Five years of Iraq

So, we have now been in Iraq for five years. Our troops did win the war part, brilliantly, in a short time. But it’s that nation building that keeps bogging us down.

In hindsight, should we have invaded Iraq? And even if we shouldn’t have, wouldn’t it be another kind of disaster if we gave the jihadists a great victory from Allah and just pulled out?

Any suggestions?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • S Bauer

        I do not think we should have invaded Iraq, at least not in the way the Bush administration did, which was wrong-headed from the get-go. There was no imminent threat. Saddam was contained; we could have kept up the pressure on him until we truly had a coalition of NATO and Arab and other nations to do it together. If there were to be an invasion, the administration should be clear that this is going to be a nation building project. They should understand the military, political, religious, cultural situation and have the personnel on hand to handle all those. No “war on the cheap.” Many years, beaucoup(?) bucks, lots of lives lost. “Gee, who would ever want to go to war if you have to do all that?”
        Besides, we already had a nation building project in Afghanistan (the invasion of which was a good idea). Like I keep trying to teach my son with ADHD, break the problem up into little tasks. FINISH ONE before starting another. Baby steps, baby steps.

        As for now that we are in it, we’re committed. We’ve got decades, 100′s of billions, and more lives to invest. Once we went in, it was no longer simply about what is in the US’ best interest. We have to do what is in Iraq’s best interest.

  • S Bauer

        I do not think we should have invaded Iraq, at least not in the way the Bush administration did, which was wrong-headed from the get-go. There was no imminent threat. Saddam was contained; we could have kept up the pressure on him until we truly had a coalition of NATO and Arab and other nations to do it together. If there were to be an invasion, the administration should be clear that this is going to be a nation building project. They should understand the military, political, religious, cultural situation and have the personnel on hand to handle all those. No “war on the cheap.” Many years, beaucoup(?) bucks, lots of lives lost. “Gee, who would ever want to go to war if you have to do all that?”
        Besides, we already had a nation building project in Afghanistan (the invasion of which was a good idea). Like I keep trying to teach my son with ADHD, break the problem up into little tasks. FINISH ONE before starting another. Baby steps, baby steps.

        As for now that we are in it, we’re committed. We’ve got decades, 100′s of billions, and more lives to invest. Once we went in, it was no longer simply about what is in the US’ best interest. We have to do what is in Iraq’s best interest.

  • Anon

    To my knowledge, the US has never built another nation without messing things up.

    And Iraq was not a nation, but left-overs of the British Empire, put together with the odd notion that groups that hated each other would get along if put in the same country.

    I think with more information coming to light about Saddam Hussein (can I use the last name for -him-?) and his involvement with al Quada, and the hundreds of 50 gallon drums of yellow-cake uranium he had, that we should have gone in.

    But then what? We can’t build nations. We maybe could have given the Shia to Iran, the Sunni to Jordan, left the Christian and Jewish area their own country, and I don’t know what to do with the Kurds, who ought to have self-determination, but would have simply been put down by the Turks, immediatly.

    And then have gotten out and gone after the regime in Khartoum.

  • Anon

    To my knowledge, the US has never built another nation without messing things up.

    And Iraq was not a nation, but left-overs of the British Empire, put together with the odd notion that groups that hated each other would get along if put in the same country.

    I think with more information coming to light about Saddam Hussein (can I use the last name for -him-?) and his involvement with al Quada, and the hundreds of 50 gallon drums of yellow-cake uranium he had, that we should have gone in.

    But then what? We can’t build nations. We maybe could have given the Shia to Iran, the Sunni to Jordan, left the Christian and Jewish area their own country, and I don’t know what to do with the Kurds, who ought to have self-determination, but would have simply been put down by the Turks, immediatly.

    And then have gotten out and gone after the regime in Khartoum.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    No nation-building? What do you call all of Western Europe (except for Switzerland), anon, rebuilt with the Marshall Plan? What about Japan and South Korea?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    No nation-building? What do you call all of Western Europe (except for Switzerland), anon, rebuilt with the Marshall Plan? What about Japan and South Korea?

  • http://www.boomerinthepew.com David Porter

    How can we say this war should not have happened?

    Is God not in control of His creation?

    I don’t like this mess either. But I also don’t profess to have the infinite wisdom to understand the mind of God.

    Seems to me that we all must be on our knees seeking the face of God rather than trying to unfold infinite mysteries with our finite minds.

