Generally speaking, most Americans agree pretty much on the Iraqi war. It's about ten years now since the war began and a time for reflection is now setting in. Most Americans think it was a mistake. Except for former Vice President and the entire Cheney family, most Americans just don't think the cost in lives, wounded soldiers and the actual cost in dollars was worth it. Most Americans would agree that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a worthy goal, it was just the wrong war at the wrong time.The fact of life now is that Americans are simply tired of war. This factor is important as some beat the drums of war, once again when it comes to Iran and Syria. Getting involved or helping those who are already fighting the forces of evil in these two places is one thing, but getting dragged into another long term war is something Americans don't want and the military can ill afford. After the longest wars in our history, the after effects are showing up in soldiers via an alarming suicide rate and issues even getting the proper treatment which itself is horrific.
The fact is, as we look back to 2003, we were already engaged in a big fight in Afghanistan. That was the right and just war since those who attacked us on 9/11 were based there. There are now some polls that have a majority of Americans now thinking that too was a mistake. I just think it's all part of a weary nation just wanting to move on from constant fighting. The fact is it was just bad judgement to go into Iraq while fighting in Afghanistan. We took our eye off a very important target and strategic threat to go after a tyrant yes, but a tyrant who was not any immediate threat to our national security. It was bad judgement because some weapons inspectors wanted more time to seek out those (so-called) weapons of mass destruction. Hussein was afraid to admit he didn't have them because he felt the threat of having them protected him from his enemies like Iran. Our blowing away of Saddam allowed Iran to become a bigger regional threat-the very opposite of our intentions.
The success of any administration always comes down to judgement. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, many of President Kennedy's advisers pushed for an invasion of Cuba. The Kennedy brothers had become fixated over Cuba (sort of like Bush & Cheney over Iraq) and neither the CIA or the Mafia seemed to be able to knock this guy Castro off, so now that we had a reason, and the thinking was it was invasion time. JFK, under much pressure, decided on a blockade. This would allow time for cooler heads to prevail and give the Soviet Union an out, which they took in a backroom deal that also included our removing Jupiter missiles based in Turkey. That little piece of information did not come out at the time. The key element here is judgement because many years after both Kennedy's were dead and gone, the Soviet Union and some old war horses of the Kennedy administration including Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, got together to talk over the Cuban crisis. Information long held secret was exchanged and the one surprise tidbit was that yes, some of those missiles were, in fact, nuclear tipped and ready to fire. In other words, had America invaded like the US military wanted, the Soviets would have launched a first strike at America, only 90 miles away. That's how close we were to WWIII. It was Kennedy's judgement which saved the day and millions of lives back in October, 1962.
Fast forward to March, 2003, and judgement once again would play a pivotal role in warfare. Bush/Cheney decided on a two front war and it was the wrong decision. To the thousands dead and wounded, we can only hope that some day Iraq will be a viable and prosperous ally with a government approaching something akin to democracy. Even if that becomes reality, it will be an obvious good thing for that country and region which so desperately needs stability, but we cannot erase what that war combined with fighting in Afghanistan did to us.We don't actually need former military people running the country, just people with good sense and a reality check about what the ramifications are when going to war...much less two wars at the same time.From what I've read and heard, I believe George W. Bush holds Cheney and his long-time sidekick, Donald Rumsfeld responsible for the mess. These two had no clue what they were getting into. The bizarre story I still find hard to believe comes from Bob Woodward whose own investigations for his books discovered no actual high level meetings were performed prior to invading Iraq! He's mentioned this several times on the air recently and nobody, not even Cheney, has called him out on this most unreal charge. That one fact alone spells volumes about the Bush/Cheney administration. They were the wrong people at any time to run this country and we'll be paying for it for a long time to come. I can only hope those rubes who decided George W. Bush was a better candidate because they felt he'd be more fun to have a beer with, can think a little harder next time they vote.I know I'm asking for too much.
In the final analysis another time might have been better to deal with Saddam Hussein. Who knows, maybe the "Arab Spring" uprisings would have made its way to Iraq and it would've then been a good time to add our support to an effort worth our blood and treasure. We will never know now, but the two wars we fought were both diluted because our focus was on fighting too much over too broad an area. We also had no clue about engaging a culture quite foreign to our own, and the factions unleashed uncorked a civil war we were in no way prepared for. Maybe that circumstance alone might have been worth at least one pre-invasion meeting at the White House, but George was busy clearing brush in Crawford, and Cheney was just happy and positive about the great victory to come. Although President Clinton had spoken about the danger of Hussein's regime, he didn't invade there, and kept Saddam bottled up with a $1 billion a year no-fly zone.
Iraq ten years later still has bloody factional fighting going on along with corruption and a decimated infrastructure. We can't expect them to put it all together in a few years, and we Americans should know something about building a strong and viable democracy from the ground up: it takes a few decades, and we had our own civil war about a 100 years into our own quest for a bright future. It's not about them, it's about us. America made the decision to invade another country and like Colin Powell said to President Bush: "you break it-you own it". It broke, and we were close to going broke after Bush got done with America. That was all part of making a bad decision by both Bush and Cheney, and before that by America's electorate. I'm sure Al Gore could have been fun over a couple of drinks.