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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

It is fair to say that nothing in Iraq has gone as the United States planned or intended, but the war was hardly built on lies or oil. Mistakes were made, and the Bush administration is to blame, but its plan was bold and its intentions were noble.

The Bush administration targeted Iraq because it was the best candidate for immediate democratization. The population was small, the military was weak, the oil-based economy was set to prosper with the end of sanctions and the international community was unable to aid Saddam Hussein's criminal regime.

Most importantly, the administration was able to advance the weapons of mass destruction argument in soliciting international support and securing public opinion.

Had all gone well, Iraq's democracy would have flourished and the country would have rebuilt itself flush with oil investment and petrodollars. The nation would have risen to become one of the greatest in the Middle East, sparking widespread protests and instability in neighbors Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Democracy could have marched across the region and changed it forever.

Perhaps that's a far more idealistic vision than the Bush administration held, but the results of it were at the heart of the Iraq policy.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration failed and Iraq was reduced to the chaos it has endured for the past five years. We can find myriad explanations for the Bush administration's failure, but ultimately those are unimportant since we can't reverse the past.

In breaking Iraq we bought it. The problems there now are the result of our intervention and it is our responsibility to clean them up. That task will be expensive and unpleasant, yes, but it is warranted and certainly right.

To suggest that the Bush administration entered Iraq knowing that the weapons of mass destruction didn't exist is ludicrous. Why would such a large group of educated men believe that the basis of their war would simply fade away when it didn't pan out?

Were they really willing to stake their careers, reputations and legacies on an argument that would ultimately be exposed as a lie?

We know that the intelligence community failed, and we know that Saddam Hussein had engaged in an elaborate campaign of deception to convince the world and, perhaps more importantly, his neighbors that Iraq still possessed the devastating weapons that kept him in power. Where is the lie?

Proposing oil as the real cause of the war in Iraq is equally absurd. The United States is importing less oil from Iraq than it was before the war began, and the price of that oil has skyrocketed. Neither the United States nor its oil companies are making money from those supposedly conquered oil reserves. If we're getting less, paying more and not making any money, how does the oil argument make any sense? Obviously, it doesn't.

The costs of the Iraq war in blood, treasure and international support will plague the United States for decades to come.

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We cannot get back what we've already given up, and we shouldn't try. Instead, the United States must finish what it began in Iraq at whatever cost, lest the price of oil double or our enemies gain a new base of operations.

The Bush administration failed, but not because of lies or oil - it simply made mistakes. Looking back it's easy to say that the war wasn't worthwhile (the Bush administration would certainly agree, along with almost anyone else), but imagine where the Middle East could have been had their plan proven successful. Imagine what Iraq could have been.

Matthew Young is a sophomore in the Warrington College of Business Administration.

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