On April 11, 1991, the Gulf war ended with a cease fire that was negotiated between the United States and its allies and Iraq. A policy of containment was maintained by the United States and its allies towards Iraq. This policy encompassed various economic sanctions by the United Nations Security Council, the enforcement by the United States and United Kingdom of Iraqi no flying zones and inspections to prevent Iraq from developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. In October 1998, the United States official policy toward Iraq became regime change with the enactment of the Iraqi liberation act.
The act provided for the transition of Iraq to a democracy following the withdrawal of United Nations weapons inspectors. This legislation however did not correspond with the terms that were set out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 which basically focused on weapons and weapons programs and made no mention of change of regime. The United States and the United Kingdom launched the Operation Desert Fox one month after the Iraq Liberation Act was passed. The rationale behind the campaign was to restrict the ability of Saddam’s government to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
On the other hand, United States national security personnel hoped that the exercise would weaken Saddam’s grip on power. With the election of Bush as the United States president in 2000, the United States became actively inclined toward the policy of regime change in Iraq. The Republican’s campaign became prior to the elections called for complete implementation of Iraq Liberation Act and the ousting of Saddam. The invasion of Iraq may have been planned since the inauguration with the first National security meeting discussing the invasion (Hamilton, 2004).
However, there are also claims that the National Security Council discussions were a continuation of Clinton’s administration’s foreign policy. However, little formal step was made by the Bush’s administration toward invasion despite its stated interest in liberating Iraq until the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers. The rationale behind the invasion of Iraq after the 9/11 attacks has been questioned as there was little to suggest that Saddam had any cooperation with Al Qaeda. Shortly after the attack, President Bush announced the new war on terrorism which was backed by the doctrine of preemptive military action.
Why Bush Started the War The Bush’s administration considered Saddam Hussein to be a major distraction and threat not only to American security but also to global peace. As such, the only way to guarantee the global stability and peace was by ousting Saddam’s regime. The administration believed that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction and thus rushed to conquer the country before they could fire any weapon. The administration also believed that Saddam was a major sponsor of terrorists and with the 9/11 attacks, the American people were thirsting for some form of action.
The electorate of the United States was skillfully convinced that the best solution to the problem of terrorism was to get Saddam Hussein. As such, the main reason that was given by the Bush’s administration as a justification for the invasion was the Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Other reasons were that Saddam supported terrorism and held the people of Iraq captive. Another primary motive which was however not stated with regard to the invasion of Iraq was the consolidation of oil resources in Iraq (Holtzman, 2006).
A report which was commissioned before the September attacks by Dick Cheney indicated unambiguously identifies Iraq as the main destabilizing influence to the flow of oil to the international markets from the Middle East. The report also indicated that Saddam had expressed a willingness to threaten to employ the oil weapon and to use his own export program to influence and manipulate oil markets. Iraq was a destabilizing influence to global oil flow from the Middle East and therefore United States military intervention was inevitable (Moore, 2004). Within the American grand design for the world, oil plays a major role.
The Middle East id the only place that is capable of satisfying the demand for oil as it contains the world’s largest reserves. An increase in the demand for oil was conceived by the Bush administration as inevitable, and Iraq was a stumbling block. The invasion was thus necessary for the United States to guarantee its energy needs. By securing a strategic position in the Gulf region through establishing a friendly and compliant government in Iraq, the United States will not only manage check the OPEC but also influence the conduct of other global powers.
Why Obama is against the war According to Obama, Iraq’s invasion without any clear rationale and without strong international support had the capacity to lead to instability not only in Iraq but also in the Middle East (Ambinder, 2007). The invasion, according to him, would fuel sectarian warfare. The Sunnis, having been empowered by Saddam, were likely to discover that they were the targets of Shia radicals who sought for revenge for the way that they were treated and power to control Iraq’s future.
Iraq’s insurgency will thus be inspired, not only by the desire to kill the Americans but also by the ambition to be in power when the United States leaves. Obama also opposed the war because he envisioned a situation whereby the attacks would increase leading to the death of more American young people. The difference between Obama and Bush with regard to Iraqi war became clear in 2007. The year marked a critical turning point in the war in Iraq. It was during this period that Iraq sunk into a state of savage sectarian chaos with three thousand civilians dying every month.
It was also during this period that the American people lost hope in the war and were thus prepared to bring the troops back to America. However, instead of letting the soldiers go back to America, a move that was favored by both Republicans and Democrats, Bush ordered a troop surge to ease the violence, suppress al Qaeda in Iraq and set the stage for political reconciliation. Obama had much to say concerning this issue, predicting that the surge would not be effective (Stone, 2009). Obama was not convinced that the twenty thousand additional troops would not solve the sectarian violence in Iraq.
