This past week marked the 10th anniversary of one of the most controversial wars ever. It is hard to believe that it is now 10 years since that night when we were glued to our televisions with images of the skies of Baghdad being lit up and the words shock and awe being used to describe what was going on. The scene looked just like in 1991, during the first gulf war, and many including myself were thinking this war was going to be short and swift as well. We were going to help overthrown Saddam and get out of Dodge as quickly as possible, right? Well things did not turn out that way and who could have imagined that we stayed as long as we did.
I have totally mixed feelings about the war and whether it was necessary in the first place. The is no doubt that we needed to get rid of Saddam Hussein. He basically stuck his middle finger out at the rest of the world and ignored any international rule of law. He also used chemical and biological weapons against his own people and killed many thousands. Prior to the start of the war, there was very credible evidence that he had been stocking up on weapons of mass destruction. Combining a total nut case of a leader with someone who has access to wmd’s is a total recipe for disaster. He had to go before he did something catastrophic to not only his country but the whole region.
We did remove and capture him very quickly and our military deserves huge praise for the swiftness of the operation. The whole middle east is much safer without him in power. But what about the post Hussein era in Iraqi? Did we just think that we could just walk into Iraqi, overthrow a cruel dictator and do anything we wanted in the country without any resistance? That is where our failures in the war just begin to start.
It seemed like things started to go downhill for us after we overthrew Hussein. The insurgency was far stronger than what was anticipated. Only after a wise decision was made to bring over more troops did the tide shift back in our favor. I cannot believe that our military planners were so ignorant of the power of those insurgents. They seemed to greatly underestimate their capabilities and it cost our troops greatly.
One has to also wonder why we did not remove Hussein after the first gulf war. What was the thinking behind leaving him in power after stopping him from invading another country? Did we think that he was going to all of sudden turn a new leave and become more compliant with the UN? I personally feel it was a mistake not to take him out the first time around.
I am sure that Iraq is a much better place today because of our actions but we spent nearly a trillion dollars not only for the war but to rebuild Iraq. Is that really necessary? What happens if Iraq turns on us in the future? The same can be said about Afghanistan. We seem to be spinning our wheels in that country. I often wonder if it is wise to be using tons of our money to help out other countries. Sometimes I wonder how the people of those two countries feel when they see us staying there for such a long period of time. I cannot imagine that they are very happy with us.
I think these two wars are something this country and it’s leaders can really learn from in the future. Where do we drawn the line when it comes to going to war with a country or helping it rebuild? What about Syria now? Are we suppose to police the world every time a conflict comes about? Those are very difficult questions to answer and depend entirely on the circumstances involved. If our national security is at risked or our allies, then we must use our resources wisely. But we cannot afford to get caught up in these long drawn out wars that totally zapped all of our resources and money.
In hindsight, the war in Iraq was way too long and should have not lasted for ten years. Sometimes I question whether we should have spent more of our time and energy in Afghanistan hunting down and fighting our number one enemies Al Qaeda. They are the bigger threat to this country. We need to save our resources for groups like them and other terrorist organizations. But the world is a much safer place with Hussein dead and out of power. Iraq is a totally much better place these days. Only time will tell if this war was really worth the cost. I really think we could have done the job with far less lives lost and without spending a trillion dollars.