Iraq: We Are All to Blame pt. 1…George W. Bush
George Bush famously commented that history would judge whether his actions in Iraq were successful or not. At this point I think we have enough evidence to understand that this is definitely not the case. I’d like to take this time to put the recent developments in the Middle East into perspective.
In 2003 George Bush invaded Iraq under the pretext that then dictator Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction which he could ostensibly give to terrorist groups to conduct atrocious acts that would compromise American National Security. The folly of this action has been well documented, but I will quickly list some of them here… President Bush:
- Ignored International law by starting a preemptive war invading another country when there was no imminent threat to the United States.
- Once he undertook war he did not dedicate enough troops to the effort to secure Iraq after the capture of Saddam Hussein
- Ignored the fact that Iraq was actually acting as a regional balance to Iran and destabilization of Iraq would strengthen Iranian influence in the region
There are many more consequences of the war in Iraq. The most obvious being the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of American troops and Iraqi civilians and what looks to be the permanent splintering of Iraq along sectarian (ethnic, religious) lines.
Apologists for President Bush will state that he left Iraq in a good place because his surge was able to establish a security apparatus for Iraq and in that space the Iraqi government was created. What they conveniently ignore is that the surge was only intended as a stop gap measure to provide the United States with the cover by which President Bush could order the drawing down of US engagement in Iraq. In other words, the argument from the Bush administration was that the surge would give Iraq the political space to create some type of functioning government and give us the conditions we needed to get out. It did not address what might happen in Iraq once we left. At the onset of the war in Iraq, the Bush administration was confident it would be able to replace Hussein’s dictatorship with a functioning democracy. By the end of the (at that time) eight year engagement, the Bush administration was just content to leave Iraq with a skeleton government and a shaky security apparatus which had questionable capability to secure Baghdad much less the entire country.
As we will see in the following entries to this particular series there are very few things we can conclude about the ongoing situation in Iraq. However, we do know that the actions instigated by the Bush administration resulted in the rise of Iranian/Shiite power in the region and exacerbated isolationist American sentiment causing us to twiddle our thumbs while destabilizing and dehumanizing actions occur all across the Middle East.
Now, there are some who will respond to this particular entry by saying that Democrats also supported the War in Iraq and therefore should take some of the blame. This is true Democrats should shoulder some of the blame for supporting such reckless action, but let us not forget that they were misled continuously by the Bush administration during the run up to the war. Democratic members of Congress definitely could have been more diligent in tracking down the information themselves but in general you don’t expect a presidential administration to blatantly lie just in order to conduct a very risky war. In any case, if you want to blame the democrats in congress for not standing up to an overreaching executive you can. However, once war is authorized the responsibility to plan tactics, run the war competently, and handle nation building once the war is concluded rests solely with the President and his administration and we should not lose sight of the fact that in every aspect and by every possible metric the Bush Administration failed.
President Bush either willfully ignored or was given faulty information indicating that weapons of mass destruction could be found in Iraq, despite a pretty extensive international regime which prevented him from amassing those weapons. He incorrectly concluded that Saddam Hussein would divert those weapons to terrorist groups. He failed to listen to his Secretary of State who insisted that if he was intent on invading Iraq he had better use overwhelming military force and be prepared for a long nation building project. Instead President Bush decided to attempt to conduct a major war on the cheap. The war resulted in the destabilization of Iraq, which freed Iran to become more active in the region. It cost American lives, treasure, and prestige; and it also constrained America’s ability to take on additional challenges. It also had the residual effect of drawing resources away from the war in Afghanistan.
There is definitely blame to go around and I’m going to talk about it to the best of my ability. However, any serious and sober discussion the origins of the current situation confronting us in Iraq must begin with the first fat finger pointed at the Bush Administration. President Bush made the decision to go to war in Iraq and it resulted in a horrific disaster. That’s the first fact about the situation in Iraq as it unfolds today.