The Iraq War
The contemporary political life can well be accounted for using thinking and fundamental insights of various ideas within the public sphere. The dialogic exchange understanding and the theories of structuralism proponents can help us get meaning of various current happening is in modern day society. When the Iraqi war started in March 20, 2003 on the directions of the then U.S. President George W. Bush, many analysts were of the opinion that it would not last more than five years. However, the war took more years than what every individual had expected and 7 years later; casualties, from both sides, and an escalating cost continue to be reported. It is estimated that annually, a total of $1.2 trillion is spent by nations in the world on war. With this in mind, a detailed examination of contemporary wars is not only important but it can also at times be largely instructive. In this text, I give a detailed examination of the Iraqi war from the perspective of the conflict theory, Durkhemian theory as well as the rational utilitarian theory.
The Iraqi war: an overview
The Iraqi war was informed by the U.S.A and Iraqi conflict. It started in the year 2003 when Iraqi was officially invaded by American forces backed by other coalition forces and this was within the backdrop of a number of justifications for the same. The U.S.A claimed that Iraqi president was in the process of acquiring or had already acquired WMD or what is popularly referred to as weapons of mass destruction. The regime of the Iraqi president was also accused of amongst other things being sympathetic to organized terrorist groups.
The invasion phase went on fairly well amidst casualties from both sides and it is after this phases that the coalition forces came in to assist the country to put in place a working transitional government amongst other things. However, Iraqi rebel launched an insurgency against the coalition forces that has been so far difficult to quell due to its use of guerilla warfare tactics.
The Iraqi war from a conflict theory perspective
It is important to note that when it comes to a social group, there is usually an identifiable material, political as well as social inequality. This inequality can be viewed or taken to analyze the wider system as far as the socio-politics is concerned. This is the gist of the conflict theory.Mooney et al. (2008) states that the conflict theory could be taken to view the world as a field where inequality thrives. This inequality is the one that can be said to inform as well as influence change and conflict. The theory looks at how distinct classes vouch for the obviously scarce resources. The theory also displays the world as an inequality arena where the same is brought out in several fronts including but not limited to race, gender as well as class.
One way to examine the Iraqi war from the conflict theory perspective would be first by identifying the role of ideology as far as the conflict is concerned. Ideology according to this theory includes any false consciousness. An ideology in this case could be a belief that the ruling classes rely on for support and the working class believe in. It has been noted over time that ideology is in a large way supported or promoted in one way or the other by the mass media such as radio or television.
If we critically review the media role during the Iraqi war period, the assertion above seems to hold water. Mooney et al. (2008) notes that during the Iraqi war, we had crews from television stations covering the war as it unfolded. This is in fact the first war that was widely covered by the media with entire media crews traveling with coalition forces to cover the unfolding events. It is important to note that initially, a big chunk of media outlets who in most instances reported that the war was advancing in a rapid pace supported the war. In the recent times, it has emerged that this outlets were keen to cover or distort the number of civilian casualties while only concentrating on Iraqi forces casualties. This distortion of information fed a majority of Americans with misconceptions with regard to the war and soon, opinion polls showed that a large majority of Americans supported the Iraqi war. These misconceptions were in a majority of cases relative to where a particular individual sourced the news. Fox news viewers were believed to represent the highest rate of misconceptions with regard to the war. Overall, it was found out that most people’s support for the war at the time was correlated to their beliefs far as these misconceptions were concerned. From the social conflict perspective, this scenario presents a situation where a belief that favors and in which the ruling class nourishes and is in that regard relied upon by the lower class constituents. In this case, the bush administration is the ruling class while the country’s television viewers represent the lower classes.
Another way to view the Iraqi war in the conflict theory perspective includes a detailed look at those who were involved i.e. those who fought in the military. To highlight as well as raise some important queries as regards those who supposedly take up the military, we had a highly publicized quote in the year 2006 in which while addressing some college students he happened to tell, them that if they did not take their college work i.e. their studies seriously, they would end up “stuck in Iraq.” While this comment was regarded in some quarters as unfortunate, it did raise some specific queries as to who serves in the military. The tendency of the society to rank people in a hierarchy at the societal level is called social stratification.
According to the conflict theory, societal stratification inevitably ends up favoring some people at the expense of others. The theory seems to advance that those individuals fro the upper classes have higher chances of succeeding given that they are ushered into this world with a wide range of opportunities at their disposal as opposed to their lower class counterparts. It has been noted that a vast majority of soldiers who died in Iraq were from impoverished towns. When we look at this fact from the point of view of the conflict theory, one feels that social stratification is a reality. That is, it is a sad confirmation that the military stratification ends up benefiting those in the ruling class at the expense of those people as well as individuals coming from the impoverished parts of the United States.
