Kenitra - Throughout history military interventions have required moral and legal justifications for their legitimacy; politics invariably plays a role, which often appear as trumped-up excuses for the politicking of war.
Kenitra – Throughout history military interventions have required moral and legal justifications for their legitimacy; politics invariably plays a role, which often appear as trumped-up excuses for the politicking of war.
This is not always the case, but very often is. The lead-up to the second Iraq War was no exception. As the reader no doubt recalls, the George W. Bush administration, right wing pro-war conservatives, and few more moderate Democrats began to express their concerns in the years and months following 9/11 with the possibility that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction and that his regime was building a chemical weapons plant with devastating capability. Whether through the media, official public speeches, or behind closed doors, the same story was repeated to the masses and that story was this: Saddam is a danger to both his own people and his neighbors.
In 2003 the United States and its allies invaded Iraq and later overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime—bringing relief to millions of Iraqi people and many of their long-frustrated neighbors. After many years of dictatorship and a severe crackdown on civil rights and liberties, millions held hope in their hearts for a life of social and political stability.
Unfortunately, this hope has gradually turned into a nightmare. The grand plans of the coalition have gone horribly awry, resulting in unjustified acts of barbarism, cruelty, a series of kidnappings, political and military coups, and deadly sectarian violence. The war, needless to say, went sour at a moment when every promise given of liberty and peace were at stake. “Jihadism opened a franchise in Iraq and gain[ed] steam around the world,” stated one media source, as the social cohesion of the region was torn asunder and the country dramatically fell into ethnic division.
The aftermath of the war was uniquely devastating and the statistics daunting; thousands either killed or dislocated, hundreds oppressed and prosecuted in shameful trials, and others are still looking for viable options.
Who is to blame for this? Even extreme pacifists, those who have an aversion to war the most, may agree to a war if it is to stop a genocide, starvation, or a real threat to humanity. In Iraq, none of these catastrophes were present: so why did it happen? The United States gave two justifications: Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction and his links to terrorism. Both were later proven wrong. Let us explore these points a bit more.
In reality, the story of war with Saddam’s Iraq now is a side story in global news, simply a group of files and documents ferreted away in one of the many secret American federal offices. Iraq simply doesn’t matter anymore. Iraq was invaded and the mission was officially declared completed. What, you may ask, about the weapons? The U.S. and its allies simply overestimated Iraq’s military capability; it was merely a bad calculation: “they all suffered from a widespread intelligence failure,” the U.S. State Department official statement went. Aha!
Of course, it was not all about weapons. After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, Bush’s administration publicly held Saddam responsible based on intelligence claims that his regime was attempting to collaborate with Al-Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups. No documents, no materials in hand, and no serious or reliable resources, simply another intelligence “estimation;” in other words, mere suspicion.
To reiterate, none of the claims made by the Bush administration turned out to be true. Indeed, Hussein’s regime had never even attempted to build any relations whatsoever with Al-Qaeda. Moreover, the invasion itself was integral in bringing about more violence, more terror, and a stronger Jihadist monster—the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS. How did this happen?
All of the evidence and reasoning behind the Iraq War has now become a side issue. Now, the Middle East and the world wakes up every day with a new headache called ISIS. “Washington’s more important intelligence failure lay in underestimating what would be required to rebuild and restore post-Hussein Iraq,” a source stated. This failure has caused too much pain and brought about an avoidable tragedy.
For more than a decade, the U.S. and many of its allies, including post-Hussein’s Iraq and Kurdish forces, have been fighting this emerging enemy’s advancing forces. Unfortunately, no progress has been achieved and every effort has been in vain. Twelve years have passed and conditions are stagnant; ISIS and other terrorist groups are resilient and continue to gain ground.
We have two explanations for this phenomenon: First, “The Islamic State is a learning enemy and they know how to maneuver and how to use populations and concealment, they’re becoming more savvy with the use of electronic devices, they don’t fly flags and move around in large convoys the way they once did. They don’t establish headquarters that are visible or identifiable,” explained Gen. Martin Dempsey, chair of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. But is this true? The short answer is: maybe.
ISIS soldiers fight well, they fight like true warriors, have professional military skills, and advanced arms. This can be seen in the fact that they continue to gain more lands in both Iraq and Syria and most recently in Libya. The question now is: where do they train? Where do they get their weapons? The General may have an answer.
Secondly, U.S. Sen. John McCain believes that, “No one outside the Joint Chiefs of Staff believes we have a strategy,” to defeat and degrade ISIS. He continues that, “Panetta and Gates have recently written books which have criticized Obama. In his remarks, Gates likened Obama to President Lyndon B. Johnson in what he called, ‘micromanagement’ of military policy.” Alas, America failed strategically in much more.
Promoting a liberal society in the heart of the Arab world failed, and failed badly. The promise of what former President Bush called the “Great Middle East” has turned the region into a mess. What explains this failure? This is something we must explore in the days to come. Until then, we may confidently say: worry not— there is always an excuse for any action if you spin enough stories and fabricate enough moral high ground.
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