New Army Study Says U.S. Didn't Win Iraq War
By: Dania Koleilat Khatib/Arab America Contributing Writer
Many fallacies and political lies were fabricated around the Iraq war. So far, Americans know that George W Bush went to Iraq under the false pretext that there were weapons of mass destruction. However, what happened after that? Why are Iraq and the region are in the mess they are in today? Why do we have so much chaos in the Middle East? Why do we have a monster called the Islamic state?
Finally, the Iraq study sees the light. The study was commissioned by the former Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Ordierno in 2013. The two-volume, 1300-page report, was co-edited by Joe Rayburn and Frank Sobchak, both retired army colonels. The report was finished in 2016. Its release was delayed in order not to expose American “dirty laundry” to the world and more specifically to the American people. However, the American people deserve to know why their government took their tax money, and their sons and daughters were engaged in a war with a foreign country.
The volume shows how bad policies and decisions taken by policymakers led to the mess Iraq and the region are in today. However, for the average American. the report offers a glimpse of hope. Despite the fact that the decision of going to Iraq was wrong, the report shows short episodes where America did the right thing.
Facing increased violence and the daily killings and disorder, the surge was put in place. It was largely a success. Iraq was to a large extent stabilized. Local reconciliations were conducted. As soon as stability was established, oil money was put towards rebuilding the country. Actually, the report shows that America can be a force for good when proper policies are devised.
It is unlikely that the average American will go to the Army War college SSI website and download the lengthy document. However, the release of this important project will create important protection against political lies and manipulations in the future.
The problem with America s foreign policy is that there is no consistency and politicians are more concerned with approval ratings than with taking the right course of action. Hence policy is devised in a reactionary manner. The decision to go to Iraq was wrong. However, once the American public realized that, and once the government acknowledged that there were no weapons of mass destruction, the decision to leave was also wrong. When American left Iraq, the policies to stabilize Iraq and the policies to create national reconciliation were also left out. The report shows how the irresponsible early withdrawal led to the emergence of the radicalization that led to the Islamic State.
It is the hope that what is learned from this report, America will not go into unnecessary wars or what is called pre-emptive wars. The war in Iraq that was supposed to make America safer and actually made America much less safe. On the other hand, the report shows that when America engaged with Arabs and led the national reconciliation between Iraqis and found an inclusive political process to gather the different factions of Iraqi society, stabilization was possible. The report shows that understanding Iraqis was better than labeling them as terrorists.
The study also dispels the myth about terrorism. Where right-wing politicians claim that terrorism and violence are an inherent character of the Arab and Muslim society, the study shows how terrorism is a result of many social economic dire conditions and many external interventions.
It is very unlikely that the average citizen will go through the trouble of reading 1,300 scholarly pages. However, the existence of such a document that is objective, well grounded, and well corroborated and will provide a good foundation from which to spell out the truth about Iraq.
This laborious work from a large team of military scholars will be extensively used in different fields. It could be used to contain the media hype created about Islamic terrorism to scare Americans which has created a wedge between them and their fellow Muslims. It could be used to curtail hateful right-wing political speech. Most importantly it could be used to educate Americans about war. Hopefully, next time they choose a president they will be making a more informed decision.
Dania Koleilat Khatib is an affiliated scholar at the Issam Fares Institute for public policy and international affairs at the American University of Beirut. She specializes in U.S.-Arab relations and researches sectarianism, extremism, and governance. Her book “The Arab Lobby and the U.S.: Factors for Success and Failure” was published by Routledge UK and translated into Arabic.