Today is the 10 year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. It is a good time reflect on what, if anything, was gained. It is also a time for those of us to learn about what, if anything, can we learn from the mistakes of the war.
I supported the Iraq War when it began. I looked at the evidence leading up to the war and I came to the conclusion, as most Americans did, that the regime of Saddam Hussein was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the status quo that was in place after the end of the Gulf War was simply unsustainable. Also, I was also intrigued by the possibility of bringing democracy to the Middle East to combat the appeal and vision of radical Islam. Furthermore, I do believe the Bush Administration sincerely believed that Iraq possessed WMDs. I do not think this was an attempt to steal Iraqi oil or other conspiracy theorist nonsense.
However, I was wrong. I’m enough of a man to look at the evidence that has emerged in 10 years and more importantly the results of the war and acknowledge that I was wrong to support the Iraq War. I do not believe the war has served the interests of the United States. I also believe that the high losses, in both blood and treasure do not justify the results achieved.
The war has resulted in the deaths of nearly 4500 American troops, cost $1.7 trillion with costs expected to over $6 trillion in the next four decades. In addition, over 130,000 Iraqi civilians are confirmed dead as a result of the war with the war possibly causing the deaths of 4 times more. If you extrapolate that combined death toll to the same percentage of the US population, you would have nearly 6 and half million dead, or more than the population of the entire Houston metro area.
As for Iraq itself, yes Saddam Hussein is gone, but a Shi’ite lead quasi-Islamist regime with ties to Iran has come to power. Iraq is on the verge of a sectarian civil war. Iran has moved in and filled the power vacuum. Yes, many al-Qaeda inspired jihadists were killed in the sands of Iraq, but who knows how many more thousands were inspired to take up arms as a result of the war. Iraq’s infrastructure is still largely in ruins as reconstruction money provided by the United States was stolen or otherwise accounted for. Last but certainly not least, Iraqi civil liberties took severe damage as women’s rights were curtailed by the rise of radical Islam.
On the international stage, the Iraq War was even more of a disaster for US national interests. The aftermath of the Iraq War may have destroyed nuclear proliferation as a key component of US strategy as Iran and North Korea have accelerated their nuclear programs in order to deter US invasion. It was true that Libya ended its WMD program after the war, but the Obama regime foolishly made that a worthless achievement by pursuing a campaign to topple the Qaddafi regime in 2011. This equally foolish war of choice cemented in the minds of nations like Iran and North Korea that negotiating a disarmament agreement with the United States is foolish because the US will disarm them in order to topple their regimes.
What we should have is more honest reflection, especially by those of us who originally supported the Iraq War, and we need to admit we were wrong. We need to do this so that these mistakes will never be repeated again.
Finally, although I do believe that the mission in Iraq was harmful for American interests, I still thank the hundreds of thousands of brave American and Allied soldiers for their honorable service and honor their sacrifices. I also keep the families of those fallen and those wounded in the war, even if we cannot see their scars, in my prayers.
I hope all Americans can separate the policy of their government from the brave men and women who serve their country and give them the respect, honor, support, and thanks they deserve.