To answer this question in a clear manner one must firstly provide a distinct definition of what is operation Iraqi Freedom and what is a ‘just war’. A clear definition of a just war is essential as it may reflect greatly on the outcome or interpretation of the war as a whole. The first question one may bring forward is what is a just war? There have been many debates for a clear definition of what is a just war however Nigel Downers definition was very much similar to my perception of a just war. He suggests that a war is not perceived as a just war if it does not follow a few basic features that ‘war’ must follow. Firstly war must be declared by a legitimate authority and must be affirmed for a ‘just cause’ for example, the right of self defence or adjust injustice. It also must be engaged with a right intention and whether it is morally acceptable and war must be the last resort. There has to be a reasonable view of success in achieving the goal as the amount of good to be achieved must outweigh the harm that is done in the war.
For those who are unclear about Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is an operation clearly stated by the name attempting to liberate the Iraqi nation of the evil as well as remove mass destruction weapons in Iraq.
Many debates have risen towards whether the war in Iraq is a just war or not. The first argument that could be addressed suggesting that the Iraq war is not just could be, by using the U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speech who supposed that Saddam Hussein had destroyed his weapons of mass destruction before the start of the U.S. campaign against Iraq. His remarks are seen as the strongest indication that G.W.Bush and Tony Blair may not reach any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; as this was the reason for their invasion of Iraq, presuming that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction that can be used within 45 minutes of shooting.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the UN had sent its weapons inspectors to Iraq in order to clarify on the truthfulness of Bush and Blair’s allegations and found that the allegations were false and there were no signs of mass destruction weapons left in Iraq. This suggests that operation Iraqi Freedom is not a just war; as Bush and Blair had accused Iraq of owning mass destruction weapons and are becoming allies with terrorists who may in the future attack USA which is false.
Hans Blix a former UN weapons inspector was sent to Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction and had withdrawn from Iraq when the U.S and UK invaded. During his inspection he found that there were no weapons of mass destruction left after Iraq had destroyed all its weapons in 1991. However the U.S and UK did not approve of the U.N’s statements and took disarmament into their own hands. Blix rather blames Bush and Blair for the terrorism around in current states -due to the interpretations and anger they have developed in many people- as Saddam Hussein was cooperative with the U.N and helpful by giving names of scientists who could have been questioned and this may have resolved the problem if it weren’t for the intervention. This suggests that the U.S and UK did not trust or believe what the UN had set out and found and, decided to take action for their own benefits and the weapons of mass destruction could be seen as an excuse in order for them to be able to enter Iraq.
In addition to what has been mentioned earlier, there is also the assumption that according to just war tradition in Jus in Bello there must be a proportionality of means; this is that the U.S and UK must use proportionate force and weaponry in accordance to Iraq. In other words, the US and UK had used its full abilities fearing the perception they had had that Saddam may use his nuclear weapons against them. However, the argument here is that the Iraqi forces did not use their “mass destruction weapons” against the U.S. and British troops when they could have easily used them in order to protect their territory. Therefore, it is clear that there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq, and the U.S and British troop’s entry to Iraq was not in any way necessary as well as they had disregarded one of the main features for a just war.
Neo realists would also agree to this point as according to neo realists this war was redundant since the containment of Iraq was working effectively and there was no convincing strategic basis for this war in addition to the fact that the war had cost the USA billions of dollars and required a vast amount of commitment with the U.S military forces being in Iraq Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism suggesting its has cost more than it should have.
As has been mentioned earlier that a war is not a just war if it is not declared by a legitimate authority, one may bring forward the view towards this case as the United Nations did not approve of the war to start off with, suggesting that the Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a just war as the US and UK did not have legitimate authority to declare war against Iraq. In addition to the fact that most states in the world objected against the war, and some greatly believed Iraq could have been discouraged from the dangers and threats the Iraqi government has been sending out.
The Iraqi government, or should one say Saddam Hussein had developed a numerous amount of enemies all over the world, starting off with the two states that are perceived powerful, Iran and USA. Saddam had begun to threaten Iran with his “mass destruction weapons” attempting to leave an impression that he has more weapons than Iran in order to be feared of, however, he did not have those weapons to start off with in reality as he had destroyed them years ago. In other words, he was using his words as tactics to seem powerful and fearful which is when the USA felt that it also is being threatened and felt that Saddam Hussein is belonging with the terrorist groups and should be feared of.
Finally, another point that presumes Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a just war in a great sense is the number of victims that have been killed during this operation. It is statistically proven that since the U.S had invaded Iraq the mortality rate has more than doubled since before the invasion suggesting that the brutality and killings by Saddam Hussein was far better for the Iraqi people than after the invasion in attrition to increase in the number of people who have lost their homes and families making them feel regretful for the U.S support. In other words, one may argue that the costs had outweighed the benefits way above borders as many innocent lives have been ended including U.S and British troops as well as the fact that after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein many sects have begun their own terror groups bombing other sects as well as kidnapping troops, civilians and reporters. In other words, over all it is clear from this perspective that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq is rather a regret to many; as it has definitely cost them more than it should have benefited them. And eventually many found that the war was not necessary in any way as it had cost them the lives of their loved ones as well as more terror groups have been created causing more ciaos and killings in Iraq and other western countries and finally the main cause of this war was not found, which is the mass destruction weapons suggesting it was all a waste of lives, time and money.
