Former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo is most famous for his legal memoranda defending torture and virtually unlimited presidential power in the realm of national security. On the Iraq War’s 10th anniversary, however, Yoo has decided to defend another one of his former boss’ unlawful actions, going so far as to argue that Bush administration had made up for harm done to Iraqis by spending money on them.
Yoo, who once said “I was never certain whether the Iraq war made sense as a matter of strategy,” now maintains that “invading Iraq was the best option in light of the information we had then,” and claims that if it weren’t, those who oppose the decision should want to “restore Saddam Hussein’s family and the Baath Party to power in Iraq.” Forced by 200,000 deaths to confront the fact that an extraordinary number of Iraqis were killed, injured, or driven from their homes by our invasion, Yoo suggests that the United States made up for all that by giving the Iraqis money:
Even though the benefits outweighed the costs, that does not mean we simply leave Iraq once we depose the Husseins. The legal system in such situations might still require a benefiting party to compensate a harmed party. In other words, we allow one harm to occur in society because there is a greater good achieved — but then the legal system can intervene afterward to require sharing of the benefits between the plaintiff and defendant.
And isn’t that what we did in Iraq? We spent billions of dollars in Iraq as damages. We did so not because the war was wrong, but because it was right — and we shared the benefits of the war with the Iraqi people by transferring some of it in the form of reconstruction funds.
Yoo fails to note that much of the damage done to Iraqis was a consequence of the Bush administration’s approach to said reconstruction, which Iraq War veteran Jason Fritz calls “a tidal wave of arrogance and stupidity.”
Several other former Bush administration officials share Yoo’s perspective — former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for example, tweeted that “10 yrs ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil Iraqis. All who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.”
According to Yoo’s post, he is currently “finishing a book on war in the 21st century, where I make the case for preemptive and preventive war.” We’re anxiously awaiting its publication.