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Middle East

The Pulse: Iraq Reconsidered

In retrospect, was it a just invasion or not?

Every other month, CT will ask editors on our masthead, along with selected evangelical leaders, about current events within our movement and the broader culture—and then publish the best of their comments.

Q: Should the U.S. have gotten involved militarily in Iraq in 2003?

50% Yes

  • Martin Luther compares the warrior's craft with that of a surgeon cutting off a limb in order to save the body. Seen that way, the U.S. was right getting involved in Iraq.

  • I was in favor of military action. At the same time, I am appalled at our lack of adequate preparation for the occupation and change in government.

  • Given the conditions and the support for the cause in the country at the time, I think the President and the Congress made a reasonable move in entering Iraq.

  • It was universally believed that Saddam Hussein had been developing WMDs. Hussein was in breach of a series of U.N. resolutions and a threat to neighbors and the U.S. alike.

50% No

  • Going into Iraq had little to do with the war on terror. It had to do with protecting our oil interests in the Middle East.

  • Iraq was a distinctly weaker nation after the first Gulf War and the U.N.'s ensuing sanctions. Though Saddam resisted U.N. weapons inspectors, we possessed reliable information that it was highly unlikely he possessed nuclear weapons or biological weapons.

  • The great mistake behind it was to base the decision on a priori ideological presuppositions of neo-conservative advisors of the President.

  • More important than the inadequate or manipulated intelligence sources related to WMDs is the ongoing evidence that diplomatic resources had not been exhausted. The diplomatic outcome in North Korea is a case in point.

  • Bush and Cheney were using the 9/11 attack as a pretext for a war that was projected even before Bush took office.

  • It is poor stewardship of our resources, and we did not have a just cause, because we have not followed the spirit of international law.

Q. Knowing what we now know, is the Iraq war a just war?

58% No

  • Had every option for avoiding war been pursued thoroughly? Hardly.

  • Our response has been disproportionate to the threat Iraq represented. … Still, we have invaded Iraq and now have a moral responsibility to help rebuild the country.

  • The Iraq operation was clearly botched. Thus, the criteria for just war were not fulfilled. However, quitting Iraq would turn a flawed undertaking into outright evil.

  • This war fails almost all the generally recognized criteria for a just war.

  • There are no just wars.

  • Bush's comments now make his decision to go to war with Iraq before exhausting diplomatic options seem to be either a greenhorn's reaction to terrorism, a cowboy's action for vengeance, or a capitalist's thirst for oil.

42% Yes

  • This is a foolish question, because we can only act on what we believe to be the facts. The facts appeared to [show that the U.S. action was] on the side of justice.

  • Terrorism and the jihadist crusaders appear to be killing innocents in Allah's holy name. How can the traditionally Christian nations in the West respond without the hint of a holy cause?

  • It has been a just war, but an unjustly and poorly managed one.

  • The problems entailed in the occupation and the development of a pluralistic Iraqi democracy must not obscure the justice of the cause.

Contributors: Nigel M. de S. Cameron, J. Samuel Escobar, Chris Hall, Paul L. Maier, David McKenna, Dean Merrill, H. W. Norton, James Reapsome, Bruce L. Shelley, Uwe Siemon-Netto, Howard A. Snyder, Agnieszka Tennant, Elmer L. Towns, Ben Witherington.

Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today's coverage of Iraq is available on our site.

In September 2002, we asked several evangelical leaders what circumstances would make a pre-emptive strike on Iraq the moral option.

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