I was strongly opposed to the Iraq war. The reasons for my opposition were as follows
I should note that I did support the war in Afghanistan. There was an obvious link there to the Taliban aiding and harbouring Al Qaeda. Furthermore the current oppression of the Taliban was worse as far as I can tell than what was currently occurring in Iraq and likely to occur in the near future. I’ll also note I don’t care much for arguments about whether the war was legal or not. Other than giving vague guidance about suitable behaviour, I don’t think that international law is worth much because it can be broken without penalty by pretty much anyone.
Of these three points I feel justified that the first was correct, the second as it turns out was more than correct – he didn’t even retain the old stockpiles I thought he might have. The big one though is point three which I don’t think can be definitively answered for many years yet although its certainly looking as though it going to be correct at the current time. My doubt is because the reasons I based my decision on aren’t the same as what has panned out.
In my original conception the war would proceed much as it did. For the most part I thought the US army would roll over the Iraqi’s on whom twelve years of sanctions and sporadic bombing must have crippled. The one exception was that I believed the Republican Guard would stay loyal, cohesive and fight, street by street for Baghdad. The result would be destruction of large portions of the city, civilians and troops on both sides. There was also the small risk that I was wrong and Saddam did have the WMD’s intelligence services claimed and would use them with great loss of life. This obviously did not occur and with the exception of some pockets of resistance in various towns, the Iraqi army was rolled over and ran away. On the other hand although I did think there would be an insurgency, I thought it would be smaller, and wither and die more quickly. Certainly I didn’t expect the extremely nasty fundamentalists to control it and even begin bombing in neighbouring countries. I also assumed that a democratic government that was not overly sectarian could be constructed.
At the end of the invasion period the war had exceeded my expectations. No WMD’s were used or found, but then I thought there probably would be few available, the loss of life however was much less than I expected. Then things began to go downhill. The insurgency while weak initially grew in strength fed by bad decisions such as the sacking of the entire old Iraqi army, and eventually the pictures from Abu Graib.
What I question though now is, what if the post war planning had gone better? What if there had been more troops to stop the looting and disorder, what if the army had been kept on the payroll, restaffed with loyal officers and NCO’s, weeding out only the most suspect soldiers. In short, what if US had been vaguely competent with regards the post war situation? Certainly I never factored in “gross incompetence” when considering the value of the war. As things panned out it turned as bad as I expected, but it seems it easily could have been better. It seems mostly that I was right about it for the wrong reasons.
Then again the reason we apply caution is situations like this is that there are so many unforseens. We apply caution because “stuff happens”. Human events are far to complex to be able to predict and we don’t know that even if the mistakes had been avoided would they necessarily have made things better, or at least good enough to justify the whole thing. Ultimately we should always be cautious before starting a situation that may go on indefinitely. It seems and still seems a situation with a much greater downside than upside.