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My view: U.S. better off because of Iraq War?

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  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 4, 2013 3:14 a.m.

    Are we better off? Absolutely, it cost us only a couple of trillion dollars, a few lives and bodies and emotions that have been damaged for the rest of the persons life, ... but look at all the benefits we have gotten in return.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    April 4, 2013 5:42 a.m.

    Thank you, Judge Jenkins, for clearly stating the facts about the cost to our country of the Iraq War. But I'm afraid you only scratched the surface of the true cost. You clearly stated the real costs and you provided an excellent comparitive example of what we could have paid for with the money spent on the war.

    But in addition to those costs, I am thinking about the damage done to the soul of our nation - our national psyche. Their is more division among our people than at any other time in my life and those divisions get deeper with each passing year. Patriotism is now measured in how many flag lapel pins I own or how many yellow ribbons I paste on my bumper rather than on my commitment to living a respectable and responsible life as a citizen of this nation. We see that dvision more clearly in daily news from Washington but it exists on Main Street of every town in America. The unity we felt in the days following the 9/11 attacks, and all the possibilities for good, was squandered by this senseless, selfish decision that has turned into a decade long nightmare.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2013 6:20 a.m.

    Thank you, Deseret News, for printing Judge Jenkins' thoughtful, reality-based and compelling essay.

    Please, let's see more like it.

  • Doug10 Roosevelt, UT
    April 4, 2013 8:14 a.m.

    Our country is much worse off each time we try to rationalize that war. There were and continue to be as bad or worse dictators alive and well in African countries yet our turns a blind eye there.

    When Colin Powell was approached to back Mitt during last years election his response was, war is terrible and Mr Romney has the same group of advisors that gave Pres Bush some tragic advice and I fear our country would yet again go to war and for that reason I cannot vote for Mitt.

    In our local high school the teachers are maintaining that there were nuclear weapons found in Iraq. I can only imagine they teach that because they think by doing so they maintain the integrity in their political party of choice.

    In the middle east USA is badly thought of, maybe because we went after Saddam and finally got him but decimated the infrastructure, killed 60,000 soldiers and we were also there and witnessed the killing of 30,000+ citizens who might be alive had we not shown up...got to love us for that.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    April 4, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    Amen Judge Jenkins.

    It should also be noted that over 2 million Iraqis refugees fled Iraq during the war and have not returned. Some who fled to Syria have returned as a result of the war there. The refugees included many who were educated.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    April 4, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    The loss of our ideals was the real cost of the Iraq War. We attacked a small nation that never attacked us so we could get control of their oil. It's that simple. It was naked venality. Never again can I talk with a straight face about the ideals of America.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 4, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    My theory for the real reason we went into Iraq is that the Bush Administration saw an opportunity to exploit post-911 public sentiment as a mandate for a more ambitious and sweeping policy to reshape the political landscape of the Middle East. Start cleaning house by deposing a villain whom the whole world saw as a problem. Only time will tell if it was worth the cost.

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    April 4, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    Although I agree with the author that the costs of the war in Iraq far outweigh the benefits at this time, I don't believe that enough time has passed to reach an absolute conclusion. If it eventually plays out that the war provided some stability in the region and allowed us to avoid a larger conflict, then it may have been worth it.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 4, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    No. No way.

  • DougB Spanish Fork, UT
    April 4, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    I applaud Judge Jenkins for his pragmatic truths about many of the uncounted costs of our conquest of Iraq here at home, but in his attempt to be perhaps too charitable to former Senator Bennett's vapid opinion piece on the issue he kindly concludes that Iraq, at least, might be better off when nearly every indicator actually suggests otherwise. The travesties of our optional and misguided war adventurism in Iraq are many and pretending like either country is better off now will benefit nobody and could warp our view when similar choices present themselves in the future.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    @Kim
    " If it eventually plays out that the war provided some stability in the region and allowed us to avoid a larger conflict"

    Considering Saddam was the check on Iran (he was Sunni despite Iraq being majority Shi'ite, Iran is majority Shi'ite) and that roughly half of Iraqis don't have access to electricity and water for more than a couple hours a day (3x as many as before the war) they're a long way from stability internally and regionally.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    April 4, 2013 9:34 a.m.

