Iraq: Ten Years After

The U.S. invaded Iraq 10 years ago Tuesday. It was almost déjà war: the nation had done pretty much the same thing 12 years before, but the goal that time was limited to kicking Saddam Hussein‘s forces out of Kuwait and destroying the Republican Guard in that country, not toppling the dictator – our friend during the 1980-88 war he launched against Iran – from his Baghdad lair. So that first war was quick – only 100 hours on the ground! – and relatively painless (149 U.S. KIA, with nearly the same toll– 145 – killed in accidents). “The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula,” President George H.W. Bush said in March 1991, shortly after Saddam’s forces had abandoned Kuwait under fire. “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.” Iraq War II was different. Although bizarrely launched by a President whose father had launched that first, limited war, this time the U.S. decided Saddam had to go. And it ended up looking a lot more like Vietnam than either president Bush could have imagined, or feared. (PHOTOS: A Decade of War in Iraq: The Images That Moved Them Most) It cost a lot more the second time around. A total of 4,485 Americans died in the nearly decade-long war, along with more than 100,000 Iraqis. It cost U.S. taxpayers, including our kids and grandkids, ultimately $4 trillion. On the positive side of the ledger, it cost Saddam Hussein his life (good riddance!). Saddam Hussein was a vicious tyrant, who used chemical weapons against his own people, and who had long flouted UN commands that he disarm – and prove it. President George W. Bush warned in 2002, a year before the invasion, that such behavior was unacceptable. “The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes,” he said, “to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.” But that’s not true. Both Iran and North Korea have been doing so for decades, seemingly with impunity … Continue reading Iraq: Ten Years After