Lessons from the Iraq War

November 01, 2004

Coalition members Ted Carpenter, Robert Higgs, Charles Pena, and Christopher Preble participated in a day-long conference at the Cato Institute discussing the Iraq War, and the lessons of the war for U.S. foreign policy.

Was the Iraq War a just war or just a war? There is no unanimity. Many conservatives may have had doubts about the war, but few voiced their objections. The National Review and the Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, vigorously supported it. Liberals such as Howard Dean and Andrew Cockburn opposed the war, whereas liberal pundits Thomas Friedman and Christopher Hitchens supported it. These same differences of opinion affected libertarians. This conference engaged advocates of liberty in a discussion of the Iraq War to understand its implications for future foreign policy actions.

Panel 1 - Reflections on the Iraq War, considered the original rationale for waging war against Iraq. More than a year after deposing Hussein, no WMD have been found in Iraq, and evidence of a collaborative relationship with al Qaeda is circumstantial and tenuous. Were the uncertainties surrounding Iraq’s intentions and capabilities sufficiently grave as to warrant a preventive war? In the post-9/11 world, did the nature of the threat posed by radical Islam require that the United States take action against Iraq that might have been unjustified prior to 9/11? Speakers included: Deroy Murdock, National Review Online; John Mueller, Ohio State University; James Robbins, National Defense University; and Charles V. Peña of the Cato Institute.

Panel 2 asked "Has the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq Advanced America's Interests in the Middle East?" President Bush has argued that the Iraq War has made America more secure. Proponents of preventive war point to Libya's decision to give up its WMD program as evidence to support the president's contention. But what effect has the Iraq War had on other threats, such as the weapons programs in North Korea and Iran? How has U.S. military action in Iraq diminished the terrorist threat posed by al Qaeda and other terrorist groups? How have the war and subsequent occupation affected liberty here in America? And will the war in Iraq help promote liberal democracy in the Middle East? Speakers included Kamal Nawash, Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism; Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland and the Brookings Institution; Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation; and Patrick Basham of the Cato Institute.

In a special luncheon address, Nick Gillespie, Editor in Chief of Reason magazine explained “Why Libertarians Should Debate the War in Iraq.”

The third and final panel considered "The Principles Guiding Military Intervention." When is U.S. military intervention justified in a complex and dangerous world? Is military intervention warranted only in response to an attack or an imminent threat or does the United States have a responsibility to spread freedom to those oppressed by tyranny and dictatorship, even when such regimes pose no direct threat to the United States? Wouldn't a more democratic world be better for U.S. security? What is the historical record? Edward Hudgins, The Objectivist Center; Robert Higgs, Independent Institute; Ronald Bailey, Reason; and Christopher Preble, Cato Institute considered these and other questions.

The event was held on Friday, October 22, 2004 at the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.

For more information, visit: http://www.cato.org/events/041022conf.html

Posted by coalition at November 1, 2004 01:25 PM

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