Ends justifiying the means

Well, since I've inspired a shouting-match in the other threads, I think I'll just get this out now before the camel crap hits the fan.

Saddam Hussein is gone and nobody wants him back. No matter how often the neo-cons here try to mischaracterize statements, not even the people most staunchly against this war want him back. So save your breaths and baseless accusations for some other forum. However, as much as I used to think the ends justified the means, some people think that the best of ends can justify the worst of means.

For example, Truman's use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and it's implied use on Tokyo. It did end the Pacific war. It did prevent the loss of Allied troops (and perhaps Japanese civilians; we'll never know for sure) in a protracted invasion of the main islands of Japan. It also prevented the Soviets grabbing a foothold in Japan, which would have perhaps tilted the results of the Cold War in another direction.

However, as a result, the United States is now the only (God willing) nation to employ nuclear weapons in anger. The blood of the civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are on the soul of Harry S. Truman and everyone involved in the bombings. Were they able to look at themselves in the mirror with a clear conscience? Nobody knows. Do the ends always justify the means? Depends on who you talk to; I'm willing to bet the survivors have a differing view on it. A similar comparison could be drawn to the US's actions during the Gulf War and the decision to remain in Saudi Arabia after the end of hostilities. This prompted much of the terrorism of the 90s and beyond.

Now, bringing it back to the present, do the end results of Iraq justify the means of getting there? Let's look at what happened...

* International relations - The Bush Administration has damaged relations with several nations overseas. The German government is still seething. The Indians refuse to send any help whatsoever to Iraq. France is being France, but worse. The Japanese legislature broke out into a fist-fight over the issue of sending troops to Iraq just last week. Russia and China have gone back to their Cold War roles as standing as the counter-balance to US foreign policy. Clearly, the war in Iraq jeopardized US relations overseas.

* International image - Despite the support of the British, Italian, and Spanish governments, the populations of those countries were soundly against the war. Now those three governments are in serious jeopardy given their public's low opinion of them. The international press continually berate the US even to the point of lying and mischaracterizing America and the American people. The war has cast the light in an even worse light.

* National and International Security - Has the war made the US more safe? That's questionable. Since nothing has happened since 9-11, one could argue that drawing a circle in the dirt has prevented further attacks. This "easy" war has resulted in a post-war era that could have a body count larger than the acutal conflict. Was Iraq a threat to their neighbors and the US? Again, questionable. The ease of the US invasion proves that the Iraqi coventional military was no threat to any of Iraq's neighbors. The Fedayeen Saddam are not an army of conquest, just an army of terror. Then there's the WMDs, which we'll get to next.

* Public Trust - Can the Bush Administration and their allies be believed as readily as it used to be before the war? The Administration claimed that there were copious amounts of illegal WMDs. So far, nothing has been found and as time goes on, the chances of their being as extensive an inventory as the Administration claimed is in doubt. Also, now that the obstacles to their discovery before (namely, the Ba'ath regime) are out of the way, the Administration running out of excuses as to where they are. The Administration claimed that the weapons of mass destruction were a direct and immediate threat to US security. That claim is now in doubt, given their "dissappearance." Tony Blair's government claimed that the Iraqis were capable of deploying WMDs in 45 minutes. Clearly, the lack of their employment in the war and that no Iraqi troops possessed them put that claim into doubt. Finally, the Administration has repeatedly dodged the issue over the integrity of their evidence against the Ba'ath regime in regards to WMDs, even when a simple word or action could dismiss half of them. This is admittedly a cursory glance of a much larger issue, but clearly there is a problem. Some form of exaggeration, misdirection, or mistruth has been going on. US public opinion polls show the belief of this occuring. Foreign public opinion hasn't been helped by this, either.

But, many will dismiss all of the above. Some would say that it's all grasping at straws. Others still will say that it was all worth it in spite of any problems. Fine. Believe that the ends justify the means; just be prepared to live with the consequences of those means.

I think most of these things work both ways, they can be explained positively and negatively. I think Rat quite eloquently defined his position here, pretty clear what he is thinking here.