It’s the type of war that never should have happened. Many can argue that Saddam Hussein needed to be ousted, that the reports of weapons of mass destruction couldn’t be ignored even if they turned out to be wrong, and that the stability of the Middle East hinged on our presence. Others can argue that we needed to send a message to terrorists around the world that we would not sit back idly while our country was attacked.
Our assertion is this: going to war with Iraq has led to many of the bad things that are happening in the Middle East today, including the rise of the Islamic State. The other part of our assertion is that leaving Iraq the way we did may not have technically been considered a worse mistake, but it is the catalyst that has allowed the current state of affairs. It’s the knife sticking our of someone’s back – just because it’s there doesn’t mean you need to pull it out. You can do more harm in the exit than the entrance, and that’s what we fear is happening in the Middle East today.
Could the Islamic State have risen to power, recently taking hold of Ramadi less than 80 miles from the edge of Baghdad, had the United States maintained a presence in the country? With troops on the ground, as ugly of a concept as it is, would ISIS be an issue today at all? Would they truly have been the junior varsity as President Obama famously called them? Would hundreds of thousands of people be killed, displaced, or held prisoner if we were still there?
The answer to these questions is clear. What’s not so clear is whether or not we need to go back. That seems like an impossibility at this point, but the timing will not be lost on the electorate and the question is going to be asked. While _____, as a new President in 2017, take us back into Iraq? We are pretty certain we know the answers that would be negative. Rand Paul and every Democratic candidate will say that they will not go back into Iraq without American interests at stake. What about the others?
Finding the correct solution for Iraq is harder than most people realize. While there is a broad consensus today that we should not have invaded Iraq, the sentiment at the time was positive. Many who are against the invasion today supported it over a decade ago. Today, we’re faced with the same type of challenge. We shouldn’t have gone there in the first place. We shouldn’t have left. Should we go back? The answers to that question could determine the next US President.