The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran

Summary: There can be a large gap between perceived fairness and ultimate safety. Liberals seem to prefer the moral value of the former, while conservatives value the comfort in the latter.

Liberals on Iraq

Many liberals in the United States love to attack former President George W. Bush for his decision to go to war in Iraq. The president acted on bad information that Iraq was involved in the attacks on the US on 9/11/01, and then doubled-down on flawed intelligence which claimed that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). America engaged in a very costly war in terms of lives, cost and credibility based on that bad information.

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama campaigned to pull American troops out of Iraq because he thought the war was wrong, and when he became president, he fulfilled that pledge. Not long after the last US troops left Iraqi soil, the terrorist group Islamic State/ISIS filled the vacuum left by America’s absence. In the wake of several thousands of murdered people, Obama is now weighing how deeply to reengage in Iraq to combat the demons his actions helped create.

Liberals on Iran

In a related policy, the liberal-minded Obama is in the process of enabling the Islamic State of Iran to become a threshold nuclear power. In Obama’s worldview, it is difficult to validate why the US, Pakistan and seven other countries should have nuclear weapons and Iran shouldn’t.

Obama obsesses over “inequality” and fairness in society and also believes that all countries consider themselves to be exceptional.  In a “fair” world of complete equality, the liberal position of equal entitlement prevents Obama from negotiating forcefully against the Iranian regime that desires to enter the pantheon of nuclear states.

obama iran negotiations
Obama on Iran Negotiations

As such, Obama concluded that he will allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and use the negotiations as an opportunity repair ties with Iran that have been combative since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Conservatives on Ramifications

While most conservatives will agree that the war in Iraq was a mistake, they argue that the decision to completely high-tail out of Iraq was a more tragic mistake. Abandoning the country left a power-vacuum which was filled by the Islamic State. Iraq became lawless and is now a foundation state for jihadists. Obama’s decision further destabilized the country, which has produced terrible security outcomes in the Middle East, the US and the world.

mccain iraq
Senator McCain speaking against Iraq pullout

Conservatives believe that Obama’s “soft” negotiations with Iran will similarly have terrible ramifications for global security.

The ramifications of enabling Iran to get nuclear weapons will likely either lead to Israel attacking Iran, or initiating an arms race in the volatile Middle East. So much for Obama’s desire to have a world with fewer nuclear weapons. The only party to have fewer nukes will be the US while human rights-abusing countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia would be on their way to being able to cause global destruction as one considers a world of nuclear terrorism.

Conservatives are less worried about the double-standards of who gets nuclear power today if it leads to greater stability tomorrow. Liberals, on the other hand, focus on being fair today and are less fixated on the ramifications tomorrow.

khobar towers
Iranian bombing of Khobar Towers killing 19 Americans,
June 1996

Lessons in Safety from Experience

It would be worthwhile for Obama to consider “unfair” laws in the US. Many laws and policies are deliberately biased to counter-balance experience related to safety.

These laws and accepted biased corporate policies are in place because of experience. People under 25 get in more car accidents than older people, so the car rental companies charge them a bundle because of the perceived risks, even if the renter is a great driver. Similarly insurance companies charge all drivers of Mercedes convertibles more, which has led to police charging those drivers four times as many traffic tickets.

Seat belt laws and helmet laws are in place because they save lives. Many studies have shown the drop-off in fatalities due to these laws, which (literally) restrict a person’s freedom.  State laws prevent under-age (sometimes 20 or 19) people from consuming alcohol because it helps save lives.

These are just a few examples of where society assesses risks based on historic outcomes.  They exist everywhere including health insurance companies charging more to smokers than non-smokers.  While a particular smoker may live much longer than a non-smoker, society draws certain conclusions based on past behavior and history.

History serves as the basis for making policies that improve safety.

Iran is not just another country

There are Islamic countries such as Pakistan that have nuclear weapons.  There are repressive regimes such as China with nuclear weapons.  However, the world has not seen a state sponsor of terrorism (such as Qatar) obtain a weapon of mass destruction.

The history of Iran and current statements from the government make it a dangerous player on the world stage.  Endorsing Iran’s building the most powerful weapons in the world puts the entire planet at risk..


There were no WMDs in Iraq and America should not have gone to war. But Obama’s abandoning Iraq to reverse a bad decision ignored the reality of the existing paradigm. His decision to be fair had terrible ramifications for regional peace.

Enabling Iran to get WMDs ignores the actions of that government. Obama’s deep belief in equality cannot be allowed to jeopardize global safety.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Obama’s Iranian Red Line: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/obamas-iranian-red-line/

Obama’s foreign policy: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/obamas-foreign-policy/

Obama dancing with the asteroids: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/dancing-with-the-asteroids/

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15 thoughts on “The Gap between Fairness and Safety: WMDs in Iraq and Iran

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  6. “The president acted on bad information that Iraq was involved in the attacks on the US on 9/11/01, and then doubled-down on flawed intelligence which claimed that Iraq was building weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). America engaged in a very costly war in terms of lives, cost and credibility based on that bad information.”

    Incorrect.

    One, the Bush administration did not claim Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Rather, the 9/11 attacks heightened the threat consideration of Saddam’s violation of the terrorism and disarmament mandates of UNSCR 687.

    Two, by the operative enforcement procedure of the Gulf War ceasefire, the pre-war statements of the intelligence estimates did not and could not trigger enforcement. Only Iraq’s noncompliance with UN mandates, ie, material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire could trigger enforcement. Only Iraq’s compliance could switch off enforcement. The main trigger for Operation Iraqi Freedom was the UNMOVIC Cluster Document finding of “about 100 unresolved disarmament issues” in breach of UNSCR 687.

    For the record, explanation of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom: http://learning-curve.blogspot.com/2014/05/operation-iraqi-freedom-faq.html .

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