Liberating a people from authoritarian rule, Ain't War

So beyond the debate of whether or not the “war” is morally justified, how the U.S. could’ve handled foreign policy better, the media bias, whether or not anti-war protesters should look at the jubilation in downtown Baghdad and feel silly – why does the label of war necessarily have to apply to us handing Saddam’s forces their butts on a platter again?

Technically, two armies duked it out. However, it clearly wasn’t the whole of each nation battling against the other – and one army just about lived up to the old adage, “what if next time someone declared war, nobody showed up?” My history is far from spotless, but I don’t seem to remember an armed conflict to this scale where not only was there such an extent of damage done to the military structure of a nation with so little loss of innocent life, such a rapid cavalry advance, but the natives, of the opposing nation – not the lands they’d conquered, greeted the opposing troops with hugs and smiles.

What if the Civil War had actually been started only along the argument of freeing the slaves? (Which, as I was bummed to learn back in high school, it wasn’t.) Looking back it’s pretty easy for everyone to say they would’ve supported such a “war” today, of course, it’d be just and right and moral, but anyone with an understanding of American history knows that someone living at that time actually wouldn’t have. Even though the slaves weren’t exactly under authoritarian rule, they certainly fit the characteristics of a people under such a rule.

I’m not asking for a debate about the morality or justification of what’s happened over the last few weeks, but perhaps when the citizens of a country are clearly being oppressed by a authoritarian regime, and it’s not actually two whole nations battling (as the Iraqi people clearly aren’t opposed to our arrival, at least at this junction), whether or not we’re witnessing something unprecedented in history. If anyone can bring up precedents from recorded history, the Peloponnesian Wars to Vietnam, that would be great. What if all the “anti-war” folks are in the same sort of boat as those who would’ve opposed a war exclusively to liberate the slaves in the American South?

And hey, Bobby Mugabe – knock knock motherf------.

Crow much ?

What a complete pile of steaming horse shit.

As I said in another thread, sure, the victor gets to write history but isn’ t this a little too early ?

The US invaded / liberated Iraq for the reason all countries fight wars of aggression; its own self interests – in this case the alleged and contrived threat from WMD (sic) and through which the US government manufactured a reason to invade another country and did it outside the UN. I don’t see how that is disputable. And I supported the action with my eyes wide open to those facts.

But absolutely everything to do with humanitarian issues / ‘freedom’ / associated bullshit** is an incidental by-product of the pursuit of the US national self interest. Period.**

Morality, my arse.

Well, an interesting analogy indeed. I can’t wait to see what everyone else has to say about this one. Really though, they are two entirely different situations: AMERICAN problem vs. FOREIGN problem. I’m a moderate and won’t determine if I am supportive or unsupportive of this war until I have the luxury of hindsight :wink: (conjecture is for amateurs).

But as I’m sure you know, many Iraqis did not want to be “freed” and neither did many black slaves. But, as we all know NOW, the liberation of black slaves was more of a “perk” as opposed to a priority during the civil war, contrary to popular belief of the time. I often wonder what perks and priorities will come of this war in the years to com…

You really think that’s going to happen?

I misread parts of the OP and although still not entirely clear as to what might be therein, I think I’ll leave it for others to distil – apologies for not discerning the thrust.

That’s a good analogy: As the netherlands have shown, it is much cheaper to simply buy the freedom of the slaves and no war would have been necessary for that goal alone.
The whole “slave freeing” argument is as much smoke and mirrors as the “WoMD” one and because the presented issues aren’t the crucial factors, other viable alternatives to war weren’t explored.

A very clever observation, sivispacem. This shouldn’t be called a war, rather, it should go down in history as “The American Liberation of Iraq”. But I’m afraid I must object to your suggestion that we are witnessing something “unprecedented in history”. In fact the first Gulf War also involved the army of this same nation oppressed by the same authoritarian regime and should therefore now be known as “The American Liberation of Kuwait”. And Vietnam, as you already mentioned, was more a case of liberating the Vietnamese from the Communists, and thus clearly “The American Liberation of Vietnam”. Go even further back, and you find World War II, which also involved a nation governed by an evil dictator and thus necessarily without the full support of his people, hence “The American Liberation of Europe”. Further back still, we have “The American Liberation of the African-Americans”. So really there has never been a case in history when the U.S.A. actually engaged in a real war anywhere in the world. In fact, a large part of the known world owes its freedom to the United States. And when I say “owes”, I mean that literally, of course. These nations have a debt to pay, and that debt can only be paid by supporting the U.S. in its quest to spread the message of liberation to the rest of the world.

Guns, buncha people in camoflage-pattern uniforms and wearing helmets, shooting, planes bombing, artillery fire, casualties, armored vehicles, buildings with big holes in them…

Huh, looks like a war to me.

