Iraq then and now: Bush was right, and Obama was wrong

We recall this week the 13th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War II.  It's a moment to reflect on a decision that still looks correct to me a decade later.

The first question we should ask is, what if President George W. Bush had not invaded Iraq?   

The problem is that we always know what did happen as a result of a war, but we will never know what didn't happen.

What if President Bush had not made the decision?  Let me suggest this scenario:   

1. Saddam Hussein would have become a bigger threat to the region and the U.S.  Saddam Hussein had clearly come to the conclusion that the West would not stop him and was acting as such. 

2. Iraq would have continued shooting at U.S. and U.K. planes enforcing U.N. resolutions.  How many times do you allow someone to fire missiles at your aircraft without interpreting it as an act of war?

3. What about Israel?  Saddam was not a friend of Israel.  What would the Middle East look like with Iraq and Iran threatening Israel?  Maybe Iran and Iraq would have gone to war again.  Or maybe they would have attacked Israel.  We do know today that Iraq won't be attacking Israel, nor does it have WMDs to threaten its neighbors.  We can thank President Bush for that.

Yes, Bush's critics need to answer one simple question: what if Bush had not invaded Iraq?

So far, I have not heard anyone explain to me how the region would have been better if we had left Saddam in power.  All I hear is that we lost 4,400 men and lots of treasure.  Yes, that's a serious cost, especially since one of my fellow ushers at church lost a son in Iraq.    

Or they say "knowing what we know now," a silly question at best.  Leaders don't make decisions that way.  They have to make a call based on what we knew then.  What we knew in September 2001 is that the Twin Towers had been brought down, Saddam Hussein was behaving very badly, and no one wanted a nuclear 9/11.

It's very easy to say that nothing would have had happened.  We knew Saddam's intentions to push his weight around the region.  If Americans have learned anything since 9/11, it is that when people say they intend to kill you, please take them seriously.

The second question is, what if President Obama had left a force in Iraq in 2011 to protect our gains?  This is a more relevant question, and the Middle East is Exhibit A of what our retreat accomplished.

For the moment, President Bush gets all of the criticism about Iraq, and President Obama gets a free pass from friendly media.  Over time, it will change, and President Bush will get credit for leadership, and President Obama will be blamed for retreating and forcing his successor to have to go back in.

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