all citing, �You�d have to be crazy to join the military. Others should go, I can do more good here.� Doing more good apparently means staying home and making as much money as possible while bad mouthing anything that�s not a far right belief....

Sadly, many people believe material superiority trumps moral superiority, greed trumps all, and the hint of making money, even at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods, will cause many to abandon their morals.
Bonus video clip: A lame attempt of Donald Rumsfeld, following the US invasion of Iraq, to lie his way out of the administration's previous justifications for war: Face the Nation

Rumsfeld denies making statements implying an "immediate threat" from Iraq in 2003. So, minus such a threat -- or even its suggestion, as he now claims -- why was his administration so hell-bent on rushing into war?

Was it because they knew the UN inspectors would never find stockpiles of WMD no matter how long they looked, that Saddam had no viable and active program to build nuclear weapons, and no link to 9/11 and Osama bin Laden, his sworn enemy -- and the golden opportunity to stampede the American people into war, following the 9/11 attack, would pass unfulfilled if they they did not seize the moment?

No comments: