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Martial Law in Iraq Would Have Been a Sound Strategy

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/15/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,740 times Debate No: 37745
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This debate is impossible to accept. If you would like to debate this resolution, either PM me or leave a comment on this debate, thank you.


Martial Law in Iraq Would Have Been a Sound Strategy


This is an attempt at articulating an alternate framework for the occupation of Iraq, which I consider to have been a monumental failure of American policy. I have no beef with the invasion, and am neutral to the Bush Doctrine, i.e. a policy of pre-emption. However, given how the occupation was executed, and that the occupation was inseparable from the invasion proper, I consider the war in Iraq to have been the largest policy blunder the US has undertaken since non-participation in the League of Nations.

Regardless, this background is opinion, and not up for debate. What this debate will be about is whether or not a strategy surrounding full US military control and responsibility for Iraq during the years following the invasion would have been a sound strategy, instead of the immediate, knee-jerk reaction towards "nation-building" that prioritized propping a puppet "democratic" government in Iraq before it had the means to adequately defend itself.

Three examples of martial law which I will be using as a prototype in how I model this hypothetical Iraqi military government:

1) Japan after WWII, where MacArthur was the military governor of the country,
2) Korea after WWII, where there was an initial phase of self-determination in the South, followed by martial law and overt US military control over South Korean security matters, and
3) Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War, where Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang ruled via martial law until 1987.

The latter two regimes were for all intents and purposes authoritarian dictatorships where generals were heads of state. All three of these regimes received generous US support in its fight against communism.

I will welcome anyone as an opponent who has shown a capacity to debate with rigor, and has demonstrable evidence that they typically do not forfeit debates, and of course has a real interest in this subject.


Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis.

Martial law is usually imposed on a temporary basis when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively (e.g., maintain order and security, or provide essential services), when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law becomes widespread. Fundamentally it is a requirement put on civilian government when [the civilian government] fail[s] to function correctly.

Sound Strategy - a strategy that would have been feasible, actionable, and would have forwarded US interests.


This will be a NO SCORING debate. I am far less concerned with the scoring mechanism of this website, and much more interested in furthering constructive dialogue on this matter. I see the scoring mechanism as being extremely politicized and subject to all manners of corruption, and also see it as an inhibitor to constructive dialogue as many people who vote simply do not want their vote challenged or discussed.

Anyone and everyone is more than welcome to make a decision on this debate, declare a victor, and leave (hopefully) an insightful RFD, I merely ask that no one score this debate.

I will make exception to the scoring of conduct. Any forfeited rounds, ad hominem attacks, or breaching of the rules of this debate will merit a conduct point against the offender. Otherwise, no scoring, thank you.

Although the definition of martial law has been sourced from wikipedia, I humbly ask that the majority of research from both debaters be outside of wikipedia, although you are more than welcome to cite the sources within wikipedia for the purposes of this debate.

Burden of proof is on PRO. If CON decides to bring up a counter-scenario, they are more than welcome to do so, as long as by doing so, they demonstrate that PRO fails to uphold burden of proof.

This debate assumes that the invasion of Iraq occurred. The debate is about the aftermath of the invasion, and does not question nor seek to justify the actual invasion.

4 rounds
1st round acceptance only
2/3 rounds argument and rebuttal
4th round closing, no new arguments or sources.

10,000 character rounds



I would like to thank my opponent for this interesting debate, and await his response as first round is acceptance.
Good hunting gentlemen.

Debate Round No. 1



I thank CON for accepting and am curious as to how he can display such confidence in his position.

As stated in round #1, we are assuming the invasion of Iraq has already occurred. The matter at hand is how to handle the occupation. I will now paint a picture, unfortunately with 20/20 hindsight, as to how the occupation could have been handled via martial law, how there is historical precedence for my scenario, how it would have been actionable, and how it would have been preferable to the status quo.

I do not need to prove that martial law is the best strategy, only that it is a sound strategy, i.e. "feasible, actionable, and would have forwarded US interests."

Martial Law in Iraq

ML1) First and foremost, cultural sensitivity would have been a top priority. To think Washington had anything close to enough analysts and linguists to get an actual feeling for circumstances in the Middle East is unfortunately not realistic. The consequences of the counter-culture movement stemming from Vietnam created a black-hole in Washington's understanding of foreign affairs, particularly in the Middle East:

"There are many colleges and universities that offer instruction in a wide range of Middle Eastern languages, as well as Islamic history and culture...Yet over time, as the meager number of actual majors in those languages shows, the focus of Title VI subsidies has shifted to area studies.

"The result, writes Kenneth Whitehead, who supervised Title VI during much of the '80s, was that "we were not getting a good value for our dollar. Many of those who studied 'hard' languages (e.g., Arabic, Persian, Chinese) in Title VI-supported programs turned out to be less proficient than they needed to be to work effectively in diplomacy, intelligence, aid-related work, and even international business."

