So here we are, well into the war on Iraq, the primary sources of resistance have been defeated and now the questions begin to well up. Was it worth it? What's next?
Let's start with "Was it worth it?" I don't think the United States took an extreme hit as far as world opinion is concerned. Of course there was not near as much support as one would like, but many countries aided in the coalition's effort and it's unlikely that anybody is terribly upset to see Saddam Hussein removed from power. Civil unrest reached its greatest heights since Vietnam, but the majority of American people supported the President's handling of the situation.
Many of those protesting the war felt that oil was the primary reason for the war. I doubt it. Certainly, I believe the US will exercise influence and end up cutting a pretty favorable deal to help defray the costs of war, and we will end up in a better position in future oil trading. But, do I think that our sole intention of going to war was to pirate the oil reserves of the Iraqi people? That seems a little fictional for me. Undoubtedly, there are possible scenarios that could be created to imply this fact, but I do genuinely believe that the elimination of a threat was just as big of a factor in this war. The question now is was the threat eliminated, or was it simply relocated to Syria.
Did the Iraqi people gain anything from this war? There is no doubt that the potential for a much better quality of life exists without Saddam Hussein in the picture. Was this increase in possibility worth the bloodshed of some civilian casualties? Instances were portrayed of tragedies where some civilians were harmed and killed, but how does one measure the death of a few against the liberation of an entire country of people. And will the liberated be able to take control of their own futures without drowning in complete anarchy?
I guess all this rambling has lead to the following conclusions on my part. I don't think the US was wrong to go to war in Iraq. I don't think oil was the primary reason for the war, but I do believe that it was a definite factor. I think the sacrifice of a few civilian lives was worth it to rid a country of an oppressive and deadly regime. There is no way to completely eliminate the risk to a civilian population in an urban war, and I firmly believe that the regime intentionally endangered the Iraqi's with their tactics. The Iraqi people now have the potential to become a great nation, but that is by no means certain at this point. The most difficult part of this regime overthrow remains, and that is empowering a strong government that the people can trust and support.