Rusty has an excellent analysis of the wars in Iraq (yes, I said wars plural). I covers the idea that I’ve thought of, and others have mentioned, that there were two phases to the war: The invasion phase, in which we kicked some serious butt, and the occupation phase, where mistakes have been made and butt-kicking didn’t really happen til a year ago. He takes the model much further, and applies it to the Democrat’s, and some Republican’s failing support for finishing the job.
[T]he root function of language is to control the universe by describing it.
Bush screwed the pooch in Iraq. There is a good argument to be made that we should not have invaded in the first place.* There is no good argument that we should leave.
This conclusion is inevitable when one comes to the same realization as me. There was a war in Iraq and there is a war in Iraq. In fact, there we’ve had two wars in Iraq: Iraq War I & Iraq War II.
The war now is not the same as that war. The first war in Iraq was against Saddam Hussein, the second war is against Islamists of various stripes, but mainly al Qaeda.
Many of the arguments used by those who keep reminding us that Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was a mistake are valid. While Saddam Hussein strategically supported groups linked to Osama bin Laden, there was not a substantial al Qaeda presence in Iraq prior to the invasion. Ansar al Islam, the main Sunni Islamist group in Iraq prior to the invasion that would eventually morph into al Qaeda in Iraq, operated nearly exclusively in the Kurdish north—a zone not firmly under Hussein’s sovereignty.
All would agree that the invasion liberated Iraqis from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. That was the First Iraq War.* It ended the day Saddam Hussein was captured.
The post-invasion period subjected Iraqis to the tyranny of chaos. The vacuum left by the Baathist police state was filled by yet another tyranny: the tyranny of Sunni Islamists, like al Qaeda; and the tyranny of Shia Islamists, like those following Muqtada al Sadr. This is when the Second Iraq War started.
The first war was against Iraq, a nation-state. The second war is against terrorists and Islamist rebels.
It is true that mistakes made in the first war led to the second war. It may also be true that our national security was not enhanced by that first war.
But the first war is over. We won. Handily. Easily. It’s history.
As they say, read the rest. You’ll be impressed and enlightened.