During a recent Republican presidential debate, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took Texas Congressman Ron Paul to task for calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Huckabee suggested that it was irrelevant whether the United States should have invaded Iraq. The point, he stated, was that because the invasion had “broken” Iraq, the United States had the obligation to remain and fix it. As Huckabee put it, “We bought it because we broke it.”
Huckabee is wrong on several counts, and his reasoning only goes to show how far American conservatives have fallen in terms of conscience and morality.
Let’s assume that when Huckabee was a teenager, he broke into his local hardware store with the intent of stealing supplies to give to the poor. Let’s say that as he reached for the items, some of them fell to the floor and broke.
When the police arrived, would Huckabee have had the right to remain in the store to fix the items he had broken? Could he have told the police that this is what his mother taught him when he was a little boy? Of course not. The police would have taken him into custody and removed him from the store. While he would have been obligated to reimburse the store owner for the broken items, Huckabee would not have had any right, legal or moral, to remain in the store to fix them.
Thus, Huckabee is wrong to suggest that the justification for invading Iraq is irrelevant. Given that the United States had no right, legal or moral, for invading and occupying Iraq, it has no right to remain there to fix anything it has broken. The United States is in no different position, legally and morally speaking, than the burglar who has broken the items in the hardware store. After all, let’s not forget that in the Iraq War, the United States is the aggressor and occupying power.
Unfortunately, as Huckabee well knows, the invasion of Iraq did not simply involve the breaking of houses, automobiles, office buildings, museums, and other inanimate objects. It also involved the killing of Iraqi people — in fact, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, a fact that exposes the callous and immoral way that Huckabee and so many other pro-war conservatives view the Iraqi people.
From the very start, everyone knew that the invasion of Iraq would involve much more than the breaking of inanimate objects or simply capturing Saddam Hussein. It would also involve the killing of Iraqi people — many, many Iraqi people. That’s why some U.S. soldiers were consulting with military chaplains prior to deployment. They wanted to know whether killing Iraqi citizens was consistent with God’s laws. They were right to be concerned, for God does not say “Thou shalt not kill unless the killing is done in the pursuit of democracy, stability, regime change, or other political goals.” He says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Where was the morality in the killing of even one single Iraqi citizen in the process of ousting Saddam Hussein from power and replacing him with a new regime? Huckabee and other pro-war conservatives take the position that the deaths of Iraqis will be worth it if certain political goals are ultimately achieved — e.g., democracy, the installation of a pro-American regime in Iraq, or stability in the Middle East. But every American needs to ask himself the following question: Is it moral to kill even one person, much less hundreds of thousands, for the sake of such political goals?
Neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States and no Iraqi citizen or government official was part of the 9/11 attacks. Thus, at the center of all this discussion and debate on whether the United States should remain in Iraq is one critical point: Americans had no right, moral or legal, to invade and occupy Iraq and kill even one Iraqi. They still don’t.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org).