As the presidential elections of 2008 begin to heat up, the number one question asked by many voters is, “What is your opinion of the war in Iraq?” Some candidates say that the United States should remain in Iraq, while others say that we should pull out as soon as possible. Although there is not a definite answer to this question, as always, there are two sides to every story. In this blog entry, both sides of the argument will be looked at, and the answer to this ever-looming question can be left up to the mind of the reader.
When the war in Iraq first began, the number one reason for the United States going to Iraq was to search, find, and destroy weapons of mass destruction. In 2003, a group of United Nations inspectors were sent to Iraq, to locate these weapons. However, after a thorough investigation of proposed manufacturing sites of these weapons was finished, no weapons were found by any of the inspectors. Many Americans were furious after this news was released because they felt that we invaded Iraq without full knowledge of what was there. After the Iraq Survey Group concluded their investigation in Iraq, another group of investigators known as the National Ground Intelligence Center began to look for weapons of mass destruction. By the end of their investigation, they had found at least 500 weapons in Iraq, dating back to 1991. Although all of these weapons were not made at that exact time, it still showed that Saddam Hussein lied when he told the world that there were absolutely NO weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. An official from the Department of Defense told FOX news that a statement released after the March 2003 investigation of weapons that stated "we had all known weapons facilities secured," has proven itself to be untrue. "It turned out the whole country was an ammo dump," he said, adding that on more than one occasion, a conventional weapons site has been uncovered and chemical weapons have been discovered mixed within them (“Report:”). Mr. Gaubatz, an earnest, Arabic-speaking investigator who spent the first months of the war as an Air Force civilian in southern Iraq, has said he has identified four sites where residents said chemical weapons were buried in concrete bunkers. There was "no doubt," Mr. Bush said in an address to the nation, "that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised” (“For Diehards…”). As shown above, the only weapons found there were weapons of a chemical nature, and would not pose an immediate threat to United States citizens. Although the weapons that were actually found did not impose an immediate threat to us, they did pose a threat to those around Iraq. If these weapons fell into the wrong hands, terrorists could use them to do as they wished.
Another reason given for why we should be in Iraq is to stop Iraqis’ support for Muslim terrorist groups which terrorize our nation as well as many other nations who have similar beliefs as the United States. Al-Qaeda, which is a terrorist group lead by the infamous Osama Bin Laden, has a heavy presence in Iraq. Their deadly impact in Iraq can be seen and heard of on a daily basis. Tuesday, April 15, 2008, they claimed responsibility for a car bombing which killed at least 62 people in Baghdad. In order to fight the war on terror, terrorists groups such as Al-Qaeda have to be cleared out of each country one by one. Since we are working so hard to make Iraq a sovereign, democratic society, it only makes since that we would start in Iraq. Al-Qaeda could be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and have to be stopped. Not only are they responsible for the deaths of many innocent Iraqi citizens, they were also responsible for the attack that took place on September 11, 2001. As previously mentioned, Al-Qaeda is responsible for many deaths that occur each year in Iraq. Innocent citizens die because of the selfishness and greediness of those who carry out these attacks. The United States army does as much as it possibly can to stop these attacks, but they come under fire because some of their attempts to destroy Al-Qaeda members causes innocent people to lose their life. If we do not do something to stop these radical terrorists group, no one will. If we do not stop them, millions of people will die from their selfish acts of terror. When terrorists are in such close range of citizens, some innocent lives are taken. But there lives are not taken in vane as they are in acts of terror. They are taken because of our country’s determination to stop those who cause so much violence in Iraq.
A counterpoint to this argument is that many of United States soldiers are being killed by terrorist acts carried out in cities such as Baghdad. According to an article in USA Today, as of Friday April,18 2008, 4,028 soldier have died in Iraq. Hostile, anti-American forces caused 82% of these deaths (“U.S. Death Toll). Not only do our soldiers have to worry about dying everyday, they also deal with very difficult and straining conditions. Wayne H. Bowen, a civil affairs officer with the 416th Civil Affairs Battalion, chronicled his time in Iraq in the book Undoing Saddam. In the book he describes many of the day-to-day fears and nuisances that soldiers deal with while in Iraq. Beginning with the sweltering heat, on average 120 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, the unending supply of dust that covers everyone and everything, and midnight attacks on bases that wake soldiers up with fear for their life (Bowen).
There is another thing that happens in Iraq that many people do not know about. The new government in Iraq has had a tendency to arrest people without probable cause. When they take them into custody, they torture them and do very inhumane things. According to humanrightswatch.org, detainees have reported being kicked, slapped, and punched, exposure to prolonged suspension from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back, electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body including earlobes and genitals, and being kept blindfolded and/ or handcuffed continuously for several days. Detainees have also reported being deprived by Iraqi security forces of food and water and being crammed into small cells with many people and no room to sit down. The United States military forces have begun holding Iraqi officials responsible for these actions. They hope to improve the quality of life for many Iraqi citizens who have been wrongly accused by their own government, and were thrown into what many would call torture chambers (Iraq: Torture). U.S. Military Police who patrol large cities such as Baghdad have begun to train the newly formed Baghdad police department to seek out the real criminals to help eliminate the wrongly accused from being captured and tortured (DePue).
On the flip side of this, some could argue that it is not our responsibility to control what goes on in Iraq. Some believe that we take care of our own business without letting others get involved, why should Iraq be any different? Our intervention in Iraq is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars per year. The United States, according to The Economist magazine, will have spent over $3 trillion funding the war in Iraq by the time it is over. According to a new book by Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize-winner in economics, and Linda Bilmes, a budget and public finance expert at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the Iraq war could end up costing American taxpayers $25,000 each. They say also that the inflated gas prices are a way for the government to offset the large amount of money needed to fund the war in Iraq (Eyeing). When it comes down to it, people have to decide whether it is our moral obligation to help out one of our global neighbors who cannot really help themselves. Some could argue that all of the money used to fund the war in Iraq could go to other countries such as Haiti and those in Africa where poverty and malnutrition are responsible for millions of deaths each year.
In the end, the fact remains that it is a matter of opinion whether or not we should be in Iraq. From a moral standpoint, Iraq is in desperate need of help. A weak government and police force allow terrorists and extremists to kill Iraqi citizens each day. Our soldiers and military police are able to supply the Iraqi police with weapons as well as knowledge on how to defend their citizens. Also, according to the President, we are there to spread democracy to a country that is so used to being ruled by a tyrant who kills entire families for no reason. But then there is the financial aspect of the war and the fact that thousands of soldiers have died that make many American citizens believe that we should withdraw from Iraq before more money is spent, and more lives are lost. From doing so much research, it is clear that there is strong evidence to support both sides of this long-winded argument. In the end, no matter what happens, people are going to disagree with the outcome. People just have to know that what happens happens, either way something is being sacrificed.