Archive for the 'Foreign Policy' Category

Victory Emerges in Iraq

Victory Emerges in Iraq

The Radionian
By Ashton Pittman, Opinions Editor
April 2010, Volume 86, No. 6

Seven years have passed since Operation Iraqi Freedom first began. At the time, President Bush declared that Iraqi democracy would succeed and “send forth the news from Damascus to Tehran that freedom can be the future of every generation.”
Today, democracy is emerging in Iraq as more progressive values begin to flourish. In the recent parliamentary election, a determined electorate braved threats of violent retaliation to make their voices heard. Women now enjoy more freedoms than ever before. Millions of children now have access to a vastly improved educational system, an advent that will make indoctrinating them into radical ideologies more difficult for Islamists. Also, even as Americans continue to fiercely debate healthcare reform, millions of Iraqis now have the opportunity to access healthcare for the first time.
Everyone knows that the journey to this point has not been easy. As the war drug on, many in Congress and the media who once supported the effort turned on it. By the time Bush was up for reelection in 2004, the war was already a campaign issue; his opponent, John Kerry, advocated a total withdrawal of troops. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shocked the nation in 2007 when he declared that U.S. had lost the war. A wearied American public turned against the war and Bush’s lofty vision of a free Iraq became an object of derision and ridicule.
Today, thanks heavily to the successful 2007 troop surge, Operation Iraqi Freedom has finally ended, succeeded by Operation New Dawn. A more victorious America now has the chance to reevaluate the effort without the volatile emotions that occur in the midst of battle.
The first step in reevaluating the war should be to dispel the many myths and fabrications that have long plagued the effort. The most popular of these myths is the theory that the war was a ploy to steal Iraq’s vast oil supply. No evidence exists to back up this allegation; the same kind of oil distribution system that has been used in Iraq for decades is still in place, and the U.S. is not benefiting from it. The only difference is that profits will now go to the government of the Iraqi people instead of Saddam Hussein.
Another widely spread misconception is that Bush violated international laws in launching the war, making it an illegal war. Some in the Obama administration even once considered prosecuting the Bush administration for war crimes. Again, this is simply untrue. The Gulf War that the United Nations authorized in 1990 was suspended in 1992 following a cease fire, but not ended. In 2002, a U.N. resolution determined that Hussein had violated the terms of the cease fire agreement due to his refusal to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. The resolution meant that the Gulf War was essentially reactivated; any member state that felt threatened was then given the right to take action. Thereafter, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved authorization to take action against Hussein’s regime. Operation Iraqi Freedom was a continuation of the initial Gulf War, and it was in total compliance with national and international law.
The chant that arose among the anti-war crowd, “Bush lied, people died,” is also based upon a false premise. It supposes that in making the case for the Iraq war, Bush lied or exaggerated the threat of Hussein obtaining or possessing weapons of mass destruction. The problem with this criticism is that those claims were not new. Throughout the 90’s, President Clinton warned about Hussein’s intent to obtain nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. In 1998, Clinton launched an airstrike on Iraq in an attempt to destroy Hussein’s WMD program. “If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond,” Clinton said at the time, “we will face a far greater threat in the future . . . And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction.” While it is true that U.S. forces have not found fully-developed WMDs in Iraq, they have found evidence of attempts or plans to produce them. Five-hundred tons of yellowcake uranium, a key ingredient in enriching uranium for the production of WMDs, have been found since 2003. Neither Bush or Clinton lied.
Finally, for those who oppose the Iraq war because they believe it violates human rights, perhaps they should consider Hussein’s Iraq. His Iraq tortured dissidents with acid baths, bone-crushing, dismemberment, and imprisonment inside coffin-sized cells. His Iraq punished men for crimes by raping their wives, sisters, and daughters before their eyes. His Iraq committed genocide against hundreds of thousands of its own citizens and disposed of them in mass graves.
If anything, the lasting legacy of the U.S. effort in Iraq will be that it liberated over 60 million people from tyranny. At the same time, it dealt a major psychological blow to Islamist terrorist networks; by proving that a brutal regime could be overturned and replaced with a thriving democracy in Iraq, the U.S. showed that it was possible to override centuries of violence and oppression in the Middle East, setting the stage for a more tolerant future Middle East. For years, people laughed at Bush’s claim that the “establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be watershed event in the global democratic revolution.” No one is laughing now.
As Bush’s prediction comes true, it becomes more evident that he was a visionary leader ahead of his time. Maybe it is finally time to recognize that, in Iraq, the final verdict will be “mission accomplished!”