Ending Tyranny in Iraq

By Teson, Fernando R. | Ethics & International Affairs, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Ending Tyranny in Iraq


Teson, Fernando R., Ethics & International Affairs


As it did at least three times during the twentieth century, the United States (this time joined by its most reliable ally, the United Kingdom, and a few others) has once again deposed a brutal tyrant. The long and cruel rule of Saddam Hussein came to a close in 2003 after a short war. Operation "Iraqi Freedom" had four phases: military deployment and preparation; initial attack; capture of Baghdad and overthrow of the regime; and reconstruction and peacekeeping. In every phase except the last, the Anglo-American alliance (the Coalition) had remarkable success. (1) The first three phases--that is, the international war proper--lasted from March 19, 2003 until April 14, 2003. These were followed by a period of military occupation, the return of sovereignty to Iraq, and, finally, an unprecedented democratic election in the country--all of it amid virulent insurgent violence. (2)

The war in Iraq has reignited the passionate humanitarian intervention debate. President George W. Bush surprised many observers in his second inaugural address when he promised to oppose tyranny and oppression, and this in a world not always willing or ready to join in that fight. Humanitarian intervention is again on the forefront of world politics.

Many have criticized the war, in all parts of the world. Much of the criticism challenges the twin assumptions made by Coalition leaders: that the United States had to neutralize the dangers posed by Iraq, and that the war can be justified as part of the war on terror. The legal arguments against the war have focused largely on self-defense and enforcement matters, in particular: whether the justifications given by the Coalition were genuine, given the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were discovered in Iraq; whether the war could be justified as enforcement of prior Security Council resolutions; whether preventive self-defense is admissible under international law; whether the war against Iraq can be justified as part of a reaction against the attacks of September 11, 2001; whether the Iraq war has severely undermined the system of the UN Charter; and whether the law of self-defense should be radically changed in the light of the new realities that the international community has to face. (3) These criticisms have arisen against the background of a growing distrust of American power and the anxieties created by new threats to peace and liberty.

In this essay I respond to a different criticism of the war: that it cannot be justified as humanitarian intervention. I will not, therefore, address self-defense or other possible justifications of the war unrelated to the abject human rights record of the deposed Iraqi regime. I argue that the war was morally justified as humanitarian intervention. In substantiating this claim, I will, for the most part, set aside legal and political questions and concentrate on the moral legitimacy of the intervention. (4)

There are four claims that have been advanced by those who argue that the war in Iraq cannot be justified as humanitarian intervention:

Claim 1: The war cannot be justified as humanitarian intervention because it is always prohibited to wage war for human rights; that is, the doctrine of humanitarian intervention is invalid.

Claim 2: The war cannot be justified as humanitarian intervention because the Coalition leaders did not offer that justification but different ones. They did not say that the war was waged for humanitarian reasons.

Claim 3: The war cannot be justified as humanitarian intervention because Coalition leaders did not intend the humanitarian objective. They had a different intent: to suppress a security threat.

Claim 4: The war cannot be justified as humanitarian intervention because the Coalition did not comply with other requirements established by the doctrine of humanitarian intervention.

I deal only briefly with the all-important claim 1, the general justification of humanitarian intervention.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ending Tyranny in Iraq
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.