The war in Iraq has involved the US in a long-term military campaign and escalated the situation in the Middle East.
Since the beginning of the war, the US army and civilians have suffered numerous losses and casualties and the number of soldiers and civilians killed in the would-be won war continues to grow. Taking into consideration tragic effects of the war for many American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, it is extremely important to definitely answer the question whether the war in Iraq was justified or probably it was possible to avoid numerous casualties, save thousands of lives and maintain the relative stability in the region.
The research of the problem of the justification of the war in Iraq inevitably involves the analysis of the causes of the war, both official and presumable since they can help better understand motives of the Bush administration, when the decision concerning the beginning of the war in Iraq was taken. In fact, at the present moment the official position becomes extremely weak because it is obvious that the official pretext for the war was totally wrong and had nothing in common with the actual situation in Iraq and in the world at large. Consequently, the war in Iraq was not justified and basically served to the interests of the Bush administration and certain interest groups, which it represented, rather than it was determined by some actual threat to the US and Americans.
Formal causes of the war in Iraq
The war in Iraq was a part of the War on Terror declared by the Bush administration in response to terror attacks on September 11, in the US. After the terror attacks, the situation in the country was characterized by the high tension, while the desire of revenge was extremely strong among large masses of American people. In such a situation, the Bush administration launched a large scale campaign against terror organizations and states supporting terrorism, which were included by the US into the Axis of evil and Iraq was among these states as well as other states which led an anti-American policy and whose position did not meet interests of the US or even contradicted to the strategic political and economic interests of the US. Formally, the states that were included into the Axis of Evil were declared major associates of terrorist organization on the international level (Hale, 228). In order to prevent further terror attacks and deprive terrorist of the support of these states, the US justified the implementation of economic sanctions and military operations against these countries by its struggle against international terrorism.
Iraq became one of the major opponents of the US, which was considered to be as one of the main threats to the US.
Shortly after the terror attacks on September 11, Iraq became one of the main targets of the US military forces and the Bush administration had started to plan the military operation against Iraq practically simultaneously with the start of the military operation against Afghanistan, where the presence of terrorist organizations was undeniable (Hamblen, 188). The Bush administration repeatedly attempted to convince the US people that Iraq is the greatest threat to the national security of the US since the authoritarian regime of Saddam Hussein was not only hostile to the US, but it also widely supported terrorist organizations (Hamblen, 193). The justification of the war in Iraq was determinant factor of Bush’s high rating and popularity since the positive public opinion in relation to the war meant the support of his foreign policy.
In the context of terror attacks on September 11, declarations of the American authorities concerning the threat of the repetition of terror attacks and mass destruction leading to numerous casualties were sufficient to convince the majority of Americans in the necessity of launching the military campaign against Iraq. On the other hand, the US lacked factual evidences and formal pretext for the war in Iraq. This was extremely important not only for the US but also for the world community. The US could not declare the war just because of the negative attitude of the Bush administration to Saddam Hussein and his regime or on the basis of unproved suspicions that Iraq supported terrorist organizations.
However, the Bush administration had chosen a different way to justify the war in Iraq. In spite of the almost paranoid fear of the repetition of terror attacks on September 11, Americans did not fully use the possible link of Saddam Hussein’s regime with terrorists. Instead, the Bush administration attempted to represent Iraq as a serious threat to the US national interest and security of millions of Americans. The major goal of the Bush administration was to convince Americans that the potential threat from the part of Iraq was worth attacking this country, but Americans could hardly believe that such a threat is real since Iraq was situated in a different hemisphere and its technological and military potential was consistently weaker compared to the US military machine (Hale, 243). It was obvious even for an ordinary American that Iraq could hardly threaten to the US and its citizens since it was too remote from American continent, while terror attacks could hardly be prevented by military measures only. Instead, it was necessary to enhance the national security and prevent attempts of terrorist to penetrate into the country.
The Bush administration had found the solution of the problem of indifference of Americans to the possible threat from the part of Iraq. On the basis of the report of the US intelligence, the Bush administration revealed the fact that Iraq possessed the weapon of mass distraction and after this American people could not ignore anymore the potential threat (Levi, 147). The war in Iraq seemed to be the only logical solution of the problem of the uncontrollable and dangerous regime of Saddam Hussein since, in case of the use of the weapon of mass destruction, the risk of numerous casualties seemed to be very high.
