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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thirteen years later, a look back at the Iraq War, its motivations and its consequences. (Part I)

Link: Wikipedia entry for the Benghazi scandal.

Part I

The recent opening of a well-produced and costly film on the 2012 Benghazi incident in which four Americans, including an Ambassador were killed, reminds us of the sadly dangerous world we live in.  Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three young men that lost their lives that night, believed that they were in Benghazi, Libya, to help spread America's message of freedom and give hope to a nation in great need of something in which to believe.  When I was a child, I would spend hours looking at the globe my parents bought me for my ninth birthday, and try to learn, day by day, a little bit about all the different countries around the world.  Over the year, I remember using that globe to identify places where war had broken out.  As I've gotten older, the areas free from conflict has continually gotten smaller.  Today, as I look at a map of the world, I can no longer identify a place which isn't in some way either directly under attack or threatened by the plague of Islamic Extremist terrorism.  In the seven years following the 9-11 tragedy, the United States used its military capability to force the terrorist elements to fight in their own backyard.  True, Al-Qaeda was guest-of-honor of the Taliban in Afghanistan, not Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  But strategically, the best way to get at Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was by using Iraq as a spring-board.  The Bush Administration had been in a war of words with Iraq and its manipulation of the oil-for-food program to ignore United Nation's Resolutions.  I don't know the real answer, but it would seem that the Bush Administration gambled that the Democrats, the United Nations, and the rest of the world wouldn't mind if the U.S. borrowed Iraq's U.N. Resolution violations as an excuse to invade Iraq and turn it into a U.S. military base.  I understand the reasoning behind the strategy: the best was to annihilate Al-Qaeda was to force them into a conventional war (to which they were wholly unsuited) in their own backyard; no place to retreat. 

As for the politics involved, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction issue, I understand the frustration of folks who did not follow the Bush Administration's lead.  But Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant who had ignored every attempt by the United Nations to get him in line.  And by 2009, the Iraqi insurgency was over, and Iraq was beginning, for the first time as an independent and free nation, to stand on its own feet (thank you, U.S. taxpayer).  You see, while the military was defeating first, Saddam loyalists and second, the insurgency, we had engineers, architects, plumbers, construction specialists, electricians, town planners, and all sorts of other "nation rebuilding" experts in place, to rebuild Iraq.  Highways were put back in order, from one side of Iraq to the other.  The urban transportation systems were modernized and put back on line, along with traffic lights and speed limits.  The water distribution and waste disposal systems in place were practically from the time of the Ottomans, and we fixed what was repairable and replaced the rest.  Education was important to President Bush, and school building was a priority, from grade school to university-level education.  A tremendous effort to put Iraq's refining capacity back on line was not complete by 2009, but a great deal had been accomplished.  Also, the U.S. military was in the process of training a streamlined, effective, modern Iraqi Armed Forces.


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