    Thank you, Judge Jenkins, for your voice of sanity and reason. Excellent op-ed piece.

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    April 4, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    "U.S better off because of Iraq war?" No! I supported Pres. Bush originally on this subject and support him on many others, but unfortunately, this was a mistake. But lets be clear, Senator Hillary Clinton, Current Secretary of State John Kerry, and many other Democrats also stated that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and supported him at the time, so this was not just Bush's fault. The US at one time supported Saddam Hussein and thought of him as an ally, in controlling Iran. We helped Iraq in the Iraq/Iran war of the 80's.

  • red state pride Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 4, 2013 10:10 a.m.

    It sure is comforting to know we have a Federal judge who is completely comfortable with revisionist history and could write an opinion like this with no mention whatsoever of 9/11 and the mood and psyche of the electorate after that attack.
    A couple of points: the invasion of Iraq was supported by a majority of Democrats and Republicans. There was not only a consensus among Democrats that Saddam had WMD's but also among the international intelligence community. So can we please drop the "Bush lied, people died" outright revisionist falsehood at this point?
    Is America better off without Saddam in power? I say yes. And unless you have a crystal ball and can tell us exactly how events would have unfolded had Saddam remained in power then you're basically trying to prove a negative.
    Trillions of dollars that could have been spent on Social Security and bridges? Has the judge forgotten about the Democrat's stimulus bill? How many bridges did we get from that trillion dollars? Zero point zero.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 4, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    Only R's would defend this war at this point. The cost of lives and treasure to take out Hussein who was militarily and economically isolated and impotent was too much. It was a Bush/Cheney ego trip, nothing more. Many D's jumped on this bandwagon for political self preservation as well as as an emotional response to the events of September 11. Clear thinking didn't exist on this subject until the US was sucked in. Many scoffed at John McLaughlin on his show that the US would be there for 50 years, he will be sadly right I surmise.

    Finally, I really don't care if Iraq is better, that's not the job of our leaders. I care whether America is better. Call me a Machiavellian or whatever, but any foreign policy should be judged on this period. Of course, I doubt W. and Co. really cared too much about the Iraqis but this has been used to "justify" the war, bringing democracy to Iraq. Again, I could care less. The war hasn't helped our position in that region and contributed mightily to our debt problem of today, two things that have weakened the US greatly.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 4, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    Thanks, judge, for asking the right question and giving the right answer. I think a very strong case can also be made that Iraq and the world are worse off because of the war, but that's an article for another day.

    By the way, when the war began, numerous cars in Utah sported bumper stickers saying "Support Our Troops" They were everywhere. As the war dragged on, however, and as the war grew less popular, the stickers seemed to disappear. Today, although we still have troops in Afghanistan, you almost never see "Support Our Troops" on cars. Could it be that these Utahns never really supported our troops, they merely supported the Iraq War, and when the war grew unpopular, off came the bumper stickers. (I understand that the edge of a metallic flag lapel pin can be used to scrape off a bumper sticker.)

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 4, 2013 11:32 a.m.

    We’ll never know what would have been the consequences in the region if Saddam Hussein were still in power today. Bush made the mistake of putting all of his eggs in one basket by resting his case for war solely on Iraq’s hypothetical WMDs. Saddam’s record of genocide and human rights atrocities alone were more than sufficient justification for going in.

    Corrupt governments in the Middle East were a root cause for militant Islam. Wolfowitz had long known that and it factored in on the decision. But that might be too complex to be explained to the public in a way that everyone could understand. The safe bet was to dumb down the message for Joe Six-pack and based on intelligence that seemed reliable, WMDs seemed like a can’t miss proposition. And so the Bush Administration didn’t even try to tell the public its real reason for going into Iraq.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 4, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    Notwithstanding my comments above, we should ALWAYS support our troops. They are doing their duty. The fault of this war lies with President Bush. Congress supported a resolution but there was no official declaration of war. He might have been influenced by wrong intelligence and hawks like Cheney, but ultimately as Truman said well, "the buck stops here." He ultimately pulled the trigger (sorry about the pun) on this one.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    April 4, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    Thank you, Judge Jenkins. Great op-ed letter.