    Certainly someday, we will understand. But, man o’ man, I see in a mirror that is WAY dim. I don’t understand and I understand that I am not going to understand. I hate that part!

    Let’s love God with all our hearts, love one another as Christ loved us and move forward.

  • http://www.boomerinthepew.com David Porter

    How can we say this war should not have happened?

    Is God not in control of His creation?

    I don’t like this mess either. But I also don’t profess to have the infinite wisdom to understand the mind of God.

    Seems to me that we all must be on our knees seeking the face of God rather than trying to unfold infinite mysteries with our finite minds.

    Certainly someday, we will understand. But, man o’ man, I see in a mirror that is WAY dim. I don’t understand and I understand that I am not going to understand. I hate that part!

    Let’s love God with all our hearts, love one another as Christ loved us and move forward.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    “Should we have invaded Iraq?” I’m sure I’ll shock many when I say: no.

    “Wouldn’t it be another kind of disaster if we gave the jihadists a great victory from Allah and just pulled out?” That it would be a victory from Allah is, of course, buying into the jihadist line, something I don’t believe we should do. Instead, we should consider what is best for America and, since we broke their country, Iraq — not worrying about what jihadists may think about that — since it is established that we do things different than they do. Failing to admit a mistake and choosing to continue in that mistake because someone might point out that you made a mistake is not wise behavior, it is living in fear, and it allows the other entity to control your behavior. At this time, I would say our policy in Iraq is based more on what the jihadists supposedly believe than What Americans believe. And quite possibly what the Iraqis believe. That’s ridiculous.

    That doesn’t mean I support instant withdrawal, though I am of the opinion that spending the decade-plus in Iraq that McCain seems to approve of would be foolhardy, a waste of lives, money, political goodwill, and probably deleterious for the whole region.

    Anon (@2), your “information” is inconsistent with, say, the recent Pentagon study regarding Iraq and Al Qaeda. In addition to what Bike Bubba (@3) said.

    David (@4), that God is in control of his creation does not mean that he approves of what in creation do — a quick reading of the Bible makes that clear. Can we say that God did not want any of the numerous bad actions taken by Israel’s leaders to happen? Of course — God says so himself. Will God use humans’ boundless capacity for sinful, ignorant actions to achieve his loving end? Yes, though it may be beyond our capacity to understand it.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    “Should we have invaded Iraq?” I’m sure I’ll shock many when I say: no.

    “Wouldn’t it be another kind of disaster if we gave the jihadists a great victory from Allah and just pulled out?” That it would be a victory from Allah is, of course, buying into the jihadist line, something I don’t believe we should do. Instead, we should consider what is best for America and, since we broke their country, Iraq — not worrying about what jihadists may think about that — since it is established that we do things different than they do. Failing to admit a mistake and choosing to continue in that mistake because someone might point out that you made a mistake is not wise behavior, it is living in fear, and it allows the other entity to control your behavior. At this time, I would say our policy in Iraq is based more on what the jihadists supposedly believe than What Americans believe. And quite possibly what the Iraqis believe. That’s ridiculous.

    That doesn’t mean I support instant withdrawal, though I am of the opinion that spending the decade-plus in Iraq that McCain seems to approve of would be foolhardy, a waste of lives, money, political goodwill, and probably deleterious for the whole region.

    Anon (@2), your “information” is inconsistent with, say, the recent Pentagon study regarding Iraq and Al Qaeda. In addition to what Bike Bubba (@3) said.

    David (@4), that God is in control of his creation does not mean that he approves of what in creation do — a quick reading of the Bible makes that clear. Can we say that God did not want any of the numerous bad actions taken by Israel’s leaders to happen? Of course — God says so himself. Will God use humans’ boundless capacity for sinful, ignorant actions to achieve his loving end? Yes, though it may be beyond our capacity to understand it.

  • Don S

    I don’t think any of us are happy to be there, but it seems to me that a lot of hindsight is being applied to the situation. At the time we went in there was support from some 85% of the U.S. population. There was intelligence from multiple sources (not just U.S.) that Saddam was an immediate threat and that he had weapons of mass destruction remaining available to him. He refused to cooperate with the UN inspectors. So it’s kind of unfair for people simply to say now that we shouldn’t have gone in. We did, most of us supported it, and that’s that.

