The War in Iraq
The elimination of Osama Bin Laden in May of 2011 served to punctuate “Operation New Dawn”, the 2010 United States initiative to effect the simultaneous withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq and the establishing of a friendly, independent government in that nation. The irony of this dual situation goes to the heart of the U.S. war in Iraq itself; while Bin Laden was not an Iraqi leader, the violence he orchestrated was employed by the Bush government, obliquely and directly, to substantiate the war. Relying upon severe concerns generated by modern acts of terrorism from a variety of instigators, and chiefly exploiting the overtly displayed hostility to the West by Bin Laden, the United States initiated a war on foreign soil based upon an agenda that is, at best, highly suspect.
There is an impact to this war both complex and staggering in its implications, for the Iraq conflict brings into question matters going to the foundations of the American government, and to the accepted criteria of warfare itself. In promoting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as an enemy of the U.S., and one possessed of weapons of mass destruction, as well as direct ties to the covert operations of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, the Bush government changed the face of how the need to go to war may be presented to the nation. As evidence increasingly supports, an extraordinary amount of obfuscation was created by President Bush's administration to justify a direct military action in Iraq. The ultimate importance of the war in Iraq, beyond all the many, immediate implications it has had on international relations, lies in how it has greatly altered public consciousness in regard to the necessity of war itself, and this in turn reflects the ethical questions of what makes war appropriate and/or necessary to begin with. Essentially, in manufacturing a war machine based upon insubstantial justifications, the Bush administration set in motion a national scrutiny and disapproval utterly removed from its expectations.
As a U.S. presence remains in Iraq today, both the exact history and outcomes of the war continue to generate research and debate. In terms of a general view of how the U.S. has engaged in war in the past, Lewis, and Coppetiers and Fotion (2007, 2008) provide excellent perspectives on the cultural and political issues involved. More directly related to the Iraq war, Downing, Mahnken, and Ohaegbulam (2005, 2007, 2007) present detailed analyses of the causes and phases of the involvement, clearly before U.S. troop withdrawals had begun. Less critically, Davis and Hull (2008, 2009), offer both justifications for the war and endorsements, albeit of a modified variety, of its successes. Highly significant, also, is the study by Bonn and Welch (2010), which powerfully indicates a specific agenda as having been engineered by the Bush administration. Assisted by these authors and others, this paper intends to affirm the following: the climate of fear generated by modern terrorism enabled the Bush administration to engage in a war that has been unjust, ethically invalid, and ultimately beyond the scope of its powers and authority.
Beginning with a necessary examination of the background to U.S./Iraqi relations, the first section will move on to document the alleged reasons for the war's commencement, as well as major occurrences within it. From there, ethical issues and controversies arising from the conflict, both in its early years and today, will be addressed. Reactions and consequences following the latest developments will then be explored, and a conclusion will reinforce and draw together the main points of the entire analysis.