"Perhaps the bigger problem has been Title VI's success in its second mission, to support what has proved to be a thriving academic trend in area studies. The effect has been to discourage government service as a career choice for students in the Middle East field. The radicalization of college campuses during the 1960s dramatically reshaped Islamic studies in particular. [1]

It is worrisome when you realize that MacArthur had it easy in east Asia compared to the US in the Middle East in a post 9/11 world. All MacArthur had to do was to recognize the Emperor of Japan as the sovereign over his people, and by doing so unite the country and make it pliable to US influence. Such a gesture of respect went a long way in shaping Japan's post-war peaceful transition into one of the world's most prominent economies, while enduring years of martial law, while adhering to a constitution the US wrote for them, and while hosting a permanent US occupying force.

To implement a similar gesture of respect, a mandate under this plan would have been to do whatever it took to get these counter-culture academics and especially linguists to reside in Iraq and oversee the diplomatic and cultural policies of the US occupation, and dramatically increase their salaries to compensate. Such a treatment would have been appropriate, as by far the most effective paradigm established in the three examples I brought up in round #1 (Japan, Korea, Taiwan) was the cultural respect paid to the Japanese by MacArthur, and is one very important reason why Japan was by far the most successfully reconstructed state in the region after WWII.

That these Middle-Eastern academics were "peaceniks" would have gone far in establishing the US's intent of securing the region following 9/11, as opposed to what had readily been perceived as vindictiveness and retributive justice by the US against most of the Arab world.

This is probably not the first thing most people think about when they first hear the phrase "martial law". Typically, people associate the phrase with juntas, corruption, and political assassinations and cullings. While I do not dismiss that these would also occur in an occupied Iraq under martial law, I emphasize the definition proffered in round #1, that martial law is merely the stop-gap provided whenever the civilian sector is unable to accomplish their duties. There is nothing inherently "evil" or "unjust" with a state of martial law, something MacArthur aptly demonstrated in his 5 years of military governance in Japan.

ML2) Second, and concomitant in importance to [ML1], a state of martial law would recognize the need of providing the necessary security detail as requested by the Chief of Staff of the US Army in 2003.(video)

This cannot be overemphasized. While many may envision that with more soldiers comes more death, ironically the opposite is true. By following Gen. Shinseki's advice, the US would have been adhering to the Powell Doctrine of utilizing overwhelming force to minimize casualties on both sides - against such a force, opponents typically capitulate.

Furthermore, with such a force, resistance to the US presence would have been minimized out of fear. This would have been the "stick" aspect of persuasion, with [ML1] being the "carrot" aspect. With a minimized resistance, threats to soldiers on the ground would also have been minimized, meaning fewer IEDs, fewer snipings, and fewer ambushes. With fewer casualties amongst the US contingent, there would have been less fear amongst the troops, less nervousness, and less vindictiveness, leading to a smoother occupational experience. There would also have been more accurate accountability and more precise use of force against the proper parties, as intelligence and investigative units on the ground would have been less strained and thus more able to assess the tactical situation on the ground.

Such a contingent has precedence, as Gen. Shinseki had experience with an occupation involving ethnic strife in Bosnia - "his estimate...had been based on experiences as a commander in postwar Bosnia, where the United States sent 50,000 troops to quiet five million people, a population one-fifth that of Iraq." [2]

Such a contingent would also have heeded Gen. Shinseki's own warning (video) that Iraq contained "the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems [such as sectarian violence and civil war]", which itself was echoing the advice of generals during the first Gulf War:

"Had the United States and the United Kingdom gone on alone to capture Baghdad [in 1991]...we would have been considered occupying powers and therefore would have been responsible for all the costs of maintaining or restoring government, education and other services for the people of Iraq." [3]

Instead of following this advice, the Bush Administration threw Gen. Shinseki under a bus.

With enough troops, instead of the tiny "green zone" established in Baghdad following the invasion, we may have been able to secure the entire city. That alone would have given insurgents much fewer opportunities to conduct guerrilla tactics in an "urban jungle", as there would have been far fewer places for these insurgents to hide in Baghdad proper. This would have given the Iraqi police forces more time to train, and with fewer disruptions or casualties. This would have hastened an orderly transition to a viable Iraqi government and police force, thereby decreasing the duration of our occupation, and accomplishing the goal of "nation-building".

ML3) This point is relatively simple - while the costs of such a policy would have been orders of magnitude more expensive than what was actually incurred (which was already monolithic), occupational costs would initially have been covered through 9/11 war bonds sold to the public. While I do not question that Saddam Hussein was not involved in the planning and execution of 9/11, it is unquestionable that Saddam took any and every opportunity to threaten US interests in the region, to include sponsoring jihadist extremists whenever possible, and so such a tangential linking of 9/11 to Iraq would have been appropriate.

Such a policy would have inspired the typically profound self-sacrifice in America that typically accompanies acts of war, which would have led to less of the profligate behavior in the US that resulted in the 2008 financial crisis that also occurred under Bush's watch.

By 2003, the American economy had already recovered from the dot-com bust, which by itself wasn't a large hit to the economy as a whole, the stock market notwithstanding. The American populace, given Bush's 90%+ approval ratings and a healthier balance sheet, would have been accommodating to such a policy.

With a viable occupation force, the costs of the occupation would have decreased going forward, instead of increasing as occurred during Bush's term. The occupation itself would also have been shorter, thereby lowering the overall costs of war.

This covers the feasibility aspect of implementing martial law.


The policy that the Bush administration forwarded did NOT advance US interests. It left an Iraq "at the brink," too weak to defend itself from neighbors such as Iran, thereby strengthening the hand of our enemies. [4] It directly contributed to an explosion in oil prices, even though the US is the world's largest oil consumer and importer by far, thereby weakening our economy. It was funded not by debt sold to the American people, but debt sold to China, thereby weakening our global economic clout.

My strategy (admittedly with 20/20 hindsight) rectifies these failings and replaces it with a sound strategy - "feasible, actionable, and would have forwarded US interests."

I await CON's rebuttal.



The underlying opposition of martial law is the very fact that you are ruling a country by force. It matters little if cultural sensitivity was the priority, you would always have opposition to a military run state, especially one run by a foreign country. I reference my home of Ireland and its occupation by Britain. It didn't matter if they brought order and policing, or new technology, there was constant uprisings all across Ireland by the Fenians, which later became known as the IRA (not to be confused with the provisional IRA responsible for atrocities in the Troubles). Al Queda or some other militant terrorist group, who defy all logic and attack the American troops stationed there. You bring up that all MacArthur had to do was recognize the Emperor to make it pliable. This is false, and I hardly need to bring up any sources. You know, all he had to do was nuke Japan twice and then offer to recognize the Emperor. You missed the two nuclear bombs part.

But I'll target the feasability and forwarding of interests part now.

Firstly, you haven't stated a finish time for this martial law. Is it indefinite? You can't hope to occupy the country with enough soldiers to make it safe on bonds to the people, especially since there's no advantage to the people with buying bonds. Do you mean bonds as in loans? When can the people expect a return on these loans, especially when you don't make money being there. On a side note, maybe America shouldn't have let Saddam Hussein publicly view the plans for the original Fat Man and buy the materials necessary from the US and Britain.

On the issue of forwarding US interests, remember that you will anger people in Iraq by flat out invading, it will cost money and will also make America seem cruel and unfavorable on a global scale. Russia is already looking better than America right now by trying to avert a war in Syria, and protecting Snowden, so adding invasions to the list wouldn't help America abroad. It doesn't benefit the US strategically either. Why would occupying a former trading partner help protect you any better from terrorists? It would only provoke those jihadists into further attacks.

I guess I should suggest an alternative to occupation. Simple. Just leave. Complete evacuation. The US isn't some Starship Enterprise that can beam down to other countries and fix all their problems. If America wants to remain safe, then they should play defensive, not offensive. If any offense should be used, it's proper education in these areas, which would lead to less extremists, and more support for America the way it funded Europe post WW1 to help them avoid resorting to Communism. Awaiting your response,

Debate Round No. 2


Although my opponent was given 10,000 characters to state a case, he has used far less than that, which is unfortunate. Many of CON's statements are extremely weak arguments substantiated by nothing other than his opinion. He uses NO SOURCES, which is almost insulting to both his opponent and the reader, and misstates widely known facts.

Finally, most of CON's statements seek to question the justification of the invasion, even though the rules of this debate are explicitly clear that both parties are to assume that the invasion has already occurred, and is not debatable.


R1) CON states that "it matters little if cultural sensitivity was the priority," even though as already noted, this obviously worked for MacArthur in Japan. CON does not bring any evidence to counter my arguments. Instead, he brings up Ireland, and how the IRA resulted from English treatment during "the Troubles".

My rebuttal to this is simple - the English did not rule Ireland under martial law during this time. Maybe had they done so, they may have achieved better results and would have prevented a terrorist organization from forming. As it stands, CON's point is totally irrelevant to the resolution, akin to bringing up the Civil War in a discussion about global warming.

R2) My use of MacArthur's example stands untouched by my opponent. CON cites that "all he had to do was nuke Japan twice and then offer to recognize the Emperor," even though the nukes occurred during wartime, and this debate is about the occupation AFTER wartime. The US also firebombed Japan, killing millions of civilians, and the architect of this campaign, Gen. Curtis LeMay, said himself that "I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal..."[5] the point being that Japan suffered far more than the Irish in the conflict preceding the occupation, and had much more reason to be angry with the Americans, yet the Japanese were much more pliable to American persuasion following an exceptionally brutal bombing campaign that included nuclear weapons.

