Now for the last few:
Last Resortd.r. was pretty dismissive of some of us for not hewing to the facts, but I don't think there is evidence that Saddam was "systematically killing his own people"--or at least killing them beyond the normal Saddam ruling policies. I have conceded and everyone agrees--the guy was a total dictator and brutal to his own people. But that list is fairly long in the world and this alone is hardly the requirement. As for Last Resort, I find this one of the weakest of the Just War qualifications. Sanctions were working. The inspections were working--despite all the games that Saddam played at every level. Containment was working. This was not our last resort--and refusing to comply with UN resolutions--the very same UN that the Bush administration and conservatives everywhere don't actually respect, by the way--hardly seem like a "last resort."
1. How many times was Hussein given a chance to comply to the UN Resolutions without compliance? 17 - enough said. He was given chance after chance and then intelligence suggested he was upping the ante in seeking weapons of mass destruction. He refused to allow inspectors to confirm or deny this intelligence. And again all the while he was systematically killing his own people.
Probability of SuccessNo one doubted that Hussein could be removed from power. This is, and never was the total objective. I suspect that if you got George H.W. Bush to be honest, he would tell you that he would have warned his son that there was not a high probability of success. He certainly was concerned about that in the first Gulf War where his pragmatists and experts warned him that removing Saddam would create a vacuum. Many, many people said that this was a venture fraught with peril, but the President and his people ignored that instead suggested that we would be greeted as liberators. Just as Woodrow Wilson thought his troops landing at Vera Cruz would be greeted.
1. Did the Americans think that they could remove Hussein from power? Of course, and they did. And now he has been tried, convicted and executed in a great act of justice.
2. Was there evidence that Iraq would move toward a democratic state? Yes, and they have made huge strides in that arena, having held elections, with more to come.
And to be fair, there is an argument to be made that had this President not sent in someone like Rumsfeld to do this, we might have had a chance. Had we restored power--AND SECURITY--there is a chance that we could have transfered the existing Iraq government into a working democracy--or democracy-ish. Instead, Bush deBathified the government and dismissed the military--sending thousands of people jobless, armed, and angry at the Americans. And lets not forget the Bush policy of filling the reconstruction posts with Bush loyalists--including asking them their stance on Roe v. Wade rather than their qualifications for service.
Proportionalityd.r. is reaching the most here. While the Kurds were certainly persecuted and ethnically cleansed under Saddam, but they were in no immanent danger of extinction. I have addressed the UN and want to reiterate the irony of conservatives invoking the UN Resolutions--given that many of them would prefer we not even have a UN. And finally, I really detest the line "Iraq is now on its way to democracy, if they would just embrace it." I hate this "blame the Iraqi" approach. It is as if the police went into the wrong house, leveled it, and killed many of the family members. The family had been run by an abusive father, but was functioning. The police come in, kill the father, level the house, and expect the family to function. When they don't, the police chastize the remaining family members.
1. Did the possible good outweigh the bad? Of course they did. This might be the most controversial of the Just War requirements, but again, the Kurds are not extinct, Sadaam is no longer violating the UN resolutions in a hope to resurrect his weapons program and is no longer attacking nations or threatening to do so, and Iraq is now on its way to democracy, if they would just embrace it. Much better than persecuted people in a country that is seeking to persecute others.
We broke this country. We don't get to blame them for that.