The Choice of War: The Iraq War and the Just War Tradition

The Choice of War: The Iraq War and the Just War Tradition

The Choice of War: The Iraq War and the Just War Tradition

The Choice of War: The Iraq War and the Just War Tradition


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Now, let me also address the issue of Iraq. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war
of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world.
Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyr
anny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded
America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to
resolve our problems whenever possible.

—President Barack Obama, Cairo, June 4, 2009

As the midterm elections approached in 2004, signs of deepening public dismay over the war in Iraq appeared in the polls. President George W. Bush for the first time admitted that the Iraq War had been miscarried. In a late August 2004 interview with The New York Times, Bush stated that he had “miscalculated” in thinking that a “swift victory” could be achieved in the war in Iraq that the Administration had chosen to start in March 2003.

After 2004 the occupation phase of the war continued to drag on as American casualties mounted. By the time of the election in November 2008, a number of top Bush officials had resigned. They included CIA Director George Tenet (2004); Donald Rumsfeld and his assistant in the Defense Department (DoD), Paul Wolfowitz (in, respectively, 2006 and 2005); another Rumsfeld war architect in the DoD, Douglas Feith (2005); Colin Powell, Secretary of State (2005); Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff (2007); Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Powell (2005); and Scott McClellan, Administration Press Secretary (2008). Some of these departed officials strongly criticized Bush Administration policies on the war while others continued to defend them.

By the end of Bush’s first term in 2004, a watershed had been reached. At the end of Bush’s second term in 2008, a majority of Americans considered . . .

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