March 20th marks the one year an-niversary of the Iraq War. More than anything else, this war has changed the way the United States bases its decision on going to war. The rule of thumb used to be that war was an action of last resort, confirmed by Congress. On March 20th, war for the United States became a pre-emptive tool, enacted solely by the President. As such, America went to war based on beliefs and a political agenda.
The President went before Congress, with the backdrop of 9/11, requested and received special authority through a joint resolution to give the President broad authority to respond to terrorist attacks with force. The resolution authorized the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks. . . or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States ...” Congress relinquished its authority to declare war.
The President first went to war in Afgahastan to oust terrorist and to capture Osama bin Laden. Then, the President went about building his case to go to war in Iraq. This case was built on the belief that Iraq was a nation that possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), that Iraq had stockpiles of chemical agents, that they were on the verge of building a nuclear bomb, and that they were aiding and abetting terrorist organizations. We were led to believe that it was not a question of whether Iraq would attack the US, but when!
On March 20th, “Awe and Shock” was launched, which pretty much leveled the country of Iraq. The military walked into Baghdad and the search for WMDs began, and to this day, they are still looking for them, and the chemicals, and the nuclear devices, and the terrorist connection, and everything we were led to believed which was found to be untrue. And as each day passed the message slowly began to change to reflect the changing circumstances.
One year later, America went to war to oust a horrific dictator and to bring democracy to the region. With that said, the question begging to be asked is: What if Saddam Hussein had agreed to President Bush’s demands for weapons inspectors et al, would we still have gone to war to oust Hussein, the dictator?
Herein lies the problem with Congress giving special powers to the President, any President, and relinquishing its authority to declare war. Even after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt had to go before Congress to declare war. With the authority and power of the White House, President Bush was able to shape his message to meet his needs. President Bush used the bully pulpit to convince the American people that this was the right thing to do, and, on his authority, sent our men and women to war and to die.
To date, 539 American soldiers have been killed. Unknown numbers have been wounded. Thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed, and even more than that have been wounded. We are no safer today from terrorist than a year ago. The American people are spending billions upon billions of dollars to reconstruct Iraq, and America is now committed to stay there for years to come.
March 20th is the one year anniversary of the Iraq War and we have to ask ourselves, was it worth it!