I opposed the Iraq war on moral and practical grounds. Sadly, my views turned out the be vindicated: the justifications for the war turned out to be unfounded and the war has proven a costly mess.
Given my past views, it would be natural to assume that I would support the removal of American troops from Iraq.
On one hand, the idea of leaving Iraq is appealing. Doing so would save American lives and free up American resources that can be better used elsewhere (such as education).
On the other hand, there is a moral case against leaving. We decided to invade Iraq and we effectively destroyed the country. This would certainly seem to morally obligate us to remaining until we repair the damage we did. To use an analogy-if I destroy my neighbor’s house, I have an obligation to repair the damage. Likewise, since we broke Iraq, we have an obligation to fix it now.
It might be replied that many people did not support the decision to go to war and thus they can now impose their will to get us out of Iraq (now that the war is less popular)-just as the people who supported the war imposed their will.
However, we are bound to our past actions. While many people did oppose the war, they are still morally accountable for the war. As citizens, they agree to go along with the decisions of the majority (or, more accurately, the leaders). If they do not wish to abide by such decisions, then they are rejecting the basis of democracy. Hence, despite our opposition, the war is still our war and we are morally bound to it. As such, we are accountable for what the nation did. That is the moral price of democracy.
It might be objected that we should put American well being first and save ourselves. This is a moral argument and can be made quite effectively.
But we need to be honest about what we would be doing. We would be abandoning a country we destroyed and hence we would bear the moral responsibility for our actions. While we would not be killing people ourselves, some of the blood would be on our hands. It might be best for us in the sense that we would save American lives and treasure, but it would not be best in terms of the right thing to do.
The right thing is often a hard thing and the cost is often very high. What is at stake is our moral standing. Are we a people who create messes and simply flee when things do not go our way-thus leaving chaos and death behind? Or do we accept the responsibility for our misdeeds and struggle to make them right?
It can be replied that by leaving we will make things better for everyone. This is a reasonable point. If this can be shown to be the most probable outcome, then we should leave. We would then be doing the right thing. However, this seems to be an unlikely outcome.
It can also be replied that we can do nothing now-we created a mess, but all we can do now is escape and minimize the deaths by leaving. Perhaps this is the case and Iraq is beyond out ability to help. If so, we should leave. But we should remember that we did a terrible wrong and then ran away because we could not set things right-and that should be a matter of lasting shame for us.
One unfortunate thing about politics is that the people who create a mess rarely have to suffer the consequences. The just thing is, of course, that those who did evil or who screwed up pay the price. Thus, we should ship the entire Bush administration, those who voted for the war (like Hillary) and all the pundits who called for the war to Iraq and let them reap what they planted. That would be justice. George could get the chance to put those skills he learned in the National Guard to good use-he could fly combat missions in Iraq. Those without prior military training could go through basic training. I’d love to see Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton and Rush Limbaugh clearing IEDs out of the streets of Iraq. They certainly owe it to America.