    I'm even more surprised that the Deseret News actually printed it!

    I think it should be re-printed every year, just as a reminder.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2013 12:31 p.m.

    Two other issues should be addressed. Iraq is better off with Sadaam gone, but a strong, militant Iraq acted as a factor neutralizing Iran. Iran is now the dominant power in the region and has been emboldened to focus on a nuclear program and help other allies in the region, such as Syria. Also, it was claimed in the beginning that oil production from a democratic Iraq would help repay some of our rebuilding costs there. That has not happened.

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    April 4, 2013 2:36 p.m.

    @atl134
    I am not sure of your source of information regarding the state of electricity in Iraq pre-Saddam, but having worked in Iraq a few years ago I can attest that there is much more electricity being produced now than in pre-Saddam years. The problem that remains is that the demand for electricity is much greater than pre-Saddam years because Iraqi's have more money to purchase electric appliances. (air conditioners mainly) So in spite of increased production, electriciy shortages remain.

    Also, although a Saddam led Iraq was a threat to Iran, he was also a threat to many of our allies, inlcuding Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    April 4, 2013 5:10 p.m.

    It's certainly true that a number of Democrats supported the invasion of Iraq. People in power only listen to other people in power. But anyone paying attention at the time knew, absolutely knew, that Saddam had no WMD. We knew because Hans Blix and the UN inspection team were in Iraq and had not found them. And Blix couldn't get a meeting, not with Bush, or Cheney or even Colin Powell. That was the great tragedy of Iraq.

  • CivicMinded Orem, UT
    April 4, 2013 5:15 p.m.

    War is a problem, unjust war even worse. The justification for the war was made on the basis of stated "facts" which now seem suspect.

    Better, if at the time, the facts had been lawfully determined. The highest standard for a lawfully established fact is sworn testimony in a court. People may swear falsely but can be prosecuted and jailed for their false testimony.

    The lowest standard for facts is leaked information presented in the media. It now appears that the justification for the war was made on the basis of the lowest standards.

    Senator Bennett was in a position to have insisted on lawfully established facts proceeding from sworn testimony on the floor of the US Senate regarding both 9/11 and the supposed Iraq WMDs. He and his fellow senators did not so insist.

    As a result, people have died, money wasted. History will look on this in the worst possible light.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    April 4, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    Completely overlooked in the discussion of collateral damage of the Iraq war (as far as I can tell) is any mention of the unborn. Ironic, since the pro-Life movement is largely congruent with the far right conservatives who enthusiastically supported the invasion.

    Based on casualty estimates and demographic data, I estimate that maybe 30 innocent preborn babies were killed in the three weeks of Shock and Awe and maybe another 600 or so in the ten years of war since. How do members of the pro-Life movement reconcile their likely support for the war with these figures? If you say it's not "convenient" to segregate pregnant women from an invasion, aren't you descending that slippery slope of moral relativism and expedience? How is that different, other than degree, from a single woman seeking an abortion saying it is not convenient or it's too expensive to raise a child? Can you reasonably argue that a baby in the womb is an enemy that can be killed justifiably and freely?

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    April 4, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    Non Muslims are in a global conflict with an implacable enemy of a thousand years. It is not going away. Perhaps the Iraq war helped in this battle maybe not. This was is not over. As long as Muslims find passages in the Koran that encourage terrorism we will not be safe.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    April 5, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    Articles like this will get Orrin Hatch to call you a "nutcase" for protesting a war that should have been protested. In addition, by not reversing the tax cuts right away when war was declared the unfunded war created economic damage we encounter daily.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 5, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    Are we better off because of the Civil War? Many people in the south still don't think so! How about the war of 1812, or the Vietnam war? Are we better off because the US invaded Japan and most of Europe? Not everyone benefited, did they? How about "Desert Strom" war to push Saddam out of Kuwait? In every war there are winners and losers. As far as Iraq is concerned, Al Qaida didn't fare so well there did they? You know, those guys who flew those airplanes into our building in obedience to bin Laden. Was killing him worth it? Umm, hind site always has 20/20 vision!