I'm not sure what CON's argument is. Does extreme brutality make a populace much more pliable? Is CON lamenting that the Irish were not brutally culled before the English occupied their island?

I contend that brutality does not make a populace more pliable, that what made the Japanese much more pliable to US demands was the fact that the US treated their culture and society with a healthy amount of respect during the occupation, and went to great lengths to secure the country. If anything, CON's example of the English in Ireland, in the haphazard and uneven approach the English applied to Ireland, much more resembles what Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz advocated in Iraq, and that CON is actually strengthening PRO's case by offering yet another valid example of how lack of control by the occupying power leads to resentment and disdain from the occupied.

Finally, Ireland suffered less than 5% of the casualties over the course of 30+ years than what Iraq suffered in less than 10 years, and what Japan suffered in one brutal year of bombing - Ireland's body count from "the Troubles" is under 5,000, [6] whereas Iraq's is well over 100,000, [7] and "between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed" in just one day of firebombing. [8] I do not understand how CON can find any valid comparison between Ireland and the latter two events. He is comparing mountains to molehills, and somehow expecting his argument to carry any weight. His arguments trivialize the matter at hand, and are IMHO insulting.

R3) CON asks a lot of questions about the war bonds. They are simply loans to the American populace, an expectation of sacrifice by the people in order to pay for this distant campaign. War bonds were floated during WWII and had a 10 year maturity. [9]

In regards to "profit", this is war. War is about destruction and sacrifice. The government would have paid off these obligations from the federal budget - the government was running surpluses shortly before 9/11, so this would not have been a concern. Had the war costed over $100 bln/year for the first few years during the costliest portion of a proper occupation, that would have been around 10% of federal revenues during those years. The costs including interest would have been relatively small in comparison to existing federal outlays and to the American economy at large. [10] This is the price America pays for securing the homeland after a devastating and brutal assault - 9/11 - it is called "self-sacrifice" for the good of the nation.

R4) CON mentions that "On the issue of forwarding US interests, remember that you will anger people in Iraq by flat out invading, it will cost money and will also make America seem cruel and unfavorable on a global scale."

Again, as stated in round #1 and therefore as a parameter of this debate, this debate is not about the invasion. As already stated, we are assuming the invasion of Iraq has already occurred. This debate is about how to handle the occupation. CON is not debating the resolution at this point, but whatever he fancies to be his views and opinions about the Iraq war in general. His statements are unfortunately irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Regardless, we toppled a brutal dictator through the invasion. American "cruelty" would have been much less so under the plan I laid out han what had actually occurred due to the Bush administration's policies. Martial law would have been much more humanitarian and much more palatable to the Iraqi populace. Nothing CON notes challenges this scenario nor any aspect of my case.

R5) CON asks "Why would occupying a former trading partner help protect you any better from terrorists?" as if we were trading with Iraq while they were under sanctions. This is a non-starter...CON is not citing well-known facts but is instead fabricating a wholly inaccurate historical record to suit his opinion. We were not trading with Iraq prior to the war.

Also, CON's argument here questions the justification for the invasion of Iraq. For the fourth time, we are assuming the invasion of Iraq has already occurred.

R6) CON's solution is "Simple. Just leave."

This is problematic given that the invasion had already occurred. AFTER THE INVASION, had America just left, we would have created a gigantic power vacuum that Iran, Iraq's closest and most belligerent neighbor, would have filled. CON's solution would have strengthened the enemies of the US. CON's alternative does not forward US interests.

R7) CON mentions that "If America wants to remain safe, then they should play defensive, [for example] the way it funded Europe post WW1 to help them avoid resorting to Communism."

The rebuttal to this is simple - what occurred after WWI was a monumental failure by the US to engage with the world properly...American isolationism and "defensive" actions led to WWII.

This is not a proper alternative. America MUST engage with the world in order to gain the respect of the world and to make it more attuned and more willing to adhere to US interests.


CON is not arguing the resolution. A parameter for accepting this debate was to accept that this debate is not about the invasion, and that it is assumed that the invasion has already occurred.

CON does not challenge the details of my strategy. CON does not refute that cultural sensitivity, combined with adequate security would have led to a much more pliable populace. CON does not challenge that this policy could have been paid for through war bonds. CON does not challenge my case in any substantial manner.

I challenge CON in the final round of argumentation that he actually forward a substantial case.




Some debaters on the site choose to compile massive projects filled to the brim with sources to provide a point. I am not one of those people. I am in the terminal year of school and i really don't have time for such effort. I was assured that this debate was not to be voted upon. The same way that you find scoring an inhibition upon the debate, a given structure that both parties are limited to also inhibits the debate. If the debate is truly as you said, vote free, then my lack of sources should hardly matter, so long as I replace them with reasoning and logic.