According to him, the effect will instead be reversed (Obama, 2002). This move, in his view, would not solve the long term political strife between the ethnic and religious groups in Iraq. Obama believed that strategic defense is a much more preferable approach to the entire war, an idea that many people seem to agree with. He opposed the war on the premise that the United states did not know how much it was going to cost, what the exit strategy would be and how the invasion itself will affect the relationship of the United States with the rest of the world.
Again, he doubted the soundness of the American intelligence and held that capturing Bin Laden ought to have been the priority. Obama felt that because Al Qaeda had not been put to rest, it may act as distraction. Obama conceived of the invasion of Iraq unwise use of the military. According to him, the invasion brought more problems than solutions as more and more money was being used, more American soldiers were being killed and Al Qaeda had grown stronger.
With regard to the reduction of the surge due to the deployment of more troops, Obama felt that it the reduction of violence was mainly as a result of the sacrifice by the soldiers. According to Obama, the Bush administration’s judgment concerning the length of the war, the conception of America by the Iraqis as the liberator and the view that there was no history of violence between the Shiite and the Sunni were all wrong. Obama referred to the war in Iraq as a dangerous distraction. His view is that central front in the war on terror was never Iraq but the terrorist themselves.
As such, his position is that the terrorists should be attacked directly. His new strategy has therefore been to directly fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His first priority has been to end the war in Iraq as he had opposed it from the onset. With his position that the war in Iraq was unnecessary, Obama has made it his responsibility to redeploy the United States combat troops that propel Iraqi leaders toward a political solution, rebuild the military and refocus on Afghanistan and broader American security interests.
His plan is to remove the combat brigades from Iraq by 2010 and to send additional combat brigades to Afghanistan. The worth of Iraqi war Assessing the worth of Iraq war requires that one reflects upon whatever would have happened in the Bush administration would have not gone to war in March 2003. There is no secret concerning the things that have gone wrong ever since the United States invaded Iraq but it cannot also be assumed that everything would have gone right if the United States had not invaded Iraq.
It is a fact that there was a heavy casualty which does not go well with the American public. However, there is need to address what the alternative to war would have meant. Many people agree that Saddam was not the best leader. Other individuals like Madeleine Albright compared him to Hitler, a comparison that cannot be far from the truth in many respects. Saddam had contempt for human life, killing thousands of his own citizens beside threatening and butchering his neighbors. It may therefore be argued that removing such a man from power was worth some sacrifice.
A more intriguing question is however whether the failure of the United States to go to war with Iraq in 2003 would have produced a lasting peace or would have postponed war. It may be said that Saddam would have pushed toward confrontation and war regardless of what might have been done. He brutally and patiently pushed his way to power in Iraq after which he impatiently and brutally made himself the dominant figure in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. In all these instances, he employed war and the threat of war as his principal tools.
In short, Saddam was in every conceivable way a threat not only to his people but also to world peace. However, some individuals have argued that even though Saddam posed a threat to world peace and stability, he would have been contained through sanctions and no-fly zones which would have acted as deterrence (Hunt, 2008). This argument was advanced even before the war even with the belief that he had weapons of mass destruction. For the majority of Americans, the question of whether the war was worth fighting revolves around whether the weapons of mass destruction were recovered or not.
However, the major issue is whether Saddam could have been contained. Even though the war in Iraq has remained unpopular, the Iraqi people can claim some success with regard to the introduction of democracy. With the help of the United States, the Iraqi people have been successful in establishing the first Arab democracy. This is a major achievement with regard to the war on terror and for the purpose of liberty. The different ethnic and religious groups can now work together in a national army.
They have made important steps in repossessing their country from the insurgents that have invaded their homeland. The Iraqi troops are solely responsible for clearing the Basra and Sadr City. The oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein was ousted. Conclusion The main difference between Obama and Bush on Iraq war lies in the objective of the invasion. The bush’s administration saw it as a war against terrorism while Obama felt that there were better ways of fighting terrorism rather than invading Iraq. A sensible argument for the invasion was not that Saddam was about to attack anyone with a nuclear bomb.
It was that the preservation of containment would nit have been indefinite and that Saddam was defying the international community repeatedly and that this defiance seemed to both the Clinton and Bush administration to be succeeding gradually. It may therefore be argued that if the Bush administration would have not gone to war then the United States would have faced a more daring and dangerous Saddam Hussein. References Ambinder, M. (2007, April 21). Obama’s Iraq evolution. National Journal, 39(16), 79-80. Retrieved on March 29, 2009 from EBSCO host database. Hamilton, W. (2004, April 17).
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