On the 20th of March, it will have been ten years since the start of the Iraq War. Informed sources have told us that the Obama administration has forbidden any major memorializations of the war. That is shameful and I hope that some of the efforts to change that will bear fruit. Good men and women fought and many died to depose a tyrant and offer an oppressed people freedom. They also made certain that this tyrant, who used chemical weapons to kill tens of thousands of his own people, would never do that, or worse, ever again.
Over the coming weeks, we will re-argue the reasons for the Iraq War, what it achieved and whether or not it was worth the cost. So be it. It is right and proper to look back at something that claimed so many lives and learn lessons. What will be infuriating is to listen to the people who will simply create their own realities to fit their own narratives. The first episode examining one of those follows here.
Andrew Bacevich is a ret. Army officer and a Professor at Boston University. He is also firmly convinced the Iraq War was a great mistake (Bacevich's son was killed in Iraq in 2007). He lays them out in a piece for the Washington Post today.
So what did the surge accomplish? With the Bush administration having long since given up on actually winning, the surge — in which 26,000 additional American troops were deployed to Iraq — saved the United States from having to acknowledge outright defeat. Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded the troops during the surge and became its public face, thereby provided an exasperated military with a feel-good moment and gave die-hard proponents of Operation Iraqi Freedom a chance to exchange fist-bumps.
He does a tremendous job of assuming bad faith that is most certainly not justified when he claims the Bush administration had long since given up on actually winning the war prior to the surge. I think, perhaps, he has W confused with the man he endorsed for President in 2008 Barack Obama and Iraq confused with Afghanistan. Obama gave a speech at Bacevich's alma mater where he announced a faux surge complete with a built in expiration date for Afghanistan. If there is a better example of giving up on actually winning while simultaneously throwing more of our troops into a lost cause, I am unaware of it.
President Bush was unequivocally committed to winning the Iraq War, we did win it and the Surge was the proximate cause. Al Qaeda's motley crew in Iraq was stacked like cord wood, the Baathist insurgency beaten by force and subverted from within as they joined us and their own government, oh and a democratically elected and relatively representative government was elected. In the annals of modern conflict that is a victory.
If you want to talk about mistakes during the run up to war, the conduct of it and most definitely the aftermath, there is plenty of fodder. But to say that President Bush had given up and threw away the lives of those he sent to fight the Surge, is disrespectful and simply false.