Iraq is not a U.S. success

Devon Holliday

“Iraq has become a U.S. success” trumpeted Stephen Ontko in his Feb. 24 editorial. Yet I would ask him, at what cost?

All the reasons President Bush gave for going into Iraq have been proven false. (Yellow cake, anyone?) Four thousand Americans (and thousands more civilians) have lost their lives over in Iraq. Osama Bin Laden is still on the run; Afghanistan, the good fight, has faltered. The Taliban have started to regain their footing there. Army suicides are on the rise. We have lost respect in the world and our national debt has doubled during the past eight years. So, I ask again, at what cost?

Yes, Iraq is finally calming down, but what has that gained us? Surely it cannot be security – It was not Iraq who was producing WMDs at the time of the invasion, nor was it Iraq who had any real ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers. (Saudi Arabia, anyone?) Al-Qaida in Iraq didn’t exist as we know it today until we invaded that country. So, if one claims success in fixing the mistakes we made in Iraq, then yes, that is true. But I don’t think that was the version of success you were aiming for, Mr. Ontko.

I was sent over to Iraq twice. During the first time, especially, I heard so many people longing to have been sent over to Afghanistan. And why, do you ask? It is because we wanted to find the man who killed 3,000 plus innocent Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11. Don’t get me wrong: We still did what good soldiers do and followed orders while on tour in Iraq, but we still wondered why we were still there. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” in May 2003 – what are we still doing there in 2009?

Mr. Ontko, do you believe that the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was without any failure or errors on part of the Bush administration? Would it not be a failure on the administration to have drastically underestimated the amount of personnel required to bring stability to the nation of Iraq? Was it not a failure of policy on the Bush administration’s part to not bring in more troops when there were first signs of an insurgency taking hold, and there were whispers of a full-out civil war?

The nation of Iraq is far from stable – a nation with an unemployment rate of 18 percent, according to a Feb. 18, 2009, United Nations report, is one that is teetering on the edge of returning to chaos. A nation that had three political candidates assassinated before the January 2009 election, and still constant daily bombings is far from secure. The “war” may be over, but Iraq still has a long way to go before it can be claimed to be a “stable, democratic and free state.”

I will not refute the fact that yes, finally, things in Iraq are getting better. You throw enough money, enough lives at the insurgency in Iraq, and yes, you can succeed. However, I would like to finish with this question, Mr. Ontko (and all Republicans): Why do you support the spending of billions, nay, trillions of dollars towards the difficult and near impossible task of nation-building in the Middle East, yet oppose the stimulus package that goes directly to the shoring up of the stumbling American economy?

Devon Holliday is a nutrition and food major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.