The Iraq War: Was it right?
by Barbara Donnelly Lane
Columnist
March 24, 2013 12:00 AM | 1058 views | 4 4 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On the first day of spring, the yellow daffodils in my yard were already wilting. Hunched against the wind, they seemed an appropriate symbol to mark an anniversary of a bloody conflict, and indeed it was a full decade ago when American planes began bombing Baghdad.

To be clear, whilst men and women much braver than I am got on with the dirty and dangerous business of liberating a country, I surely spent the start of that war doing nothing more shocking or awing than planting daffodils. I am not part of the less than 1 percent of my fellow Americans who were called forth to make real sacrifices for years until their hard surge stabilized that country.

Was the result worth their effort? Sadly, after the sacrifice of much American blood and treasure to remove a cruel and evil despot from power, al-Qaeda is resurgent in Iraq. Suicide bombers still seek to inflict as much collateral damage as possible — almost 60 people were killed on March 19 — and the ultimate fate of this nascent republic is far from certain.

In 2011, the Obama administration abandoned our allies in the region by failing to negotiate a status-of-forces agreement, which would have ensured a longer-term partnership. Sectarian violence has risen at an alarming rate. Iran has moved to fill the influence vacuum and thus spread like a suffocating shadow across Iraq.

However, even though I feel opportunities for a stabilized peace have been squandered to the hazard of any positive historical legacy for our troops, my crystal ball is broken. We are too close in time to the American withdrawal to evaluate the long-term impact of our intervention on behalf of the Iraqi people.

Perhaps the question of worth on this anniversary should be framed and discussed in a different way.

Was going to Iraq the right thing to do?

Rather than rehash all of the tired talking points about WMDs — whether being misled by intelligence is the same as misleading with intelligence — I turn to how a socialist made this case.

Christopher Hitchens was an atheist who aligned much closer to communists than he would ever align ideologically with me. Yet I admired him long before he was man enough to stand his ground when his opinions on Iraq were savaged by the left with the same metaphorical ferocity as the cancer that actually killed him.

You see, after traveling extensively in the Middle East, he believed liberating Iraq was the absolutely right thing to do, and he maintained this position for the rest of his life. Why?

He thought defending human rights required more than lip service. He recognized Saddam Hussein as a brutal, dangerous dictator who had committed genocide amongst other crimes. He understood Iraq was part of a larger struggle with reactionary Islamic fascism intent on establishing a global caliphate that threatened his own way of life, and he made no apologies for believing Western civilization is superior to cultures that undergird despotism.

He also pointed to the 1998 Iraq Liberation Agreement rubberstamped long before 9/11. He understood history, and he did not view the world with political tunnel vision.

Of course, like William Buckley, that lion of the right who has also passed into the ages, Hitch had major issues with the prosecution of the war. But he stood firm on the question of principle I’ve posed here.

The United States did not go to Iraq as an oppressor. Putting aside the political problems that have always threatened the ultimate historical outcome, the military has a right to be proud of what they did there. As Hitch fought rhetorical battles at home, Americans sacrificed abroad for Iraqi interests.

May freedom bloom longer in liberated soil than daffodils bloom in Georgia.

Barbara Donnelly Lane lives in east Cobb and blogs on the MDJonline.com website.
Comments
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Christine Thiessen
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March 24, 2013
Thoughtful and very well written. This article invites us to examine our own thoughts about the Iraq War.

It's too bad the main stream media and the "left" have demonized the Iraq War in their quest to neutralize Bush.
Samuel Adams
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March 24, 2013
A generation of young warriors proved themselves fully capable in Iraq. Heroes were made. Good people sacrificed. Children's prisons were purged and the people were given a chance at living free from the dictator and his twisted sons. Other countries, such as China, saw that Americans could and would fight and prevail, and they now know we are not soft like our current president but tough like the men who made this country great. People at home were humbled, though many lessons are still to be learned. And another generation saw their fathers, brothers, sisters and friends give something more, create something more and earn something more than our current, pathetic national cultural heroes. Maybe not in the media, but on main street, we admire and respect our warriors, our defenders. And they know what they did and in most cases feel good about it. We fought honorably. No better friend, no worse enemy. Sad that our president cannot discuss victory and could not make this a lasting peace. We got what we deserved here, but that can't touch the success of our military campaigns.
concerned citizen
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March 24, 2013
You have stated your thoughts eloquently and have gotten right to the heart of what so many Americans believe. Our country was not an oppressor. We went with good intentions. It causes us grief to see how we are viewed by so many in the world. Brave men and women sacrificed so much, and I pray, as you do, that their sacrifices were not in vain. I hope we have not squandered what good was accomplished by them.
Army Veteran
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March 24, 2013
The writer hit the nail on the head when she came to the conclusion that Saddam had to go. Does not matter a whit that the world was wrong about WMD's. He had to go and he did. The failure of the war effort was no status of arms forces agreement and Iraq has been plunged into chaos once again. We lost a lot of blood and treasure and should have made it clear to the new Fascists running the country we were going to recover the treasure in the way of oil until we were repaid every dime. We do not live in a perfect world but we do live in a world with no more Saddam.
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