On the other hand however, there is the other view that some support the U.S and British intervention suggesting that the Operation Iraqi Freedom is a just war. It is due to the view that many have of the totalitarianism in Iraq. Some would support this view to an extent; it is believed that the invasion of Iraq was based on the purpose of ending the dictatorship and the only way to do this is by removing dictatorship and replacing it with democracy which suggests that the threat in the lives for many of the Iraqi people would be removed. In addition to the point of view that the abuse of the people by the Iraqi government was sufficient enough to authorize intervention that is that the Iraqi government and the violent strategies they were using is a great reason for intervention to stop the violation. As well as, the majority of the Iraqi people had welcomed the intervention of the U.S and British forces; to them it was believed that they will be providing a significant change of legitimacy from a dictatorship Iraq to a democratic Iraq. And some believed that the UN authorization is preferable however the doctrine of humanitarian intervention allows unauthorized intervention suggesting the argument set out earlier could be over come as there mustn’t be legitimate authority to intervene.
There is also the view that Bush and Blair believe in and many others would follow. That is that “Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein” suggesting that Saddam was not only a threat to the USA but also a threat to his own people and Iraq as a country would be a better place with a different ruler. There was no other way of preventing this threat other than removing him from power and the only way towards this is by declaring war on Iraq. This could be supported by the Jus ad Bellum features that the war must be fought for a just cause and here the cause is to remove the dictatorship government and the brutal crimes they had carried out upon the citizens therefore to bring forward justice. Jus ad Bellum also has another feature, which is that there must be a formal declaration of war. This was the case as Bush and Blair had announced their intentions of war in Iraq formally. However, there is a drawback to this declaration as most states opposed to Bush and Blair’s declaration of war, which suggests that it should have been withdrawn and there was not much support for this decision.
In conclusion, one may justify Operation Iraqi Freedom as an unjust war. However some would disapprove of this idea. Firstly according to the just war traditions, operation Iraqi Freedom must have not missed out any of the main features to become or be labelled as a just war. Firstly the war must be fought for a just cause; this could be placed in this operation suggesting it is just as well as others justify it being unjust. It’s just in a way that the war was declared for the reason of justice, that is that Bush believed that the Iraqi government did not provide Justice for its people and was rather brutal and unjust with the numerous crimes he had committed against his people for various reasons. However it is not just in the sense that Bush and Blair had placed allegations suggesting that Iraq had mass destruction weapons and did not take into account the hard work of the UN attempting to find if those allegations were true. The second feature is that the decision to go to war must be made with the right intention; some may question this aspect arguing that rather Bush did not go into Iraq for justice but rather for greed to control Iraq’s oil.
This suggests that this war is not just. Thirdly the decision to go to war must be made by a legitimate authority, this implies here in a sense that some classify this war as unjust as the legitimate authority here is the U.N and the U.N did not approve of the U.S intervening. However some would disagree here and suggest that rather it is the view that humanitarian intervention allows unauthorized intervention. Therefore this feature may be applied to both in a way. Fourthly, there must be a clear declaration of war; this is the case in the Iraq war as Bush has declared the war earlier. Fifthly, there must be a reasonable hope of success.
That is that the war must not be declared without knowing that they will succeed fully, this feature may encourage great debates regarding the fact that some believe the U.S has succeeded by overthrowing Saddam Hussein of power, while others believe that the U.S has clearly failed as rather the costs have outweighed the benefits; that is that more people died during this war as well as more terror groups or one could say more Saddam like fearfulness has developed. Sixth and finally war must be the last resort, this operation has however not been seen as the last resort as French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin is seen to have exemplified this view by responding to the U.S secretary of state Colin Powell by saying that military intervention and an inspections regime is insufficient due to the failure of Iraq’s cooperation, rather there should have been a decisive reinforcement of the means of inspections. Suggesting that no matter what, war should have not broken out as the bush administration had exaggerated the threat by misleading the world about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction till.
In contrast there is the view that Operation Iraqi Freedom is a just war to an extent. This is that operation Iraqi freedom was aiming rather to bring forward justice which is seen to be one of the main features of just war traditions. The U.S was attempting to over throw Saddam Hussein of power and place a new government in place to bring more justice in Iraq. However many would not agree to this concept arguing that rather there are more crimes in Iraq currently than there was when Saddam was in power, suggesting that the brutality of Saddam was more just than the brutality of the war.
Over all, it is clear that the unjust arguments had outweighed the Just argument suggesting that this war has disregarded many of the Just war traditions causing the U.S. and Britain to lose supporters as well as people now have little faith in them.
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