Reasons for the Iraq War

Oil fires burning in Iraq. 2003. Getty Images

The Iraq War (actually America’s second war with Iraq, including America’s conflict with Iraq after Iraq invaded Kuwait) continued to be a rancorous and controversial topic years after the US ceded control of the country to the Iraqi civilian government. The positions various commentators and politicians took prior to and shortly after the US invasion have political implications to this day, so it can be helpful to keep in mind what the context and understanding was at the time.

Here is a look from 2004 about the pros and cons of war against Iraq from information available at that time. It is included here for historical purposes.

The possibility of war with Iraq was a very divisive issue around the world. Turn on any news show and you will see a daily debate on the pros and cons of having gone to war. The following is a list of the reasons that were given both for and against war. This is not intended as an endorsement for or against the war, but is meant as a quick reference. Please use the poll to express your opinion on the war.

Reasons for War

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger." - U.S. President George W. Bush

  1. The United States and the world has a duty to disarm a rogue nation like Iraq.
  2. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant that has demonstrated a complete disregard for human life and should be brought to justice.
  1. The people of Iraq are an oppressed people, and the world has a duty to help these people.
  2. The oil reserves of the region are important to the world's economy. A rogue element like Saddam threatens the oil reserves of the entire region.
  3. The practice of appeasement only fosters even bigger tyrants.
  4. By removing Saddam, the world of the future is safer from terrorist attacks.
  1. The creation of another nation favorable to US interests in the Middle East.
  2. The removal of Saddam would uphold previous UN resolutions and give the body some credibility.
  3. If Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, he could share those with terrorist enemies of the United States.

 Reasons Against War

"The inspectors have been given a mission...If some country or other acts outside that framework, it would be a violation of international law." - French President Jacques Chirac

  1. A pre-emptive invasion lacks moral authority and violates previous US policy and precedent.
  2. The war would create civilian casualties.
  3. The UN inspectors might be able to resolve this issue.
  4. The liberating army would lose troops.
  5. The Iraqi state could disintegrate, potentially empowering adversarial powers such as Iran.
  6. The US and allies would be responsible for rebuilding a new nation.
  7. There was questionable evidence of any connection to Al-Queda.
  8. A Turkish invasion of the Kurdish region of Iraq would further destabilize the region.
  9. A world consensus did not exist for war.
  10. Allied relationships would be damaged.

 

Related Resources:

Persian Gulf War
In 1991, America was involved in a war with Iraq over the seizure of land in Kuwait.

This is considered the first high-tech war in which America was involved. Read about the background, events and outcomes of the war.

Terrorism Through America's History
Terrorism has been a problem throughout America’s history, even before September 11, 2001.