Wed, Mar 19th - 10:46AM
The Iraq War fiasco, five years later
When U.S. President George W. Bush launched Stealth bombers at
Saddam Hussein's regime on March 19, 2003, five years ago today,
roughly 60 per cent of Americans backed the war. Most were convinced
Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Most believed he had ties to
Osama bin Laden, their 9/11 nemesis. And most felt sure Iraqi democracy
would rise phoenix-like and strong from the cinders.
certainties have long since been exploded. In the twilight of the
failed Bush presidency Americans are left contemplating a ruinous $3
trillion bill for a
war former defence secretary Don Rumsfeld once haughtily predicted would cost
$60 billion. Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died. And U.S. credibility
internationally has suffered a devastating blow. Iraqis, meanwhile,
mourn 151,000 violent deaths by their own government's estimate, as
they struggle amid "tears and blood" to patch together the broken
political pieces, rebuild a civil administration and economy, bring
home millions of refugees, and fend off a stubborn insurgency and civil war.
the fears the Bush administration fanned at the United Nations before
attacking Iraq, there never was a pressing need for war, beyond Bush's
demand for "regime change" in an "axis of evil" state. And most
Canadians and much of the world knew it. The UN inspectors were right.
Saddam had long since given up his nuclear, biological and chemical
ambitions. Nor did he have the ties Washington claimed with the 9/11
attackers, who were from Saudi Arabia for the most part.
Iraq's new democracy led by President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki is incomparably better than Saddam's murderous Baathist
autocracy, it is also fractious, unstable and weak. It has yet to agree
on laws to hold Kurdish, Sunni and Shia regions together in some kind
of federation, or on a plan to fairly divvy up Iraq's oil revenues.
Many Iraqis now live in mortal fear of a U.S. military pullout,
anarchy, and the breakup of their nation. If they break up into smaller countries they will undoubtably run into problems with corruption, fiscal mismanagement and possibly become training grounds for terrorist groups.
As leading U.S.
Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton recognize, the Iraq war has
also been a costly distraction from the effort to repair Afghanistan
after decades of Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban misrule,
which included playing host to Al Qaeda. President Hamid Karzai
presides over a democratically elected but desperately weak government,
with insufficient military forces to preserve order. Bin Laden is still
on the loose. And the Taliban remain a threat. Meanwhile, 157,000 U.S.
troops are too busy in Iraq to help in Afghanistan.
history of Bush's years in the White House is written, the accidental
president of 2000 will get due credit for rallying a shaken nation
after 9/11 and for confronting Al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts. But
Bush will be remembered as well as the president who scare-mongered
Americans into a debacle in Iraq that sapped their nation's psyche and
treasury, eroded its political and moral credibility, and misdirected
resources that were needed in Afghanistan to fight terror. Bush's attack on
Iraq defined a failed presidency.
And five years later today Americans are still tallying the cost.Bush should have used the 157,000 troops currently stationed in Iraq to eliminate the terrorist threat in Afghanistan first and given weapons inspectors ample time to determine whether there was any need to attack Iraq.
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