The Iraq War from Durkhemian Theory Perspective
The Durkhemian theory claims that the life in a given society is in a way ritualized and the social life is lived as a collective moralized conscience. Also the world according to the theorist is profane and sacred and provides an action that is wellspring.When it comes to the ultimate decision the U.S made to invade Iraqi, quite a number of analytical perspectives can be examined. This includes but is not in any way limited to elite interests, cultural, social and psychological, realism as well as liberalism motivations. David Emile Durkhemian was a French sociologist. He used the psychological point of view to interpret the social life. He is well known for his structural functionalism which forms the foundation of his anthropological and anthropological perspective (Collins, 1994, pp 23). To help us interpret the Iraqi war from the Durkhemian Theory Perspective, I come up with a discussion of the Durkheim’s theories whilst taking into consideration the Iraqi war.
1] Social Solidarities
On his perspective of crime, he saw as a relation of various social tensions which have a purging and clashing effect to the society. Social solidarities are formed with the creation of labor division. This is mainly for economic development of individuals in among people in the society. To prevent conflict, well set terms should be placed describing the responsibilities of each party for the common interest of all. For a durable relation, states in the world see it necessary to develop conditions that support cooperation. This can be well exemplified in the requirement of Iraq to adhere to the requirements of the United Nations to disarm and abandon its Weapons of Mass Destruction MD program.
Apart from the chemical weapons processed by Iraq, the country’s President Saddam Hussein was accused of supporting and harboring al-Qaeda (Weekly standard, 2003). Other reasons for invading Iraq was its abuse of human rights and US effort to campaign for Iraq being a democratic county.
This shows that the United Nation body as expected duties and rules to be followed by all the nations of the world. But when nations refused to perform its expected duties it leads to difficulty and conflicts. This is because interest’s solidarity is well supported by division of labor. The refusal of Iraq to end its nuclear, biological, and chemical technologies meant going against its duties. The US resolved to force Iraq in April 1991 to abandon the program of WMD and the country was to be regularly inspected and destroy its stockpiles. International teams were given this responsibility. Iraq at first allowed the role of the international teams to inspect its stock but later denied the access for inspectors and made restrictive condition on where and when a place would be inspected. The then President Clinton considered the necessary use of force to Iraq to adhere to the UN expectations.
An Emile Durkheim idea of structural-functionalism applies to this scenario. The theorist was concerned on how societies maintain survival means for them to survive. He examines the social stability and cohesion by use of the solidarity concept. In a primitive society, individuals perform similar tasks leading to mechanical solidarity which holds this society united. Such a primitive society has a tendency of being segmentary; with common and shared values. In complex modern societies, individuals perform different takes which leads to strong interdependence. This means that the sustainability of the whole is dependent on the reliance of an individual to make up the organism. This forms organic solidarity leading to social equilibrium. Subject a state can be the US, the UK and other developed countries. They know that peace is important for the general stability and equilibrium.
Durkheim also talks of the society at a micro-level in which individuals perform interaction rituals which moves the society to solidarity. Such rituals are the unconscious and emotional aspects which define the interaction of human beings in a given society. The US bombing of the September 11 is an example of a social ritual triggered by social psychology. By studying the fundamental culture of Iraq and its people, we can understand the Islamic fundamentalism of the group of the al-Qaeda. The attack of the US had a devastating effect of American people and has continued to impact on the lives of the Americans. The suicide bombing depicts conflict between cultures and individual minds. Mohamed spoke of Jihad who were either lesser or greater. The lesser jihad is to protect the Islam religion from its enemies while the greater jihad is struggles from the temptations that one would face. Turning away from one’s temptations is difficult which the suicide bombers led by Osama bin Laden turned away from.
The attack of the US by the extremists Islamists is the attack of a land of unabashed greed and unveiled women. The terrorist’s argument is for righteousness and moralism which is an inner battle. The world’s Super Power in this case is a threat with its resources and culture to Iraq. Hence, America became vulnerable to the attack due to its wealth and its liberal culture.
The terrorist attack of US on September 11, 2001 became evident that more Cleary defined roles had to be put in place to prevent future terrorism and to prevent Iraq’s WMD program. This shows Durkheim’s’ tradition that it is necessary to take up obligations which were not there before to foster cooperation of varying parties.
2. Division of labor
Conceptualization is given societies which are different often leaded to conflict. This conflict reflects how a society is complex in nature but not competing. The integrations of conceptions are needed at a given time in a given society for the sake of creating mutual understanding and complementary of ideas. However, competitions leads to estranged and isolated individual and leads to parties growing further apart, but the division of labor brings unity among members of a given society who share the spirit of solidarity. Countries which have extreme density of its population, leads its inhabitants to temporarily and permanently residing in other countries. There is always no clear demarcation for division of labor and what needs to be done is to constantly communicate. This is because social life is always wrong and there is need of judicial laws to make things in order.
