Tomorrow, I will be giving an Ignite presentation on the subject of Operation Iraqi Freedom I, a 2003 military campaign, led by President George W. Bush, to remove Saddam Hussein’s horrifying regime in Iraq.
In my research and analysis on this particular involvement, I find evidence of the constant uncertainty of what foreign engagement will ultimately entail. It is impossible to predict the various doors that will be opened as a result of direct action. This theme of uncertainty is ever-present in Operation Iraqi Freedom I.
President Bush went into the operation with two main goals: to expel Saddam Hussein and his government following from Iraq, and to establish a self-governing, democratic, Iraqi government. If the operation was simply judged on these two goals, it would be deemed a great success; US troops invaded the country, swiftly took control of its capital, Baghdad, captured Saddam Hussein and many of his following, and established a self-governing government, which would host two nationwide elections in the years proceeding the operation.
However, this success did not come without consequences. President Bush and the United States were unable to predict was the extensive, prolonged, and extremely expensive involvement in Iraq that would follow in the decade(s) to come. While Iraq was liberated from the oppressive rule of Saddam Hussein, its backyard soon became the front lines of the war on terror. With terrorist groups, mainly al-Qaeda, finding sanctuary in Iraq’s mountains and deserts, the US was unable to completely withdraw from the country in time, as was initially expected. A withdrawal would have allowed for a blossoming of recruitment, weapons acquisitions, and freedom to plan and execute attacks for terrorist groups. To withdraw, for the US, would have been to go back on the very reason it entered: to remove an oppressive government and prevent the buildup of weapons and weapons of mass destruction, that could pose a significant threat to the safety of the western world.
President Bush was justified in his initial entry of Iraq by the danger that the Saddam Hussein regime posed to global safety and security. While the US was not the only nation in danger, it was the only nation with the power and ability to swiftly execute the operation, and bring peace to the oppressed Iraqi citizens. What Bush was unable to predict was the rise in terrorist activity that would follow. This unexpected consequence serves as a great example of the uncertainty that accompanies all foreign engagements still in our world today.