Why We Are In Iraq Ė Part III
By John D. Turner
10 May 2005

In my first article, I discussed our reasons for being in Iraq vis-ŗ-vis the Global War on Terror, aka the GWOT, and weapons of mass destruction. I also touched on the fact that we have had a continual presence and have been bombing in Iraq since the end of the Gulf War. For those who complain about the monetary cost of the war and subsequent clean-up operations, these continuing costs, including the tying up of Air Force resources that might be needed elsewhere, should be factored into the equation. They arenít of course, and most people remain blissfully unaware.

There is another reason why we are and should be in Iraq, a humanitarian reason. We should be there because it is the right thing to do. And we should be there as long as it takes to get the job done properly.

Saddam was a vicious dictator who brutalized his people. His sons were just as bad if not worse. Their deprecations have been documented in various publications and are not difficult to find in a simple Google search. Is the overthrow of Saddam, and the freeing of the Iraqi people, in and of itself worth the lives of a single American? What is the worth of human life anyway? Are American lives inherently worth more than, say, Iraqi lives? How about Kosovar or Serbian lives? We went to war there supposedly over humanitarian issues.

Are we so hung up on the WMD thing that all other issues are invalid? Or is this just all about bashing George W. Bush and the Republicans?

The torture chambers and rape rooms have been closed down. People are no longer being shredded alive in plastic shredders or ripped apart by wild animals for the enjoyment and pleasure of Saddam, his sons, and Baathist officials. The Iraqi national soccer team no longer has to be worried about being stuck in an Iron Maiden if they lose a game. Research conducted in Iraq since the fall of Hussainís regime shows that ďnearly half of all Iraqis living in the southern part of the nation suffered killings, torture and other human-rights abuses at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime in the 12 years prior to his ousterĒ.[1] This has all come to an end.

Does this count for nothing? Is this somehow trumped by the fact that we havenít uncovered any large WMD stockpiles?

Oh yes, I know that there are other leaders out there who are evil also. Who may be just as bad if not worse? What about them, the argument goes.

Well, what about them? Is the argument that if we canít get rid of all despicable despots, we shouldnít get rid of any of them? If that is the case, what are we doing in Kosovo? (We are still there, in case anyone has forgotten.) Should we let evil flourish simply because we canít stamp it out everywhere? Should we let all murderers and rapists go free because we canít catch them all?

I have heard the charge made by Democrat politicians that what we are doing in Iraq ďisnít worth the life on a single American soldierĒ. While this makes for a nice sound bite, we should ask ourselves, are American lives so much more valuable than Iraqi lives? How many Iraqis does it take to equal one American life? I doubt that an Iraqi motherís grief at losing a child is any less than that of an American mother. While I agree that the loss of life in war is tragic, and no one want their children or anyone they know to die, those sacrifices should to looked at in terms of what was achieved. If you put it in terms of American lives lost compared to Iraqi lives saved, then perhaps you can make the argument that one American life is indeed worth 10 or 100 Iraqi lives.

Does this count for nothing? Is this somehow trumped by the fact that we havenít uncovered any large WMD stockpiles?

If you minimize the value of what we have accomplished by ending the reign of death in Iraq, of freeing the Iraqi people to allow them to make their own choices, then what you are really saying is that you donít care too much about the people of Iraq. It doesnít matter to you if they live or die. If this is so, then you need to be consistent. It shouldnít matter to you about the people in Kosovo either, or anywhere else. If someone breaks into your house, assaults you, and steals your stuff, well, thatís your problem. My house is ok. It isnít worth risking my safety to fix your problem.

Every Sunday, millions of Americans attend Christian church services of one denomination or another. Itís a non-partisan activity; Democrats go, as do Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, Socialists, and others, supposedly, all espousing the teachings of Christ, at least as they understand them. And yet, while the preacherís preach of the Good Samaritan, the Sermon on the Mount, and other scriptural stories dealing with the fact that we are all children of God, that each of us is precious in the eyes of the Father, and that none stands higher than any other in his sight, when we leave the church and resume our daily life, these lessons seem forgotten.