The Durkhemian theory on division of labor can well be exemplified in the Iraq war. In the countries quest to define its position in the world and fulfill its social needs and sentiments, it went outside the whole division of labor based on the community’s sentiments and beliefs. Its failure to cooperate to international laws depicts the country’s hunger to define and place its position in the world. There is nothing like autonomous individuals according to Durkheim because people are preprogrammed to be submissive to social rules living to perform a pre determined function. This forms the social and moral life of individuals in a given society. This forms the moral sentiments among the Iraq community. The individuals are solitarily to cooperate in aspects that define the moral and truth of their lives.
 Individual & Collective Life
Iraq is a smaller society than the US. Iraq places everyone at the same condition and in a collective environment. The same character represents the consciousness of the people and is related to the things that are within their environment. Large societies on the other hand are spread over a surface that is vast. The United States of America is a vast society and many general things are not common in the diverse environment. Individuality is replaced by a collective consciousness in a small society like Iraq. Seen in the bumbling of the US, we can view the collective consciousness of the terrorists to sacrifice their lives to fulfill the collective thought of the Iraq society. Iraq which is mainly an Islamic community believes in Jihad which is concept that states that for one to go to heaven you most kill and sacrifice your life. This is a form of a social defined ritual or a totem which holds the people of Iraq together and an aspect which define them. Just like any other lower society, Iraq has predetermined way of living which has well set details of how people culture such as dressing, eating, and language to be followed by the people.
A civilized society like the US has the tendency to be logical and rational. This society is constantly affected by primitive societies with their bizarre, and fortuitous of their heterogeneous elements. Every society transforms the characteristics nature of individuals. This is why the deferring of the Iraqis and the US supported by the UK and other nations had conflicted over the differing view points leading to the Iraq war. In the understanding of individuals and societies aspects such as social density, interpretation rituals and degree, and social capital are examined.
 Rituals & Fundamental Symbols
In the past decade, aspects of secularism verses modernity have been witnessed. Religion has played a central role in influencing powerful political mobilization. The aim of religion is to ravage its marginalization seen in the past in the whole worlds and in the US as a powerful democracy of western liberal. The divine mind of a people in a given society is the power that controls them. Islam religion came under great controversies especially after the 9/11 attack carried out by radical Islamic al-Qaeda organization. This shows how religion has the power to make people submit to its rules and conducts even when they are contrary to fundamental instincts and inclinations. This is a form of social pressure that influences men to carry out actions outside themselves. A ritual is carried out in societies with extremely high social density and in primitive tribes with taboos which define their political and religious rituals. This is exemplified in Iraq’s bomb attack of the US that triggered the war.
Terrorism against the US is not a conflict of world views but a conflict of how individuals view themselves. From the terrorist’s point of view, they see America subject to destruction by their own andocentric religion and culture for them to make their identity known to the rest of the world. The ideas of the jihads are a social culture that has far reaching implications on civilizations, societies and culture. This is a ritual which we can question on the basis of how one can give up his life to reach a noble cause which is a supreme form of personal sacrifice to make.
The Iraq war from a rational utilitarian theory perspective
In the 17th century, Thomas Aquinas developed the ‘Just war’ doctrine utilized in the rational Utilitarian theory. This principle sets out the regulative and prescriptive process on how war should be fought. This principle has been adapted in the Geneva Convection International laws of war which states that a State has the power to initiate war whenever human safety is at risk. The Geneva conception has international law of war requires justifiable reasons on why a country declares wars on another. This can be well examined in Iraq war and the rational choices made by the UK and the US for the attack (Winfield, 2004, 67). It is important to note that the rational utilitarian theory in criminology adopts a rational choice in stating that man has the power to reason and weigh the ends and means, the benefit and cost, and to make choices that are rational. The rational utilitarian theory is a result of previous experiments which investigates the nature of human beings. Data for these experiments were gathered from behavioral techniques. The concept of rational choice is the center of Rational Utilitarian theory which can be applied in the Iraq vs. US war. Utilitarian premises produce rational choice in making interpretation of social experiences. These concepts can be traced back in to the ancient doctrine of Jus ad bellum which means ‘just war’ in Latin Language. This doctrine gives the power for individuals to choose what is best to the society and what is best to each individual in the society. This ancient theory can be applied in modern social events that the society has experienced.
One of the social events that this theory can be applied is the Iraq war which called the US government to take actions through rational decisions of weighing what is best to the society and good for world peace. The fight of US government against Iraq came after organizations and parties making decision based on their empirical knowledge on what best suits the society and man. This is the doctrine of paternalism in the making of rational choices when undertaking a practice. Jus ad bellum is a law war which governs the conduct of war and that war should be done justly. Jus ad bellum is the criteria utilized by the United States government before going to war with Iraq. This criterion is the making of rational choices in deciding whether the war is justifiable. This concept is rooted from the premises of rationale utilitarian theory.
