It is estimated the United States will have spent more than $2 trillion in the long conflict in Iraq, including the costs of interest and the ongoing costs for many years of medical and psychological care for the courageous Americans who fought that war. That astronomical sum of money is shocking enough, but when one considers more than 4,000 American soldiers died in that war and thousands more were wounded physically and psychologically, the human cost is not only shocking but terribly tragic.
It has now been proven that Iraq’s tyrannical leader, Saddam Hussein, did not have the weapons of mass destruction we were told he had. That was the pretext for getting into that war during the George W. Bush presidency. It was a false pretext. One could argue that, weapons of mass destruction or not, America’s involvement precipitated the fall and eventual capture and execution of that brutal dictator, Hussein. At least that was a good outcome.
American soldiers honorably completed the mission they were assigned, with many serving multiple tours of duty. When troops were withdrawn in 2011 under President Barack Obama, there was a calm of sorts, with Iraq’s leader, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, promising to share power with Sunni factions. However, Maliki has not done that. He has done just the opposite by weeding out Sunni personnel in the military and the government, thus angering Sunnis and giving momentum to the coalition of radical forces that took over the northern and western regions of Iraq and are now poised to attack the capital city, Baghdad.
Horrific stories and photos are surfacing about mass executions by the insurgents, who are al-Qaeda inspired groups of bloodthirsty thugs operating in both Syria and Iraq. It’s an ugly, desperate, explosive situation that could spill over and further destabilize the entire Middle East, giving other rogue killers (most of them Islamic fanatics) aid and comfort to keep attacking and weakening fragile democracies and touch-and-go coalitions in that area.
Obama has wisely ruled out the use of any on-ground troops in Iraq. Air strikes against the insurgents remain a possibility. The USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier and two support ships have moved into the Persian Gulf. There is talk of the United States and Iran working together in an effort to de-fuse the dangerous situation.
Meantime, people are blaming Bush for getting us into that war. Others are blaming Obama for supposedly not keeping his eye on the ball. At this point, those blame games are pointless and unproductive, to say the least.
What’s needed most is intensive 11th-hour diplomacy, which has to involve as many other nations as possible. Anything else, including military strikes, will just be adding fuel to the flames. This country cannot continue to police and to babysit unstable, dangerous countries. The United States cannot afford to act in isolation, but we should insist not one more American military man or woman dies or is wounded in Iraq again. Those soldiers have paid their dues, honorably. Let’s not make them – or any newer American soldiers – do it all over again. This depressing Iraqi mess is a frightening rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma, and we can only hope cooler heads will prevail. But, no matter what, let’s not rush in again. No more troops on the ground. Enough is enough.