There are still people out there who continue to defend Tony Blair's decision to follow the US into war with Iraq. The reasons given for their pro-war stance are varied, but the most common tends to centre around the argument that the removal of Saddam has put an end to genocide and oppression, paving the way for democracy and freedom. This reasoning does not really paint an accurate picture of what life is like now for many Iraqis. Nor does it take into account the high price paid to remove Saddam. Here are 5 reasons why the war was a big mistake:
1. Legality of warUnder international war, there are certain conditions that must be met before engaging in conflict with another country. These conditions were not met, a point that was not lost on the majority of the international community, and a reason why a subsequent vote in the UN favoured giving weapons inspectors more time to gather evidence, rather than using force. I recently read someone's argument for going to war which stated that we shouldn't let “legality” get in the way of doing what is morally right. There way be times when a quote such as this holds some validity, certainly in regards to some authoritarian regimes or to some archaic laws that are no longer relevant to the modern world. But, when it comes to international law, to ignore certain laws in order to justify acts of aggression only serves to encourage others to commit crimes if they deem it beneficial. How can we turn around and criticise a county who flaunts the law when we are also guilty of this.
2. The rationale for going to war was based on lies
Many lies were bandied about during the build up to war, with Tony Blair and George Bush at the helms of their respective governments being the worst culprits. Many experts had doubts regarding the quality of the intelligence being cited as justification, Hans Blix being one example. But since then the information has been made public, making it quite clear that a mixture of lies and exaggerated truths were used to encourage public support for the war. Did Saddam Hussein have connections to Al-Qaeda. Did he possess WMDs? Was he a threat to us or our allies? Of course, we now all know that the answers to these questions are no. This therefore brings us on to the next point; what were the actual motives for war.
3. Immoral motivesSince Iraq was not a threat, and Blair and Bush both stated at the beginning that regime change was not their objective, ruling out reasons based on humanitarian grounds and stability (or though this was later stated as an objective once the security threat could no longer be wheeled out as justification), then what on earth could have been driving our leaders to send our troops to invade a foreign land? Well, looking at who benefited most from the war, that is to say, mainly Western companies involved in oil, construction, security, as well as arms manufacturers and suppliers, then it's not hard to come to the conclusion that our motives were not born out of the highest of moral standards.
4. Death and sufferingCivilian deaths related to the war are estimated to be anywhere between over 100,000 at the very conservative end, to over 600,000. Either way, the statistics are depressing and do not include long term injuries, both physical and mental. Then, added to that are the deaths and injuries that the coalition and Iraqi troops sustained. I know some feel little sympathy for Saddam's forces but they had the right, under international law, to resist foreign invaders. And whilst some troops were loyal to Saddam and/or Iraq, many fought out of fear for him. Can all this combined suffering we worth the removal of Saddam and his regime? As we know, the suffering continued long after regime change, and continues to this day.
5. The aftermath (the suffering continues)While some lives have undoubtedly improved post Saddam, like those of the Kurds in northern Iraq, many areas of the country are less stable and the quality of life has worsened when compared to Saddam's reign. Sectarian violence, unemployment, lack of education and access to healthcare are all common complaints, while woman's rights have also taken a step backwards.
As an outsider looking in, ask yourself, would you have preferred to live in Iraq pre or post regime change? I know in terms of my safety I would be better of picking the former. For Iraqis the answer to this question would depend on factors such as where they live or of what religion persuasion they are. What is clear is that for a great many number of Iraqis life has got much harder, and shows little sign of improvement any time soon.