History will judge whether the war in Iraq was justified, but there is no question that America’s fighting men and women have done this nation proud.
More than 4,000 soldiers gave their lives, while the American taxpayers have shelled out $799.35 billion (and rising) in the eight-and-a-half-year military campaign that continues to generate intense debate.
Former President George W. Bush, the mastermind of the invasion of Iraq, and most members of his inner circle in the White House continue to insist that removing Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein and toppling his government was in this nation’s national security interest.
Critics of the war argue that the Bush White House sold the American people a bill of goods when it claimed that Iraq was building nuclear weapons that could be used against U.S. allies.
It turns out that Saddam Hussein was not even close to having the capability of building a nuclear bomb, but Bush and his supporters argue that with him in power, it was only a matter of time before Iraq became a nuclear power.
This debate will rage for many years to come, but what cannot be disputed is that the United States bore the brunt of the war in terms of lives lost and money spent. Although the invasion was carried out by a coalition of troops from many countries around the world, it has always been seen as an American enterprise.
Thus, the decision by the U.S. to abandon plans to keep American troops in Iraq past a year-end withdrawal deadline triggered global reaction. The question most often asked is this: What will happen to Iraq once the Americans pull out?
There is little confidence in the Iraqi security forces and a great deal of uncertainty about the ability of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to fend off his politics foes, especially those considered Islamic extremists.
In addition, Iraq’s embrace of Iran as an ally could turn out to be a monumental error. The Islamic clerics who run Iran have made it clear that they see their kind of theocratic rule spreading throughout the Middle East.
All of the assumptions made by the Bush administration about the invasion of Iraq turned out to be wrong: No shock and awe; no welcoming of coalition forces with flowers; no nationwide embrace of the Americans and their allies; no repayment for the billions of dollars spent freeing the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s stranglehold.
Thus, withdrawal of all U.S. soldiers by January could be seen a good thing for this nation. The Associated Press first reported the pull out decision. The reason for the withdrawal speaks volumes about what has occurred in Iraq over the past eight years.
In recent months, Washington has been discussing with Iraqi leaders the possibility of several thousand American troops remaining to continue training Iraqi security forces, the wire service reported. No final decision has been reached, but Iraqi officials, who are in their positions because of the U.S., have refused to grant American troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.
It should be clear by now that from the Iraqis standpoint, the Americans have overstayed their welcome. The withdrawal by year’s end is timely and necessary, even if Iraq’s future as a free nation and western ally is by no means certain.