    Now, in retrospect it appears that the nation building part of the project was seriously mishandled between the latter part of 2003 and 2006. Personally, I believe this is largely because the leftists in this country became so negative on the occupation, so quickly, that Bush and Rumsfeld became defensive and weren’t as open to strategic planning and adjustments as they should have been. In particular, they didn’t want to commit more troops to the effort (as McCain said all along that they should) because they were afraid it would be misrepresented by the opposition and complicit media as failure. If everyone on our side had just gotten together and reasoned this thing out as to how we should move forward and respond to terrorism in post-war Iraq as it came up, we would have been much better off, and so would the people of Iraq. But various political parties and interest groups chose instead to politicize the whole thing and try to use it for selfish advantage in the voting booth, rather than commit to victory. Sad, because it cost a lot of needless lives.

  • Don S

    I don’t think any of us are happy to be there, but it seems to me that a lot of hindsight is being applied to the situation. At the time we went in there was support from some 85% of the U.S. population. There was intelligence from multiple sources (not just U.S.) that Saddam was an immediate threat and that he had weapons of mass destruction remaining available to him. He refused to cooperate with the UN inspectors. So it’s kind of unfair for people simply to say now that we shouldn’t have gone in. We did, most of us supported it, and that’s that.

    Now, in retrospect it appears that the nation building part of the project was seriously mishandled between the latter part of 2003 and 2006. Personally, I believe this is largely because the leftists in this country became so negative on the occupation, so quickly, that Bush and Rumsfeld became defensive and weren’t as open to strategic planning and adjustments as they should have been. In particular, they didn’t want to commit more troops to the effort (as McCain said all along that they should) because they were afraid it would be misrepresented by the opposition and complicit media as failure. If everyone on our side had just gotten together and reasoned this thing out as to how we should move forward and respond to terrorism in post-war Iraq as it came up, we would have been much better off, and so would the people of Iraq. But various political parties and interest groups chose instead to politicize the whole thing and try to use it for selfish advantage in the voting booth, rather than commit to victory. Sad, because it cost a lot of needless lives.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@6), as one who opposed the war from the get-go, I don’t think it’s “unfair” to point out that we shouldn’t have gone in. Shouldn’t we learn from our mistakes? It’s all too easy to imagine that, failing to understand how we came to be in this lamentable situation, we might end up in another one nearby all too soon. It could be argued, in fact, that we failed to learn from past mistakes with our actions in Iraq.

    You do make an excellent case for why preventative war is a horrible idea, though: intelligence can be wrong. You also make an excellent case for why public opinion is often useless in making decisions on war. If your 85% number is correct, it only shows that people were angry, confused, and scared after 9/11. After all, the number of people who thought Iraq had something to do with 9/11 was also shockingly high at that time (in fact, it remains shockingly high, though less than when we were all gung-ho for “shock and awe”). The people do not have the facts, and really can’t be blamed for their ignorance.

    As to your blame-the-leftists bit, it’s rather sad. I am reminded quite strongly of a similar complaint about a lack of support from some quarters, though not in a flattering way. Does the word Dolchstoßlegende ring a bell? Oops, there goes Godwin’s Law!

    Anyhow, you paint a rather unflattering picture of Bush and Rumsfeld, reacting in fear to a minority 15% of the country, and thus unable to make wise decisions because they were scared of what that small minority might say. Nothing in my experience makes me think that Bush cares what the far left has to say about his policies, much less lives in fear of their disapproval, and he has been touted (by himself?) as not caring about polls, anyhow, but rather leading through strength and character. It’s silly to blame this on the opposition.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@6), as one who opposed the war from the get-go, I don’t think it’s “unfair” to point out that we shouldn’t have gone in. Shouldn’t we learn from our mistakes? It’s all too easy to imagine that, failing to understand how we came to be in this lamentable situation, we might end up in another one nearby all too soon. It could be argued, in fact, that we failed to learn from past mistakes with our actions in Iraq.

    You do make an excellent case for why preventative war is a horrible idea, though: intelligence can be wrong. You also make an excellent case for why public opinion is often useless in making decisions on war. If your 85% number is correct, it only shows that people were angry, confused, and scared after 9/11. After all, the number of people who thought Iraq had something to do with 9/11 was also shockingly high at that time (in fact, it remains shockingly high, though less than when we were all gung-ho for “shock and awe”). The people do not have the facts, and really can’t be blamed for their ignorance.

