Most wars are preventable. We will be able to remember the Iraq War of 2003 just as the greatest strategic blunder in US history only if we are willing to learn the ample lessons that unfortunate and mismanaged leadership provided, and thus become able to avoid making even worse mistakes in the future.
The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars appears to be headed toward about $4-$5 trillion in total expenditures once all is said and done, if we include to the $1.41 trillion spent to date the equivalent interest payments on the massive amounts borrowed and supplemented to the deficit by the Bush administration, and the 50-60 years of Afghan/Iraq's 2.8 million veterans reaching a projected 40% permanent disability levels.
This is slightly higher than the cost range for World War II and a very far cry from the $4-$5 billion incurred by the Afghan field operations in Oct-Dec 2001. If the Bush administration had not passed on the opportunities presented to eliminate Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, and Ayman al-Zawahiri just a few months after September 11, the war would had been brought to swift conclusion with the decimation of al-Qaeda.
But even that considerably smaller figure was still much less than it would have cost the Bush administration to simply pay attention to the flood of warnings pouring into Washington from foreign intelligence agencies, our own CIA, and from FBI field operatives, during the spring and summer that preceded the 9/11 attacks, and preventively order commercial airline cockpit doors to be locked in flight, just as the Israelis had been doing for the previous 30 years.
Such a little step of applying commercial airline cockpit doors - appropriate in light of the circumstances - would have saved the lives of the nearly 3,000 killed in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. A serious investigation into the tragedy was prevented by the terms of the Bush administration's Victims Compensation Fund, which used US taxpayer money to pay an average of $1.8 million to each of the 9/11 victim families willing to sign an agreement not to sue, and thus force disclosure of the extensive negligence and security breaches that led to the tragic 9/11 events.
So, what did the paths taken instead accomplish? The Taliban returned to Afghanistan; they never were a threat to the US anyway, having several times attempted to turn Osama bin Laden over to the US. Yet, our government managed to turn two wars over to al-Qaeda, instead of just the one Osama bin Laden had been trying to get since 1996 with the purpose of draining the US economy. This greatly helped the terrorist organization accelerate the realization of its loudly stated goal of harming the US financially.
Iraq, of course, has now a new strongman leader - Shia instead of the secular Sunni, who had once provided Iraq's people free medical care and education through the university level, as well as religious tolerance, and rights for women. Now that the US is gone, the new Iraq leaders have been busy strengthening their ties with Iran and contracting to sell most of their oil to China. That would never had happened under Saddam.
All these non-accomplishments in both wars came at the price of nearly 7,000 US Service Personnel dead. In Iraq, there were somewhere between 120,000 to 1,000,000 dead and more than 3 million newly minted orphans since 2003. Civilians, who were previously minding their every day lives, since they have nothing else to lose when their home got destroyed and family killed, turned into insurgents fighting the American soldiers.
As the Vice-President of Iraq asked, rhetorically, in the opening days of the Iraq war, 'What is George Bush trying to do, create an entire generation of terrorists?'
Some say about Bush that 'He kept us safe'.
What planet have these seceded to - Delusionus?
Well, at least, a lot of people in the 6 counties surrounding Washington D.C. got rich beneficiaries of one of the most corrupt administrations in US history.
The Iraq War of 2003 encapsulates much of what has gone wrong with aggressive neo-conservative foreign policies. Its lessons are made most clear within the perspectives of the philosophers of War, particularly Sun Tzu and America's own Colonel John Boyd, which provide a sharp aid in understanding the Bush administration's unfortunate choices.
If we fail to learn from such mistakes, it is likely our $1.2 trillion/year military will become increasingly vulnerable to the asymmetric defenses of hegemons. China, our nearest military competitor with a $140 billion/year defense budget, chooses to put most of its money into developing its economy, and plans to deal with our aggressive $6 billion super carriers using relatively inexpensive anti-ship ballistic missiles.
Combining this position with our increasingly hollowed out economy - 'free trade' they call it, having no historical memory that the same thing doomed the British Empire a hundred years ago - and the replay of another Iraq-type Middle-Eastern scenario (as Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper demonstrated during Operation Millennium Challenge) is the sort of thing that brings down a great power.
To move forward we must look back and re-examine, because as Winston Churchill said, 'those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it'. What really led to the Iraq War, and what exactly happened behind the political scenes? The "Iraq War 2003 - What Really Happened Behind the Political Scenes" by Charles Edmund Coyote, a new Amazon best seller in the Iraq war history is the untold entire story on the greatest blunder in American history.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BIL0BW2/. With over 600 references, it brings together all the events from the Iraq-Iran War & the WMDs given to Saddam Hussein to the intelligence warnings before 9/11 & the escape of Osama bin Laden in 2001. See author's political blog and commentaries http://www.thecoyotereport.com/iraq-war-book/
By Charles Edmund Coyote