A Philosopher's Blog

Iraq: Celebrations & Explosions

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 30, 2009
A smiling Saddam Hussein sitting easily on a g...
Image via Wikipedia

As American troops have officially left Iraqi cities (aside from advisers, trainers, and others) the Iraqi people are celebrating a landmark  as a (mostly) sovereign nation. However, the celebrations have been marred by bomb attacks and these show that things are far from normal in the country.

Of course, the United States has not left the country. While the cities are (mostly) devoid of US forces, we still operate numerous bases in the country. As such, Iraq still has a ways to go before it can be considered a truly independent nation. Of course, the US does maintain forces in other sovereign countries (Japan, Germany, and South Korea being a few examples), so perhaps the US will be there to stay for quite some time. This can be a very good thing for the host country: the US picks up a part of their defense costs and dumps money into their economies.

While there is a long way to go in Iraq, it is important to acknowledge the progress that has been made. The country is far more stable than it was after the invasion and there are some vaguely democratic institutions now in place. While the American forces deserve an incredible amount of praise, there is still the obvious question of whether the invasion was worth it. After all, we found no WMDs, Saddam was a minor threat, and Iraq had no real ties to terrorists groups (ironically, the invasion gave terrorists the chance to get into Iraq). So, after destroying a despotic but functioning government, losing thousands of Americans, losing untold thousands of Iraqis, and pouring in billions of dollars we now see a somewhat despotic and somewhat functioning government. Hardly the shinning democracy that was promised. Of course, it could have been much worse.

My view, which has been held since the beginning of the war, was that the war was a bad idea and that we had nothing to gain from fighting it or occupying Iraq. So far, nothing has happened to change my mind about this. I am, however,  pleased that the Iraqi people and the American forces were able to finally turn around the disaster that had been created and restore a significant degree of stability. The fact that this is something that we should not have had to do takes nothing away from the honor and sacrfice of the brave men and women who have literally helped save the day. But, such a terrible price Iraq and America paid for this (Iraq most of all).

Some might see this success as a vindication of Bush. That would, however, be a mistake. To use an analogy, to say that Bush’ s plans led to success would be like saying that a frat boy who threw a party that wrecked a house had a successful plan because other people came and rebuilt the house he broke. Obama, of course, does not deserve credit for the success either. After all, the majority of the work was done before he arrived in office. The credit belongs, of course, to the folks in Iraq and the Americans that made this possible.

Of course, the future is still uncertain. Iraq is still shaky and might well fall back into despotism or fragment into violence. While we are supposed to only be there until 2011, we might well be there much longer.

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8 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on June 30, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    There were no really good options in Iraq. We accomplished some good, but the price was exorbitant.

    Part of the price is that the American public now has no stomach to do anything about Iranian nukes, which are a far more serious threat and will probably lead to a nuclear exchange within 20 years.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm

      True. People get worn out by war, even when a clear threat is visible. For example, after WWII the US was not inclined to push hard against the Soviet expansion. Of course, they were our “allies” then.

      Iraq certainly drained many resources and we will probably pay even more for it. As you said, we will probably be less inclined (and are certainly less able) to deal with Iran, North Korea and other threats. This is yet another lesson in why it is important to chose wars wisely.

  2. magus71 said, on July 1, 2009 at 4:11 am

    The problem was not the Iraq War. It was the insurgency that occured afterwards. They are two seperate though related events.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm

      Well, the initial war went amazingly well from a military perspective. But, what followed was a mess. In some ways it was a bit like what happened to Hannibal-he won the battles, but did poorly in taking advantage of his military victories.

  3. magus71 said, on July 1, 2009 at 5:48 am

    And if the people who are tired are not Soldiers, I’d like to know what they’re tired of. Are they tired of having their houses bombed by enemy air raids? Perhaps tired of having our women raped by marauding enemy soldiers. Maybe they’re tired of living in underground bunkers and rationing their food.

    Or maybe they’re just tired of the same old news on TV.

    They’re not tired of spending money on the war, as shown by electing a president who spent more on a stimulus bill than it took to spend in almost seven years of war. How’s that economy looking? Tired of that yet, America?

    Oh–and even though we found no WMD–if you want to look at the glass as half full (which no self respecting liberal would ever do) Al-Qaeda was exposed as a nihilistic impostor, who had portrayed itself as fighting for Islam and Muslims. It showed itself willing to kill anyone in order to gain power for its uneducated core constituents. But they defeated on h battlefield and in the mindscapes of Iraqis. They have ceased to be a viable threat, and for the next two decades will be more bothersome fly than a roaring tiger.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm

      The people who are in the war are no doubt tired of all the bad stuff. Some of the folks here in the US are probably, as you say, tired of hearing about it on TV.

      The insurgency might have exposed Al Qaeda, but it seems reasonable to ask if it was worth the price, if Al Qaeda would have been exposed anyway, and if it would have been better to just use all the resources expended against Iraq directly against Al Qaeda.

      To look at the alleged exposure of Al Qaeda as an important event is a bit like saying it was worth burning down a house because doing so killed the roaches.

      • magus71 said, on July 3, 2009 at 12:57 am

        I’m not saying it was “worth” it. I said it was one good thing that came out of it. I also said no Liberal worth his salt would look at the good that came out of this. You’re worth your salt.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 3, 2009 at 9:07 am

          Well, I suppose it is wise to see what good can come out of any situation. For example, although I wish I had never needed to get my tendon repaired, I decided to make the most of what I had to work with. For example, I had long wanted to get a Bowflex and add that to my exercise, but never got around to it…until I couldn’t run.

          As such, it does make sense to look at the positives that arose from the war. Of course, it is reasonable to be concerned that such assessments might involve a great deal of rationalizing.


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