Not a “Win” – Rather a Cataclysmic “Fail”

I apologize for not posting here in forever and a day, but obviously I am becoming more pressed for time as the holidays and all my college deadlines draw closer. Fortunately I seem to have done well on those SAT Subject Tests - at least it seems so number-wise, although the percentiles may be disappointing. I will get the score report in a week and may talk about it more then. I was also on Prince of Wales Island the past two days with my dad, cousin and cousin-in-law on a hunting trip, which for us basically means driving around the island with guns in the truck. We did get a buck though, which I missed out on butchering today because I had to write a speech. Because of all those deadlines I don't have much time to write a lot for the blog, but I still must write for school, so I'll take this space to post the speech I just wrote for speech and debate class. It may be somewhat interesting to read. The prompt I'm responding to is "Will the Iraq War end up being a 'win' for the United States?" Here it is:

Hello. My name, as I’m sure you know by now, is Peter Stanton. I have come to class for all of you this morning in order to demonstrate, by means of rhetoric, facts, emotion, and well-considered thought, that this War in Iraq in which these United States are currently engaged cannot and will not be won – not, at least, by us. Amazingly, I have three points to support this argument: Firstly, the actions of the United States in Iraq have lessened our standing and influence overseas and will not increase that power in the future. Secondly, the Iraq War has set disturbing precedents of action that threaten the foundational integrity of our republic. Lastly, the War in Iraq cannot and never will be a “win” for the thousands upon thousands of people who have died in it. Although the rest of us are obviously not so affected, this war cannot end up being a “win” for us either.

Peace and sovereignty among nations are essential elements to our current world order. This is why a nation’s proposed actions overseas almost always require the consent and support of other nations. Without this consensus, which lends the action greater acceptability and credibility, the acting nation may end up alienated because it is violating principles of national sovereignty without the approval of the rest of the world. This is exactly what happened with the War in Iraq. In an infamous address to the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell presented intelligence on Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and stipulated that “diplomacy has failed” in an effort to authorize the use of force in Iraq. Now, of course, Americans know those “weapons of mass destruction” were never found. Even then, however, the proposal from the U.S., U.K., and Spanish governments articulated by Powell was absolutely rejected and never had the support of more than four of the fifteen nations on the council. In spite of this, the United States and its “coalition of the willing” - made up of only four serious contributing nations – decided to invade Iraq anyways. The U.S. invasion of Iraq undermined international institutions that we should be attempting to strengthen and reform instead. As former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan stated, "[I]t was not in conformity with the U.N. Charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal." The war is not a “win” when it has made many nations throughout the world to view us now in a negative light – and who would blame them?

In addition to basically being conducted unilaterally, the War in Iraq was also a preemptive war. If one looks at history, this is an unprecedented action on the part of our country. Throughout our past, from Jefferson’s bashing of the Barbary pirates to our War on Terror, in response to crimes as questionable as the Gulf of Tonkin or blatant as Pearl Harbor, this country has always made war in retaliation and because of things our enemies have already done. Never before have we attacked someone because of things they might do, and that was what we supposedly did in Iraq. Of course, the apologists for the war have been changing and clouding the goals behind it even before it began. President Bush was able to link Saddam Hussein to the events of September 11 in the minds of many Americans, which is as barefaced a lie as the statements that Saddam had W.M.D.’s we had to preempt him from using. Much of the American public has now gradually come to believe that the War in Iraq is a part of our “War on Terrorism” or that its goal is to establish democracy in the Middle East. Where does the idiocy stop? Is war now something to be started as soon as possible and then justified as time allows? Will we make up our reasons for killing after we have already begun the slaughter unprovoked? If the United States continues to take such actions in direct contradiction with its long history of just battles, the nation should not expect to retain its high standing for much longer.

My third point in showing that the War in Iraq will not be a “win” for the United States, but rather a cataclysmic “fail,” is that the reasons for this war, whatever they are right now, have not justified the massive death and destruction wrought by us in creating this conflict. Many have said that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq, and this is true. Is this a good thing though? Before our invasion there were no terrorists attacking us from Iraq. Our invasion has given Al Qaeda easy targets in the form of honorable American servicemen and women, and attacking them the murderers have destroyed Iraq and taken an uncountable number of lives as well. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died because of our invasion of their country as well as 4204 members of the U.S. military and hundreds of other coalition forces and contractors. It is estimated over one hundred thousand American soldiers have been wounded. Whatever you believe the War in Iraq has accomplished, whatever you believe there has been for us to win there, ask yourself whether all of this destruction was necessary to accomplish those goals. The answer must be no. That should have been our answer to this war before it began, and it still must be our answer now – no.

There is nothing for the United States to win in Iraq. Have we won power? Have we won respect? No. Have we won the right to continue this war in the spirit of the country declared to exist 232 years ago? No. Can we even say our honored 4204 sacrificed their lives for our freedom and security? I don’t know, but I cannot imagine they died for any victory. Perhaps it was only for stupidity.