Let me be perfectly clear: I strongly support our military and the people that serve to protect our freedoms and guard our inalienable rights.
Having said this, I was very opposed to our invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan; however, it is not because of the reasons virtually everyone else opposed those wars for. I was opposed to the war not because I thought it a fruitless effort nor because it was “none of our business what happens over there,” but because I knew we would not stay long enough to finish the job, particularly as we have a change in the White House from GWB to someone else. In this case, it was to Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) — jast about the worse person we could’ve had in the White House for the prosecution and conclusion of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US has proven, as a country, that it does not like protracted conflicts and doesn’t have the stomach to finish the job. We saw this in Vietnam. What the US does do well is an all out effort to crush a central enemy. We saw this in World War 2. Despite this, the fundamental reasons for why we went to war in both Iraq and Afghanistan was correct: Regardless of the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. In Iraq, again, regardless of the absence of WMDs, the world didn’t need to gamble on whether or not Saddam Hussein was going to invade another Middle-east country — for example, Saudi Arabia — to gain a stranglehold on the world’s oil supply. Therefore, what GHWB failed to do, GWB delivered. This I have no issue with. History has shown appeasing tyrants that invade other countries is not a short-cut to peace nor a path to long-term prosperity, e.g., Adolf Hitler.
No; the problem I had with the 2nd invasion of Iraq wasn’t that we didn’t find any WMDs, but whether we would stay long enough to finish the job. What I mean by finishing the job is very simple: Create a stable Iraqi democracy rooted in a strong constitution that guarantees individual freedoms and inalienable rights for ALL — Sunny, Shia, Kurds, Christians, Jews, etc. Backed by a strong central government and well-trained and loyal military force. I felt that this would take at least 30-50 years after the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The reason for this lengthy transition is complex but, ultimately, it has to do with the Iraqis believing that the new system of government is not only permanent, but also fair and Just. This last piece, in particular, is very, very important in nation building.
Think about it: The main problem with Iraq has been and will be the unification of the various religious and tribal groups within the country. This unification cannot happen without every group buying into the concept that the central government is not only strong and independent of any single sect, group, or faction, but also would fairly and Justly adjudicate any conflicts or disputes. This means that the court systems have to be not only set up, but also fully and properly functioning. And, with time, as Just and fair precedents are set and everyone starts to buy into and trust “the system,” Iraq would finally find peace as a country. In addition, as the capitalist economy starts to raise the standard of living and a secular education system loosens the grip of religious fervor, Iraq would have cemented its hard won peace.
However, for this to happen, the old guard has to pass and we must have generations of new Iraqis that have known nothing but the new government, its systems of governance and trust in those institutions. In the midst of the Iraqis traveling on this path to unity, the role of the US would’ve been to ensure that disruptive elements don’t upset the apple cart by running counter-insurgency operations in conjunction with the Iraqis military. In other words, the job of the US military would’ve been to buy time with their lives for the Iraqis to develop harmony, unity and trust amongst the disparate groups that were thrown together into Iraq.
If we take a look at the history of our own country, it took us from about 1788 to about 1865, at the earliest, or about 76 years for the USA to be one country as opposed to 33 states that formed a relationship of convenience. Even then, suspicion among the states and mistrust among their residents were the norm, not the exception. Therefore, we probably did not become one country in both political formation and in the hearts and minds of the citizenry until 1917 when we went to Europe to fight in World War 1. If true then the US did not become one country for 129 years after its constitution was ratified.
Let’s look at another example: South Korea. Prior to the start of the Korean war, the per capita GDP of North Korea was triple that of South Korea. It wasn’t until about 1974 that the North and South achieved parity in per capita GDP and it wasn’t until about the turn of the new millennium that the per capita GDP in the South exceeded 10x that of the North. This “economic miracle” of South Korea could not have been possible without the large US military presence in South Korea from 1950 to today — 64 years and counting. The US made it possible for South Koreans to feel safe enough to develop their economic potential and unify not only the political factions, but also drive a unified citizenry towards the achievement of one goal. Ironically, in the case of South Korea, it needed a dictator (i.e., Park Cheung-hee, the father of the current president of South Korea) to fully realize its potential in addition to the presence of the US military. Regardless, the protection of the US military was vital in the peaceful development of South Korea’s “economic miracle” and the political process that is the democratic system in South Korea today. Therefore, it can be said that the nation-building in South Korea took about 50 years.
Therefore, given our own history and that of South Korea’s, how could we expect Iraq, which by most measures was more fractured in 2004 than the USA in 1788 and South Korea in 1953, to become a peaceful, unified and well-functioning country in less than 10 years? This is absurd. And, knowing that the USA, and in particular, a new president, would not stand for a prolonged engagement of our military in Iraq, I was vehemently opposed to the Iraq war. I strongly felt that the worse thing that we could do is to invade Iraq then leave before the job was completely done. I felt very strongly that a premature withdrawal of our military presence would be a gold-plated invitation for the calamity and chaos to return to an already unstable situation. More than that, I felt that a third invasion of Iraq would become necessary as the country descends into chaos, which would not only prolong the agony of the Iraqis, but also necessitate the sacrifice of even more of our military heros. This was and still is extremely unacceptable. However, given the current situation in Iraq, we may not have a choice, but to launch a third invasion of Iraq.
However, I do not blame GWB for doing the right thing: There is no question that removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right thing to do for the preservation of long-term peace in the Middle-east. I blame BHO for making a political decision to withdraw from Iraq prematurely. From his viewpoint, it was a no lose situation to withdraw prematurely from Iraq: If, post the hasty retreat of the USA from Iraq, the country somehow miraculously survives and develops a peaceful democracy BHO would’ve taken full credit for giving the Iraqis the opportunity to get things done on their own term and time. On the other hand, as we are witnessing today, if Iraq descends into chaos then BHO can blame GWB for starting a war that could never be won or concluded — this is the way I expect BHO to characterize it.
How despicable is it that BHO would not only twice sacrifice the lives lost in Iraq, but also make their sacrifice for naught?! I’m outraged, appalled and angry! And now, BHO wants to gut the military budget so he can spend more money on so called “social programs” that will end up serving no purpose other than to bankrupt this country. Not only that, he wants to repeat his blunder in Iraq by prematurely withdrawing from Afghanistan as well. This means that the terrorists that have vowed to destroy the USA will have two bases of operations, which means that in the next 10-20 years the USA may have to launch another invasion of both Iraq and Afghanistan. This means not only sacrificing more of our military heros, but also wasting the sacrifices already made by some 6,700 who died and 51,000 who were wounded in those conflicts. What a shame!
More than that, I am very concerned that terrorists bent on destroying the USA will use Iraq and Afghanistan as safe havens to launch terrorist attacks against us with relative impunity killing thousands of innocent civilians and turning our country into a war zone. I sincerely hope that this does not happen, but if it does then we have no one else to blame but BHO for his stupidity and short-sightedness, at best, and, at worst, his political maneuvering to curry favor with the electorate for himself or his party.
I have no idea what the historians will say about GWB; I hope it is that he tried to free the world from another tyrant that could have brought the world to its knees. However, I hope that the legacy of BHO is that he needlessly killed US military personnel by prematurely pulling out of both Iraq and Afghanistan for political gain. That is nothing less than what he deserves. And, I hope his decision to play political games with the lives of Americans and its heros haunts him for the rest of his life.
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