The morality of a decision also depends on consequences

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March 2007


            In the last presidential election there was much talk aboutmoral values. In fact, pollsters concluded that it was moral values that decided the election. What they forgot to take into account, however, is that moral values consist of much more than personal decisions regarding personal sexual ethics, such as abortion and gay marriage. Moral values underlie every decision we human beings make including business, church, and politics . Every human action we peform has moral implications arising from reflecting on or not reflecting on a moral value. For example, the simple act of eating could be an immoral act if it leads to poor health.

            Moral decision making is based on moral values but one must also look at the consequences of a decision. During this month of the fourth anniversary of the US led invasion of Iraq, I would like to reflect on the consequences of the  decision to go to war. Even though President Bush made the final decision both houses of Congress and the general public must shoulder responsibility for this decision as well since they gave him overwhelming support. In fact Congress bears the brunt of the decision because the abdicated their Constitutional role to  declare war.

Here are some consequences of that fateful decision to go to war:

1)     The US forces toppled a tyrannical regime.

2)     Saddam Hussein was hanged according to the new constitution written under the supervision of the United States.

3)     Nearly 3,200 American soldiers have been killed. since the war began

4)     388 US civilians have been killed in Iraq.

5)     Nearly 24,000 American soldiers have been physically or mentally wounded.

6)     Thousands of American families have been devastated by these deaths and injuries.

7)     Estimates of up to 655,000 Iraqi citizens have been killed.

8)     1.8 million people have fled the country

9)     1.6 million people are homeless.

10) We have instilled hope in Iran, a mostly Shiite nation, to gain greater power and influence in the area by aiding the Shiite minority in Iraq.

11) We have strained our relationship with Turkey because of their fear that Turkish Kurds and the Iraqi Kurds will join forces to gain an independent Kurdish state  carved out of Turkey and Iraq.

12) Our forces have destroyed much of Baghdad.

13) We have destroyed museums and other places holding significant historical and cultural artifacts. (This is a primary center of the birth of civilization.)

14) We have destroyed significant aspects of Iraq’s infrastructure.

15) We have encouraged insurgents and terrorists to wreak havoc in the country by our creation of an unstable country.

16) We have lost the world’s respect by going it alone.

17) We have lost the world’s support for the war on terrorism after the dastardly attack on the United States 9/11/01.   We diverted attention from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein.

18) US soldiers were guilty of torturing prisoners and publicly humiliating them.

19)   The United States is in an dilemma of huge proportions in Iraq, making it difficult to “stay the course” or pulling out our troops.

20) It has cost over $300 billion, all added to the national debt instead of paying as we go.

Only one of the above consequences can even be considered morally good. That would be the first one – removing a tyrant from power. All the other consequences are negative.  I admit these specific consequences would be hard to list with much accuracy before going to war, but none of them are unexpected results of war. War wreaks havoc whenever it is waged. It has disastrous consequences regardless of the persuasive arguments given to justify it.

The  President says he is a Christian and his faith influences his decisions. There are many people in this country who also say they are Christian. Millions of them supported the decision to wage war on Iraq even though many Christian leaders opposed the war.

            I have one question: how is war with such above consequences compatible with the fundamental Christian ethic of love which includes “love your enemies”?