    As to your blame-the-leftists bit, it’s rather sad. I am reminded quite strongly of a similar complaint about a lack of support from some quarters, though not in a flattering way. Does the word Dolchstoßlegende ring a bell? Oops, there goes Godwin’s Law!

    Anyhow, you paint a rather unflattering picture of Bush and Rumsfeld, reacting in fear to a minority 15% of the country, and thus unable to make wise decisions because they were scared of what that small minority might say. Nothing in my experience makes me think that Bush cares what the far left has to say about his policies, much less lives in fear of their disapproval, and he has been touted (by himself?) as not caring about polls, anyhow, but rather leading through strength and character. It’s silly to blame this on the opposition.

  • Don S

    tODD, most you criticize the war supported it at the time (think Hillary Clinton). Since you were one of the 15%, you are free to second guess. I did not say the intelligence was wrong. Some was wrong, some was right. The media’s immediate portrayal of it as entirely wrong, and its refusal later to correct the record, when documents were uncovered indicating that some weapons of mass destruction did exist, was unfair and inflammatory.

    I also did not say that it was wrong to invade. I think it was right. Saddam had been a menace in the middle east since 1991, nothing was going to change. What I said was wrong was how the nation-building process was handled between 2003 and 2006. We didn’t commit enough resources to it because of a lack of political courage and fortitude on the part of both parties — the dems were desperately trying to spin things to their political advantage even if it resulted in another devastating loss akin to the way they torpedoed Vietnam. They actually wanted the U.S. to lose this war, and are angry now that we are not. Republicans didn’t have the political courage to make their case and pretended that the situation would go away without the commitment of more resources.

    Your last paragraph makes no sense. Obviously, it was not 15% by 2004-05, thanks to endless hysterical and gleeful rantings of doom by dems and the media.

  • Don S

    tODD, most you criticize the war supported it at the time (think Hillary Clinton). Since you were one of the 15%, you are free to second guess. I did not say the intelligence was wrong. Some was wrong, some was right. The media’s immediate portrayal of it as entirely wrong, and its refusal later to correct the record, when documents were uncovered indicating that some weapons of mass destruction did exist, was unfair and inflammatory.

    I also did not say that it was wrong to invade. I think it was right. Saddam had been a menace in the middle east since 1991, nothing was going to change. What I said was wrong was how the nation-building process was handled between 2003 and 2006. We didn’t commit enough resources to it because of a lack of political courage and fortitude on the part of both parties — the dems were desperately trying to spin things to their political advantage even if it resulted in another devastating loss akin to the way they torpedoed Vietnam. They actually wanted the U.S. to lose this war, and are angry now that we are not. Republicans didn’t have the political courage to make their case and pretended that the situation would go away without the commitment of more resources.

    Your last paragraph makes no sense. Obviously, it was not 15% by 2004-05, thanks to endless hysterical and gleeful rantings of doom by dems and the media.

  • fwsonnek

    close to 100% supported our troops. i am not sure that 85% thought that the war was a great idea or even necessary.

    We took the president at his word when he said there was solid evidence that WMDS were there. (= nuclear bombs? why the post modern manipulative use of illdefined words?)

    “hindsight”? that is exactly like being lied to, or at least mislead, in fairness, and then changing your mind once you know the real facts. We should not forget the original premise for going in. It was not regime change exactly. It was “imminent direct” threat to the usa because there were those undefined ominous sounding Weapons of Mass Destruction there. That never existed. or existed long long before. Maybe. what a great reason to start a war and drain the economy. we could have sent every child to college for the next 20 years with what we have

    we were righteously angry at the japonese when they attacked pearl harbor. why? It was a preeminent strike!

    How rationales and thinking changes over time…

    GW Bush is no conservative. nor are his supporters.

  • fwsonnek

    close to 100% supported our troops. i am not sure that 85% thought that the war was a great idea or even necessary.

    We took the president at his word when he said there was solid evidence that WMDS were there. (= nuclear bombs? why the post modern manipulative use of illdefined words?)

    “hindsight”? that is exactly like being lied to, or at least mislead, in fairness, and then changing your mind once you know the real facts. We should not forget the original premise for going in. It was not regime change exactly. It was “imminent direct” threat to the usa because there were those undefined ominous sounding Weapons of Mass Destruction there. That never existed. or existed long long before. Maybe. what a great reason to start a war and drain the economy. we could have sent every child to college for the next 20 years with what we have

    we were righteously angry at the japonese when they attacked pearl harbor. why? It was a preeminent strike!

