Not looking for any deep conversations here. Just looking for some opinions beyond the stuff I can read in the papers. If you asked me my opinion a few years ago on the last war in Iraq I would have expressed the view shared by many non-Americans. It was wrong, it was for oil, Bush was an idiot.
Anyway, I've recently read Bush's book (audiobook read by him actually which is quite an enjoyable way to read an autobiography) and I find myself looking at it in a new light. Bush talked about his desire to spread freedom to the Iraqi people which funny enough I found to be quite similar to Roosevelt's reason for supporting the war in the Philippines, Cuban independence, and Panamanian independence (along with the more obvious financial reasons being the canal), not to mention the threat posed by Saddam to America that as his oil revenues continued to grow, was only going to get stronger as time went by. He also stated he never believed there was any link between Iraq and the 9/11 bombers which at the time I felt was being misinformed to the public that it was.
Anyway, this is still just the book of one man who, as sincere as he may sound in his book, is still just telling his side of a complex story. I'm curious about what some of you think. I'm especially curious to hear from some of you who've actually been there.
Anyway, not exactly a great debate. But considering the potential for political side battles I figured I'd post this here.
My opinion, having served in Iraq, is it has nothing to do with oil, freedom, dictators etc. It is about money. War is big business, and makes a few people very rich. Which is why we've pretty much been in perpetual warfare since WW1. They are either supplying weapons, food, ammunition, med supplies, etc. to our troops fighting overseas, or another country, it amounts to billions of dollars.
Do you think the Iraq war was a good move for the US? I know we have 20/20 hindsight here so I'm not trying to judge those who did a decade ago. But along with opening q's was wondering this one too.
No. Too much loss of life. Not to mention war always sets economy back, but works out for those with money, when things are on sale (ie depression) buy more. The middle class and poor are left to slide further into debt taking out loans for education in hopes of getting a "job", and continue to struggle. Then again, during a depression more entrepreneurs (myself) create businesses, but more and more this is no longer an achievable dream with all of the red tape from the government, confusing, contradictory regulation from the IRS, and laws, supposedly enacted to protect employees, only serve to punish small businesses.
A fair chunk of the US war in Iraq boils down to a few root causes:
First, poor assessment of limited intelligence about a potential aversary known to have very few restraints when dealing with opponents. This was combined with what was, unfortunately for Saddam's Ba'ath Party regime, a credible and quite successful disinformation campaign concerning the Iraqi government's possesion of Chemical & Biological Weapons of Mass Destruction and active R&D on Nuclear Weaponry.
Second, apparently uncritcal acceptance of those intelligence assessments by the senior advisors to the President.
Third, the contemporary existence of "turf wars" and the resulting structural differences in how intelligence was handled, shared, interpreted, and ultimately presented to the President and his senior advisors.
Fourth, the moral mindset of the President himself. I mean this vis-a-vis Mr. Bush's stated personal religious and moral convictions and his knowledge of Saddam Hussein's lack of moral restraint when dealing with opponenets, either real or potential.
Fifth, the very real national security implications, not just for the US, but for Europe and Japan, of having a major source of world oil production under the control of a hostile government.
I would say that the profit motive was not a prime driver of the Iraq war. That followed the "Peace Dividend" policy of reducing military personnel budgets by transferring as much logistical work as possible to to civilian contractors, rather than having the work done by the military's "organic" quartermaster and ordnance troops.
I think your first, third, & fourth points are the most important for American foreign policy. But I'd like to hear more, if you will. Do you think the problems with intel & the problems in the national security bureaucracies, to say nothing of the leadership in the big departments involved, are new problems? Do you think they've gotten better meanwhile? Do you think what happened in the case of the War on Terror stuff was an accident or part of the way the system works?
I must refer you to the abundance of official "after action" reports and reviews readily available by fairly quick internet and library searches. I have merely quoted information that is widely available to anyone who cares to search it out. For one example, the existence of "intelligence agency" turf wars has been well documented, and dates back to at least the FDR administration, when the first formal, permanent civilian counterintelligence entity was established by a Presidential Directive.
Consider me duly referred - thanks.