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 5, 2013 10:55 a.m.

    No Mountman some wars are worth it, though there is a heavy price. But some I don't think were worth it regardless of the price. I would say topping this list is Vietnam with the Iraqi war second. Both took a lot of blood and treasure from our country and did not better our position in the world and have hindered our economy. The rationale for fighting these conflicts was completely lacking. I was a child during the Vietnam conflict but those who know me know that I opposed the Iraq war from the onset (no 20/20 hindsight there). Of course, as a student of history, I looked at Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, where our government basically lied to the people, to make a summation that Bush's WMD argument probably didn't hold water. I also analyzed, because of the Persian Gulf War, that Hussein didn't have WMD and was basically an impotent and marginalized force in the region. Again, my own Machiavellian positions viewed this conflict as one that had little or no value to the US and would probably do more harm than good. I stand by that position.

  • Thoughtful Voter Spanish Fork, UT
    April 5, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    'What in Tucket' if you really believe the war in Iraq had anything to do with some kind of Muslim/Non-Muslim struggle then you may as well buy into all the hate messages that paint Christianity as a religion of murder and dominion as well. There are numerous passages in the Bible to paint Jews and Christians as just as "hateful" as the Koran allegedly causes Muslims to be. Not all Muslims are warmongering extremists just as not all Christians are violent members of the Klu-Klux-Klan. Painting with a broad brush as you've done in that comment inevitably leads to wars, violence, prejudice, and tragedy. Please reconsider this view ... maybe take a minute to meet some local Muslims.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 5, 2013 1:37 p.m.

    Yes, many democrats also supported the war at the time. So did I.

    Why? I was told that "there is NO DOUBT that Saddam Hussein has WMD", by none other than Dick Cheney.

    And we were also told that we better go in because "we dont want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"

    These statements were known at the time to be questionable, but we were not told that. And I doubt that congress was either.

    These guys told us what they wanted us to know in order to garner support for a war that could have waited until we were sure.

    It will go down as one of the biggest blunders in US history

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    April 5, 2013 3:00 p.m.

    Re:JoeBlow

    Some sources were bringing to light the doubts and questions, but too many didn't.

    From 1997-2000, General Zinni was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command, in charge of all American troops in the Middle East.

    Zinni says Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time - with the wrong strategy. And he was saying it before the U.S. invasion. In the months leading up to the war, while still Middle East envoy, Zinni carried the message to Congress.

    Former General and NSA Brent Scowcroft, former Commander Schwarzkopf, former NATO Commander Wesley Clark, and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki all voiced their reservations.

    In his book, Zinni wrote "In the lead up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility, at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption."

    "I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan. I think there was dereliction in lack of planning."

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    April 5, 2013 6:10 p.m.

    There were plenty of us at the time who questioned the value of the invasion. It was clear that the costs were undersold and the benefits oversold (cakewalk, oil revenues will cover costs, etc.). However, the US was caught up in post-9/11 nationalism and any questioning of the Bush administration was dismissed as unpatriotic and pro-terrorist. Witness the response to the rather mild comments of Natalie Maines before the invasion. The Dixie Chicks lost their fan base, their livelihoods, and their personal security-- merely for saying they were embarassed by the president. In that atmosphere of hysteria, any nuance of interpretation was lost. Yeah, many of us were suspicious of the neocons' motives for war, but we were politically powerless to do anything about it.

    Even if you accept the premises for the war (Saddam was evil- agreed, WMD- skeptical, link to 9/11- no way), you still have to ask if an invasion and protracted occupation was the only or best way to achieve the desired outcome. And here the answer is a resounding "no." Saddam was essentially neutered and contained. There was no immediate threat to the US. There were plenty of other options.