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US Invasion of Iraq and Its Ethical Aspects Essay

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Updated: Jul 11th, 2020


Just-war theory has been widely used to establish the moral aspects associated with war (Antic, 2003). As well, the theory is used to analyze the hypocrisies and lies made by different leaders (Antic, 2003). Hurka (2005) indicates that “Iraq continues to fight an insurgency characterized by civil armed struggle” (p. 37). Experts have argued that the US-led forces attacked the nation without tabling adequate ethical justifications. The invasion of this nation is something that cannot be treated as an act of self-defense. As well, the invasion was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) member states (Cordesman, 2003).

Many ethicists, therefore, believe that the invasion was a form of aggression. This discussion uses various moral theories to describe the diverse views held by different groups regarding the ethicality of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Analyzing the Ethical Aspects: Different Points of View

The United States

Many analysts have argued that the events of September 11 catalyzed the US-led invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan (Hurka, 2005). Many leaders, including President Bush, believed strongly that the US was threatened by the increasing wave of terrorism (Dawoody, 2007). As well, the common opinion in the United States was that Iraq continued to equip terrorists with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). After September 11, many Americans argued that the presence of repressive regimes remained a major threat to the nation’s welfare. Many leaders and citizens cited North Korea and Iraq as examples.

The issue of global terrorism is widely used by many Americans to explain why the invasion and occupation of this nation were ethical (Dawoody, 2007). The people believe strongly that some nations such as Iraq were funding terrorism in different corners of the world. Dawoody (2007) indicates that the invasion was “fueled by the country’s vulnerability to terrorism and tendencies of unilateralism in its foreign policy” (p. 68). Cordesman (2003) also argues that “the present laws of war favor governments that fight wars with uniformed soldiers or use conventional means rather than weapons of mass destruction” (p. 3).

As well, some moralists in the United States have indicated clearly that the invasion was an act of war. Such moralists constantly use the concept of morality to re-examine this ethical issue. Morality “focuses on what people value or believe is right or wrong” (Dawoody, 2007, p. 69). The concept guides people to differentiate bad actions from good ones. The ultimate goal of morality is to ensure every action is right and supports the needs of the greatest majority (Carlson, 2008). Hurka (2005) argues that “just war theory states that an act in war is justified only if the damage it causes is not excessive” (p. 34). This fact explains why Iraq has been marred by unrest and insurgency especially after the illegal invasion.


The Bush Administration argued that Saddam Hussein’s government was linked to Al Qaeda and global terrorism. With this argument, the US chose to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein’s government. Although this move might have aroused great sensation in the country, the agreeable fact was that it was unethical. Many Iraqis today still believe that their lives have been affected negatively especially after the US-led forces invaded their country (Dawoody, 2007). The evidence presented by the US before the invasion was also inadequate. This fact explains why the attack of Iraq has remained a major ethical and legal issue among many Iraqi scholars and citizens.

The US also used the idea of humanitarian intervention to attack the nation (Cordesman, 2003). Experts in international matters strongly believe that similar forms of intervention are usually implicit (Himalakis, 2009). Although the existing regime in Iraq was oppressive, many ethicists argue that the situation has worsened after the US-led forces left the country (Himalakis, 2009). These issues explain why many Iraqis treat the invasion as something unacceptable.

The International Community

Many scholars and international groups have argued that the invasion of Iraq was illegal and unnecessary (Cordesman, 2003). This is the case because “the war principle of proportionality requires the moral outcomes of an invasion to be closely linked to the obvious consequences” (Himalakis, 2009, p. 13). Although the US administration wanted to deal with terrorism and oppression, the invasion harmed more Iraqis instead of liberating them. This single fact explains why many international groups still believe that the invasion was unethical.

