Conflict in Iraq: Retribution for 9/11, or Grave Mistake?

Conflict in Iraq: Retribution for 9/11, or Grave Mistake?

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Conflict in Iraq: Retribution for 9/11, or Grave Mistake?

September 11, 2001 is a date in American history that will not be forgotten by American citizens. After the assault on both the Twin Towers in Manhattan, and the
Pentagon in Washington D.C., the attitude and policies of both the American people and the U.S. government changed. Fear crept out from every corner on the street, and hatred and discrimination ambled out of every store or gas station that was run predominantly by citizens of Middle Eastern descent. In response, President Bush told the American people "We will never forget," meaning the people responsible for the attacks would be found, and payback would be ensured. However, instead of hunting down Osama bin Laden (the leader of the terrorist group al-Qaeda) or Mohammed Atta (mastermind behind the 9/11 events), the U.S. decided to hunt Saddam Hussein.
Secretary of State Colin Powell (directed by the U.S. government) reported in a speech given on Feb. 5, 2003 that Saddam had both the materials and the means to create weapons of mass destruction and also had links to the terrorists in al-Qaeda ("The Path to War"). This declaration led the United States declaring on March 17, 2003 that Hussein and his sons had 48 hours to leave the country or else the United States would take military action ("Iraq Timeline"). Hussein and his family did not comply, and on March 20, 2003, George W. Bush started bombing Iraq, particularly where Saddam and his officials were thought to be hiding. On May 1, 2003 President Bush declared the conflict over, a mere 42 days after the fighting officially started.
To this day, conflict and death still reign in Iraq. The U.S. held military power over Iraq and set up democratic elections to help develop a democratic and American-supporting country. The government was handed to the Iraqis on June 28, 2004. At present day, fighting between the U.S. Army and indigenous insurgents, combined with the killing of American hostages amount to a great deal of strife and agony to the American people. On average, 3 – 4 U.S. citizens serving in the military die each day in Iraq, and some days have amassed as many as 12 deaths in one day. ("Casualties in Iraq")
I urge the American people to realize this is a great injustice. I do not condone 9/11 in any way, shape or form.

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In fact, living on Long Island gave me the opportunity to know many people who had uncles, cousins, and close family friends that worked and died in the Twin Towers. I feel that the perpetrators of this disgusting act should be punished and justice must be brought to the families involved. However, this war in Iraq was not instigated to combat terrorism, but to fulfill the desire to bring the U.S. military into Iraq to disarm Hussein. It is almost completely true that Hussein needed to be ousted from his position in the government; however, placing this burden on the shoulders of American soldiers and citizens is unjust. Too many were tricked into believing this military action was the correct course of action. Bush used 9/11 to launch an attack on Iraq for the terrorist actions that did not relate to Iraq. Money, time and more importantly, lives have been lost in prolonging the conflict in Iraq. The devastating losses to our country show the necessity of removing military forces from Iraq.
For the citizens of America, the consequences of staying in Iraq greatly outweigh any positive outcomes. First and foremost, the loss of American life, both in the military and the contractors and other citizens taken hostage are irreplaceable and priceless. The number of U.S. soldiers that have been killed by Iraqi terrorists or makeshift militias has reached 1052 as of September 27, 2004, and 802 were killed in combat ("Casualties in Iraq"). Many more killings have occurred due to hostage situations, including the two recent deaths of American citizens Eugene Armstrong, 52, and Jack Hensley, 48. These deaths are unacceptable.
I have a cousin, Private 1st Class Patrick Behringer, who served in Iraq from May 25th, 2003 to April 15th 2004. The daily thoughts of my cousin's safety were extremely difficult for me to bear, and my worries could have never equaled his parents' anguish. My aunt Karen, Patrick's mother, would tell me she had many sleepless nights on the days that unidentified Americans were killed. Even my uncle Tim, who shows almost no emotion, was visibly distraught for many weeks at a time. Patrick returned unharmed, which brought immense relief to my family. I cannot imagine what the families of the deceased Americans must feel due to the tragic loss of a family member. The deaths due to the conflict in Iraq, which will not directly benefit the American people, must not be allowed to accumulate. We, as American citizens, must realize that more deaths of our countrymen should be considered an outrage because in addition to these casualties, monetary consequences are hitting the American people hard.
Total U.S. expenditures have totaled 151.1 billion dollars, including a 25 billion dollar bill being passed through congress. (Paying the Price) This is money that could be spent on the homeless situation, the inability for elderly to pay for life-sustaining medicine, or more importantly, rebuilding Florida and southern states ravaged by recent hurricanes. Furthermore, the U.S. citizens should not have their hard earned money blown up in the rugged terrain of Iraq. This quote, taken from the Institute of Policy Studies, shows what could have been with the money spent in Iraq.
The $151.1 billion expenditure for the war through this year could have paid for: close to 23 million housing vouchers; health care for over 27 million uninsured Americans; salaries for nearly 3 million elementary school teachers; 678,200 new fire engines; over 20 million Head Start slots for children; or health care coverage for 82 million children. ("Paying the Price")
Another extremely detrimental aspect of the conflict with Iraq is the damage this war has inflicted to the United States' foreign policy. Relationships with other countries, especially those actively involved in the U.N., have taken a turn for the worse. Increased anti-American demonstrations in Middle Eastern countries shows that Arab cultures have become infuriated with American beliefs that its government can do whatever it pleases. The belief held among foreign countries is the "arrogant" U.S. government uses its power unfairly, and involves itself in too many foreign disputes. Even European countries oppose America's stance on the conflict in Iraq. Germany, France and Russia expressed disapproval in a resolution presented to the U.N. on March 5, 2003 ("Understanding conflict"). These countries stated that the Iraq should comply with American demands more actively, and more weapons inspections should be held. The next day, March 6, 2003, the U.S. stated that military action would be taken without the U.N.'s consent ("Understanding conflict"). This angered the world population a great deal, and furthermore, this declaration may prompt other countries to take the same course of action without the U.N.'s approval. If other countries were to ignore the U.N., large scale wars could result.
There are many opposed to this war in our own country. In a poll taken by the Annenberg Election Survey, 54% of the public felt that the "the situation in Iraq was not worth going to war over." ("Paying the Price") The general consent of over half the population agrees military forces should not be present in Iraq. The fact that America took military action is deplorable; however, the huge injustice is the fact that "the conflict" has been done for more than a year, and America still loses its loyal citizens overseas. The United States must deal with its losses, and not allow any more to occur. I encourage the general public to take a greater stance on leaving Iraq. Though the Vietnam War pales in comparison with the conflict in Iraq as far as the loss of life, the 70's generation, now the elders of our country, should realize how devastating a situation involving changing a country's government can be. We should not allow the U.S. to create such a divide in our country with a war that has no bearing on U.S. citizens' daily lives; on the contrary, the American citizens should come together to help make this country as great as possible. Attacks such as the 9/11 tragedy should be combated with the 151.1 billion dollars spent in Iraq, not with military action in a country with no parallel to the 9/11 attack. In conclusion of this essay, I would like to leave the public with one question. How many lives must be sacrificed in Iraq to make both the American public and the American government aware of the magnitude of this mistake?
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