The 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War has all the pundits, local and national, opining on what happened, what it all means, and where we are now. Before you buy into all of the revisionist history being bandied about, let's review some key facts for the record.
At the end of the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein agreed to cease fire conditions (UN 687) that included UN inspections to verify he has gotten rid of his WMD program and current stockpiles. Over the next 11 years, UN inspectors were never able to definitively say that Iraq had met those agreements.
The May 1st, 2003 declaration by then President Bush that 'major combat operations' were over is entirely accurate. The Iraqi Army was defeated, and organized Iraqi military resistance had ceased. For the next 6-7 years we fought a different kind of war, against a different kind of enemy. An enemy who didn't wear uniforms, did not answer to a government, and did not abide by the laws of warfare as agreed to by the Geneva Convention. The US military has different rules for war against a nation than we do
war against an insurgency, and we transitioned from major combat against
the Iraqi military to stability operations against guerrilla fighters. We won the war against Iraq, then we won the war against radical Islam in Iraq.
Despite repeated claims, there are no verified examples of massive US war crimes against Iraqis. The Haditha Dam incident resulted in only 1 conviction, and that on a technicality. Eyewitness reports of atrocities collected under the Winter Soldier 2 committee have never produced one shred of proof of their allegations.
Everyone who looked at the intel believed Saddam had and active WMD program. When people tell you that the CIA faked the evidence, please ask them if they mean the CIA under President Bill Clinton, because that is where we started to hear that Iraq still had WMD. The CIA under Clinton said Iraq still had WMD in 1994, Pres Clinton used WMD as justification for attacking Iraq in 1998,
and all of the following prominent Democrats urged action on Iraq's WMD issue; Joe Liberman, Dianne Feinstein, Tom Dashle, and John Kerry, Tom Harkin and Allen Specter, Madeline Albright, Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Wesley Clark, Hillary Clinton, William Cohen, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Carl Levin, Nancy Pelosi, and Henry Waxman. All made statements on the record, most in the Congressional Record to the effect that Iraq had WMD and the world knew it.
Last but certainly not least, the country of Iraq is today, by all reasonable standards, and Arab democracy. It's certainly not pretty, it doesn't have all the rights or niceties we expect here in America, but compare it to their neighbor to the north, Iran, which is imprisoning Christians, neighbor to the west Syria, which is in a brutal civil war intent on murdering enough of its citizens to stay in power, or nieghbor to the south Saudi Arabia which was condemned last month for beheading a foreign national accused of child neglect. Compared to the other folks on the block, Iraq is a fairly stable democracy, not a bad result for our efforts.
Last but certainly not least, if you are a person who believes that all we have done in Iraq was moot, or not worth the cost, you are certainly entitled to that opinion, and it may well be proven correct by the judgement of history. But please, no matter your party affiliation, don't go around telling people in a loud voice that Iraq was a waste, we were tricked into fighting, or that we didn't accomplish anything. Because today's Iraq and Afghan vets, whether or not they believe that what they did was good, do not want to hear civilians who never served telling them how the war really was, what we really accomplished, or how all the troops who served in Iraq were stupid pawns in a political game. Respect them, tell them thank you for their efforts, and then politely disagree with the war in general. And maybe buy them a beer while you are at it.