Source:Foreign Affairs– welcome to Iraq, also known as Hell on Earth.
“Ten years ago this week, the United States and a few of its allies invaded Iraq, writing the final chapter in Washington’s checkered decades-long relationship with Saddam Hussein. Thanks to problems of both conception and execution, the Iraq war ended up becoming the most egregious failure in half a century of American foreign policy, costing a vast amount of blood and treasure for all concerned and tarnishing the United States’ reputation for international leadership, honesty, morality, and even basic competence.
A swift and successful invasion dissolved into chaos once Baghdad fell: liberation turned into occupation; local uncertainty turned into insurgency and then civil war. Four long years after the toppling of Saddam’s statue in Firdos Square, a new and better-resourced American strategy managed to build on some positive local trends and stabilize the situation, so that by the end of the decade Iraq had pulled back from the brink and gained a chance at a better future. But even then nothing was guaranteed, as low-level violence and political turmoil continued; the withdrawal of the last American troops in December 2011 left behind a deeply troubled country…
From Foreign Affairs
“Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs, discusses where planning for the Iraq war went wrong.”
Source:Carnegie Council– Gideon Rose speaking about the Iraq War.
From the Carnegie Council
Based on what we know now and what opponents were saying (whether they’re always against military intervention or not) Congress and the America people, as well as the Bush Administration, didn’t have enough real evidence and facts to justify invading Iraq in March of 2003.
The case for the Iraq War was originally about preventing Saddam Hussein from obtaining a nuclear weapons program. But by the summer of 2003 we then learned that he never had that program in 2003. Then it was about getting all of the weapons of mass destruction out of Saddam’s Iraq. But then we learned again in the summer that the Iraqi military didn’t have enough WMD to defend Iraq from an outside invasion.
By 2005-06 the argument for the Iraq War was about Saddam and his Baathist regime were really bad people and deserved to be kicked out-of-power. If thats what President Bush and his Neoconservatives were arguing in 2002-03 when Congress first started debating an invasion of Iraq, it wouldn’t have passed. The Democratic Senate would’ve felt no political obligations to approve that resolution. And probably doesn’t pass the Republican House and that was almost evenly divided politically.
Congress and the American people simply didn’t have enough information to make a decision like this and that had we just spent 3-6 months, or taken all of 2003 even to think about this, if we just had more information and better information, I don’t believe Congress approves of this war.
I thought after 9/11 that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a Baathist dictator in the heart of Arabia in a big country the size of Iraq (we are talking about California here) with the Islamic terrorists in the area, would be bad for not only the broader Middle East but for America as well. But because Saddam’s regime was so weak at the time and could’ve used the money that would come from selling his weapons to terrorists groups and other authoritarian regimes. What I didn’t know (and this comes from not doing all of my homework) is that Saddam no longer had any WMD and didn’t have connections with terrorists groups at all.
One of the legacies of the Iraq War is that there were many mistakes made upfront and have bipartisan hands written on them. Like the fact that the Democratic Party led at the time by Tom Daschle controlled the U.S. Senate and that there was a divided Congress as a result. So Senate Democrats led by Leader Daschle could’ve simply said no to the Iraq War and killed it in Congress by themselves. Takes both chambers of Congress to write laws, but it only takes one chamber to kill laws and resolutions.
Senate Democrats could’ve simply said: “No, we are not ready to do this. Congress doesn’t have all the information that we need to make this decision.” And Joe Biden, Carl Levin and Bob Graham Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Intelligence Committees could’ve spent the last couple months of that Congress in 2001-02 holding hearings to get more information about Iraq. And the situation it was in financially, militarily and everything else.
The legacy of the Iraq War is really about bad intelligence and not having enough solid information. How we not know going in that Saddam was as weak as he was and his country was as weak as it was. How we go in there without enough people to occupy this big country and not knowing that the Iraqi people weren’t ready to govern themselves. Takeover the military and law enforcement agencies and govern the country and the provinces and so-forth. And how we not know how weak their economy was especially in the energy sector where this country should be energy independent.
All of these things we should’ve known especially Congress upfront before you commit your country’s resources and manpower to invade a country like this. Had we had this information upfront we would’ve known that Saddam isn’t a threat to anyone outside of his country.
The legacy of the Iraq War on the positive is that one of the worst dictators and serial murderers and tortures of the 20th Century was eliminated allowing for a country rich in resources and in people to do very well.
Iraq now has a real shot at a bright future, but at heavy cost for the Iraqi and American people. In lost treasure and in money and lives and for the most part. The lessons of it are how not to invade a country and do your homework and get all the needed information available and decide based on all of that is it worth it or not and go from there.