Not to stop the side debate which I think is a part of every AOM thread but I should clarify my question. I'm not asking for why America went to war. I'm asking, looking at it from today, with all we know, good and bad, was it worth it. Bush himself pointed out how bad it looks that no WMD weren't found and even mentions his admin's blunders in the war and after (such as removing all of Saddam's supporters from service thereby creating a power vacuum that allowed the sectarian violence fall into civil war). I felt he was quite frank about his mistakes but he still believes he was right about removing Saddam. I guess I just wanted to hear from some here, especially those who've been there, whether they agreed with him. Is Iraq better off? Is America better off?
From Martin's opinion, I get the feeling that he feels Bush's story is just whitewash and that the war, all wars, does nothing to serve those who fight in it or those it is supposedly fought for. I think Will feels the same.
I think now it is pretty obvious it was not worth fighting. But I think that is true of many wars, when once you lose them.
Mr. Bush is wrong. His problem was not destroying the Ba'ath utterly; not delivering the Sunni minority to their enemies. Insisting on putting the minority back in power only enraged & alienated the majority of the population. That kind of thinking is the problem. I think State epitomizes it, but there are always more than a few generals in Defense who think the same clever thoughts.
It was right to destroy the tyranny if it is ever right to destroy tyranny. It was done pretty well, too. But everything after the initial campaign was at best questionable; it ended up a long occupation & a brief, uneventful retreat. It seems nobody in this war, like nobody in America's previous umpteenth wars going back decades, asked himself: What will peace look like, a peace I think it's worth fighting for? What does it take to get it? -- I think idealism has corrupted thinking here, because it ignores ostensibly self-interest, which is part of American national interest, which is the good insofar as foreign policy can achieve it or contribute to it, & the good, one's own good, is the beginning of wisdom on these matters... Different presidents, different parties, different Congresses - the same lack of strategy...
It was. How much stronger would Sadam be, now, if we hadn't gone in and taken him down? If we had let Sadam take Kuwait what would have stopped him from continuing his taking over the middle east? He showed his intent to use chemical weapons on civilians do you think he wouldn't have used them on anyone else? Would the region be going through the 'Arab Spring' uprisings? We destabilized the region and now they are fighting internecine wars, basically taking themselves off the international stage. Al-Qeida has been weakened and other terrorist organizations haven't stepped up into the breech.
I think you are mixing things. Saddam may have been stronger so I see that point. But I'm talking about the war with Bush Jr, not Sr so Kuwait had nothing to do with it. Also, I don't think Iraq ever had a chance of "taking over the middle east". That wasn't why Bush invaded. It wasn't that the nation of Iraq would invade anyone. It was more that he would supply others. The chemical weapons risk I would agree. He used them before on his own citizens and as mentioned, the belief he had WMD was the reason for the invasion. Also, I actually believe Bush that he (and his advisors) really thought Saddam had them. As he wrote in his book, why would he lie about it? If there weren't any, the whole world would see that once they invaded (which it did), and he would be accused of invaded under false pretences (which he was). The influence on the revolts in the Arab world is too early to tell but I agree that it is quite possibly one of the contributing factors. Al-Quida was weakened when they lost their safe haven in Afghanistan not Iraq. They had no presence in Iraq at the time of the war (although it does seem likely that they would have moved in that direction).
By the way, Nick, here's Kipling's poem on TR, titled Great Heart.
Concerning brave Captains
Our age hath made known
For all men to honour,
One standeth alone,
Of whom, o'er both oceans,
Both peoples may say:
"Our realm is diminished
With Great-Heart away."
In purpose unsparing,
In action no less,
The labours he praised
He would seek and profess
Through travail and battle,
At hazard and pain. . . .
And our world is none the braver
Since Great-Heart was ta'en!
Plain speech with plain folk,
And plain words for false things,
Plain faith in plain dealing
'Twixt neighbours or kings,
He used and he followed,
However it sped. . . .
Oh, our world is none more honest
Now Great-Heart is dead!
The heat of his spirit
Struck warm through all lands;
For he loved such as showed
'Emselves men of their hands;
In love, as in hate,
Paying home to the last. . . .
But our world is none the kinder
Now Great-Heart hath passed!
Hard-schooled by long power,
Yet most humble of mind
Where aught that he was
Might advantage mankind.
Leal servant, loved master,
Rare comrade, sure guide. . . .
Oh, our world is none the safer
Now Great-Heart hath died!
Let those who would handle
Make sure they can wield
His far-reaching sword
And his close-guarding shield:
For those who must journey
Have need of stout convoy
Now Great-Heart is gone.