Increased middle-eastern tensions lead to war with Iraq
Several years after the war in Iraq was over, people continue to debate the reasons for the war, and whether or not the decision to invade Iraq was a wise policy choice. In fact, even the U.S. State Department issued an intelligence assessment following the war, and concluded that the U.S. invasion of Iraq did not meet the burden of proof of the just war theory. Absent a clear reason for going to war, and sufficient proof that it was a just war, the decision to go to war with Iraq was not a good one. The Iraq War resulted in problems for the post-war country that could have been avoided.
In the years leading up to the war with Iraq, there were increasing tensions in the Middle East. In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, claiming that the country had been slant drilling into Iraq, and that Kuwait was not sovereign and actually part of the country of Iraq. In 1991, the United States launched Operation Desert Storm, and Iraqi forces were ultimately expelled from Kuwait. During their assault on Iraq, Coalition forces reportedly found evidence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. In spite of this information, then-President Bush did not go so far as to declare war and forcefully effectuate a regime change in the county (Faris).
Instead, the President the Iraqis rise up and to overthrow the government on their own. The resulting revolt in the country was unsuccessful. Instead of being removed from power, Saddam Hussein crushed the crushed the opposition, and immediately ordered that the country’s oil wells be burned. Following the skirmish, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Iraq to prohibit the country from developing or maintaining a “nonconventional weapons programs”. The sanctions were designed to provoke another coup in Iraq, and oust Saddam Hussein once and for all. However, these sanctions against the country were also unsuccessful (Battle).
Clinton authorizes the Iraq Liberation Act
In 1998, former President Bill Clinton signed into legislation the Iraq Liberation Act. The Act provided funding for Iraqi opposition groups, again with the goal to oust Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. The Iraqi Liberation Act did not, however, fund a U.S.-led war on Iraq. On September 11, 2011, the World Trade Centers were attacked by the terrorist group, al-Qaeda. The White House sought to connect the incident to both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, although no direct link between the two was ever established (Battle).
Even so, this most recent event fueled the United States’ case for invading Iraq, and taking action to stabilize the Middle East. On March 18, 2003, the U.S.-led Coalition forces began bombing Iraq. The war with Iraq ended on December 15, 2011. With the benefit of hindsight, we can examine what has happened in Iraq since that date to evaluate whether the United States made the right choice going into war (Battle).
In evaluating the success or failure of the war, we can look at several things. The primary goal of the Bush administration for Iraq (as described by that administration) was to effectuate a regime change in order to fight the war on terror and protect national security. As Saddam Hussein was removed from power, this goal was achieved (Battle). However, the war on Iraq did not exactly create the new country that the war had intended (Battle).
The United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 1483 enacted following the war was designed as a roadmap for the reconstruction of Iraq. As part of the resolution, the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after Kuwait were lifted. The price of oil began to rise in 2003, and has continued to do so since that time, despite the U.N. Resolution (Faris).
As a result, the Kurds in Northern Iraq have prospered because of the large amount oil in the region. The southern region has grown into a tourist destination, and is undergoing a complete regeneration. This area has prospered as well. However, the Sunni areas in the west are growing increasingly volatile under the Shiite-run government. The Sunni population (described as the “heart of the insurgency”) remains a weak spot in the construction of a new post-war society in Iraq (Londoño). Even with the new government in place, the region is far from settled.
Rebuilding Iraq after war
Since the war, the United Nations and the rest of the world have engaged in significant efforts to rebuild Iraq. In 2003 alone, the U.S. provided 590,000 metric tons of food to Iraq, worth over $435 million. USAID spent $486,270,000 on humanitarian relief for the country, in addition to $90.9 Million for other reconstruction efforts (Embassy 7). Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of the post-war recovery effort.
In 2008, over five years after the war ended, the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq entered into a Strategic Framework Agreement. In the agreement, the two countries pledged to “establish a long term relationship of cooperation and friendship”. While the agreement recognized developments in Iraq since 2003, it outlined a significant amount of work still left to be done in the country. The United States was to provide assistance to the democratically elected Government of Iraq in various diplomatic and defense-related activities, both within the country and abroad (Military).
The U.S. was to provide cultural and social support to the people of Iraq to strengthen the country in multiple areas of society. The U.S. was to provide economic support, promoting economic trade in the region and capitalism in the county. It should be noted that some have argued Bush pushed the Iraq invasion to strengthen American influence in the oil producing countries. The U.S. was to provide support to the country’s health network, strengthening the country’s health infrastructure. The U.S. was to also provide support to Iraq’s communications systems, strengthening the IT networks for the country. Lastly, the U.S. was to provide support to the law enforcement and judicial systems in Iraq, strengthening the legal system in the new county. Five years after the Strategic Framework Agreement was signed, the work in Iraq still continues (Military).
Diplomatic partnership with Iraq after the war
On November 1, 2013, President Obama and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki again reaffirmed their commitment to the partnership between the two countries. Although nearly two years had passed since the withdrawal of the last American troops from Iraq, the United States remains active in rebuilding Iraq. Ten years following the war, Iraq is still in need of additional diplomatic assistance from the U.S. to re-integrate the country into the region. Iraq still requires assistance in strengthening its defense, law enforcement and judicial systems, and Al-Qaida remains a significant threat to the stability of the nation (U.S. Dept. of State).
The country still requires assistance regarding energy programs, and the development of oil export routes in the Gulf. Iraq still requires assistance regarding trade programs, and asked for increased support through U.S. economic development in the country. Lastly, the country still requires additional assistance from the U.S. regarding education and exchange programs, providing support to future generations of Iraqis. Most notably is the addition of a request for support for Iraq’s ongoing conflict in Syria, which was not part of the underlying factors giving rise to the war in Iraq. This is a new diplomatic issue for the country, and one that the new government is unable to resolve on its own.
In 2003, President Bush said that
“the transition from dictatorship to democracy [in Iraq] will take time, but it is worth every effort.”
Ten years later, that effort has not come to fruition. The success of the war effort cannot be evaluated on whether the primary goal of the war was met – to remove Saddam Hussein from power. It must be evaluated on the success (or failure) of the country that was left behind and whether they upheld democracy and peace (which didn’t happen as new terrorist groups like ISIS spawned). If using that criteria, the decision to go to war with Iraq was a terrible one.
Larson, Alan. “Future of Iraq.” Post-War Iraq: Challenges and Prospects for the Future. U.S. Embassy, n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. .
Battle, Joyce. “THE IRAQ WAR — PART I: The U.S. Prepares for Conflict, 2001.” THE IRAQ WAR — PART I: The U.S. Prepares for Conflict, 2001. National Security Archive, n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. .
Embassy of the United States of America. “Post-War Iraq: Challenges and Prospects for the Future.” Embassy of the United States of America. U.S. Department of State, n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. .
Faris, David. “America in the Middle East.” Faris.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2013. .
Londoño, Ernesto. “http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-18/world/37809026_1_shiite-provinces-shiite-neighborhoods-iraq.” The Washington Post 18 Mar. 2013, sec. National Security: n. pag. The Washington Post. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.
“Military.” Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq. Global Security, 17 Nov. 2008. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. .
“U.S. Department of State.” Joint Statement by Iraq and United States. U.S. Department of State, 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2013. .