MacArthur had the advantage of nuclear arms and firebombs when he occupied japan. There is a key difference between respecting others beliefs when enacting martial law, and aiming two weapons of mass destruction while assuring that their beliefs would be respected under the enactment of martial law. Yes I know Ireland was not under martial law during the Iraq war, but neither was Japan. The Fenians weren't around before Ireland was occupied, they were a result of a foreign empire taking over. The Provos, as they were called during the Troubles, were not related to the original rebels and only took the name as a patriotic gesture. I only wanted to make that distinction clear when listing them. The Troubles have nothin to do with the war for independence and was mentioned so you wouldn't be confused and you wouldn't have to waste your own time chasing down a red herring.

You cannot ignore the fact that Japan at the time would not risk defying MacArthur for fear another act of genocide might be committed against their people. The only way you could make Iraq that docile would be to nuke it twice, which would of course be Mutually Assured Destruction now. But on Ireland one last time, the IRA were successful for all their failures, as the marching of several hundred troops into Dublin to occupy it during the war for independence made them look cruel on a public scale, especially with India suffering similar problems. Ireland was liberated in 1921 and became independent. Many Irish would justify the IRA at the time, because the British saw them as terrorists while the Irish saw them as rebels. If you really wanted to keep Iraq peaceful, you would have to assert domination over them first, and establishment of power like the nukes were. But you can't use nukes anymore.

My point about the war bonds ties in with the issue of dominance aforementioned. Back after 9/11, people were scared and were looking for safety and revenge. The Bush administration (another side not) established security using the Patriot Act which let them arrest anyone they wanted, and enacted revenge on Iraq. People began to oppose the war when it became apparent Hussein was not responsible for 9/11. This is important. If we were to go back to when America first invaded, byut then have them install martial law, then support would drop even faster when they found out that not only was Iraq unrelated to 9/11, but that the military had established themselves as the new rulers would cause outrage. Resistance would quickly surface, and in light of the most recent American news, the Us would find it very difficult to defend against guerilla fighters attacking their military bases. You're right, war is about destruction, not creation. Chaos, not order. I'm still assuming that America invaded, but I'm saying they should have really left before they could do anymore harm once they realized that the only weapons that Hussein had were the ones the US sold him.

Democracy, while flawed in Iraq, still exists. America should, if at all, assist from a distance, much like Libya, enacting political pressure rather than full scale occupation.

WII did not occur as a result of America's isolation, it occurred because of a rise in Facism across eastern and southern Europe. It wasn't resolved because of America either, Hitler's defeat in Russia marked the first real defeat he had faced.

True, America must engage the world to gain its respect, but are you planning on being loved or feared here? Europe is independent of the US, and doesn't have to adhere to its interests. As a European, I would say that America's refusal to accept legislation against torture or the Kyoto agreement. The US is not a moral force in the world right now. They do not have the authority to invade a country claiming it is to promote freedom, then install military rule. Such would create new opposition abroad, incite anger from the US people, and cost a lot of money which would not be paid for in bonds by a newly angered people. Cases like Ireland and Japan are from a different era, with different issues and different technology. I'm still confused as to whether you solely focus on American interests, or the welfare of the Iraqis, as your option doesn't exactly help them, while you've accused my argument to leave Iraq vulnerable to foreign invasion. (Ironic, isn't it?)

I'll be waiting,

Debate Round No. 3



Before I conclude, I thank CON for accepting this debate. While I have not been shy about my disappointment, I am glad CON did not take it personally.

CON has a point about the nature of this debate, how since it isn't scored, sources are not that significant, and reasoning much more so. However, sources also keep us honest, in that it forces us to find corroborating information to substantiate our arguments. CON's arguments in round #2, especially in regards to the relevancy of the Troubles to this debate, and his mischaracterization of US/Iraq trade relations, belied inaccuracies that strained credulity, and made this debate less substantive overall than it could have been. Sources would have helped to ameliorate such a problem.

I will first rebut CON's latest salvo, and then conclude with a recap of my case.


R8) CON makes a very strange assertion, that "Ireland was not under martial law during the Iraq war, but neither was Japan."

CON's mistake comes in assuming that application of martial law is predicated only upon the narrow time frame of 2003-2011, the time during which the US occupied Iraq. This is simply not true. It is irrelevant that Japan was not under martial law during 2003-2011. What is relevant was that Japan was under martial law while it was occupied shortly following WWII. Similarly, Iraq SHOULD have been under martial law while it was occupied shortly following the invasion of Iraq.

