It has now been 31 months since the fall of Baghdad in April of 2003. And VFLOAB now feel that it’s an appropriate time to examine what and where has the military victory of Saddam’s Iraq has gotten us.
Bush today gave a speech concerning the war in Iraq and terrorism (with a banner that read "Strategy for Victory"… of course VFLOAB recalls Bush declaring victory in May 2003 “Mission Accomplished” so did we win? Are we losing? Does anyone know? When he’s underwater does he get wet?) basically saying that those being critical of him now are hypocrites (okay maybe most Dems on the Hill) and that that this was a war we had to win (we I guess meaning the United States). That’s all fine and dandy but…
What is winning in Iraq?
If it’s getting rid of Saddam then yes, Mission Accomplished.
Is it establishing a democracy in Iraq? Well that’s something we won’t know for years. A stable democracy in Iraq would require that Iraq could sustain herself without help from the US military. Of course as it is now, the US military is the only reason why Iraq isn’t in a full fledged civil war. So the establishment of a peaceful self-sustaining democracy in Iraq is a few years off. The establishment of a thriving, independent, strong democracy in Iraq is probably a generation away… if it ever gets that far.
So Iraq has stretched the military and gotten us into a situation where winning and the goals are not clear… if even attainable. It’s left over 2,000 US soldiers dead and thousands more wounded. It’s left hundred of thousand of Iraqis dead. The war has cost taxpayers billions of dollars; probably more than we’ll even know.
But we did get rid of Saddam. We found out the hard way, the worst way possible, that Iraq doesn’t have WMDs. Iraqis, while living in some very violent times, are able to participate in government right now and in many ways are more ‘free’. The US has moved their troops out of the Kingdom and into Iraq.
Are we safer now since we’ve invaded Iraq? As a country we are probably no safer than we were before the invasion. There’s little doubt though that the invasion has lead to the instability to other countries in the region and maybe even brought on the attacks in other places in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Well besides Iraq, what is winning the war on terror?
That’s more difficult. That’s a war you can probably never win. You can only hope to contain and weaken the access terrorists have to materials and resources. The war on terror is ever changing. Just look at this war on terror, some of the terrorists today were our friends yesterday. That’s just the nature of terrorism.
While you can’t fully ignore the terrorists at the same time you do not want to pay too much attention to them. By saying that they exist and saying that you will fight them and continue to fight them you give them validity.
Of course the minor detail is that the terrorists existed prior to 9/11. And here we are now four years since 9/11 and 2 and a half years after Iraq no closer to anything really. That’s the scary thing about terrorism. It never really goes away. It changes, finds new causes, new people, but it’s always there. From liberals* to communists to the anarchists to the fascists to religious extremism… the face of terror has changed over the last two hundred years many times. And it will continue to do so whither Iraq is a democracy or not.
* I think it’s safe to assume that the powerful in the late 18th and into the 19th century would have considered liberals who demanded and fought for suffrage and education and other public services as terrorists.