The Iraq War 10 Years Later

by Ryan on March 20, 2013

in History,The Iraq Front

On March 20, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom began.  The United States and Coalition forces sought to remove Saddam Hussein from power for (among other things) being in material breech of UN Security Council Resolution 1441.  Twenty-one days later Baghdad was taken and the regime was on the run.  Approximately eight years, eight months and three weeks after the initial invasion, American combat troops finally left Iraq leaving behind a parliamentary government, a viable security force, and oil revenues which are finally helping its people.  In the interim 4,486 Americans had died, and over 32,223 were wounded.

There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about this war.  Plenty of retrospectives on all sides can be found all over the Internet.

Iraq was a war of choice nobly fought, but terribly managed.  Should we have even gone in?

In my opinion, Saddam had to go.  OK, good.  Then, two things happened:  first, the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) came in with an American-style bureaucracy to muck up the occupation, then that same CPA told the Iraqi military to go home.  Together, that volatile mix of a bloated bureaucracy coupled with tens of thousands of unemployed young men in a broken country with porous borders ultimately led to a ruthless al Qaeda-sponsored insurgency, a low-grade civil war, and political drift at home which slowly turned the American people against the war.

But, if we’re going to go to war, we might as well win it.  So, we slogged through and left the place with a future the Iraqi people can guide on their own.  One can’t ask for much else given the situation.

Along the way we learned a few things from Vietnam — most importantly to treat the troops right.

We also forgot a few things — most importantly to avoid getting involved in open-ended conflicts.

At the end of the day, the picture above really epitomizes the Iraq War to me.  An American soldier cradling a broken Iraqi child who he’s desperately trying to help.  Seems to say everything.

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