What about Ireland? As already stated, the British did NOT intend to occupy northern Ireland, and thus did not impose martial law on the region. Because the British did not, the IRA formed and became one of the world's most prominent terrorist organizations. This failure by the UK mirrors the botched US occupation of Iraq, and is NOT an optimal state of affairs. Had Britain been more forceful in controlling the situation in Northern Ireland, it is possible that the Troubles would not have come to existence.

Whatever CON's intent may have been in his statements, the lack of clarity in CON's statements is vexing.

R9) CON totally ignores my arguments, and asserts again that "You cannot ignore the fact that Japan at the time would not risk defying MacArthur for fear another act of genocide might be committed against their people," against which I ask again:

"I'm not sure what CON's argument is. Does extreme brutality make a populace much more pliable? Is CON lamenting that the Irish were not brutally culled before the English occupied their island?

"I contend that brutality does not make a populace more pliable, that what made the Japanese much more pliable to US demands was the fact that the US treated their culture and society with a healthy amount of respect during the occupation, and went to great lengths to secure the country."

Bottom line, Japan has been the envy of most of the world following WWII. Ireland has not, as evidenced by the Troubles, and is currently part of the PIIGS debacle (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain) stemming from the financial meltdown of 2008.

R10) CON mistakenly believes that via martial law, the US would have "established themselves as the new rulers [and] would cause outrage."

Again, looking at the Japanese example, this simply did not occur. Martial law was implemented due to the lack of a viable civilian government that could govern by itself. When that civilian government was firmly established, martial law was lifted. The US-written constitution remained.

Apply this example to Iraq. Of course martial law is a transitional phase that would eventually lead to self-governance by the Iraqi people under "light supervision" by the US. It is not an overt declaration of imperialism.

R11) CON asserts that "Democracy, while flawed in Iraq, still exists," as if democracy alone is some sort of universal panacea for the world's political troubles. I remind CON that Hitler was democratically elected.

R12) CON asserts that "WII [sic] did not occur as a result of America's isolation, it occurred because of a rise in Facism across eastern and southern Europe," failing to take into account that the US stood idly by as fascism and communism spread across Europe before WWII.

There's no reasonable explanation for why the US ignored the rise of a power in 1933 that would have not only threatened US allies, but may have eventually threatened the US itself if left unchecked. Instead of assisting its allies, the US waited until most of Europe was a smoldering ruin before engaging. As stated in round #1, I believe this was a monumental foreign policy failure by the US, similar in significance to the US failure in Iraq.

R13) CON states that "Europe is independent of the US, and doesn't have to adhere to its interests," failing to realize that the US has occupying forces across most of Western Europe, to include Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and Greece, among others. This is not independence - Europe is dependent upon America for its security.

The US spends more on defense than the next 26 nations combined, even though the percentage of the federal budget going to military spending in the US is approaching the lowest point it has ever been since the end of WWII - this is mainly because most of the US's allies do NOT spend adequately on defense, as they depend upon America to provide it.


My case is simple - in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, Martial Law in Iraq Would Have Been a Sound Strategy.

By sending an overwhelming contingent of US forces, we would have taken full responsibility over the security of Iraq. To make this state of affairs more palatable for Iraqis, this force would have been deployed concomitant with a robust policy prioritizing cultural respect, and consisting of an active campaign involving the best and the brightest minds on Middle Eastern affairs that America had to offer. With fewer breaches of security coupled with a deep respect for the Iraqi people's customs and traditions, the probability of sectarian violence erupting in Iraq would have been greatly reduced. We would have given the country time to heal from crippling sanctions and the policies of Saddam Hussein, a mad dictator. Once fully healed, we would have returned governance back to Iraq, like we did for Japan in 1950.

My plan has precedence in Macarthur's military governorship of Japan shortly following WWII. It succeeded for MacArthur because of the same reasons that would have made this plan successful - full control and responsibility over security assumed by the US, coupled with a deep cultural understanding and respect for the nation's customs and traditions.

Like WWII, the US would have floated war bonds, perhaps named "9/11 bonds", that would have paid for the war in the name of national security. In order to prevent jihadist extremists from threatening the homeland again, we would take a much more forceful and create a much more sizable footprint in the Middle East, in order to more fully control the affairs of the Muslim world, and to align our interests with theirs. We would do this, like we did in Japan, to prevent that region of the world from threatening the US, directly or indirectly. It worked for Japan, it would have worked for Iraq.

This self-sacrifice has a tertiary benefit in that instead of reckless and indiscriminate borrowing, war bonds would have controlled US spending, which would have curtailed our profligate ways that nearly led us to the brink of economic Armageddon in 2008.

Therefore, martial law in Iraq would have been a "sound strategy - a strategy that would have been feasible, actionable, and would have forwarded US interests."


Here is another way to view martial law in Iraq:

Think of martial law like a car jack - when a car (civil society) breaks down, you call a mechanic who brings a car jack (the military) to help him fix the car.

