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Volume 69, Issue 89, Thursday, February 12, 2004

Opinion
 

Cost of Iraq war has not paid off

by David C. Salinas

The subject of the war in Iraq has been discussed and debated a great deal over the past year. This can probably be described as our generation's Vietnam. I don't mean to say we have experienced anything close to the hardships faced at that time, from the thousands of American soldiers killed to the tensions of the draft, but this is the most controversial and contentious foreign conflict since then.

We have lost more than 530 men and women in uniform, and another 3,000 have been wounded. To add to the controversy, a couple of weeks ago former chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay admitted no weapons of mass destruction had been found, even saying, "It turns out we were all wrong, and that is most disturbing." This raises the question, did the Bush administration mislead us, and if there were no weapons, was invading and occupying Iraq worth the lives and money it has cost us?

To answer the first question, I would have to say I don't think so -- I don't believe the administration misled us. Why would it lie about Iraq having WMDs, only to be totally rebuked after weapons inspectors went in later and found none? I just can't see it doing that. Now did the administration exaggerate the danger Iraq posed? Well, from Vice President Dick Cheney calling Iraq a "mortal threat" to President Bush calling the weapons a "grave and gathering threat," I would have to say it did.

From the lack of evidence found, we can conclude Iraq was neither a "mortal" or "grave" threat. The bigger mistake this administration made leading up to the war was not that it didn't tell the truth; it was that it was too arrogant to consider any opinions besides its own. It walked away from the United Nations when it disagreed; it booted out Hans Blix and the U.N. weapons inspectors when it couldn't find weapons, and it even went so far as to do something as petty as rename french fries because France had been critical of our policies. When dealing with matters as serious as war you need to be open minded to all options and opinions. You can't be closed off to dissent, and that's where the Bush administration failed miserably.

Now, to answer the important question of whether it is worth the lives and money spent on invading and occupying Iraq. As of now, no it is not. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was an improvement for Iraqis but there are many tyrannical dictators in the world who need to be deposed, and it's not our job alone to do that.

While the troops should be proud of their efforts in overthrowing the regime, the leaders who sent them there should be criticized for their horrible planning. Not only did we fail to guard Iraq's vital infrastructure from post-war damage, we failed to guard the borders of the country, and now Iraq is a nest for terrorists of all sorts. The administration also failed to realize that most of the soldiers and all of the reservists were not trained to occupy a country. That is why more soldiers have died since "major combat" ended, and there is no one else to blame for that besides the Bush administration. 

All that being said, whether you agree or disagree with the war, we are there now and can only hope it is a success. If we can somehow help form a true democracy in Iraq, which causes other countries in the region to follow suit, that would not only be good for the people in those countries, but for the soldiers fighting and dying there right now. Whether it takes 10, 20 or 30 years, we must hope for this, not only for the sake of the Arab world or even something as insignificant as Bush's legacy, but because no American soldier should ever die in vain.

Salinas, a columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at davidcsalinas@yahoo.com.
 

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