Wow, it is truly hard to believe that it has been 10 years this month since then Pres. Bush decided to roll the dice with the national destiny and invade Iraq under the pretext of WMD. So much has happened to both the soldiers who served their and to the nation as a whole since that time. The big question that will always be asked of the Iraq War is was it worth it? The answer not surprisingly is quite complex. Below is a list of some of the people and events that were central to the Iraq war and how they should be remembered.
Obviously Bush carries the most responsibility for the war. I think the most generous statement one could make about his leadership of the war would be something to the effect that he was completely naive about what he was getting himself and the country into. To say that he was given bad information by the subordinates he appointed would be an understatement. He was completely clueless as he hurled the nation into the war and seemed to remain that way until the 2006 congressional elections. Which upon being whipped by the democrats he finally began to take personal responsibility for the war by dumping Rumsfeld and his loser strategy in Iraq. The result was The Surge which Bush and those responsible for should get a lot of credit. Having said that its hard to give too much credit to a president that was in essence only fixing what he had originally made a mess of.
Vice President Cheney
Before Cheney served as vice president I used to respect him, however, it seemed almost from his first days as vice president I found myself thinking who is this guy? Unfortunately for me and the nation as a whole that feeling would only grow. Of all the individuals to come out of Iraq looking like a loser probably only Rumsfeld looks worse than Cheney. Remember the fuss about the Bush administration manufacturing intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq? Well Cheney played a lead role in that effort. He was even called out for it in a little read article about it prior to the war that said in clear language that Cheney had pressured intelligence analysts to produce more favorable reports that would justify war. Then his unflinching support for Rumsfeld and his horrible strategy of not enough troops to stabilize the country cost the US and Iraq thousands of dead and billions of dollars wasted. For these crimes of incompetence he will always be branded a loser.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld
The man most responsible for Iraq becoming the disaster that it was. This was the man who initially only wanted to invade Iraq with around 75,000 soldiers (there were roughly about 132,000 in Iraq the day the statue fell in Baghdad). Also remember that Rumsfeld the omniscience refused to acknowledge that there even was an insurgency until finally in a pentagon news conference in August of 2003 newly appointed Centcom Commander Abizaid admitted that there was an insurgency. Rumsfeld also had a real problem for putting people in key positions whose only qualifications were that they consistently agreed with him. The list of bad generals that Rumsfeld personally picked is quite long but the more impressive fact is that he often had to go out of his way to find these losers by appointing them before they were ready (Gen. Sanchez). Or calling them out of retirement and put them into positions they were not suited (Gen. Schoomaker). Or last but not least appointing someone who was obviously incompetent and whose only qualification was that would not tell him no (Gen. Casey). There are more generals, as a matter of fact someone could write a book on Rumsfeld’s horrible appointments. But the number one issue that Rumsfeld should be remembered for is it was his strategy (the less is more strategy) and concept that technology had replaced the need for large numbers of ground troops that led America to near humiliation in Iraq. Suffice to say that a legitimate case could be made that Donald Rumsfeld quite possibly could have been the worst Sec. Def. in the history of the United States, what a loser.
Secretary of State Powell
To me Powell is a real wild card in the whole tragedy that was Iraq. On the one hand I always had the sense that he probably had no desire to invade Iraq but he thought he could do the country more good by fighting the problem from within. Powell was always the lone voice of dissent in the administration but it appeared that he eventually accepted the idea we would invade Iraq and then decided that it was his mission to make sure it was done the right way (or his version of it) by going through the UN (although his testimony now is looked upon as a career low point because of the discredited evidence). There also was a story done in the run up to the war that showed Powell was greatly concerned about the size of invasion force but in the end there was not much he could do about that from the State Dept. I feel history will ultimately look upon Powell’s role in the war as a man who tried to do what was right but unfortunately for the country was not able to.
National Security Advisor Rice
Rice appeared to be in way over her head in the first several years on the job but some have argued that she found her footing in the 2nd term as Sec. of State. My response to this would be that unfortunately for the nation those years in the first term were very important and those successes that she did have in the 2nd term was her trying to correct problems she bears major responsibility for in the first. Rice, in my opinion, should have aligned more strongly with Powell in thwarting Cheney and Rumsfeld. Unfortunately she decided to play it safe and stay in between the two groups. That decision had dire consequences for the nation. Powell was desperate for allies within the administration to challenge the “dark side”(cheney, rumsfeld), to bad Rice was not up to the job. To give her credit in the 2nd term the reality of the Bush administration’s deteriorating political position evidenced by 2006 elections combined with her new found desire to take on Rumsfeld helped bring about a change in strategy in Iraq and possibly also prevented a war with Iran. But as was already mentioned there will always be the idea of what if Condi would have allied with Powell and challenged the “dark side”?
The next post will look at the generals of the Iraq war and their legacies. While the third part will look at the major events from the invasion to the surge. Then finally we will attempt to answer the ultimate question, was it worth it? Thanks for reading.