Considering President Barack Obama’s decision to re-engage military operations in Iraq and his former secretary of state sounding more like George W. Bush than her old boss, it’s time for some perspective.
Can we finally put some popular myths to rest? Probably not, but let’s see if a case can be made to do so with what we knew when the War on Terror began and what we know now.
The most common fiction about the engagement in Iraq goes something like: Bush lied us into an unnecessary war.
Obama called it a “dumb war.”
As a refresher of who authorized military intervention in Iraq after analyzing compelling intelligence accepted by nations across the world, here’s some language from the resolution approved by large bipartisan majorities in Congress in October 2002:
“Iraq has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people. Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens.”
The resolution also concluded that “members of al Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.”
Among Democrats voting for the resolution included luminaries such as current Vice President Joe Biden, current Secretary of State John Kerry, current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and current unannounced presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Now that the current president has, by his own actions, demonstrated his belief in those findings of Congress, can we cease the political rhetoric of blaming Bush for doing what was needed to protect the security of Americans and other peace-loving peoples around the world?
Winning the peace and maintaining it is not a new concept in American history.
Instead of delivering on an applause line at political rallies and removing our military presence in Iraq, maybe it would have been better for President Obama to follow what has historically been a winning peacekeeping strategy.
The latest Department of Defense reports show U.S. troops spread across 150 countries around the globe. That includes 68,000 stationed in Europe; approximately 80,000 in Japan, the Pacific region and East Asia; nearly 4,900 in North Africa; and an additional 110,000 deployed in various contingency operations.
Obama explains his decision to resume attacks on terrorists as necessary due to a new insurgency and genocide.
May I ask if we should be surprised that this would happen once our soldiers were gone, given our knowledge of the mind of radical Islamists bent on destroying those who don’t accept their demand to convert to their murderous religion?
If the Islamic State feared the presence and awesome power of our military, would they now be killing hundreds of innocent civilians and children?
In spite of coming close to challenging their commander in chief, our generals caution that half-measures and limited engagements are unlikely to stop the “new” uprising that will surely spread once our jet fighters return to base.
The Pentagon’s Lt. Gen. William Mayville told reporters, “I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained, or that we are somehow breaking the momentum of, the threat posed by ISIL [terrorists].”
We are now profoundly reminded of the findings contained in the 2002 congressional resolution designed to stop the terrorists before they return to our shores.
Instead of blaming Bush for a “dumb war,” perhaps we will now begin to recognize the failure of a foreign policy that now carries the indelible Obama brand.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. firstname.lastname@example.org