The U.S. military intervention in Iraq was started as an effort to save the world from weapons of mass destruction. And, it seems that it will end as an effort to fulfill a campaign promise. In reality, it was neither one nor the other. The entire eight-year war initiated by the U.S. was characterized by flagrant lies and miscalculations..
Former President George W. Bush’s assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons was the unsubstantiated justification to topple the Iraqi dictator and to reorganize the country into fantasy pro-Washington democracy.
On the other hand, President Barack Obama’s exit decision stems -not from campaign promise- but from the difficulty to reach agreement on immunity under Iraqi law, as is now the case for 40,000 U.S. soldiers – for troops that would have stayed on in a training role.
From the outset, Obama has consistently opposed the war and had a policy to bring the troops home, although the administration hoped to leave soldiers in Iraq a bit longer.
Bush negotiated a troop exit for the end of the year, although both today’s Iraqi government and the White House had hoped that a minimal stabilizing military presence would remain. But Iraq’s political climate, resulting from the long years of U.S. occupation, made such an agreement impossible.
The erroneous judgment to have imagined a quick and inexpensive war, based in large part on the hope that Iraq would be able to offset the cost with its oil, has in reality brought a heavy economic toll of close to a trillon dollars and the human cost of loss of lives, seriously injured soldiers, and survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress.
At the same time, the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops leaves the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki alone to defend the country against Al-Qaeda militants, Shite militias, and Suni insurgents. Omnipresent is also the looming threat of the expansion of Iranian influence. Uncertainty pervades Iraq’s future.
At war’s end, according to the neo-conservative dream, was supposed to be a grateful Iraq but the reality that should not have surprised anyone was other, the reaction from a people who didn’t ask to be saved and have suffered terribly as a result of the war.