The mechanic, on top of his or her personal skill in the matter, also needs for 1) the jack to secure the vehicle, 2) made of appropriate strength, and 3) to make sure the jack itself does not permanently damage the car.

What occurred under the Bush administration failed in all three aspects:

1) Iraq was anything BUT secure, akin to the vehicle slipping and sliding all over the place while being jacked up.

2) the US military was dangerously overstretched during the occupation due to reluctance from the White House to utilize adequate forces, akin to using a car jack fit for a sedan on a mack truck.

3) The occupying forces harmed Iraq greatly by causing widespread remorse, sectarian violence, and attracting insurgents into Iraq, akin to the car jack inflicting permanent damage onto the truck by perhaps erroneously using the fuel tank to prop up the truck. Unless the truck undergoes extensive repairs, the damage will be permanent - the fuel tank more than likely sprung some leaks and may explode at any time.

Martial law would have ameliorated all of these concerns:

1) Iraq would have become secure, akin to the vehicle being held stable while we repaired whatever was wrong with it.

2) By bringing in a proper occupation force, the US would have been recognized as fully responsible for the security of Iraq. We would have implemented a military governorship in order to properly administer forces on the ground. This would be akin to using a car jack fit for a sedan on a sedan.

3) The occupying forces would have done minimal harm to Iraq. Instead, what would have occurred is that the reconstruction efforts (which largely failed under Bush) would have succeeded, and the crippling effects that both sanctions and Saddam had on the Iraqi economy would have been ameliorated during the US occupation. Instead on focusing on the inconvenience of having to use a car jack, the owners of the car would instead be impressed that their car is now working again, and would drive it away thankful for the assistance.

Thank you for reading this debate.


I would also like to thank the instigator for a fun an interesting debate, even if confusion id occur. I will now erase any doubts that were left from my previous posts.

First of all, I mentioned the Troubles initially because i made reference to the IRA, and not being familiar with Irish history, you may have recognized the name from the Provisional IRA from the Troubles. No, the Troubles was because of tensions between Catholics and Protestants, Ireland was already independent at that stage. And while not strictly martial law, the fact that the British government ruled over Ireland was motivation enough for radicals. The resistance against British rule dates back to the 17th Century, even further back than that. The Iraqis will object to any control implemented by the US, especially martial law, since they want control of their own lives and country, rather than have it dictated to them by some MacArthur type who, incidentally, was forced to resign post WWII for suggesting the use of a nuke on the Communists. My confusion over trading with Iraq was due to Hussein receiving permission to publicly see the plans for the original Fat man, and the confiscation of the Iraqi oil post invasion.

Now, Ireland was under the rule of a foreign country. That was their motivation for rebellion. The same would apply to Iraq being occupied by the US, especially due to martial law being even more extreme than simply ruling over them and giving few voting rights to the poor. The Troubles was a side note, which is why it was in brackets the first time i mentioned it. it is technically British soil, and no martial law was imposed there because it was their own country. If you think they should have installed martial law, that would have only caused more support for the Provos, and you may as well say that global martial law would lower crime as well by that logic.

On the subject of japan, I will open up Machievelli's The Prince, and mention how to rule, you must either be loved or feared. Ireland had love for the Catholic King James, but following his death, the British Empire had to impose more fear than love upon the Irish. The Japanese did not love the Americans, but feared the capabilities and destruction of the nuke, in fact many theorize the film Godzilla represents that feeling of powerlessness against a giant monster. My point is that japan feared the wrath of the US, and so obeyed them. The respect of their culture was a side benefit, but they had already unconditionally surrendered. The Japanese, like the Soviets, were underdeveloped and caught up during a period of extreme industrialisation. Ireland did not because they had a civil war following their independence and never had the chance, but did enjoy a brief moment of boom. The corruption that had been established is the reason why we are currently one of the most badly hit (Ha ha, we're pigs, very funny) but we had a slight moment of envy from the rest of Europe. The problem with Iraq is that the US army is no longer a superior force anymore. The fighters faced now are Guerilla style, something the US are prepared for, and can't easily stop. From my history class, the IRA had an increase in numbers following the marching of troops into Dublin during the Easter Rising, but during WWII, they had a decline when people no longer approved of their actions. They disbanded, and later during the Troubles, a new group took their name. America needs love to defeat Guerilla warfare, not fear.They need people against the terrorists, which is not earned by taking over, even if you say it's for security. Final reference to Ireland, Ireland achieved their freedom when they began to look bad in front of their allies, and most of the Empire (places like India) became free during this period. Iraq would have experienced similar sympathy, and favor from Britain and their other allies would have dried up.

