Sunday, November 29, 2009

Iraq debate round 3


Tyler’s entire case rests on a few patently illogical and amazingly naïve assumptions. It would be wonderful to assume that what happened in Anbar province is going happen everywhere, but it’s just not real world. Even if it were, Tyler’s internal logic doesn’t show how this result would have justified our war, since neither Iraq’s government nor its civilians had anything to do with 9/11. Any theoretical reduction in terrorism relies upon believing in a threat for which there is neither proof nor precedent. It would be wonderful to believe that Iraq will be just like Japan in 20 years, and that the entire Middle East would follow suit, but we simply don’t see democracy spreading from Palestine, Israel, or Iran in any appreciable way. If all a country needed for stability were democracy, what is wrong with Palestine, Iran, and Afghanistan? If democracy wasn’t spreading before, why should we trust that it will happen now? Perhaps it’s just a bit overly-optimistic to believe that democracy alone will be enough? Finally, and most offensively, Tyler claims that waging a war to prevent Saddam from disrupting the oil supply was a good idea because Greenspan said it would be. Even if Greenspan were right, his plan didn’t work. Or was I the only schmo paying $4 for a gallon of gas last year? More importantly, the question still remains about how many barrels of oil are equal to one American troop. Did we at least get fair market value for them? All of Tyler’s benefits are specifically refuted by the continuing problems in the status quo. We still have Al Qaeda and attempted terrorist attacks, we still have conflicts with democratic countries, and we still have oil instability.

And so in summary, I give you the actual benefits of the war in Iraq. We toppled the government of maybe the 5th worst dictator in the world, even though he was already pretty well prevented from doing any real harm. We killed some of the troops that Al Qaeda sent to fight against us in Iraq. Finally, now that we’ve exposed the corruption and perfected the U.N., we’re only a baby step away from World Peace.

All of these benefits came at the cost of 3,477 American troops, 31,571 wounded, rampant untreated PTSD, the highest suicide rate among our troops ever recorded, almost a trillion dollars, tens of thousands of dead Iraqis, and chaos in the Middle East that led to an ascendant Iran and Hamas.

Is oil stability really worth sending our troops to die? I believe that our troops deserve better than to be sent on foolish mission trips for democracy. Whether out of incompetence, irrationality, or naïve optimism, George W. Bush sent our troops into a country that had no WMDs (that we captured, at least) and that posed extremely little, if any threat to Americans. Whether we’ve crippled Al Qaeda by fighting them in Iraq is something that only time will prove. What we do know, however, is that Al Qaeda was able to fight us by hiring unemployed Iraqis, angering local partisans, and inciting a civil war in Iraq that made our job harder and exposed our troops to unnecessary dangers; we gave Al Qaeda every advantage possible by fighting them in Iraq. We also know that Al Qaeda is still strong enough to keep Usama Bin Laden safe, carry out attacks in Europe, and attempt further attacks on America. On 9/11, 2,671 Americans died. In the war in Iraq, 3,477 Americans have died. All of these deaths are tragedies. All of these deaths were preventable. If we are to trust the evidence, very few, if any of these deaths has made any of us at all safer. If you believe that Iraq posed a threat to American security, you believe it on faith alone, since no evidence has ever surfaced to convince you otherwise. I urge you all to agree with me that the war in Iraq has cost us far more than it has been worth.


Daine set the parameters for this debate in his first speech; however, he has repeatedly gone off topic. This debate is to be judged by a cost-benefit analysis of the war. As such, his arguments about our assumptions going in are completely irrelevant. We are debating how the war has influenced our country, whether for better or worse.

Simply put, there are 2 reasons, each strong enough on its own, to justify a the Iraq war based on a cost-benefit analysis.

Daine conceded that Alan Greenspan, the United States’ most respected economist, has argued that the war was necessary to secure our oil supply. Daine finally addressed this in his rebuttal after previously conceding it. His argument; however, actually makes my position stronger.

Our $4 per gallon gasoline last year was the result of India and China increasing demand, as the Middle East (Iraq included) was pumping out oil as fast as it could. Imagine if Saddam had decided to stick it to the world by cutting off his oil for a month or two. We could have faced much higher prices. We are still feeling the ripple effects from $4. Any higher and we could have faced dire consequences. Greenspan feared this and tells us the invasion was imperative for this reason.

Next, we shifted the battlefield from Afghanistan to Iraq. Al Qaeda sent a number of lieutenants to Iraq. Zarqawi is a prime example as he fought in Afghanistan against us and then moved to Iraq after the Taliban was overthrown. There are a number who were like him. In moving the battlefield to the deserts of Iraq, we found a better battlefield for our troops to fight Al Qaeda. Zarqawi could have hidden forever in Afghanistan (like Bin Laden has), and killed many of our soldiers. The shift to Iraq’s deserts and stability-minded populace made him vulnerable. The same has been true for a number of Al Qaeda operatives. Bin Laden shifted his focus to Iraq and repeatedly called it a must-win. There we were able to fight and we have won. (If you buy his Anbar comment, read a newspaper dated later than 2007--we’ve won the country.)

The move to Iraq caused Al Qaeda to lose its funding and recruiting pool. Al Qaeda relies upon money and recruitment from the Arab world. Prior to 2006, the Arab world was happy to quietly provide support. However, Al Qaeda became desperate and tried to start a civil war by attacking mosques. This alienated the Arab world and has limited Al Qaeda’s funding and recruitment opportunities.

An organization like Al Qaeda would always have been able to regroup since guerrilla operations only require popular support and funding to be successful. When they alienated the Arabs, they signaled their own downfall. This never would have happened had the war stayed in Afghanistan. We would have been perpetually fighting a guerrilla force with regular funding and recruits arriving from the Middle East. This sounds remarkably similar to the Russians in Afghanistan and our involvement in Vietnam. It was a no-win situation.

The invasion of Iraq moved the battlefield and showed Arab nations the costs of Al Qaeda. This has saved large numbers of American lives going into the future, and allowed an indefinite war in Afghanistan to be won.

I don’t care much for the politics of our invasion, but I do know that the United States is better off for the above reasons. We have saved lives by changing the battlefield and our economy by securing the oil supply. I urge you to vote accordingly.

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