was iraq a mistake

I can remember vividly standing on top of a roof in 2003 Iraq as the sun was setting when I spoke to my liberal Marine buddy and told him this place would be radically different 10 years from now due to all the oil money.  That version of me was in my early 20’s, excited to have gotten a war under my belt, and full of George W. Bush piss and vinegar.  To be clear, I still like good ole W and always will.  He was my President who sent me to war and let’s face it, this blog would be a lot less interesting had I never deployed.  If you had told me Iraq was a mistake in 2003 I would have done my best Notre Dame Fighting Irish mascot impression and told you to put up your dukes.  But fast forward to 13 years later and if you tell me Iraq was a mistake, all I can do is simply respond with the classic Han Solo line from Empire Strikes Back and say, “I know.” I was never a big fan of those protesting the war while it was being fought, but I think we are far enough removed now and about to enter a brand new phase of it to be brutally honest with ourselves.  It is hindsight to say the least, but the future depends on an honest conversation.

The Iraqi People

Look, if I walk into a barn and find you chained to a pipe and then unshackle you only to watch you run over and start having sex with a goat, it’s not my fault you’re banging a goat.  To the Iraqi people, ya’ll got some issues that don’t have anything to do with us.  You guys kept fighting an “occupation” that only persisted as long as it did because you kept fighting us.  This whole Sunni vs. Shia thing is no more than the equivalent of a Team Edward versus Team Jacob man-crush argument and America could care less who you pick.  It is not our fault you can’t join modernity and get along.  If joining a barbarous child raping organization like ISIS is even an option to you because you hate America, then your heart was wicked before the first American boot ever hit the ground. Ya’ll people need some Jesus said in my best Dana Carvey Church Lady Voice.

Iraq War a Mistake

Time and time again we are finding that when you remove a tyrant and simply ask the people of the region to be themselves and live free we quickly regret them being themselves.  There are a lot of good Iraqis who deserve better, but either they exist in insufficient numbers to stand up to the violence or they are too cowardly.  Either way, that has nothing to do with America.  So yes, we unshackled you from the bonds of tyranny but if we had known you were going to bang the goat and set the world on flames we probably would have left you there.  America did some stuff wrong ok, but we didn’t make you who you are.

It’s Everyone’s Fault

I like George W. Bush, I really do and I think he honestly believed he was making the best decision on Iraq.  And although others in the administration and subsequent President Barrack Obama have ownership over this mess as well, George W. Bush could have stopped it all had he sided with those in the administration who were opposed to the war in Iraq.  If this were a game of Let’s Make a Deal and the current situation in Iraq with all its costs were revealed behind curtain number 1, you would pass and pick curtain number 2, I guarantee it. Unfortunately, we will never know what was behind curtain number 2 but it is hard to imagine that it could possibly be worse than what we see now.

Iraq a mistake

You see, one of the main reasons I think it is important for America, but specifically conservatives and Veterans to feel comfortable with calling Iraq a mistake is that we will wind up picking curtain number 1 again if we don’t.  Our past affections for our war experience and a President we loved will do nothing to assist us in the future.  Only an honest cost/benefit analysis will do that so we have to let go of the notion that it is treachery to call our war a mistake.  I enjoyed it and if this was all about me, I’d give Iraq two thumbs up and 5 stars. My biggest regret from Iraq is that I blew my stash of war money on bourbon and a big screen TV in one year.  But it is about those who didn’t come back.  It is about those women and children being raped and slaughtered in the region today.  It is about the fact that the kids we are sending into Iraq today were 5 years old when I was there.

To the 18 Year Old Marines Deploying to Iraq Today

It is for their sake that I give Iraq 2 thumbs down so that my children don’t get stuck with curtain number 1 because we were too proud or partisan to admit the obvious.  Perhaps if the post-invasion strategy were better things would have gone better.  Yes, if Obama would have worked harder to re-negotiate a longer troop presence we may not have lost hard fought gains and his non-intervention owns some of this as well.  But perhaps, had we never invaded the terrible reign of Saddam Hussein would still be in place and that would have sadly been better.  As it turns out, the only people who kill more Iraqis than a tyrant like Saddam are the Iraqi people themselves.  Who knew?  Judge the outcome of the war today and simply ask as of this date, was it worth the blood and treasure we spent to get the outcome we have today.

The Final Word

Veterans of war are not the minions of homogenous thought that many have come to believe.  We are smart, opinionated, and able to make our own analysis.  To be clear, no one in America needs our permission to admit Iraq was a mistake, but there are advantages to Veterans of the war owning up to it if they truly believe it.  First, it shows our emotional and intellectual honesty for the generations that will follow ours.  Imagine them all watching us on that game of let’s make a deal and behind curtain number one was $100,000 in credit card debt, herpes, and a chia pet then consider what they would say of us if we said, “you know I had fun catching those herpes so I think I’ll stick with curtain number 1 Wayne Brady.”

