This week, the Obama Administration declared the war in Iraq over. You can tell because they say so. The reality is that American military bases will be disbanded and troops will no longer be deployed. American money and contractors will be in Iraq for some time, and will be subject to the whims of the Iraqi justice system.
How did we get to this point? Obama has been president for 2 years and 10 months. He promised to end the Iraq War as one of his first acts, like closing Guantanamo (which is still open). It turns out that the Iraqi government wanted to prosecute American soldiers if they felt a crime was committed. This was politically radioactive so Obama chose to make lemonade out of lemons. Thus was born the sudden decision to pull out of Iraq.
Whatever one thinks of the war in Iraq, there were reasons to go in. I’ve heard this idiotic mantra that Iraq was a war of choice. The United States has never been invaded. Every war has been a war of some choice, including the Civil War. There were all kinds of reasons to not join World War 2, for example. We started after being bombed by the Japanese. We ended it by nuking Japan. German expansion had nothing to do with us for years before then.
Afghanistan, the “good” war, is equally pointless now. Osama bin Laden is dead. We could let that country go to hell again. If Iraq has been a total failure, why did it take this administration three years to call an end to it? Why are we in Afghanistan? Why kill foreign leaders with international forces? What are we gaining?
The Iraq war started as a demand for Saddam Hussein to produce his weapons. Most of the world thought he had some, but none were going to do anything about it. Iraq was a major source of oil for permanent Security Council members like France. Kofi Annan’s son was working for the oil for food program. Then there were critics like Joe Wilson, who was dispatched by his wife, and Scott Ritter, in-between arrests for child pornography.
We will never know if there were never any WMDs or if they were simply moved. Saddam certainly didn’t spill the beans. Most people didn’t strongly object at the time, either. The war didn’t become an issue in the 2004 campaign until the economy started to recover and Kerry had to pick a different tactic. Bush ended up choosing a different tactic when his party had significant losses in 2006. He fired Rumsfeld and started the famous surge.
By 2007, the war belonged to Democrats. Threats to remove funding by not passing authorizations failed immediately. Bush was able to continue the war and plan an eventual end with little resistance. Democrats tried again in 2008, by electing a Democratic president with a Democratic Congress. Still, there was no change. In fact, not until the Republicans regained control of the House did the Iraq war come to the ending it did.
The president has the authority to use existing military assets for limited military engagements. Only the Congress has the ability to declare war. They also have the ability to refuse funding to the military. The Congress has abdicated that responsibility for half a century. Maybe they should give up their place in government as well.