A big part of my church is the idea and concept of a testimony. A testimony is a sure knowledge based on faith. But it is more than that. If you have a testimony of something, it should be reflected in the way you live your life. If it is not so reflected then it isnít a testimony. At best it is an interesting idea or concept that you happen to believe but that isnít important enough to have any effect on your day to day activity. It appears to me that many in this nation hold their faith in this manner: ďits an interesting story, and yes, I believe in Christ, but donít let it come between me and the way I choose to live my life.Ē

As a result, we have the rampant rise of moral relativism and rationalization. People who are incensed because they believe (or claim to) that the President lied to them concerning the reason we went into Iraq have no problems with a President lying while under oath concerning his sexual affair with an intern.

There are a million and one rationalizations we can make for why we should not do something, particularly when those rationalizations are part of a partisan political campaign to get your side into power at the expense of the other side. As a litmus test, I ask the question, if the current President were a Democrat (lets assume Al Gore won the election, was presented with similar circumstances, and did the same things), would the Democrats be making the same arguments today? I think not.

In fact, this argument can be extended. If you are a Democrat, and are feeling truly incensed at things that are going on with this administration, would you still feel the same if it were Democrats involved instead of Republicans. If President Clinton were in charge, would this be a just war? Likewise, if you are a Republican, if Republicans were doing the things that Democrats are doing, would you still be upset?

We need to focus here, to remember that we are at war. That there are still forces out there that would like to kill Americans here at home. These forces are global, not just in Afghanistan or Iraq. They are amorphous, for the most part not nation-states, but getting support, in money, manpower, and sanctuary from some nation-states. Were this not so, they would cease to exist; or at least, cease to be a serious problem. We are dealing with people who, at least by our standards, are not rational. They are not looking for peace. They seek our destruction. Failing that, they seek killing as many of us as possible. Anyone remember 9-11?

Lest anyone think that everyone out there is out to get us, please take a look at the articles referenced below. There is hope. There are hearts and minds to be won. The forces arrayed against us in Iraq at present are but a tiny fraction of the population, most of whom are happy that we are there. Some of those forces are not even Iraqi; many have come from other countries to fight us. Some are sponsored by Iran and Syria. Some by Saudi Arabia.

There arenít any from Libya though. Gadaffi seems to have had an epiphany. While his about-face on weapons of mass destruction, and the opening of his country to the West may have been the result of a dream he had one night, I tend to suspect that there is a more down-to-earth reason. He saw what happened in Iraq and decided he didnít want to end up in a spider hole himself. Plus, I suspect, there were some back-channel ďnegotiationsĒ taking place as well. Remember, Mr. Bush said that some of the battle would be fought away from the cameras, on many fronts by many methods, and that we would not know everything that was going on. Turns out Libyaís WMD program was a bit more advanced than we realized. Iím sure the details of how they got what will prove very interesting. In the meantime, scratch Libya as a terrorist haven in the future as well.

Does this count for nothing either? Or is this all just coincidence, and Bush should get no credit?

Are we safer you ask? Perhaps not. Perhaps we have never been safe, and it has all been an illusion. Does our activity in Iraq mean we donít have to worry about future attacks in the U.S.? No. But then again, how can you possibly make the argument that we were safer under President Clinton simply because an attack hadnít happened here? (BTW, donít forget the first WTC bombing in 1993 - under Clintonís watch. And the Oklahoma City Bombing Ė again under Clintonís watch. We werenít any safer in the past. There were no safeguards in place that Bush dismantled. The plans for 9-11 werenít hatched and brought to fruition immediately upon Mr. Bush taking office. They were years in preparation. How can you expect security in a free society, one which is incapable of even securing its own borders? The best security you have is that you are one person out of a population of nearly 300 million, and the chances of you in particular being the victim of a terrorist attack are small; much better than if you were, say, an Israeli citizen.

You have a better chance of dying today in an automobile accident with a drunk driver.

Having said that, does that mean that we simply ignore the terrorists, and allow them to kill their random sampling of our population? Of course not. And if we can rid the world of a despot and free an enslaved people at the same time, I say, Bully! Harrah for Israel! Harrah!


[1] Study: Saddam tortured nearly Ĺ of Shiite Iraqis

One Year in Iraq: A personal Look at the Making of a New Democracy - Sylvia McMillan Finlayson, 27 Mar 2004

Latter-day Saint Building Democracy in Iraq - Sylvia McMillan Finlayson, 28 Mar 2004

OIC Ė Operation Iraqi Children (Website)