London, I think we’re straightened out now, I wasn’t making any claims about the inherent morality or lack thereof in our motivations for invading Iraq, that’s not the point at all.

With my slave analogy I’m attempting to propose that just like even at the time many slaves wouldn’t have “wanted” to be freed and not very many in the North would’ve supported a war solely for liberation, with good-ol’ hindsight we are able to look back and each and every one of us would say “well of course I support the freeing of the slaves in the South!” although at the time such an idea would have been met with just as much protest as this War.

My apologies for seeming to be sneaky pennylane, I wasn’t attempting to try and glorify American aggression. One of my points was that something like this has never happened before in history. The first Gulf War was us liberating a population from an invading army (we stopped short of Iraq), just like in WWI and II; Vietnam was us involved in a full blown war against the native population where we were fighting the natives to the last, destroying, pillaging, raping; and the Civil War was us involved in a war against the Confederacy, and because of the master-slave relationship we were fighting nearly all the masters and then happened to free the slaves in the process.

The one caveat to this never happening before would be of course Afghanistan, where we have the same sort of set-up as in Iraq: authoritarian rule, people happy to see us, etc.

I’m not looking to give the U.S. or Bush credit, we’re certainly acting in a pursuit of the U.S. national self interest – I’m looking to open up the idea that, perhaps completely by accident, the U.S. has originated a totally new form of conflict with no historical precedent.

And I’m completely serious about Mugabe’s days being numbered, if the tragedy depicted in “Black Hawk Down” hadn’t occurred there’s no telling what would’ve happened in Africa, and the success so far in Iraq may very well give new life to attempts to unseat more maniacal dictators. As for the Professor at Columbia who wished “a thousand Mogadishus” upon U.S. troops, if you’re really that damn adamant catch a plane over there, grab yourself an AK, and be on the front lines when the SEALs come for Mugagbe and his henchmen.


A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. If you’ve got an organized armed force invading a country with tanks, infantry, bombers, and other military forces I think we can safely say that this is a war. Just in case you’re wondering we were also at war in Viet-Nam, Korea, and the first Gulf War. Why don’t we ask the soldiers and civilians on either side whether or not they think of this as a war?


The specifics of war may change from time to time but it is still a war. Can you imagine someone saying “I don’t seem to remember an armed conflict to this scale were soldiers didn’t loot and rape as a matter of policy.”

You have to remember that there is a distict class system at work in Iraq. Those that are cheering us were the ones getting the short end of the stick. There’s a sizable chunk of the population that are thrilled to see us. There’s still plenty who don’t welcome us though.


Ain’t gonna happen like that; no way, not a chance. Zimbabwe is a Commonwealth nation, of which two prominent members are, ahem, the United Kingdom and Australia. Have you heard any official of either of those members, or any other member, asking the US to invade Zimbabwe, on their behalf? I didn’t think so. Check the list of other Commonwealth nations. You think the UK could exert enough leverage to get a majority of members to authorize a US- or British-led invasion? I seriously doubt it.

In any event, nobody in the US or British administrations is likely to shed more than a few tears for the plight of Zimbabwe. Zim is no serious threat to any other country; furthermore, coal’s pretty much the only natural resource they’ve got and we just don’t need it that bad.

But this isn’t about national self-interest, or any of that Old Europe stuff! Our Leader has charted a bold new course (“bold” is putting it mildly…). We will go forth and liberate the world, secure in the knowledge that, in thier heart of hearts, they are all Amway distributors and Starbucks entrepreneurs!

That’s why we don’t worry about what course democracy will take in Iraq, we already know! People just natcherly want to be just like us, unless led astray by cruel dictators and stuff. Its just like speaking English to them: say it loud enough and slowly enough, and they’ll catch on.

Now, admittedly, it didn’t take so good in Haiti, but, hell, they ain’t got nothin’! How the hell can you expect to build democracy without a vigorous captilalist society? How can you expect people to have the proper reverence for property rights if nobody’s got any property?

So, just step over here, Iraq, and I’ll have Aunt Bea slice you off a big ol’ helpin’ of American Pie! MMmmmmmm! Mighty fine!

Marc, certainly by any technical sort of definition this is a war, not the point. What I’m trying to dig at is that in the rest of history “war” has been defined as two whole states actually engaging in conflict, which doesn’t seem to be what we have going down in Iraq. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, sure it could be a duck – but who say’s it’s not a guy in a duck suit?

I’m not saying just because there’s not rape and pillaging it’s suddenly not a war, but maybe those are just two side effects of this not being a war. This not being a war would be a result more of the fact that an ineffective authoritarian nation can’t actually engage in real war as it’s been known throughout history – and that this **isn’t war as we’ve known it.

And if those cheering us were the ones getting the short end of the stick, who the hell wasn’t getting the short end of the stick? The murderous bastards who were in cahoots with Saddam, and who’re now making like the proverbial rats? Under Saddam my impression was that generally everyone was on the receiving end of the shaft, or at least the vast, vast majority.

