Iraqi War Operation Iraqi Freedom  Research Paper

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Many reasons for the war were offered by both the United States and British governments at various times. In the months leading up to the war, there were a plethora of reasons offered that made it difficult to rationalize and understand exactly why the war was necessary. The argument regarding weapons of mass destruction was one of the most argued points; however, there was much debate as to whether these alleged weapons of mass destruction even existed (Iraq Survey Group 2004). Another point of contention with the war in Iraq was whether or not there were right intentions. According to many scholars and lay persons, reiterated by Fishar and Biggar, there was serious opposition because the disarmament of Iraq seemed only the beginning of a larger agency established by the U.S., UK and their allies. Reasonable belief that weapons of mass destruction existed, for many, was not enough to determine the war in Iraq to be a just war. Moreover, what again raises questions as to whether this war was just was the consideration of whether the action of war was a last resort; whether or not every viable option to disarm Iraq had been taken before war was declared. Many argue that it was not.

One of the most significant breaches of the notion of a just war is that of proportion; whether or not there was serious consideration and estimation of the damage that would be done as a result of a war of this scale and magnitude. Again after 8 years of war, the casualties of more than 4,400 U.S. soldiers, and well over 1,000,000 deaths total casts some serious doubt as to whether proportion was considered (Biggar 2011).

The Issue of Morality

Hurka in his article "Proportionality in the Morality of War (2005), maintains that the morality of war is often gauged by the just war theory that sets out two conditions of proportionality that indicate whether or not a war is justified and whether the harm resulting from the war is considered to be excessive. These considerations are large as it relates to the war in Iraq. Hurka asserts that because it is necessary for empirical study to be conducted to truly assess proportionality, determined to be a very controversial and complex issue in and of itself, there can only be opinion and speculation as to whether or not the notion of proportionality in war is real, factual or legitimate. Any violation of the conditions established by the just war theory, as previously outlined, determines the war to be morally unjustified (Hurka 2005). Hurka describes the conditions in greater detail advising that the jus ad bellum conditions relate to political leaders in their decision whether or not to initiate war or respond to another entities doing so with military force. The jus in bello conditions of the just war theory establish the means used to engage in war and are again directed at those in political leadership. These conditions are purportedly independent of each other so an entity can engage in one without necessarily engaging the other (Hurka 2005).

Hurka asserts that the ad bellum condition is the most important of the two because it bespeaks the issue of the cause of war being justified. He goes further to suggest that the most widely accepted just cause for war is resisting aggression, or an armed attach on one's own or another state, but there can also be a just cause when one state sponsors or allows deadly attacks on another's citizens without threatening the other's territory (35).

He further informs that presently, there are those theorists who posit a humanitarian just case that serves as a means of protection for the citizens of another state from having their rights violated by their government. Further there are additional ad bellum conditions including that war have to be declared by an authority determined to be legitimate and the intentions of the fight must be right. Moreover, there has be reasonable success and in the absence of achieving this level of success the destructiveness of the war has no purpose (Hurka 2005). The majority of the focus of Hurka's position rests with the ad bellum regarding proportionality which states that the wars destructiveness cannot be out of proportioned from what is determined to be the relevant good that the war will serve. Even when just cause has been established, according to this ad bellum condition, and there is no way of achieving the desired results other than by war, choosing war as an option can be considered wrong if the damage that results is determined to be excessive Hurka 2005).

The questions that are raised by the conditions of proportionality that have been established, and posited by Hurka (2005) are: "What are the relevant goods that count in favor of a war's or act's proportionality? (2) What are the relevant evils that count against it? (3) How do these goods and evils weigh against each other?" (37). Accordingly proportionality suggests that all the evils and all the goods are to be counted and weighed equally and if the total evil caused by war outweighs the total good, then the war is determined to be morally unjust. With regard to the relevant evils associated with war and proportionality, there are posited few if any restrictions as it parallels to relevant goods (Hurka 2005). He offers the example that if a war hampers the society economically, it is considered evil. At the same token, if war aids society financially, it may not be necessarily good because other factors are calculated into the equation. Hurka maintains that because there is no real limit to the things that can be counted as evil, the proportionality scale is tipped in favor of relevant good.

Good and evil must be weighed against each when the issue of proportionality is at hand. As such, Hurka posits that the sovereignty of a nation must be considered when these two positions are evaluated. One of the most justified reasons for engaging in warfare and proportionality is self-defense and/or resisting aggression. Hurka maintains "This view makes sense given a traditional understanding of just war theory on which the entities with rights in the international realm are states, understood as indivisible entities with a status parallel to that of individuals in the morality of self-defense" (41). As such, the state has the right to protect itself, even if that means killing the person attacking. However arguments have developed regarding this notion as rights ultimately belong to the individual not the state and morals rest with the individual and rights by the state must be derived from and be about the rights of the individual citizens (Hurka 2005).

Murphy in his 2007 article "The role of international moral authority in Iraq" Suggestions for a way out of the Impasse" suggests that those who posit the argument of just war should also take into account the issue of "international moral responsibility (18). Murphy asserts that from the very beginning of the invasion, those who considered themselves to be Christian moralists have tried to place judgment regarding the invasion and the consequences of the invasion according to the principles outlined in the just war theory in determining the morality of the war and what happened subsequent to the invasion. What has proven a difficult argument for the moralists to maintain is why after Saddam was summarily overthrown and no weapons of mass destruction were located, why it was necessary to remain in occupation in Iraq (Murphy 2007). Murphy argues that it is difficult to justify the continuation of a war after the purported objectives have been met.

In 2004, the United Nations Security Council issued resolution 1546 that placed formal sanctions on the United States of America indicating that the occupation on the grounds and the continued presence of military troops to train Iraqis for lasting peace; assuming that within approximately one year, the Iraq government would be in a position to take over fully. That did not occur and a subsequent resolution 1723 in 2006 was developed that extended military presence with a scheduled end date of 2007. That failed to transpire as well (Murphy 2007). Murphy contends that the involvement of the United Nations forces the consideration of international morality and moral cause for the war. Although the United Nations does not have international public authority, they were integral in determining much of what transpired and was allowed to transpire in Iraq. How is this possible? This is a question that has yet to be fully answered in gubernatorial or academic circles.


The War on Iraq officially began in 2003; however, there were rumors of war that preceded the actual date of the invasion by the United States, United Kingdom and its allies. Much of the debate regarding the war has been whether or not the attackers or aggressors were justified in launching the attack. There were a number of reasons…

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