June 29, 2005

Bush's Iraq Speech: Missing the Point

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 4:27 pm

In his Iraq speech Tuesday night, Bush made the case that we must stay in Iraq instead of withdrawing before the job is done. Well of course. It would be immoral for the US, having created the current situation in Iraq, to leave the country in worse shape than we found it. We must at a minimum stay until Iraq’s new government has half a chance to survive instead of sliding back into a dictatorship run by a neo-Saddam.

But this misses the point. The reason for the decline in Bush’s approval ratings is due to Americans’ dawning realization that the original decision to attack was a bad one. The fact that we can’t correct this misjudgement by just pulling our troops out makes its cost that much greater. Americans will be paying for this bad decision for years to come. The Iraq war is not just a phenomenal mistake, it’s a mistake that, along with the budget deficit, future Presidents will have to clean up.

We now know that the original rationale for the war, Iraq’s possession of WMD, was baseless. We also know that Iraq’s connection to Osama bin Laden was also non-existent. No matter how often he repeats it, Iraq was not a response to 9/11.

Last night Bush again justified the invasion because it’s better to fight the terrorists there rather than fight them here. Of course the terrorists must be thinking how much easier it is to kill Americans in Iraq rather than having to come to the US. And kill they have – the number of Americans killed in Iraq will be the equivalent of another 9/11 attack before we’re done. Bush told us that Iraq is a major terrorist stronghold, but didn’t mention that it wasn’t a terrorist stronghold before we attacked.

Bush also justified the invasion because we are bringing democracy to the Middle East. This is the minimum result we should expect given the cost in money and lives of the invasion. But this is just a restatement of why we can’t leave anytime soon. If Iraq is not left with a stable democracy, it will devolve into theocracy or worse.

The fact is that Bush can’t state the truth: the invasion was a mistake, but a mistake we are stuck with for years to come.

Christianity has long had two schools of thought regarding war: pacifism, and the doctrine of Just War. I am sympathetic to pacifism, but fall more in the Just War camp. However, the Iraq War is unjust by either doctrine. Among the criteria for a just war is that it must be a last resort, undertaken only after all peaceful solutions have been exhausted, a test that this war clearly fails.

The doctrine of Just War not only protects potential victims of war, but also the potential purveyors of war. Adherence to a Just War doctrine would have prevented the Bush administration from making a serious mistake with long-reaching ramifications. Just War doctrine would have protected Bush from his own worst instincts. Unfortunately, it is too late for that now.


  1. Is it a sin for a soldier to kill someone in the course of prosecuting an unjust war?

    Comment by Tom Harrison — June 30, 2005 @ 6:08 am

  2. So Iraq was not a terrorist state before we invaded? What was it? A Utopia?…you have to be kidding me.

    Comment by Matt — July 6, 2005 @ 9:09 am

  3. No, Iraq was an authoritarian dictatorship, and a pretty bad one at that. But Saddam didn’t tolerate terrorists in Iraq any more than we do in the US.

    Comment by Bob — July 6, 2005 @ 2:14 pm

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