A Look Back: 10 Years After the Iraq War

22 Mar
Statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled in Fird...

Statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled in Firdos Square after the US invasion of Iraq. Found on the US military website. CAPTION:The statue of topples in Baghdad’s Firdos Square on April 9, 2003. Three years later, Iraqi forces increasingly are taking the lead in securing their country. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve stayed current with the news over the past week, you must have seen a story or profile about a person that dealt with the Iraqi war/invasion.  Even after the longest war by an American force and a decade to observe the consequences, I’m amazed how we do not agree on the facts of before, during, and after the conflict.  Just doing a simple Google search about the topic, the headlines read as if there were 5 distinct wars occurring with different results.  This subject is extremely complicated, although I say that about a lot of others too.  However, probably everyone disagrees that it is complicated.

Some will say that it needed to be done, no matter what, because Saddam Hussein was taken out and the world is better without him (FoxNews.com).  With that reasoning, North Korea should be invaded because Kim Jong-il want to stage a nuclear attack on the U.S. and its allies.  That the overthrow of the democratically elected leader of Iran in 1953, which led to an authoritarian, albeit pro-Western leader, which led to a nation that was described by Bush43 as one of three Axis of Evil countries was okay because we got oil for those 26 interim years.  Additionally, we should be invaded by the Scandinavian countries, because on nearly all criteria, the U.S. government treats its citizens much worse with lower per capita income, less education, less human rights, more violence, etc.

Some will say that it was always a mistake to go into the country (Huffington Post).  But people are fickle and irrational, it’s just that we don’t know when that is.  As indicated in the poll, there was a time when 5 out of every 6 people approved of the invasion.  Of course, we depend on the government for the correct information to make up our opinion (which we should always suspect anyways).  That is why hindsight is 20/20, but we can’t just blame the Bush presidency.  We, yes, nearly all of us said that the invasion was needed, and politicians will always respond to its constituents (or at least we hope to do).  In this instance, politicians doing exactly what we want them to do might be our downfall.  I might give the advice that we should give our politicians a little trust, but I myself will not follow that because I still think that most of them are ridiculous.

On the Ron Paul/Rand Paul side of opinion, Reason.com‘s article gives quite a good description on libertarian principles why the Iraq War was just plain wrong.  We assume, as Americans, that we are the best.  If I had to choose, the U.S. would definitely be in my top 10.  However, we can’t just transport our ideas, mainly democracy, to any country and hope that it becomes more Westernized.  I believe, for the most part, that our conflicts and resolutions accumulated within each of us to give us an idea of what the best government would entail.  It took us hundreds of years to at least think that women were not just subservient to men and that people of color should have lesser freedoms; again, some might disagree if we’ve reached that stage, but we’re hopefully getting there.  There are some laws that were discriminatory just 20 years ago that we now are beginning to realize how unfair they were.  We should at least give other countries the same deference that we ourselves were given because we happened to be a superpower and so were (more) immune to foreign countries’ criticisms.

And not to forget, the Iraq War was not just an event, it was an event with many people who gave it context.  CNN profiles a few along with ABCNews.com‘s Bob Woodruff’s experience.  Reading about their stories will at least give a more intimate picture about the conflict.  Finally, an article by NPR seems to me to be the least unbiased, though the comments in the story might prove me otherwise.

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Boris Shor, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dep't of Political Science, U. of Houston

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