Actually, apart from the occasional protest, Britain is relatively terrorist free. The last one was what? Abdelbaset al-Megrahi? In Scotland. (Aul' McGrahy sounds Scottish actually) Europe is not a major terrorist target the way America is. Why? I suppose it's because they are terror-ists. They spread terror. If you invade a country in repsonse to a terrorist attack, especially an innocent one, they've won. You are terrifed. America spend more than any other country, and they are attacked more than any other country. They are in more wars than any other country. The have a debt far larger than any European country, only hanging on since they would destroy the world's economy by going bust.

Sectarian violence would have reduced but would have been replaced by resistance fighters, the tragedy being when they began rebelling, the US would say "Aha! There are terrorists here after all!" And send in more troops. You no ;longer assert the nuclear dominance; that would be MAD, so the resistance won't fear you. Japan was under very different terms than Iraq, and the Allies were in support, if not with actual troops, for the invasion. I thin that the US should assist from afar, because once you put troops in, it's very hard to get them out again.

I'll finish with your mechanic metaphor.

The mechanic shows up saying he received a call for a broken car. You say someone else called, but he offer to repair whatever damage is done to yours anyway. He then inserts the carjack, damagin the sideskirt as he does, and when you object, pulls a glock on your a$$. A friend of the mechanics sends you a video of him pissing on the corpse of your recently murdered wife (war crimes), and flees to his Russian friend's house for safety while the mechanic vows revenge. In the meantime, he leaves the carjack in, saying the repairs aren't finished, and while it's in, you aren't driving anywhere. You admit there was a flashing light on the dashboard, but you could have fixed that over the phone.

You then have your friends in the back trying to forcibly remove the jack, while the other mechanics think you're being rather vicious and warn other customers to be wary of your services.

I would like to thank my opponent for his part in this debate, and hope to engage with him in further casual debates in the future. Until then, I'll be waiting,

Debate Round No. 4
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Duncan 5 years ago
For the last time, I only mentioned the Troubles because I figured you'd mistake the Fenians who fought against Martial Law for the Provos who live in Northern Ireland, which you did anyway.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago

There's another one as well:

This particular one with duncan was quite interesting, although IMHO duncan did not actually engage in a real debate...he just kind of went into how he viewed the Troubles. The other debate very heavily involves argument<->rebuttal, so as far as an actual debate is concerned, it may be a more satisfying read.
Posted by Ragnar 5 years ago
Oddly I've tried to advertise this one, as I feel it is well deserving of votes; but I have too much homework to properly weight the arguments.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
Before this debate fades into posterity, I want to thank you Duncan for participating. You gave me some stuff to think about.

A) It sounds like the Troubles dealt with its own variant of sectarian violence, one which I know has a multi-century history, and was the result of the lack of implementation of both the measures which I advocated in this debate: 1) Much stricter security measures, 2) much more respect paid to local cultural institutions.

I still do not get the gist of whatever argument you are trying to make overall though, as you say specifically that "Ireland was under the rule of a foreign country," yet also that "[Ireland] is technically British soil, and no martial law was imposed there because it was their own country." These two statements completely contradict each other, and you do not untangle the statements to reveal your intent. It makes determining your position on the topic to be nearly impossible to others.

B) Your statement that "America needs love to defeat Guerilla warfare, not fear," actually supports the scenario I envisioned. The knee-jerk reaction to martial law that it involves soldiers killing civilians, but I went into a good amount of detail demonstrating that this is NOT the case, and that martial law is merely a stop-gap implemented when civilian governance has failed.

C) Your distortion of my mechanic example does not have any sort of relevance to any conceivable point you are attempting to make, and if it does, it would behoove you to actually make that point, especially given that you were not constrained by space.
Posted by anonymouse 5 years ago
Iraqis booting all u.s troops and lackeys out would be a better strategy
Posted by Duncan 5 years ago
I didn't wish to sound arrogant by saying easy, I apologize if I did, but I wanted to accept the debate and needed to make my appeal for the challenge stand out. You know, advertise.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
Wow, jesus fvcking christ, I didn't realize how small Iraq's economy was. Why the fvck did we invade...
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
cool, submitted. =)
Posted by ararmer1919 5 years ago
I like Duncan's boast that he could oppose Martial Law "easily". Something I feel would be very very very difficult to do, as Martial Law would have been a very sound and logical strategy to use. I'm really interested to see how Duncan can "easily" debate this, and so I turn the floor over to him. If however this debate doesn't go how you want it wrichcirw then id be happy to hit you on the rebound lol.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
Also added:

"This debate assumes that the invasion of Iraq occurred. The debate is about the aftermath of the invasion, and does not question nor seek to justify the actual invasion."
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Buckethead31594 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Interesting debate. I will give S/G points to Pro for the layout of their arguments. Sources, also to Pro; Con did not issue even one traceable source. Arguments were tricky, but I feel that Con's logic adequately refuted the resolution. Nonetheless, I may return to change my vote. Con's lack of sources severely impairs his credibility.