    How rationales and thinking changes over time…

    GW Bush is no conservative. nor are his supporters.

  • Manxman

    If we want to do some nation-building, it is certainly more Constitutional to do that building right here in America, rather than to invade and occupy a sovereign nation because we think they ought to adhere to our standards of how they should live.

    I have always felt that Bush and the neo-cons had cards they weren’t showing about their true motives in going into Iraq. I think we’re really over there to allow corporations to get their hands on Iraqi oil, establish military bases in the middle east, destabilize a hard-nosed religious culture that interferes with globalization of the world economy, etc.

    As to “winning” the war, at best it’s been an incomplete, pyrrhic affair for us in the actual army part of the war. We have by no means won the insurgency part of the war, and I don’t know if such a war is ever truly winable. If you add up the billions and billions of dollars our country has spent already and will continue to spend on manning bases in that rathole and on ongoing medical expenses for our casualties, at a time when our economy doesn’t need those costs, I think you can safely say the jihadists have at least had a partial, significant victory.

  • Manxman

    If we want to do some nation-building, it is certainly more Constitutional to do that building right here in America, rather than to invade and occupy a sovereign nation because we think they ought to adhere to our standards of how they should live.

    I have always felt that Bush and the neo-cons had cards they weren’t showing about their true motives in going into Iraq. I think we’re really over there to allow corporations to get their hands on Iraqi oil, establish military bases in the middle east, destabilize a hard-nosed religious culture that interferes with globalization of the world economy, etc.

    As to “winning” the war, at best it’s been an incomplete, pyrrhic affair for us in the actual army part of the war. We have by no means won the insurgency part of the war, and I don’t know if such a war is ever truly winable. If you add up the billions and billions of dollars our country has spent already and will continue to spend on manning bases in that rathole and on ongoing medical expenses for our casualties, at a time when our economy doesn’t need those costs, I think you can safely say the jihadists have at least had a partial, significant victory.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@8), you said “I did not say the intelligence was wrong.” I didn’t say you had said that — I said the intelligence was wrong. And it was, clearly. “Some weapons of mass destruction did exist”? Okay, which ones? What was found?

    “Saddam had been a menace in the middle east since 1991, nothing was going to change.” Except, of course, that something did change, pretty much immediately after he invaded Kuwait — we attacked. And contained him. It was only after he was contained that nothing changed. Until we attacked again. And now everything’s a mess. (Also, I believe Saddam was a problem well before 1991, except back then we considered his problem to be advantageous to us.)

    “… between 2003 and 2006. We didn’t commit enough resources to [nation-building] because of a lack of political courage and fortitude on the part of both parties.” Um, what party was in control of the White House and both houses of Congress between 2003 and 2006? Was it both of them?

    “[Democrats] actually wanted the U.S. to lose this war, and are angry now that we are not”? That’s utter nonsense. Are you committed to renewing the Dolchstoßlegende? Your attempt to blame anyone except the people in charge of this foolishness is sad. It was Bush’s decision that we engage in this lamentable war, and it was his leadership that made it happen as it did.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Don S (@8), you said “I did not say the intelligence was wrong.” I didn’t say you had said that — I said the intelligence was wrong. And it was, clearly. “Some weapons of mass destruction did exist”? Okay, which ones? What was found?

    “Saddam had been a menace in the middle east since 1991, nothing was going to change.” Except, of course, that something did change, pretty much immediately after he invaded Kuwait — we attacked. And contained him. It was only after he was contained that nothing changed. Until we attacked again. And now everything’s a mess. (Also, I believe Saddam was a problem well before 1991, except back then we considered his problem to be advantageous to us.)

    “… between 2003 and 2006. We didn’t commit enough resources to [nation-building] because of a lack of political courage and fortitude on the part of both parties.” Um, what party was in control of the White House and both houses of Congress between 2003 and 2006? Was it both of them?

    “[Democrats] actually wanted the U.S. to lose this war, and are angry now that we are not”? That’s utter nonsense. Are you committed to renewing the Dolchstoßlegende? Your attempt to blame anyone except the people in charge of this foolishness is sad. It was Bush’s decision that we engage in this lamentable war, and it was his leadership that made it happen as it did.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X