8.7.3        Invasion as a Moral Duty to Help Iraq’s Population

 (This is a current extract from the Patterns of Power Repository.  An archived copy of this page is held at http://www.patternsofpower.org/edition02/873.htm)

Iraq's regime was indisputably breaching the human rights of large sectors of its population (8.6.1).  It was natural for the rest of the world to be concerned, and to be sympathetic towards the victims, but there was no reason to assume that Saddam Hussein would be susceptible to external influence.  In the Moral Dimension of power, the most relevant question was whether people in the stakeholder countries would see an invasion as a ‘just war’ ( – and support it accordingly.

Both American and British leaders highlighted Saddam’s human rights abuses to persuade their own populations that there was “just cause” for an invasion (8.4.4 and 8.5.2), but in doing so they merely succeeded in heightening ethnic tension across the world:

·      Non-Muslims became confused about where to direct their anger and concern:

      Was Saddam in some way connected to Islamism and Al-Qaeda terrorism?

      Should they distrust Islam in its totality as a religion?

·      Muslims became equally confused.  Some were persuaded that the “war on terrorism”, and in particular the invasion of Iraq, formed a war against Islam – and that a jihad was the appropriate response. 

Both George W. Bush and Tony Blair increased this confusion instead of trying to dispel it.  Although regime change was their principal objective, both leaders were in danger of fuelling large-scale ethnic conflict ( in their attempts to whip up support for the invasion.

Invasion per se couldn’t resolve human rights problems.  Although decapitating the regime might be seen as a necessary first step, it would be necessary to achieve a change in cultural attitudes and to construct robust institutions, especially the law, if human rights were to be granted and enforced.  Such changes take a long time, and are only made more difficult by the confusion resulting from a war.

Both Bush and Blair declared themselves to be Christians but, on 21 February 2003, Christian leaders condemned the plan to invade Iraq: the World Council of Churches stated that “War against Iraq would be immoral, unwise, and in breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter".[1]

© PatternsofPower.org, 2014

[1] The Worldwide Religious News website published an AP article entitled World Council of Churches calls Iraq war 'immoral and unwise'; it was dated 21 February 2003 and was available in April 2014 at http://wwrn.org/articles/223/?&place=eu&section=general.