The U.S. forces entered Iraq under false pretensions. There were no "weapons of mass destruction," and, even if there were, they were not aimed at this country. It is an illegal conflict, as only Congress has the responsibility to declare war, and this was never done. It is an imperialistic "police action," in that it is based on considerations of oil, and imposing our system of democracy upon a nation far away from our borders, that had never violated our national sovereignty, and constituted no threat whatsoever to do so. We have lost in excess of 4,000 of our own soldiers, while killing innocent Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands; according to some estimates, more than one million people in this country have suffered the ultimate penalty in U.S. hands.
So, it is clear, we must leave. With all due deliberate speed. Namely at once, or, at least, as soon as a retreat from this battlefield can be accomplished; that is, within days, not weeks.
But while this step is a necessary one, it is hardly sufficient. Suppose the Martians were to have invaded the U.S., murdering millions of our citizens. There were two schools of thought on the fourth planet about this expedition.
First, consider the "conservatives." Martian troops must fully prevail. They should not "cut and run" until the whole job is done, and the U.S. is fully colonized by the soldiers of the red planet; until, that is, we Americans fully take on "Martian values," whatever they are. (Don’t ask.) Were the Martians to remove themselves from our territory before that time, it would make a mockery of the few hundreds of deaths their brave troops had so far suffered. No, Martians should support "our boys on the Earth."
Now for the "liberals." In their view, it was a mistake to invade the third planet in the first place. Yes, the U.S. indeed had "weapons of mass destruction," and, indeed again, had used them on their fellow earthlings in 1945. But, the human creatures had never posed a threat to the fourth planet; in any case, the humans simply had no way to deliver nuclear weaponry to Mars. Therefore, the Martian troops should leave. As soon as possible. There was nothing on the entire earth worth one Martian soldier’s life.
Suppose the "liberals" prevail. Their starship troopers go back to their home planet, after slaughtering Americans in the millions. And that would be that.
How would we feel about them apples? Well, better the "liberals" should prevail than, horrors!, the conservatives. But, would the abrupt removal of the Martian regiments settle the matter? Would justice, full justice, be done by this liberal plan? To ask this question is to answer it. Those bully boys had not a scintilla of justice on their side. Yes, they stopped the horrendous butchery, and that is necessary for justice to prevail, but it is hardly sufficient.
At the very least, in addition to the cessation of hostilities, there should be an apology. Nowadays, apologies are de rigueur for historical abuses. But, the American violation of Iraq cannot be considered a historical event. It is occurring right now! If it is justified for the great grandchildren of slave masters to apologize for slavery, then, surely, it is required that members of a nation guilty of mass murder do so for such evil deeds that occurred while they were alive, and, at least potentially, could have done something to stop it.
A heartfelt apology, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. More is needed, far more. Reparations, too, must be undertaken, if we are to remove ourselves from Iraq with even a smidgen of justice. From whence should the funds for such a payment emanate? Well, first, as the U.S. departs from that hell hole of its own making, it should cede all airports, runways, buildings, roads, forts, etc., that we built to the Iraqis. It would ill behoove a country that has apologized for its imperialistic invasion to remain in these installations after it had departed, or to maintain ownership over them. Who better to benefit from these properties than the families of our victims?
There is more. An unjust war must necessarily yield up war criminals. Surely, they would no longer have any right to their lands, properties and wealth. Of a certainty, these should be taken from them, and given to the Iraqis. In addition, or, if it is politically infeasible to effect such transfers of wealth, a collection should be taken up, on a voluntary basis, from all Americans. No, we are not "all guilty" of the heinous crimes perpetrated by our political leaders, and their pawns, American troops. But, on the other hand, it is not fully clear that we are not guilty, either. Imagine how it would look to us, to return to the Martian scenario, if we learned that their elections, while in the course of engaging in massive murder of us and our fellow creatures, turned on $400 tentacle shaping, or the precise definition of the word "is" (in Martian, of course), or on the age of one of the candidates from the Red planet, or IPAFTA (interplanetary free trade agreement, that they had cooked up with the Venusians and Jovians).
No, apart from seizing the wealth of actual war criminals, these reparations to Iraq should be financed on the basis of voluntary contributions. Strictly speaking, no one else is guilty of unjustified violence against the Iraqis.
So there we have it. The only moral course of action is to undertake a three part series. First, leave, forthwith; pull out all our soldiers, with no exceptions, and do not use them to invade yet other countries that pose no threat to us. Second, apologize. Third, prove that this apology is sincere by making reparations. There is nothing that can completely undo the mischief we have perpetrated in that now very sad land. The victims can never be made completely whole by mere payments. But, financial amends are a necessary part of the healing process.
Dr. Block [send him mail] is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable and the newly released Labor Economics From A Free Market Perspective.