The American administration was well aware of the genocidal massacre of the Tutsi by their Hutu neighbors that accounted for more than a million innocent victims killed, mostly by machetes that would have posed less of a problem to U.S. forces had they been deployed to stop the carnage in Rwanda.
Similar atrocities, albeit less in number, have been ongoing in Sudan and especially in Darfur since before Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched. If humanitarian concern was the justification for the war in Iraq, we would have been equally obligated to intervene in all those situations, not to mention perhaps freeing the North Koreans from the oppressive reign of the maniacal Kim Jong Il. In truth, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolflowitz focused on Iraq immediately after the September 11th Attacks instead of on the real source of support for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and Washington insiders (Clarke 2004) consider the following to be their reasons: (1) to finish what we started but failed to finish in 1991; (2) to improve Israel's strategic position in the region; (3) to demonstrate to unstable countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that Arab democracy was possible and desirable; (4) to finally be able to remove U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia ever since 1991 against the continuing threat from Iraq because U.S. military presence in the Middle East was anathema to all Muslims throughout the world, inspiring hatred of the U.S.; and (5) Iraqi oil.
The War in Iraq Has Severely Compromised U.S. Efforts in the War on Terror:
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the September 11th Attack on the U.S.; Saddam Hussein, contrary to the rhetoric of the Bush administration was not involved at all. Nor did he pose any threat to the American homeland by virtue of any WMDs, whatsoever. The best chance the U.S. had of finding and liquidating Osama bin Laden was in the first few weeks after September 11th, when he was almost certainly still in the mountains of Tora Bora (Rubin 2007). Instead of deploying the forces requested by military commanders in Afghanistan, the Bush administration delayed the deployment of forces necessary to seal off the border to Pakistan, employing Afghani warlords and rural Pakistani tribal leaders to do so, virtually all of whom were more sympathetic (if not loyal) to Osama bin Laden, allowing him free passage into Pakistan (Scheuer 2004) while gladly accepting U.S. payment for their "cooperation" and "assistance."
The main concern of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. was organizing their arguments for war in Iraq, to the absolute astonishment of many within the President's own administration. Instead of providing the necessary troops requested by our military commanders in Afghanistan, President Bush actually withdrew some of the resources already deployed there for reassignment to the war in Iraq. Almost seven years after September 11th, bin Laden is unaccounted for, Muslims around the world have been galvanized in their hatred for the U.S. because they view our occupation of Iraq as a 21st century "Christian Crusade"; only 2% of cargo entering U.S. ports is thoroughly inspected for stowaways and WMDs; our borders are no more secure than they were before 2001, the NYPD and FDNY still lack adequate communications equipment that could have saved hundreds of lives of firefighters in 2001; and the FBI, which botched the job of analyzing the intelligence that was available and capable of preventing the September 11th Attack is still the lead federal agency in the War on Terror despite the fact that senior intelligence analysts (Scheuer 2004) maintain that the FBI is ill-suited to the task by virtue of its orientation to prosecuting crime rather than preventing it.
The continued U.S. involvement in Iraq has wasted many billions of dollars that were desperately needed to address the real threat to the American Homeland of Muslim- inspired terrorism. Afghanistan is no closer to a lasting change than it was after we first ousted the Taliban, and Taliban leaders are patiently waiting in several strongholds outside of the cities controlled by U.S. forces to reenter Kabul and reinstall their oppressive regime as soon as they overthrow the government of Mohamed Karzai who remains in power only as long as the U.S. military presence guarantees his safety (Scheuer 2004).
Arguments Against Withdrawing U.S. Forces from Iraq as Soon as Possible
Establishing a Credible Democracy in a Free Iraq is Worth the Short-Term Sacrifices:
The Muslim community and much of the rest of the world views the U.S. As an expansionist empire interested in conquering ancient Muslim holy lands for its own aggrandizement. They view us as invaders of Arab lands and blind supporters of Israel.
If we could manage to establish a single stable democracy and self rule in Iraq, Arabs in other countries in the region would finally understand that democracy is a system of government that benefits its citizens and is not primarily for the benefit of U.S. interests.
The governments in several Middle Eastern countries are dangerously unstable and both India and Pakistan already possess nuclear weapons and medium-range ballistic missiles capable of annihilating and (obviously) intimidating neighboring countries. Should the current governments be overthrown by coups, the situation could become incredibly dangerous when nuclear arsenals fall into the hands of leaders sympathetic to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. The greatest insurance against that occurrence is not military but political and in that regard, establishing a democratic government with the support of the populace is crucial (Kuan 2007).
Withdrawing U.S. Forces from Iraq Now Undermines U.S. Credibility Irreparably:
When the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, we essentially abandoned the South Vietnamese who had relied on our assurance of continued support against the North Vietnamese, damaging U.S. credibility significantly. In 1991, we solicited the support of Iraqi civilians by radio transmission and printed literature encouraging them to rise up against Saddam Hussein to assist in their own liberation from oppression. When we terminated our involvement after a short ground war instead of pursuing Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, they reassembled, consolidated their remaining forces, and immediately exacted horrible vengeance, abducting, imprisoning, torturing, and killing the very people who had trusted the U.S. To free them from tyranny. Were we to do the same thing all over again this time, the entire country would immediately deteriorate into a bitter civil war between traditionally antagonistic Islamic factions. Even worse, al Qaeda would likely take the opportunity to fill the power vacuum that U.S. withdrawal would create immediately thereafter. Finally, after a third straight instance of American policy reversal in its stated goals and public assurances, U.S. credibility among the rest of the world's troubled nations would be damaged beyond repair anytime soon.
The war in Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster since its ill-conceived launch for unjustifiable (and undisclosed) reasons by the Bush administration in 2003. Had the truth about the already-discredited intelligence reports about gas centrifuge equipment and other WMDs been acknowledged instead of presented to Congress and to the American people in 2003, the war would never have been authorized in the first place.
Aside from the fact that there is absolutely no justification for the U.S. To enforce its political preferences in other sovereign countries, the notion that Islamic people will ever abandon their traditional ways of life in favor of a political system imposed from the Christian West is unrealistic and reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of Islamic philosophy and history.
The U.S. is already facing the worst economic recession in decades, due in large part, to the tremendous debt accumulating every day that we maintain a military presence in Iraq. Even more importantly, with the military stretched so thin, we are incapable of projecting U.S. power elsewhere when needed, which only emboldens potentially troublesome nations like Iran, North Korea, and China, in addition to reducing our capability to respond to coups in existing nuclear states with ties to terrorists. Ultimately, all the arguments for remaining in Iraq are specious and the eventual result in Iraq will be the same regardless of when we finally withdraw unless we are prepared to remain there indefinitely at great expense in human life, economic health, and the welfare of the U.S.
Allison, G. (2004) Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. New York: Henry Holt.
Clarke, R.A. (2004) Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror. New York: Simon & Schuster
Desch, M. Bush and the Generals; Foreign Affairs, May-Jun/07 (pp.97-108) Kuan, L.Y. The United States, Iraq, and the War on Terror; Foreign Affairs, Jan- Feb/07 (pp. 2-7) Mulrine, a. Taking Stock of Iraq; U.S. News and World Report, Dec. 24/07 (pp.35-39) Rubin, B. Saving Afghanistan; Foreign Affairs, Jan- Feb/07 (pp.57-78)
Scheuer, M. (2004) Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror. Washington: Brassey's