The War in Iraq was not worthwhile, the Society decides.

Weekly Debates

The Society convened on January 19 for the second debate of the semester to examine the question Resolved: The war in Iraq was a worthwhile endeavor.

Mr. Warren Wilson and Ms. Emily Siegler, making her induction, spoke on the affirmation.  Mr. David Edgar and Ms. Anais Carmona, making her induction, spoke on the negation.

Ms. Siegler began the evening by painting a picture of the terrible atrocities committed under Saddam Hussein, reminding the Society to examine the issues from a utilitarian viewpoint. While conceding that there were no weapons of mass destruction, she argued the United States’ real goal was to create a sovereign, stable state–and in that matter, we were successful. She concluded that the war was worthwhile because we preemptively stopped the creation of WMDs that would have occurred Hussein’s reign of terror and created a stable state. Ms. Carmona then reminded the Society that both of the US’s purported reasons for invasion-Hussein’s ties to Al Queda and the existence of WMDs-both proved to be untrue. She argues the US did not make itself safer from terrorists, did not create a stable democracy in Iraq, and did not increase our respectability in the international community. She reminded that the debate is not that Hussein was a bad ruler, but that the war was worthwhile. Since the US hurt the Iraqi citizens and our own country, by utilitarian standards, the war was not worthwhile. Mr. Wilson asked the society to truly listen to what was being said, not to be blinded by preconceived notions and biases. He argued that Hussein was a genocidal dictator and regardless of how poorly we may have handled some issues, Hussein would have done worse. He concluded that the lower violence rates and higher stability of the police forces show the good we have done, and thus that the war was worthwhile. Mr. Edgar told the story of a freshman walking in a blizzard from Darnall to Leo’s on a Friday night, only to find that there is no Late Night on Fridays, then trudging to Lau to find books for his Contemporary Terrorist class, only to learn they were not in the stacks. Using this as an analogy for the War in Iraq, he argued the US was uninformed and ill-prepared, expending resources and energy only to come back empty-handed.

Mr. Taft began the floor speeches by asking: do we, the US, have a right to police the world? Mr. Arber responded that no, we do not have that right. During the war we imposed our beliefs and even more, were unsuccessful, mismanaging issues we simply failed to understand, hurting the Iraqi citizens in the process. Brett Perry (SFS ’15) argued that at least we made progress and our military is finally equipped to fight a 21st century war; to which Mr. Monod responded that the “we learned lessons because we screwed up” argument is allowing for mistakes that cost not only money, but human lives. Ms. Revier argued if debt is the price of ending genocide, it is worth it. She concluded she would stand on the negation if someone could prove the Iraqi citizens aren’t better off now. President Marsh then responded that while they are better off now by our Western ideals, by observing the patterns of history, we can see that this imposed progress will not last. Ms. Green added that we have been attaching some type of moral significance to the way one died that does not exist; a life lost is a life lost. We cannot say that the worth of the possible lives saved is greater than the worth of all the lives lost. Mr. Dulik presented a “choose your own adventure,” offering the Society three reasonings-humanitarianism, geopolitics, and the presence of Al Queda in Iraq-all of which, he argued, lead to the affirmation. Mr. Medina added that the rights of humanity should be extended to all and he was proud of America for invading Iraq to do that. Mr. Askonas argued we are blinding ourselves to the injustices we perpetrated by covering them under “noble” motives. From working in the State Department, he said Iraq is unstable. Mr Manchester reminded the Society of the history leading up to the war and, using the CIA blowback reports, argued that the United States has been looking for a situation to take Hussein out since our attempt to make him a puppet leader. We acted for ourselves, not human rights or WMDs, as proven by our lack of intervention in other countries that do have WMDs or violate their citizen’s rights.

Mr. Edgar then argued we instituted a Hobbesian state of nature: “We killed a stable country and left what will become anarchy.” Mr. Wilson then responded that Iraqi democracy is simply different from American democracy and so far, Iraq is stable with an emerging national identity. Ms. Carmona concluded we achieved nothing and common wisdom will lead to the negation. Ms. Siegler began, “You know what I like more than shoes? Justice.” She argued that the war was worthwhile in the short-run and, using the example of El Salvador, we can bring lasting justice and democracy to a country.

The best speakers of the evening as selected by the keynoters were Mr. Stephano Medina and Mr. Evan Monod.

The Society voted 18-5-40 to negate the resolution.

The Society inducted Ms. Carmona and Ms. Siegler.  Huzzah!


Emily R. Coccia

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