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          Political leaders are ill-equipped to decide when wars are "just"

          Dialectic

          Sultan Ahmed

          Issue date: 4/16/10 Section: Opinion
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          The following conversation took place between two students during a class I was observing while students were giving their proposals for their final papers.

          Student 1: My argument is that political figures and orators like Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln adhere to 'just' war theory just as much as they contribute to its development and growth. I'm saying that's a good thing.

          Student 2: That isn't possible. To make that argument, you would need to know what they actually believe, and you can never know that.

          This week, I consider the role of political figures leading up to and during war time. In particular, I examine the impact of prominent leaders. Do these leaders actually believe the reasons they give for conducting war? Or, do they simply make up so-called justifications retrospectively in order to gain public approval.

          The military response after 9/11 seems to indicate the latter. George Bush, while not the greatest orator, had a team of elite personnel behind him during his presidency, not the least of which were Karl Rove and Colin Powell. It is no secret that Karl Rove's media tactics are some of the best in the political arena. His role as adviser greatly influenced Bush's policy and public image. Colin Powell's impassioned speeches in front of the United Nations, in particular the speech where he held up and shook a 'vial of anthrax', made it seem as if the administration was convinced that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction.

          This elite group of leaders then managed to convince the majority of Americans that the United States military had to be the warriors to rob this terrible dictator of his power because, somehow, Iraq was critically linked to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. And yet, military action in Iraq seems scarcely to have accomplished the objectives the administration argued for. The presence of Halliburton and Blackwater indicate that something quite different is going on, and it's difficult to believe that such educated and intelligent men actually believe the jargon that they feed the populous. Rather, these masterminds make up justifications afterward so that their actions seem more legitimate.
          Continued...
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