Okay it’s probably wishful thinking that Mubage is going to catch and bullets with the bridge of his nose anytime soon, but hey, could happen. Maybe the U.S. will actually get the old “overthrow the maniacal dictator and install democracy” trick right for once.

Elucidator, uummmm rrriiiigggghhhtttt, okay that’s all well and good, but my question has jacksquat to do with motivation or any sort of American hegemony. I’m asking about the deeper character of the war, maybe go back and reread the original OP?

I don’t think your basic assumption about history is clear. For example, the nobles of Genoa went to war with the nobles of Venice. The armies were not derived from the whole population, but constituted a distinct social class, and the use of mercenaries was common. A warring state did not represent the population – it was an activity between elites for the elites. Much of Machiavelli’s writings are about the intricacies of such elitist politics.

Tribes raided tribes in North America and Africa. The Mongols were not fighting for a “state”, they were more akin to a vast gang. These are counter-examples to your idea of war as a conflict between states.

Your idea of war in the “rest of history” seems pretty centred in the 20th century, with the exception of martial nations such as Rome, and the Spartans. War has been much more complex, historically, than you imply.

As far as “witnessing something unprecedented in history”, I think you could look to Bill Clinton’s choice to get involved in Kosovo.

Imagine going to war in a land with: no natural resources of any worth to exploit, no political influence on the world stage, no real support from your enemies (i.e. not a proxy war), no nuclear weapons, no sponsorship of foreign terrorism. In fact it had: difficult geography that favored the defenders with forests and hills, intermixed ethnic groups of many types, and dubious morals on every side of the conflict. It could easily have been a complete failure, and may still turn out to be so. Yet, after years of watching the horror of so-called ethnic cleansing, the USA got involved.

Depending on which town they were in, the troops were greeted with hugs and flowers. Can you name the benefits that the United States gained from this war, aside from the politically useless satisfaction of knowing that Milosovec will die in jail? If there was a turning point in the history of war, it might be Kosovo.

Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but the war was started by the South, who wanted to KEEP slaves.


Go! To History 101!!! STAT!!!

Franticmad, excellent points, thanks! My first premise about this being unpredicted in history was definitely incorrect – so I’ll adjust it to history since the whole world has been organized into nation-states (as is the case today), simplifies things a great deal. So besides ancient tribes shootin’ and lootin’, and the more intricate, political wars of the elites that you mentioned (which I’m discounting, for the sake of an argument in modern times), you brought up another salient example.

Kosovo was maybe the precursor to the new sort of conflict I’m suggesting might be being born, but separating it from Iraq would be the fact that there were “intermixed ethnic groups of many types,” who were not, in fact, united under one actual government, as was the case in Iraq.

But regardless I certainly did overlook Kosovo as perhaps outdating Afghanistan or Iraq, so was Kosovo the first example of this neo-war? I dunno, that’s why I started the thread – aren’t we all here to stamp out ignorance and promote knowledge?

And before anyone else jumps on Guinastasia’s inane bandwagon, my analogy the antebellum South has nothing to do with who started the conflict first, and I’m in no way trying to promote American values, policy or leadership. This is purely a theoretical debate, so unless you have something to offer in that light, please keep your head up your sphincter and don’t waste our time.


I’d classify the Crusades as a series of wars. Of course the crusaders didn’t actually have the whole of their state involved in the fighting or even supporting it. For a large chunk of history it has been a tiny percentage of the population involved in fighting and directly supporting the war effort. Even in the Roman Empire many wars were more the result of ambitious individuals then any government policy. Ceasar didn’t ask for permission when he ambushed the Franks. Or did he ambush someone else I forget.


It is a war. It might be a bit different then other wars but that doesn’t change what it is.


Marc, I’m guessing you missed my post right before yours about refining the thread to recent history, and basically ignoring most historical precedent, as per the Crusades, Romans, and Caesar. However, I’m still somewhat sticking by ancient wars that were clearly two whole, sovereign nation states engaged in conflict – but just because I’m stubborn.

Okay, so I don’t mean to be trying to call this a “peace-love-happy-fest” and not a war, that’s not what I’m trying to tease out. Something seems damn screwy about this war, in that the other army, an army of a sovereign nation, basically turned tail or gave up, and in the reaction of the citizens in said sovereign nation – “Hey ya’ll!! We just lost a war!! Really, really badly!! Kick the statues and light the posters, lets celebrate!!” Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq… there’s something new to the phenomenon, this ain’t yo great-great-grand(add or subtract greats/grand depending on age)mamma’s war.

I dunno what it is. Something damn funky is going on.

I agree. A rose by any other name doth smell as sweet. Lets not get PC so soon. A bunch of people shoot at another bunch of people who shoot back is called war.