Updated: May 16
Originally published in 2016. Authored by Jay Harris.
Views provided by George Galloway, Former MP, and Oliver Kamm, Journalist.
Was the Iraq War justified?
In March 2003, a United States-led coalition began a bombing campaign throughout Iraq, overwhelming Iraqi forces which led to the demise and collapse of the Ba’athist government and the capture of President Saddam Hussein in December 2003 as part of Operation Red Dawn, before his execution three years later. President George W. Bush’s main hypothesis for war was the assertion that the Iraqi government held weapons of mass destruction that had the capability of being used on their own civilians, and that Saddam Hussein posed a legitimate threat to the United States and their allies’ security. However, opponents of the war suggest otherwise, believing that there was a lack of evidence to suggest that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Critics also suggest that, even if the Ba’athist government did have these weapons, it would be unlikely that they would be used to target United States territory due to the repercussions they would face.
Herein we present opposing views from former MP for Bradford West George Galloway and columnist for The Times, Oliver Kamm:
The Iraq war was not justified
The war didn’t work; Iraq remains an autocratic theocracy with religious fundamentalists remaining in control, whether it’s Sunni or Shia Muslims. The belief that Iraq became a democracy after the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein is a myth.
After the war, the UK government stated that Iraq was “dishonestly pretending” to have weapons of mass destruction. However, the Ba’athist government never claimed to have these weapons, which turned out to be true, showing that our own government lied, in contrast to the Iraqi government.
Blair is responsible for the deaths of a million people and ‘sending fanatic extremism cascading around the world’, due to the anger and radicalisation caused by an escalation in violence orchestrated by the West.
The war and the decisions directly made by the US and UK governments to illegally invade and occupy Iraq helped give rise to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.
The Iraq war was justified
Opinion polls in the occupation’s early months suggests that the Western invasion of Iraq was a popular decision amongst Iraqis, as they were pleased to see the back of Hussein. Iraqis were therefore between tolerant and appreciative to have occupational forces by their sides as a way to maintain stability.
There was a large increase in dissatisfaction with the Ba’athist government amongst alleged Iraqi ‘fence-sitters’ as the war continued. It is estimated that only 5000 Iraq resistance fighters were present during mid-to-late 2003, in comparison to approximately 20,000 a year later. Western intervention therefore impassioned numerous Iraqis to take control of their country and move away from tyranny.
Iraq would have seen a far greater catastrophe had Saddam Hussein not been captured. Saddam Hussein’s son, Qusay Hussein, who was appointed his father’s heir apparent in 2000, would have continued the severe oppression imposed by his father. One way or another, the West had an obligation to show solidarity with the Iraqi people by intervening to prevent hereditary dictatorship.