President Obama is a man of his word. He said he would pull all troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, and he has done just that! After a decade of war, the conflict in Iraq has ceased. At least for us; at least for now.
But what was gained from all the fighting?
I will admit I was all for the Iraq War in the beginning. (However, I will admit to being naive, and possibly duped.) I will also admit that is not really fair to judge motives of political and military leaders who got us into the war in hind-site. It is easy to be an arm-chair general. But about half-way through the conflict I started having my doubts if we should have ever gone to war in the first place. And now that it is “over,” I wonder, “What was the point?” As soon as our troops were pulled from the region, Iraq started falling apart. Whatever gains we had made seemed to be lost overnight.
According to Bloomberg Business Week, financially, The Iraq War has been the second costliest war in American history. More costly than the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, Korea, and Vietnam. More costly, financially, than any war other than WWII. That’s astounding, is it not? And now our country is on the verge of bankruptcy! Please, someone tell me, what was the point? There could have been a point at the beginning (though I don’t remember hearing one), but now that it is over, why were we there?
But the cost of the Iraq War was much more than financial!
Approximately 4,500 U.S. service men died in the Iraqi war; and somewhere between 104,000 and 114,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Another 32,000 soldiers were injured, and an undisclosed number returned home suffering from trauma, concussions, and other undocumented and undisclosed injuries.
The war has cost us our reputation and standing in the world.
The war has cost us our integrity; meaning, we broke it (the country of Iraq) and then failed to put it back together.
And now that the war is over, where is the victory parade? (Rick Perry says if he were president he would send troops back to Iraq.)
Please understand, what I am writing has nothing to do with the virtue and courage of our military people. I have a cousin who served 8 or 9 tours in the Middle East. I have friends who have family members who were injured or killed. Our soldiers are brave heroes! They fulfilled their duties faithfully. I am proud of each and every one of them. But I am sure even some of them are wondering why they fought, and more importantly, why they were not allowed to win.
Back in October I wrote a blog about Just War Theory. One principle of Just War is that it must be fought with a reasonable chance of success. Applied in that principle is the understanding that when you go to war (and that should only be as a last resort) you fight to win and to win as quickly as possible with as little damage as possible. In my opinion, we violated that standard.
Another key principle of Just War is the desire for peace. In other words, the ultimate goal of war is to establish peace, and at the very least, the peace that is established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had never been fought. I have my doubts we met that criteria.
Today, my conscious is bothering me because, in my opinion, we have violated more than one of the principles established by Just War Theory; and so, even if the war was just at the outset (and I am not as confident about that as I would like to be), we did not finish the war in a just way (and that bothers me tremendously).
It should go without saying that I am only commenting on what I know and what I understand. I recognize there are lots of people who know far more than me. But what I have written is how I see it.
The reason all this is important to me is because there will be more wars in the future in which our country will be involved, and I have learned my lesson. No longer will I “jump on the bandwagon” and follow our leaders into war, just because they say it is just. I will do my homework before I support military action next time, regardless of who is in office.
What are your thoughts about the Iraqi War and the way we fought and left the country?