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In March 2003, the United States invaded Iraq based on the assumption of stockpiling or potential sale of Weapons of Mass Destruction (FAQ about Iraq). After the fall of Saddam Hussein, and President Bush declaring major operations complete, The National Intelligence Council announced that Iraq was the new breeding ground for terrorism, focusing war efforts in Iraq to the war on terror (Priest, A01). Later that year, President Bush stated that the new reason for Iraq was to protect its oil fields from falling into the hands of terrorists (Loven).
Unlike many wars in the past, the United States has put themselves into a unique position of perpetual fighting in Iraq with no end in sight. The reason for the prolonged involvement in Iraq, which has now lasted longer then their involvement in the invasion of Germany, is due to two major factors. First is their lack of goal setting and benchmarks with a decisive end where the US can finally declare a true victory and leave, and secondly is due to their lack of planning for the post-invasion of Iraq (FAQ About Iraq).
During the final stages of planning leading up to the invasion in Iraq planners could not provide any written plan, nor showed signs of one in development for the post-war efforts in stabilizing Iraq, providing security, government restructuring, or reconstruction efforts. Furthermore, the administration ignored requests from its military to provide an additional 100,000 troops which the Army advisors felt were required to restore order and help reconstruct the country which would be devastated by war (Strobel and Walcott).
This lack of planning affected the United States and coalition forces from the early stages of the invasion as they began to lose momentum. To compound the lack of initiative after the fall of Saddam, with the unexpected drive of a resistant population, the military began to play catch-up which they never recovered from (Ricks, A01). Not only was the Bush Administration ill prepared for any logistical steps in the reconstruction, it was apparent that they were not prepared for the length of operations and financial costs.
Weeks prior to the invasion in Iraq, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz commented to a House subcommittee regarding the $30 billion the US had spend in the past 12 years in Iraq, stating, “I can’t imagine anyone here wanting to spend another $30 billion to be there another 12 years” (Pincus, A01). These occurrences in the lack of planning or understanding of the potential commitment required in Iraq shows that the administration did not have a fundamental understanding of the history and social structure of Iraq, nor ready to commit to the long-term reconstruction of Iraq (FAQ about Iraq).
All wars have a decisive end, such as the fall of the Nazi government, the surrender of Japan, and the armistice agreement in Korea. Unlike previous wars, President Bush has yet to set a benchmark in the Iraq war which is quantitatively measurable to signify a true victory in Iraq. With his initial claim that Iraq was stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction turning out to be false, the administration has needed to find new reasons, with a far broader scope to justify their presence in Iraq.
Some people may argue that the true reason for the invasions was economical, based primarily in the securing of foreign oil. Although there are many points which can strengthen this belief, it is important to understand two key points against this notion. First was that Iraq was selling oil at a price that satisfied global demand, with no intent to defy OPEC, and secondly, even early estimates of the cost of war were far greater than any potential profits which could be gained by the control of oil fields (Zunes).
The true reason why the US invaded Iraq is not as important as the reason why it is taking so long for the US to withdraw. Although many may argue the extent of terrorist involvement in Iraq prior to the war, most people will agree that since the invasion, terrorism currently exists in the country. In several speeches, President Bush has described the War in Iraq as part of the war on terror, and NIC Chairman Hutchings stated that Iraq is, “a magnet for international terrorist activities” (Priest, A01).
In 2005 Bush stated that the new reason for Iraq was to defend the oil fields from falling in the hands of terrorist extremist, and iterated the idea that he was using Iraq as a fighting ground against terrorists, while protecting the freedom of the Iraqi people by preventing it from falling into terrorist hands (Loven). If the administration is basing the peace and security of a volatile nation as its benchmark for success, then expecting a swift victory and withdrawal out of the country is unrealistic. On several occasions, Bush has stated that winning is the only option for Iraq.
If this means however, that for there to be victory in Iraq the world must end terrorism, then this would explain why the war in Iraq is taking so long. When you compound these unrealistic goals with the lack of proper postwar planning, and the lack of understanding to the situations that would occur from disrupting the country by war, there is long road ahead of the US before they can truly declare success in Iraq.
FAQ About the War in Iraq. Friends Committee on National Legislation. 27 July 2005. Retrieved 28 November 2006 www.fcnl.org
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