Thursday, August 19, 2010

With the last 'combat' troops leaving Iraq (there will still be troops there, supposedly focused on training Iraqis), let's look at the before and after of Bush's not-so-excellent adventure...

Before, Hussein was in charge and the country was pretty screwed up. There wasn't much in the way of intra-Iraqi violence, at least not if you don't count the thousands Hussein killed each year. There was some governmental support for terrorism against Israel and America. And there was some level of concern among the Gulf countries that Hussein would again try something along the lines of his ill-fated invasion of Kuwait.

And what did we get for our hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of dead servicemen and thousands more of wounded soldiers?

Well, Hussein and his sons are gone. There are a bunch of dead terrorists/insurgents. Nobody is worried about Iraq invading or intimidating its neighbors. And it's hard to tell for sure, but possible that the Iraqi government isn't funding or providing other forms of support to suicide bombers in Israel.

One might be inclined to think the above justifies the costs... but, as they say on TV, 'there's more' to consider.

But for our invading Iraq, most of the dead terrorists weren't a threat to America. Most of them were locals and ill-suited for anything more than running into an Iraqi market with a bomb strapped to their bodies or laying IEDs alongside Iraqi roads, they weren't applying for visas to come to America to wage holy war against us infidels. So while it's good that they are dead, America isn't any safer as a result.

While nobody is worried right now about Iraq, people are sure worried about Iran which took advantage of Bush being occupied in Iraq to expand its support of terrorists and to embark on programs that scare its neighbors far more than Hussein did. It's a question that can never be definitively answered, but for Bush invading Iraq, it is possible that Iran wouldn't be in the position it is today.

While the Iraqi government isn't torturing and killing its political opponents, at least not to the same extent Hussein did, there is still a lot of intra-Iraqi violence and there remains a huge question as to whether the Iraqis truly can live together in peace and harmony.

And in looking at the positives resulting from Bush's invasion of Iraq, one must also look at whether those results could have been achieved with other, less expensive, methods.

If we wanted to get rid of Hussein, we could have done so and without invading Iraq. Or, alternatively, we could have packed up and left as soon as he was captured. Either approach would have cost us a whole lot less in money and lives.

The same holds true for finding out for sure whether Iraq had or was pursuing WMDs. We could have answered the question at a far lower cost.

And we could have beefed up our protective umbrella of the Gulf States in order to provide them with the comfort of knowing they weren't going to wake up one morning and find Iraqi troops marching in the streets.

All in all... my final answer it that going about it the way Bush did was a waste of money and men. He could have accomplished everything he did - and a whole lot more - if he had done things differently. Yeah, he 'won', but only if you view the conflict in isolation, without looking at alternatives and without looking at the terribly high costs.

Oh, and by the way, there is one more cost that needs to be factored into the equation... and a cost that is - and will be - so high as to prove without a doubt that Bush's handling of Iraq was terrible, terrible, terrible.... and that is, but for Bush doing what he did, Obama would never have been elected President.