“Four more years,” a popular phrase used by the GOPs in the 2004 national election, now applies to something else: the Iraq War. Pentagon officials have estimated that we will need to station significant numbers of troops in the Middle Eastern nation until 2009. Since our soldiers will be there for so long, not to mention all the other controversy this war has caused, it is a good time to reflect on why we initiated this war in the first place.
On March 20, 2003, President George Bush ordered troops to begin "striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war," in a preemptive strike against Hussein’s government in Iraq. However, as subsequent inspections have shown, Sadaam didn’t possess nuclear capabilities at the time of our invasion. Conveniently for the administration, by the time this was discovered, they had already changed the reason we started the war.
Turns out that all we wanted to do was liberate the Iraqi people (hence “Mission Iraqi Freedom”) from Sadaam and stabilize the Middle East. Noble, but that’s the most liberal idea I’ve heard in a long time, ironic it coming from an administration that may be sinister in many ways but certainly not in its Latin meaning (the left side). I almost hope this is the reason we’re fighting the war, because if this is an oil war, then I’m speechless on the outcome.
However, as it turns out, we haven’t really liberated anyone. Sadaam may have been a butcher, but his state was no less humanitarian that the one that exists now. The provisional government is due to agree on a constitution soon (they’ve already missed the date), but even that could be insignificant if it doesn’t appeal to the Sunni Muslims, who account for approximately fifteen percent of Iraq’s population. George’s claim of “Mission Accomplished” was certainly unfounded and even condescending to the troops over there by claiming that what we have there now is anything resembling a victory.
Victory will only be achieved when a democratic government built upon liberal principles is established, the Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds are all satisfied with the political condition of their country, and every American troop sent over for the war is back home. Then, Iraq could serve as a shining example for the rest of the Middle East that Western culture and Islam can co-exist. However, this is an extremely lofty ambition that does not appear attainable for decades, if ever. Already, 1900 American lives (and at least 25,000 Iraqi) and $200 billion have been lost in the war effort and the country is no more stable than the day we entered it. The war effort has hiterto been a failure with no signs of reversal. It is true that Congress and the public supported Bush’s war initially, but for the highest office-holder in the world to have such poor foresight is unacceptable.
The saying “unless it is completely necessary to go to war, then it is completely necessary not to go to war,” is humanely speaking, accurate, because war should only be used as a last resort. However, in this case, war was just a guess based on the intuition of a man that seemingly cares more about his personal image than the goodwill of the country he leads. We are now bogged down in a war that was unnecessary in the first place and are paying for it dearly in the form of lives and tax dollars. And although Bush’s approval ratings might be plummeting now, it was only 10 months ago that we re-elected him. A great power doesn’t remain great unless its leadership does, and in a democracy, ensuring this is the role of the people.