At 11:19 p.m. on March 19, 2003, then-President George Bush addressed American citizens, saying “At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”
If he had known what his words would mean to Americans ten years later, maybe he would’ve chosen differently.
During his address, Bush laid the responsibility of delivering “peace of a troubled world” on American soldiers. He spoke about duty and honor, skill and bravery.
He warned that the conflict could be longer and more difficult than some expect, words that seem more than just ironic today.
The war has had outcomes that few could have predicted.
The “grave danger” that Bush warned about was former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass destruction.
However, no evidence of his supposed ties to al-Quaida was found and his weapons of mass destruction do not exist.
A report made in 2005 by the Commission of the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction stated “Extensive post-war investigations were carried out by the Iraqi Survey Group. The ISG found no evidence that Iraq had tried to reconstitute its capability to produce nuclear weapons after 1991.”
Bush then also promised to make “every and effort to spare innocent civilians from harm” but later in the speech, said that they would take no half measures and accept no outcome, but victory.
Today, Bush can proudly say that no half measures were taken.
According to Brown University’s “Cost of War” project, the U.S. War in Iraq has caused the death of more than 134,000 Iraqi civilians and 4,480 American troops, with an additional 32,000 American soldiers who were wounded.
The numbers are overwhelming and the lives they represent are hard to think about.
The report also stated that the war has cost an estimated $3.2-$4 trillion dollars, not including the $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans.
Iraqi-Americans relations have deteriorated and Iraq itself is far from peaceful.
Hussein, a member of a Sunni family was especially cruel to the Sunnis’ long-time rivals, Shiite Arabs.
In 2005, Americans officials held elections to establish Shiite leaders in Iraq and they succeeded. Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is the Shiite ruler of what is now being called an authoritarian government.
His harsh policies against Sunni Arabs have lead to a series of uprisings and put Iraq on the brink of civil war.
It is time to reflect on a war that has had more negative effects than positive and whose validations are invalid.
Few college students spend their days reflecting on the atrocities of war, but it is people in their twenties who fought the war, and people in their twenties who will pay for it.
Bush’s words during his March 2003 address, “We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail,” echo painfully today.
The Bush administration may never admit that they were wrong to invade Iraq, but today, ten years later, we know better.
This generation needs to accept the lessons that the past ten years have taught us and accept its power to prevent more loss.