Spring has sprung! Regardless of the on-going winter weather across much of the US — and many of us bracing for yet another round of brisk temperatures and snow. So much for Punxutawney Phil — the unwilling weather prognosticator who didn’t see his shadow last month, thus supposedly predicting an early spring.
Across the country newspapers and newsrooms are carrying stories about today being the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War (OIF: Operation Iraqi Freedom). Lots of columns on what went wrong, what were the lessons learned, what went right. I’ll suggest two here, one from the right (more or less) by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, and one from the left (I suppose) by Tom Friedman, citizen of the world.
What went wrong is epic. And it cost over $1Trillion … so far, as we’ll be paying to take care of wounded vets for decades. Even though we won the war in a matter of a few weeks, we managed to terrifically “lose the peace”, and lost control of the country. We lost 4,500 US lives, the lives of many more of our Allies, including English and Canadian. Tens of thousands injured and maimed. We never found any WMDs — chemical or biological — that Sacdam Hussein had bragged about having, and never having produced credible evidence that they were destroyed. [Some have theorized that they went to Syria just as the war began. Sure enough, chemical weapons were used there this week].
What went right is difficult to value, and is mostly forgotten. The president went to congress for approval before it began. He got that approval, including from high profile Democrats, many who pined for residence in the White House such as Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry. A truly evil person, Saddam Hussein, is gone, never again to cause torment, order mass murders with bodies in mass graves, use chemical weapons or launch missiles toward cities of innocents, whether they be in Tehran or Tel Aviv.
There are a few more things that went right. Here’s one that is mostly forgotten:
As Barack Obama was rolling to victory in the fall of 2008, the Bush administration was quietly behind the scenes negotiating an agreement with Iraq to not only end the war, but to have all US troops out in 2011. As the US and the world swooned over the freshly elected fresh face who promised peace, there was little notice paid to the announcement that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) would have us soon out of Iraq. [SOFA in news, November, 2008] Sure enough, President Obama pulled the last troops out in 2011 — albeit a bit earlier than SOFA’s terms, a result of Iraq’s insistence on prosecuting any allied forces accused of criminal activity in Iraqi courts.
At a dear cost of blood and treasure — not to mention loss of prestige around the world — the US and its allies removed an evil maniac of a dictator and helped set up something that is as close to democracy as could realistically be expected in a most unlikely place.
Was it worth it? Probably not.
Perhaps more … another day. Maybe in 10 more years we’ll have enough perspective to take another look.
Cheers and Happy Spring
Joe Girard © 2013