Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A better Iraq?

Since today is the beginning of the Saddam Hussein trial, I thought I would focus on nationalism and utilitarianism. Simple question: Was the U.S. led invasion of Iraq the right thing to do? It seems the argument breaks into two lines of thought: Yes, it is our duty as the leading superpower in the world to either 1) protect our interests/citizens (terrorism argument), 2) spread freedom/democracy to all dictatorships on earth (utilitarianism) --OR-- No, the U.S. led invasion of Iraq was against international law. I am going to go with yes (I think nationalism is dead, the U.N. needs more strength) and hope someone argues the counterpoint in a comment or post.

I was not always willing to take the side of the "coalition of the good", but I was reading the front page of the October 18, 2005 Kansas City Star and had a change of heart. The article was titled Hussein's Reckoning, and went into detail about the tactics former President Hussein used to stay in power. Torture was the main method.

Before I go any further, I want to note that for better or for worse, I found Abu Ghraib to morally reprehensible, but it didn't seem to be torture. I'm not saying I would WANT to be put into any of those situations (rabid dogs barking inches from my body, Metallica at all hours, naked man-piles, etc.), but it wasn't exactly Dante's Inferno.

That being said, Hussein's torture was more in line with Dante. Examples the U.S. State Department gave were: medical experimentation, rape committed while a victim's spouse watched, and scorpions used to sting naked children in front of their parents. That does not include the attempted genocide of the Kurdish minority (for siding with Iran in the 1980 Iran-Iraq war). Strictly from a numbers standpoint this has to be a better Iraq (Hussein's ruling Baath party was a minority), right?

There seems to be but one negative (and a 400 pound gorilla, at that) from the ousting of Hussein. The power vacuum left has the Sunnis pouting (out of understandable fear) which creates the possibility of a civil war. Previously life was rough, but you knew who not to cross (Saddam's Baath party). Now with corruption and guerrilla war rampant in the country, people don't have a clue how long they will live (48 hours or 48 years). Even so, if Iraq is able to stabilize itself (even after a civil war) and include that Sunni minority, it could be an example for an extremely volatile region, and that would be a good thing.