Bush's Desolate Imperium, Copyright © Bernard Chazelle, Princeton, December 2003

A JUST WAR?   [Cont'd]

Not well. I have covered some of this ground already; for example, the war violated international law and it was anything but a solution of last resort. Just war theory also asks: Were the intentions right? Not an easy question. Hell is, as we know, paved with good intentions; add to this my rescuer-robber example, and it is easy to reply: Who cares? While imputing good intentions to the likes of Rumsfeld or Cheney would be the height of naivete (the latter being, coincidentally, the former CEO of Halliburton, the lucky beneficiary of a no-bid engineering contract in Iraq), others in the Bush entourage may have been motivated by a genuine desire to help the Middle East break out of its cycle of violence and despair. Before falling into rapture over their purity of heart, however, one must ask: How can well-intentioned people lie with abandon, coddle dictators, and display such shocking indifference toward the sort of horrors seen in Africa?

A just war requires both a just cause and a reasonable chance of success. Since the "causes" stated by the administration changed so often, one must be ready, for the sake of argument, to give Bush the benefit of the doubt and assume that the cause was bringing civil democracy to Iraq. Indeed, since the WMD threat was a farce, any other possible cause, say, Friedman's iron-fisted junta, can be dismissed peremptorily as unjust. The problem is that transforming Iraq into a civil democracy is, as Nicholas Kristof puts it [35], nothing but a pipe dream. I went over the reasons already: credibility, history, economic interests, humiliation, and a giant cultural wall of incomprehension.


[35] Iraqi Democracy Is a Pipe Dream, by Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, October 19, 2002.