Fourteen years after the Twin Towers terrorist attacks in New York City, questions linger about the wisdom of sending American troops to Iraq almost immediately afterward. Was the decision to go to war against Iraq justifiable, or has it proved to be a pointless, costly war with disastrous consequences? The incontrovertible evidence has shown that the Iraqi War fits the latter definition for three distinct reasons. It is my opinion that the American-led invasion of Iraq was a bad decision because it was unjustifiable to begin with, caused sectarian violence that has still not abated, and has been costly in terms of lives lost and money spent, and there is plenty of historic proof to back up this opinion.
The main reason for invading Iraq, in the first place, was to find and dismantle the so-called weapons of mass destruction that were being manufactured in the country. In fact, then-ruler Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program was non-existent (Thompson, 2011, internet).
United Nations (UN) inspectors found no such program (Blix, 2013, internet). The WMDs -- and the attendant toppling of Hussein -- was sold to the people of the US as the sole reason for the Iraq invasion. Thus, it was a war that was begun on false premises. Whether US leaders such as then-President Bush deceived the people or acted in good faith is moot now, but the accusations of Hussein's manufacture of WMDs was without warrant, and the evidence was paltry, at best (Blix, 2013, internet).
Iraq has never been a sovereign and unified country. In reality, it has been a loose conglomeration of three different provinces, focused on Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul. These regions are populated by sects -- the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Saddam Hussein, though a dictator, kept the rifts between sects more peaceful. As he was a minority Sunni (as well as a ruthless dictator), he feared the Kurds and the Shiites. His fear of losing power may have been the glue that kept the de facto nation of "Iraq" recognized by other global powers as a sovereign state (Thompson, 2011, internet). Once the Americans invaded Iraq and toppled Hussein's regime, sectarian violence could no longer be kept at bay. Centuries-old tensions and conflicts manifested again. Although Hussein was a tyrant and a warmonger, he kept the "peace" -- albeit highly-strained -- in Iraq.
According to Trotta (2013), the US war in Iraq has a price tag, thus far, of $1.7 trillion. Moreover, one study showed that veterans will receive $490 billion in benefits, an amount that could balloon to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades (Trotta, 2013, internet). In terms of human life, the war in Iraq has a death toll of between 176,000 and 189,000 -- including civilians, security forces, civilians, insurgents, and journalists (Trotta, 2013).
Many argue that the decision by the US to invade Iraq was a good one -- citing the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime as proof of a sound decision. After all, a tyrant who threatened the security of his neighbors -- including Israel -- had to be deposed. At his trial, Hussein stood accused of killing -- by gassing and other deplorable methods -- more than 100,000 Kurds in Iraq during the Iraq-Iran War in the late 1980s (Associated Press, 2006, internet). Doubtless, he was a ruthless, psychopathic tyrant, who had to be dealt with sternly. People who take this position have a point. However, Saddam Hussein could have been removed from power by using other strategies and tactics -- besides a full-scale American military commitment and invasion. To lay waste to the birthplace of civilization -- destroying most of its infrastructure and countless artifacts from past dynasties -- has cost the US trillions of dollars, thousands of lives lost, its reputation -- and has precipitated a cataclysmic new wave of war involving all of the sects, ISIS, and even elements of Al-Qaeda. It was a war that was ill-conceived from the get-go, a war waged on false premises that has wreaked havoc in the entire region.
Associated Press. (04 April, 2006). "Saddam Charged in 1988 Gas Attack on Kurds." Retrieved on 18 Nov from http://www.foxnews.com/story/2006/04/04/saddam-charged-in-188-gas- attack-on-kurds/
Blix, Hans. (19 Mar, 2013). "Hans Blix: Iraq War was a terrible mistake and violation of U.N. charter." Retrieved on 18 Nov 2014 from http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/18/opinion/iraq- war-hans-blix/
Thompson, Loren. (14 Dec, 2011). "Iraq: The Biggest Mistake in American Military History."
Retrieved on 18 Nov 2014 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2011/12/15/the-biggest-mistake-in- american-military-history/
Trotta, Daniel. (14 Mar, 2013). "Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study." Retrieved on 18 Nov 2014 from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/14/us-iraq-war-anniversary- idUSBRE92D0PG20130314