The invasion of Iraq: 10 years gone

A couple years ago, Bobblehead told me it was too early to say the US-led coalition’s invasion and occupation of Iraq was, overall, a groundless failure. We were probably talking about the “end” of the war and I said something along the lines that the war was, in the first place, unjustified. Sure, he said, Iraq had experienced horrible growing pains since the fall of Saddam Hussein, but a thorny despot was dead and the Iraqis had a democratic form of government. Seeds had been planted and only time would tell whether or not they would germinate and grow — and ultimately prove that the US and its coalition had been in the right.

I saw his point, and no one should argue that the Iraqis were better off under Saddam’s iron fist. But did we belong in Iraq? Was the invasion justified? I do not think I will ever be convinced of that. Which is one hell of a historic conundrum: Saddam Hussein was one evil dude and the world is a better place without him, but were we justified in deposing him?

The war drums began pounding after 9/11 and slowly and maddeningly reached a crescendo ten years ago today. Needless to say, it was a very surreal, confusing, and politically charged time. Day after day, the news was full of accusations, evidence, and ultimatums. It was nuts, and eventually so agonizing and annoying that I wanted us to invade just to get it over with. I was not convinced Saddam Hussein had any weapons of mass destruction, or that they were a threat to us (that was the whole purpose of the invasion, right?), but my opinion did not count and “shock and awe” entered the American lexicon (the best thing about the war, if you ask me).

What is crazy for me is the fact I technically “covered” the war. I was a very disillusioned and depressed DI reporter at the time and wrote at least one article about the war and the local response to it. I also “covered” 9/11, so I got that going for me…

After ten years? The human cost was immense: 4,500 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis, according to the AP article printed in today’s CRG. Those were lives lost; thousands upon thousands more were maimed. Though the country teetered on the edge of civil war for years, things are slowly settling and there seem to be pockets of sustained peace. Despite the corruption and sectarian animosity, there is a foundation of democracy. Financially, it has cost billions and will continue to do so for decades. (According to the CRG, “[t]here are 10 living recipients of benefits tied to the 1898 Spanish-American War at a total cost of about $50,000 per year.” Even crazier is the fact that two children of Civil War veterans each receive $876 per year. That blows my mind: that we are still paying out Civil War benefits 148 years after the war ended.)

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