Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Three Years in Iraq

A little over three years ago now, the United States invaded Iraq. I remember all too well where I was when it happened. I was flying to Las Vegas to enjoy the opening weekend of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament with my old college buddies. It was my first time flying on JetBlue, and thus I got to watch CNN live as the invasion began. Or at least "Shock and Awe" began.

It was a sobering event to happen on what was otherwise a really fun trip. My friends and I did our share of gambling, I got to lose some money on the University of Florida. Iraq kept coming up in conversations over dinner or while enjoying drinks at the Bellagio. I have an interesting mix of liberal and conservative friends, but they definitely lean right as a group. My main point of contention that weekend was that the US was not being honest about why we were invading Iraq. We all knew already that Iraq did not have WMDs. I was willing to concede that maybe invading Iraq was still justified, but I just hated that we were lying about why we were doing it.

The problem is that when your leaders are lying about their reasons, you really have to wonder about their true reasons. Maybe those reasons are still good, but what if they are not? If these reasons are kept secret, don't you have to suspect that there's something not so good about them?

That line of thought leads you into Michael Moore-land. Was President Bush just looking for any excuse to invade Iraq, maybe for reasons of revenge? Was this simply an attempt to secure oil, caused by a perception of instability in Saudi Arabia after 9/11 (most of the terrorist were from Saudi Arabia after all)? Or was this part of some grand neo-con plan to "introduce" democracy and capitalism into the Middle East?

I'm not saying any one of those things is correct. My point is that to some degree, you must entertain such theories because of President Bush's dishonesty. As for Iraq today, and the mess we are in ... I'm not going to claim to know what to do now. Just because we may have had less than noble reasons for invading does not necessarily mean that withdrawing now would be the right thing to do. It seems like nobody thought twice about the US's decision to keep a unified Iraq, despite its internal conflicts. It hardly seemed very democratic, telling people that they had to be part of the same country and they had no choice about it. Again it makes you wonder about the motivation, since clearly a unified Iraq is easier to pump oil out of.

If a full blown civil war breaks out (has it already?) can the US keep claiming that everyone it shoots is a terrorist? The sins of this invasion just keep growing and growing. It is reminiscent of the Cold War, where the US again and again let strategic goals (containment of Communism) caused it to back dictators (and future terrorists!) and thus creating more support for the very thing (Communism) that it was trying to prevent. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a social scientist for that matter) to figure out that the US presence in Iraq has certainly driven more people to the suicide-bombing-is-endorsed brand of Islam. What would have to happen for President Bush to decide to pull out our troops? If the answer is "nothing could cause that" then we certainly are in a lot of trouble for a lot of years to come.

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