The Iraq war began on March 20th, 2003 and extended until December 18th, 2011. President George W. Bush had imposed a deadline for Saddam Hussein to either leave Iraq or go to war. Not long after the Americans invaded, Hussein went into hiding and his regime was overturned (History). This was a huge success for the U.S., as Hussein was considered a substantial threat to the Middle East and was suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction. As well as the overthrowing of Hussein, President Bush also used the lack of democracy in Iraq as a justification for the war. He thought that by overthrowing Hussein he could use Iraq to set an example to other countries by scattering ideals of pro-Western democracy (Perle). While in the end the main goal of ending Husseins dictatorship hold over Iraq may have been met, the invasion of Iraq was not justified.
No matter what type of view one takes, every sensible theory points to the war in Iraq being unjust. Starting with the obvious, from a pacifist point of view, wars and violence in general are morally wrong. Considering how Iraq was in no way an immediate threat to the United States, a pacifist who already thinks conflict should be settled by peaceful means, would disagree with how it was handled.
The main normative principle that would argue against the justification of the Iraq war would be the just war theory. According to the Just War Theory, there are six main criteria a war must meet in order to be considered just: Just cause, proportionate cause, right intention, right authority, reasonable chance of success, and last resort (Carter). This could also be tied to a consequentialist view, as the proportionality is just the weights of costs of the war in comparison to benefits. During war, many lives are lost and the effects of war can torment countries for years after they end, forever changing the lives of their citizens. Because of this the idea of turning to war cannot be something taken lightly and must hit every requirement of the just war theory.
The first part of the just war theory states that the war must be just and initiated due to the correct reasons. The effects of war can be so destructive it can leave countries in ruin for years to come. By initiating war with the correct reasons, the chances of a meaningless war that leaves permanent damage is lessened. In terms of the Iraq War, this one is more of a grey area. At the time Iraq was under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, a man who in 1988 sent poison gas to the Northern Kurdish village of Halabja, causing a massacre of around 5,000 of his own citizens he suspected of being disloyal (MacFarquhar). President Bush gave Hussein 90 minutes to decide to either leave Iraq or face war with the United States. Bush also suspected Iraq was hiding unconventional weapons of mass destruction that could become a threat to the States.
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