The issue in question here is the United States’ presence in Iraq, and indeed in the Middle East as a whole. Should we be there? In a way, yes. Saddam Hussein would have been removed from power at some point, and why not do it now? H.W. Bush didn’t do it. Clinton didn’t do it. The UN wouldn’t do it. If Dubya hadn’t, it would have just been some future president, which brings up the interesting point that someone would have been criticized regardless of political party…but I digress.
Saddam’s dictatorship was unquestionably dangerous. No, he did not have any weapons of mass destruction. Those were a fairy tale created by faulty intelligence which took in the whole country. Bush didn’t lie, as much as I hate to admit it. He is still an idiot, however. War on Terrorism? Give me a break. Any village idiot knows terrorism isn’t going to go away because the mighty United States started making some noise. What Bush did wrong was invade Iraq on the premise of rooting out terrorists (the invasion of Afghanistan under the same premise had no justification whatsoever,and should be fully condemned, even if the invasion of Iraq isn’t). A better idea would have been to straight out and say, “We’re going into Iraq to remove what we see as a dangerous threat to our safety,” or even “We’re getting rid of Saddam because he’s mean to the Iraqis.”
However, I feel that now that our troops are in Iraq, we have to figure out some way to get out. I’m not saying we should pull out immediately. That would provoke a full-scale civil war, most likely between the Sunnis and the Shiites, with a few rowdy insurgents thrown in to fan the flame. The presence of our so-called coalition is all that’s keeping the whole country from falling apart, at the expense of human life, both American and Iraqi.
The Iraq conflict is a lot like Vietnam. Neither were true wars. Neither were for especially good reasons. Both were struggles against “anti-American” ideologies (irony: our media is more dangerous than the Communists were). And finally, both were doomed from the start to complete and utter failure.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Vietnam – war against Communism
Iraq – war against terrorism
Vietnam - LBJ used the Gulf of Tonkin incident to get troops in
Iraq – Bush used 9/11
Vietnam – Viet Cong (normal people who moonlighted as fighters)
Iraq – insurgents / radical clerics
The list goes on. But the biggest parallel is the way we’re stuck in this conflict. Pulling out will result in civil war, and the insurgents will have won. But staying in will do nothing but get our soldiers killed. Catch 22. Terrorism cannot be beaten; it can only be withstood. This little wild goose chase we call the “War on Terrorism” is doing little good. In fact, it has angered the Arab world even more. Resentment over our occupation of Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm has become full-scale hatred, provoking the increased suicide attacks on American and American-friendly targets. Yes, 9/11 occurred before we invaded a sovereign Arab nation, but 9/11 was in the works for years. Do any of you remember the WTC bombing of 1993? Same people. Same reason. But it didn’t start a war.
I recognize that we cannot change the past. We must live with our (and our government’s) mistakes. But hopefully, we’ll be able to avoid such fiascos in the future by learning from those mistakes.