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Essay: George W. Bush’s War with Iraq After 9/11: Understanding the Doctrine of Preemptive War

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  • Published: 21 February 2023*
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  • Words: 1,345 (approx)
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  • Tags: Terrorism essays

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Essay two

  Within nineteen months after 9/11, an attack which left America shaken, George W. Bush decided to go to war against Iraq. After the tragic terror attack on the World Trade Center, America felt vulnerable as it had never felt before.  At the time, people could scarcely believe that an attack of such proportion could be carried out against them.  The devastation was so great, and so many lives had been lost, America was gripped by a fear of terrorism..  In response, the Bush Administration came to a decision that it would attack any country that posed a threat against the United States. There would be no more surprises.  Before the next attack could come, the United States would be prepared and strike first. George W. Bush declared that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq all represented a threat to American security. The United States demanded that Iraq allow UN inspectors into the country to make certain that the Saddam Hussein was not building weapons of mass destruction.

  Two previous presidents had tried to limit the Iraq’s WMD capability before him, his father, President George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.  President Bush Senior had gone to war against the Iraq along with a coalition of forces in the Gulf War.  Bill Clinton’s “Operation Desert Fox,” a four day bombardment campaign was also an effort to destroy WMD sites in Iraq.  After the election of George Bush Jr. in 2000, Iraq unconditionally agreed to the return of UN weapons inspectors (in 2002).  No weapons of destruction were found, but the United States did conclude that Iraq had misled inspectors and were hiding weapons that presented a security threat to the United States.

  In President George W. Bush’s memoir, he goes into detail about his decision to go to war against Iraq.  The decision was very controversial, at the time.  The UK agreed to join the operation, but many other countries, such as Canada, France, Germany and Russia, were highly critical of the action.  In the book, Bush defends his reasons for going to war, but  acknowledges the mistakes he felt that he made along the way.  After the 9/11 attack, which left the US terrorized,  Bush felt  it was necessary to attack the source behind this attack. Although certain it was Al-qaeda, who was responsible for these attacks, Bush had insisted on overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, alleging that there was a link between them.  Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein was armed with weapons of mass destruction and he feared that he would use them or hand them over to terrorist groups. Therefore, he thought that overthrowing him would be the safest thing to do for the United States and the Iraqi people. However, his conclusion that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction was in contradiction of the report by UN weapons inspectors.  Also, the fact that Iraq was halfway around world made Bush’s actions seemed rushed and extreme – especially because no weapons of mass destruction had been found.  Because of this, Bush  began to lose credibility and he states his awareness of this issue in the memoir. Bush writes that he did not want to go to war unless it was necessary to do so. Yet his main reason for wanting to wage war against Hussein was because he believed he possessed weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, in the absence of such evidence,  Bush’s reasons for rushing into war with Iraq seemed unlawful.

  The Doctrine of preemptive war is really at odds with international law. Simply having doubts and suspicions about another country's motives is not recognized by international law as justification for launching an attack.  When Bush enunciated the doctrine of preemptive war, many other countries thought it was outrageous. Declaring war against countries because of feeling threatened is a recipe for anarchy because countries always feel threatened by other countries.  You need more than a suspicion or a belief to take a nation to war.  Bush said that a military option was actually his last choice, but if necessary he would use it. The lesson 9/11 taught us was that if we wait for a danger to materialize, we would be waiting too long.

  Both books, Bush Wars,by Terry Anderson and Imperial Life In The Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, take an opposing and critical view of the war against Iraq.  Rajiv Chandrasekaran is an American Journalist who was the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post. Terry Anderson is a Vietnam War veteran as well as an author. They both highly stress the lack of preparation for the war against Iraq, and the mismanagement of the “victory” over Saddam Hussein, and failure of understanding the consequences of the war.

Terry H. Anderson says that that America was very firm on sanctions against Iran, but the whole idea of sanctions against Iraq was wrong in the first place.  The sanctions did not hurt Saddam Hussein or his sons because they had so much power.  The ones who suffered because of the sanctions were were the Iraqi people. For example, their water supply had been contaminated during the Gulf War. The Iraqis needed equipment to clear their water supply but they were not allowed to import it. Also the entire economy was damaged by the ongoing sanctions, which prevented them from engaging in ordinary trade and making money from their oil resources.  

  In Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Rajiv Chandrasekaran discusses America’s mistakes during the war in Iraq. Chandrasekara highlights some of the decisions made by Paul Bremer, the leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority after the invasion of Iraq.  The first decision he writes about about was Bremer’s call for de-Baathification. Bremer thought that removing the Baath Party (the former ruling party under Saddam Hussein) from the government would make the country safer for the Iraqi people. After the conquest of Iraq, the CPA issued a decree banning former members of  the Baath Party from working in the government. What this did, he believes, was help to prevent a reconciliation between the Sunnis and the Shiites.   Another major mistake, he believes, was the disbanding the Iraqi army.  That was an error, he writes,  because it led to a massive increase in unemployment.  

Anderson agrees that Bremer made a mistake in removing all members of the Baath party from the government because, he said, it left thousands of people jobless. The united states government had no plan for what they were going to do with the Iraqi government and on top of that, they fired most of the members of the civil service. He felt it was a critical error to come in and immediately fire everyone in a skilled professions.  He also blames the sanctions for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children from malnutrition.  The UN high commissioner on refugees reported that half a million iraqi children had died of malnutrition during the war.

  In writing his memoir, president Bush clearly wants history to remember him as good president who made the right decisions. Thousands of americans soldiers died in Iraq. Those boys must surely be on the mind of the president. No president wants to think that his actions lead to the unnecessary deaths of thousand American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.  Was there a threat to the United States and to the world from Saddam Hussein?  Maybe so.  Was there sufficient cause for the invasion?  The weight of evidence is against him, according to both Terry Anderson and Rajiv Chandrasekaran.  They disagree with the legality of the preemptive strike against Iraq.  They find fault with the Administration’s efforts to maintain stability in the country in the aftermath of the conquest, and to facilitate its recovery.  The fact is that it is now fifteen years after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and Iraq is still a country in a state of chaos.  President Bush may be able to sleep comfortably at night with the decisions that he made, but a lot of people in Iraq still do not have that luxury.

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