Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Iraq: It's Finally Over-And It Was Wrong

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Iraq: It's Finally Over-And It Was Wrong

Article excerpt

MY SON JACK was born just days before the war in Iraq began. So for these last nearly nine years, its been easy for me to remember how long this horrible conflict has been going on. Finally, as President Obama announced, the American war will soon be over, with most of the 44,000 American troops still in Iraq coming home in time to be with their families for Christmas.

The initial feelings that rushed over me after hearing the White House announcement were of deep relief. But then they turned to deep sadness over the terrible cost of a war that was, from the beginning, wrong- intellectually, politically, strategically, and, above all, morally wrong.

The war in Iraq was fundamentally a war of choice* and it was the wrong choice. From the outset, this war was fought on false pretenses, with false information, and for false purposes. And the official decisions to argue for this war and then to carry it out represented the height of political and moral irresponsibility - especially when we see the failed results and consider both the human and financial costs.

Saddam Hussein and Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11, as was falsely implied, and had no weapons of mass destruction, as was falsely claimed and endlessly repeated. The intelligence on Iraq was manipulated and distorted to justify going to war. This was clearly a war of choice and a war that was painfully unnecessary. We were misled into war and, so far, nobody has been held accountable for it.

The war was sold to the American public with the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Many believed it at the time, and an invasion was mounted on what turned out to be false information. A decade of sanctions and United Nations inspections had already undermined the allegations. And in the almost nine years of war, not a single WMD has been found in Iraq.

The invasion began with triumphal claims that it would be a "cakewalk" and that U.S. forces would be welcomed as "liberators." That proved to be initially true with the unexpectedly easy removal of Saddam Hussein from power, which led to the famous claim of a flight- jacket-clad George W. Bush on a U.S. aircraft carrier six weeks after the invasion began: "Mission Accomplished!"

But then everything fell apart. Hussein's fighters had not surrendered, but simply melted into the cities, lying in wait to fight again. Al Qaeda, which had existed largely only in Afghanistan, formed an Iraqi branch. An invasion turned into an occupation and nearly five years of vicious and deadly street warfare, sectarian violence, and constant terrorist bombings. …

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