Religious groups and global leaders have used various ethical theories to analyze this issue. For instance, the utilitarianism theory has been widely embraced because of its ability to promote ethical and moral decisions. This philosophical model argues that “actions should be deemed right if they promote happiness for the largest number of people” (Dawoody, 2007, p. 69). Actions should be guided by utilitarianism to promote happiness and peace for all (Carlson, 2008). The invasion of this nation, therefore, produced “the opposite of happiness to the greatest number of citizens” (Himalakis, 2009, p. 22).

Terrorism remains a critical issue in the region. Many ethicists have argued that the US should not have invaded the country. The invasion has led to new problems that continue to affect the welfare of more people in Iraq.

Impacts of the Invasion of International Relations and Ethics

The decision to invade Iraq is something that has transformed international relations (Carlson, 2008). Many global leaders have argued that the US was focusing on its superiority and global hegemony to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime. By so doing, the country was “promoting the concept of energy acquisition” (Carlson, 2008, p. 628). Some leaders have accused the US of using the invasion as a pretext to acquire free crude oil from the country (Carlson, 2008). The global community has continued to use various ethical theories to describe and analyze the inappropriateness of this attack.

Some of the widely used models are deontological ethics. Such ethical guidelines govern what should be treated as wrong or right. For instance, deontological models propose that “human beings must do good always” (Antic, 2003, p. 102). The model indicates that humans have a wide range of responsibilities and obligations to those around them. These include government officials, workmates, parents, neighbors, and children (Carlson, 2008). This argument explains why the US government failed to consider the needs of the greatest number of Iraqi citizens.

The global community believes that the martial character of the Americans is a disturbing issue that must be addressed (Himalakis, 2009). The invasion of Iraq was something against the concept of conventionalism. Himalakis (2009) defines “conventionalism as a philosophical thought focusing on principles grounded on the agreements made by the greatest number of people in a given society” (p. 19). This means that the external reality should not be used to dictate the appropriate action. The decision to invade Iraq was, therefore, something against this moral concept.

Care ethics has also been widely used to dictate how decisions are made. The concept recognizes the power of the will towards making various ethical decisions. This means that the intellect should not take center-stage whenever making various decisions (Cordesman, 2003). The invasion of Iraq is something that is against the care ethics concept. The security problems facing many Iraqis can be used to justify this argument. Iraq is presently characterized by postwar chaos and unrest. As well, terrorism remains a major challenge in the region and beyond. Terrorism also threatens the welfare of developed economies such as the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.

From an ethical perspective, the actions undertaken by the US and its allies were inappropriate and unethical. The United States ignored the concept of conventionalism and chose to invade Iraq without offering a concrete reason (Antic, 2003). The act failed to solve the challenges encountered in the country and instead led to numerous security concerns.


In conclusion, many people across the globe believe that the martial character associated with the United States is unethical. The invasion of Iraq was something catalyzed by the country’s militarism and muscular unilateralism. This defensive act has been described by many ethicists as aggression. The invasion of Iraq should, therefore, be treated as an act of war against humanity (Hurka, 2005). That being the case, appropriate measures should be undertaken to prevent similar malpractices and decisions in the future.

Reference List

Antic, M. (2003). Iraq War (2003): Was it Morally Justified. Politicka, 1(1), 89-113. Web.

Carlson, J. (2008). The Morality, Politics, and Irony of War: Recovering Reinhold Niebuhr’s Ethical Realism. Journal of Religious Ethics, 36(4), 619-651. Web.

Cordesman, A. (2003). The Evolving Ethical, Moral, and Legal Dilemmas of the Iraq War. CSIS, 1(1), 1-8. Web.

Dawoody, A. (2007). Examining the Preemptive War on Iraq: An Ethical Response to Issues of War and Nonviolence. Public Integrity, 9(1), 63-77. Web.

Himalakis, Y. (2009). The ‘‘War on Terror’’ and the Military-Archaeology Complex: Iraq, Ethics, and Neo-Colonialism. Archaeologies: Journal of World Archeological Congress, 1(1), 1-27. Web.

Hurka, T. (2005). Proportionality in the Morality of War. Philosophy and Public Affairs, 33(1), 34-66. Web.

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