Second, admitting it was a mistake separates the horrific outcome from our service and sacrifice.  Iraq is Mad Max Fury Road for a variety of reasons, but our inability to win a fight is not one of them.  Yes Iraq was a mistake, but we kicked some serious butt during that mistake so what of it.  Those who gave their lives in the war didn’t give them for a lost cause, they gave them for the Marine and Soldier next to them and no partisan bickering will ever diminish that.  Also, George W. Bush will always have my respect as President even if it didn’t turn out like he had hoped. Former Bush aide Dana Perino revealed that while on a trip to visit wounded warriors, the mom of the dying soldier started yelling at Bush.  He stood there and took it and then when on the Helicopter back to the White House Bush said, “Boy that mama sure was mad at me,” and the went on to say, ” and I don’t blame her one bit.”  Perino then recounts a single tear flowing down his face as they flew back to the White House in silence.

Bush dancing with a wounded veteran at his annual retreat for the wounded.
Bush dancing with a wounded veteran at his annual retreat for the wounded.

Lastly, it allows us as Veterans to influence the next generation of action and diplomacy.  Barrack Obama oversaw the fall of Ghaddafi in Libya, Mubarak in Egypt, and more or less Assad in Syria and Obama didn’t invade anyone.  But you know what?  The result is basically the same.  For it would seem that military force is not necessarily the mistake, but removing a dictator in a predominately Muslim land seems to have gone poorly no matter how you go about it.  And that is just the honest truth.  So for the sake of honesty, this Veteran is not afraid to admit it.  I served in Iraq, we kicked butt, but the whole thing looks like a bad call.  So what of it?

If You Liked George W. Bush, Like the Unprecedented Mediocrity Facebook Page Below and He Will Come to Your House and Give You a Hug. (Disclaimer that might be a lie, but why not give it a shot?)

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12 Replies to “A Case for Veterans of Iraq Giving America Permission to Admit that Iraq Was a Mistake”

  1. Spent a lot of time there. Iraqi Kurdistan and whatever. We did way more good than harm, in my opinion. Active-duty Army Infantry, 2005-2010.

  2. Respect what ya say because you were there but strongly disagree. I was there during the first two years in the most dangerous areas, every battle we were in we dominated. Some have different opinions as far as if a body count is what determines the victory or defeat in a war, I lost good friends, great Marines, they made the ultimate sacrifice and I will not, have not and will never say or feel deep inside we lost the war. We as warriors on the ground do not have anything to do with our current president being a completely dumb ass moron who was wrong in pulling troops out of the area and not keeping a strong presence in areas that he should have. His hole initial presidential campaign was built on him getting troops out of Iraq which is what the American people wanted to hear but his plan was flawed and wrong and with that he totally ruined what so many fought hard to accomplish and as we all see what’s going on now over there is a direct result of President Obama’s ill advised plans.

    1. I don’t think the article was saying we lost the war. Just that in retrospect and given the cost, is the current outcome worth it? Perhaps never going in the first place was the best bet. It is a conversation that needs to be had regardless of where you stand on it.

  3. Infantry here I if 2003. Maybe I could have some respect for George W if he wasn’t out charging vets who lost limbs in his war $100k to come talk to them. As far as Cheney goes, Colin Powell already went on the record saying all the fabricated evidence was coming from his office. Dick Cheney should be executed for war crimes all his assets should be seized and donated to vet charities

    1. A deliberately induced mess of reporting and faux outrage about W and the “fee”. Try to remember, the press rarely, if ever, reported on anything positive about W. They could have if they were interested, but it was the exception, not the rule. He’s done a lot for those veterans who’ve returned, it’s out there, if you want to find it. Here’s an article/blog about this, but you have to keep reading to near the end where it says a private donor underwrote the expenses…


      So in reality, W discounted his normal fee, helped the charity raise over $2.5M ($1.5M more than they would have otherwise) to help vets, a private donor underwrote all of the “fees” and expenses for W to attend and all we get from the media is that W is an ass for charging vets to see him…Fundraisers for so-called non-profits are actually quite complicated for tax reasons…so there may be a reason for this. If any outrage exists, save it for the IRS and the subsequent administration’s policies with regards to Iraq and Afghanistan.

  4. Wow….

    great entry man. Bush had a bunch of greedy jackals around him. I truly believe that he was given false information to get us into that war, and a lot of people got rich because of that war. To quote a song: “The power hungry selling produce in a human grocery store.” The veterans who fought there, lost years off their lives, blood, sweat, limbs, and watched their brothers in arms die should be pissed. Everything they fought for has now been turned over to the bloodthirsty savages who call themselves the Islamic state.

  5. I read the article all the way through and liked it, so where the hell is my hug from W?
    Semper Fi

  6. Good article Jeff. I think they are better off without Sadaam. I also think things could have been handled better. We are still in Japan and Germany how many years later? Leaving was a big mistake. I wonder if those kids would remember us today or try to chop our heads off?

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