The United Nation body for inspection monitoring and Verification commission conducted a search for the mass destructive weapons in Iraq. The country was ordered to disarm but failed to adhere to the requirements (Blip, 2003) claiming that there was no evidence that it had nuclear weapons. The invasion of Iraq led to the capture of Hussein the Iraq president. He was executed by the Iraq government after being tried in the country’s court of law. This led to the emergence of the al- Qaeda and the strife of the Muslims groups the Shia and the Sunni. Millions of Iraqi populations were left homeless, children orphaned and displaced after the Iraqi insurgency. Many Iranians were left to rely on low quality source of water that was insufficient the humanitarians.
The suffering of the people in Iraq as well as the attack of the UnitedState’s Eastern seaboard with chemical and biological triggered the declaration of Iraq war. Further evidence to the UN Security council indicated that Iraq WMD program to attack the US. The Rational utilitarian theory is clearly evident with Hans Blix, the Chief weapon inspector remark that Iraq appeared not to be genuine on the issue of disarmament which it was called upon to. The Iraq country according to Blix had to be forced to disarm so that the world lives in peace and have the confidence (Blix, 2003). This means that by weighing the benefits of attacking Iraq verses not attacking it, then the world would not be confident that Iraq had no deadly weapons. The country was also criticized for being sympathetic towards militia and terrorists groups (Morgan, 2000, 25).
The invasion phase went on fairly well amidst casualties from both sides and it is after this phases that the coalition forces came in to assist the country to put in place a working transitional government amongst other things. However, Iraqis rebel launched an insurgency against the coalition forces that has been so far difficult to quell due to its use of guerilla warfare tactics.
The attack of Iraq saw a shift of UnitedState’s foreign policy from a framework that majored on human security to multilateralism with the adoption of the jus ad bellum just war. The September, 11 2002 attack led to the creation of new strategies in securing modernity and the people of the world. This was mainly emphasized by the then US president George W Bush. Iraq’s suspension of having deadly weapons and the rumors of attacking the US were enough aspects to declare war on Iraq. The rational choice to attack Iraq was based on human good and for the sake of peace and security to all people in the society (Price, 2001, pp 45).
This choice by the United States was part of its foreign policy of enhancing international laws of system of preventing enemy countries from using mass destructive weapons which threatens human safety. In preparation of to fight against terrorism and stop rogue states, the US had no option but to first attack Iraq before it used the destructive weapons or threaten the US and its allies (National Security Strategy, pp 14). Such a move to do so can be interpreted in the ‘just war’ domain to avoid the reoccurrences of what was experienced in September, 11, 2001.
The protection of a country’s sovereignty can also be seen in the decision to invade Iraq. To protect the US sovereignty, the US and its allies had no option but to declare war on Iraq. Conflict against Iraq was the last resort that the US and its allies would do to protect people around the globe and America’s sovereignty (Leiss, 2003, pp 232).
As noted in the introductory paragraph, a whooping $1.2 trillion is spent on war on an annual basis all over the world. This hence calls for a sober examination of contemporary wars. It is with the examination of such wars that social perspectives can be invoked to interpret the same. Hence in the same breath, sociological perspectives can be used in interpreting the Iraq war. With that in mind, the examination of the Iraqi war military social stratification as well as ideology in the light of the dependency theory can also bring to the fore the social conflict theory as well as its various insights. Similarly, given that the social contexts are informed by social sciences, the Durkhemian theory comes in as a vital piece as far as explaining socio demographic, economic, historical and social concerns and characteristics provided by the Iraq war are concerned. The text above also avails the ethical standards and the measurement of the expected consequences after the war as per the utilitarian theory perspective.
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Collins, R (1994) four sociological traditions Edition2, PublisherOxfordUniversity
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Leiss, W (2003). “The Risks of Policy Choices: The War in Iraq and the Doctrine of Pre-Emption.” Policy Options. Institute for Research on Public Policy, pp 232.
Mooney, L.A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2008). Understanding Social Problems.
Morgan, R (2000). “The utilitarian justification of torture.” in Punishment & Society, Vol. 2(2): 181- 196. SAGE Publications: London, pp 25
Price, R (2001) “Is It Right to Respond with Military Attacks?” Australian National University Department of International Relations Keynotes, pp 45
Weekly standard (2003) Saddam's al Qaeda Connection. Retrieved from
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/ On November 1st 2010
Winfield, D (2004). “Why International Law Supports the Invasion of Iraq: A Short History on UN Declarations of War.” Policy Options. Institute for Research on Public Policy, pp 67