The US readily declared the war on Iraq after the promulgation of the intelligence report concerning the presence of the weapon of mass destruction in Iraq that became the formal pretext for the military operation and justified the war in Iraq for American people and the world community, which was also extremely disturbed by the perspective of the use of the weapon of mass destruction against third countries.
Possible causes of the war in Iraq
However, many specialists (Lopez, 179) argue that the formal causes of the war in Iraq, which refer to the existence of the threat of the use of the weapon of mass destruction and the support of terrorist organizations by Saddam Hussein’s regime, are inconsistent and not convincing. In contrast, it is possible to find a variety of more pragmatic causes which could explain but not justify the war in Iraq.
Firstly, the US policy in relation to Iraq was traditionally characterized by practically permanent tension and conflicts. In fact, the regime of Saddam Hussein was hostile to the US and opposed to the growing impact of the US in the region of the Gulf. The Gulf war that dated back just a decade was still in memory of many Americans and Iraqi people, which, thus, got used to view each other as enemies (Khalaji, 165). Iraq played an important strategic role in the region because it represented a serious threat to the major ally of the US in the Middle East, Israel (Potter and Sick, 276). The US could not influence the policy of Iraqi leader that naturally disturbed the Bush administration because the lack of control in the strategically important region could undermine the US hegemony in the world.
The Gulf region is strategically important for the US politics as well as for the international relations at large.
Basically, the importance of the Gulf region and the necessity of the control over Iraq by the US may be revealed in both political and economic dimensions. On the one hand, Iraq conducted an aggressive foreign policy and was one of the major military powers in the region. For instance, Iraq led war against Iran, occupied Kuwait, and permanently threatened to Israel. The possibility of the US to influence the policy of Arab states in the region decreased because the latter should also take into consideration the position and policy of Iraq. Consequently, it is possible to presuppose that the US needed to overthrow the hostile regime of Saddam Hussein and establish the loyal government in Iraq. The US could control the entire country and the policy of Iraq could become predictable and controllable by the US.
On the other hand, Iraq had strategically important natural resources of oil and natural gas. Many specialists (Potter and Sick, 293) argue that it is because of Iraqi oil the entire military campaign was launched since economic benefits of occupation of Iraq for American companies were enormous. The occupation of Iraq in practically terms meant that it was basically the US companies that would get the most profitable contracts for the reconstruction of the country and the development of the local oil fields. The US could control the export of Iraqi oil that was strategically important in the time when oil gradually became scarce resource. Thus, economic benefits from the occupation of Iraq could play more significant role than the risk of terror attacks or the use of the weapon of mass destruction by Iraq.
Consequently, in contrast to formal causes and reasons for the war in Iraq, which were supposed to justify the military operation of the US army, there were political and economic causes of the war, which were very strong factors the Bush administration could not ignore or be unconscious of while taking the decision concerning the beginning of the war.
The inconsistency of the official justification of the war in Iraq
Moreover, the formal causes and reasons were not only unconvincing but they were simply inconsistent because they did not reflect the actual situation in Iraq. The major pretext that justified the beginning of the war in Iraq was the threat of the use of the weapon of mass destruction by Iraq against the US as well as third countries. This assumption was based on the report of the US intelligence, which proved to be absolutely irrelevant and false (Lopez, 221). In other words, Iraq did not have the weapon of mass destruction and the US could not start the war. The Bush administration did not have any actual reason to start this war because Iraq did not represent the direct threat to Americans for Iraq did not have a technological potential of the use of the weapon of mass destruction.
Consequently, the major reason for the war proved to be totally wrong. On the other hand, the absence of the weapon of mass destruction proved the fact that pragmatic political and economic interests of the US, the Bush administration and groups that supported it were more important than formal causes of the war.
Thus, it is possible to conclude that the Bush administration used the fear of American people in face of the possible attacks from the part of Iraq and terrorist supported by this state to justify the war in Iraq, which was wrongfully suspected of the possession of the weapon of mass destruction. In actuality, the war in Iraq was absolutely unjust and based on economic and political interests of the Bush administration, which involved thousands of American soldiers in the military conflict that had already taken thousands of lives of American soldiers and local civilians and that was not justified.