And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like… if, during periods of mass arrests, … people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? - Alexander Solzhenitsyn
After nearly nine years, the Iraq war
finally came to an end. This bittersweet moment left many asking why
America invaded Iraq in the first place and did we accomplish anything
before we left? From the get-go, the Iraq War has been based on shaky
evidence and questionable intelligence, all of which have led to the
controversies we still discuss today.
The most recent incident to spark controversy and criticism of the
Iraq war was the release of a video showing four U.S. Marines urinating
on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The video was made between
March and September 2011 and was released in early January 2012. The
infamous video circulated around the world, provoking condemnation from
the Afghan president as well as the Obama administration. The Marines
featured on camera may face criminal charges.
The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden was a groundbreaking
moment in the Iraq war. Obama said the incident was a significant moment
in the United States' mission to defeat Al Qaeda and bring down the
mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Although it was momentous for America,
there was quite a bit of controversy over his sea burial that allegedly
took place within 24 hours of his death. Many questioned why the U.S.
gave bin Laden a burial that was in accordance with Islamic tradition,
and others wondered if any of it actually happened due to the promptness
and mystery behind his burial.
The United States' decision to invade Iraq was fueled by the idea
that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration
vehemently backed this belief and felt that it was a direct threat to
America and its allies. After years of hunting for the alleged WMD,
neither the UN nor the CIA weapons inspectors were able to find any. In
2005, the investigation of WMD came to a close and Bush later admitted
to jumping the gun on declaring war without feasible evidence.
In 2007, Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi
civilians without any justifiable reason or provocation. The
controversial incident underwent thorough federal investigation and in
2011 FBI scientists could not match the bullets from the shooting to the
guns used by the Blackwater guards. They also found foreign cartridges
that were not linked to the U.S. military. The case was reopened in
2011, due to "systemic" errors in the district court's dismissal of the
guards in 2009.
Throughout the war, many Americans speculated that the real reason
the U.S. invaded Iraq was to control the country's oil production.
Officials said Saddam had planned to take control of the Strait of
Hormuz and control oil shipments in the Middle East, which would have
hurt the west in a big way. The Bush administration denied allegations
that the invasion was motivated by oil, and was backed when not a single
U.S. company secured a contract with the multibillion-dollar oil
reserves in 2009.
The execution of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein in 2006 caused mixed
reactions around the world. Ending Saddam's regime was a huge feat for
the U.S., whose goal was to free Iraq from the rule of Hussein and bring
democracy to the war-torn country. The United States justified its
capture and detainment of Hussein because he was a threat to the nation
and justice needed to be served. However, many felt it was not America's
place to determine what was right for Iraq and who should lead its
One of the goals of invading Iraq was to bring democracy to the
country and develop a lasting partnership with them. As the war carried
on, American officials began to back away from their vision of a
democracy and focused more on developing a secure and working
government. Iraq experienced some glimpses of a democratic system when
Saddam's regime was taken down and millions of Iraqis got to vote, but
the instability of the national government and military have
overshadowed Iraq's ability to become a fully functioning democracy.
In 2004, a video was released showing Islamic militants beheading
American soldier, Nick Berg, on camera. The 26-year-old soldier was
abducted and beheaded to retaliate for the U.S. military's abuse of
Iraqi prisoners. The barbaric act was posted to a radical Islamic
website and was believed to be initiated by Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab
The war in Iraq received unprecedented coverage around the world. The
media came under fire for bias reporting, propaganda, and censorship.
One of the most controversial topics was the reporting of casualty
milestones. Many newspapers, news channels, and online publications kept
a ticking tally of military personnel killed in the war and would
highlight the 1,000th, 2,000th, and 3,000th casualty as a milestone. The
use of casualty tallies and milestones was criticized by both
supporters and opponents of the war.
One of the biggest controversies of the war was trying to justify why
America invaded Iraq in the first place. In 2008, President Bush
admitted that going to war on flawed intelligence was a "regretful"
decision. White House officials adopted the belief that Saddam had
weapons of mass destruction, but weren't going to pull out when CIA
reported that no WMD were found in Iraq. There were several different
excuses as to why the U.S. invaded Iraq, but even eight years later, the
real reason still remains a huge question mark.
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