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Does the End Justify the Means?

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When I saw Iraqis in Baghdad celebrating the downfall of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime, I could not help but jump for joy along with them. Only a heartless soul could watch the statue of Saddam Hussein come down in the middle of Baghdad and not be moved by the jubilant crowd that had gathered to watch.

In the midst of the euphoria over the U.S. military victory in Iraq, however, let us bear in mind the following:

First, the war has been waged without a congressional declaration of war, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Second, the war will fan the flames of anger and hatred which are likely to produce more terrorism against the American people.

Third, the war has produced even more assaults on our Bill of Rights.

Fourth, the war has killed and injured thousands of people, including American GIs, Iraqi civilians, and ordinary Iraqi soldiers.

The moral issue stands out: Does the end justify the means? Is it not morally wrong to sacrifice the few to benefit the many? The damage that our bombs and bullets have inflicted — the deaths and maimings of thousands of people — is the price of “liberating” Iraq. How does anyone, including our own president, claim the moral authority to kill or injure one group of people so that another group of people might have better lives?

Indeed, under what moral or legal authority does the president violate the supreme law of our land and put our own citizens at risk in order to benefit noncitizens thousands of miles away?

Saddam Hussein was ruthless and so was his regime. No question. But any benefits that flow from an unconstitutional, illegal, and immoral war of aggression cannot be permitted to cloud the moral costs. Breaking the law and killing the innocent in the name of freeing the innocent is criminal. And so is this war.

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    Bart Frazier is program director at The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.