Back when the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld trifecta got it in their heads to invade Iraq, I wasn't paying all that much attention to what was going on in the background or any of the nuances involved in the decision-making process. Despite being in college at the time, I wasn't the slightest politically active or even politically interested. But even I knew that whatever thought process that made the invasion of Iraq appealing was one that would have also made swallowing pieces of crystal meth a perfectly sensible activity.
I suspect that just as many Americans, especially those who didn't have any loved ones fighting in Iraq and elsewhere at that time, were just as disengaged and ephemeral as I was during that time. After all, I did have other things much closer to home to worry about. Secondly, I was still somewhat enamored with hardassed conservative philosophy - one that made excuses for hard line positions that, with a bit of critical and constructive analysis, made absolutely no sense for anyone but the most diehard to hold. That took a bit of time to recover from.
At any rate, in spite of solid opposition against the invasion from many corners of the U.S. and the world, the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld trifecta were intent on using 9/11 and the opening salvos of the War on Terror as a segue for delivering the shock-inducing and awe-inspiring might of the U.S. Army to Saddam Hussein's front door.
"Shock and Awe." That was the Hitachi Magic Wand of buzzwords that made reporters and journalists shiver with orgasmic delight back then. 10 years later, it still has the same effect. I haven't heard those buzzwords since U.S. troops decamped from Iraq years ago. The supposed point of "Shock and Awe" was to shock the Ba'athist forces and awe them with our impressive military might. Instead, we shocked the Iraqis by dismantling their nation and awed them with our relative ineptitude and general insouciance about what we'd leave behind when the dust settled.
So many reporters were using the words "Shock and Awe" in their retrospects on the Iraq War that I thought about putting my foot into the next nearest TV that dared transmit those words.
To me, there seemed to be no rhyme and little reason for our nation's grand adventure into Iraq. For one, the WMD angle was proven to be dubious at best and a complete fabrication at worst. Again, I bought into the conservative spin over the "missing" WMD by convincing myself that Saddam must have had them relocated to Syria or someplace prior to the invasion. To this day, I still can't understand how I managed to come to that conclusion, although Time and Newsweek weren't of any help on that front.
Come to think of it, maybe it was all of the misinformation circulating about the Iraq War that led people to be a bit insouciant about the whole thing, especially when it was made clear that all the protesting in the world wasn't going to do much, if anything, to stop it.
Ok, so we got Saddam. Junior managed to get the bad guy his old man either couldn't catch or just didn't feel like catching. Not to armchair quarterback, but if the main purpose of the war was to snuff out Saddam and his sons, we could have done that with a good old fashioned CIA-sponsored assassination. Maybe that wasn't the real aim.
Perhaps it was the oil. Antonia Juhasz seems to think so and experts claim Iraq holds what possibly could be the largest reserves of crude oil in the world. After all, we were told that the invasion would literally pay for itself once those petrodollars started rolling in.
Or maybe it was to make Iran a bit uncomfortable by parking a now-U.S. friendly pawn right on their front doorstep. In light of our continuing difficulties with intimidating Iran out of continuing its quest for a nuclear deterrent against U.S. hegemony, it doesn't seem to be working all that well. I'm pretty sure it wasn't to "win hearts and minds" as so many claimed. If we wanted to do that, we wouldn't have sent our troops in the first place.
At any rate, as the war dragged on, more people came to the foregone conclusion that being in Iraq was a bad idea overall. Generally speaking, it became less and less fashionable to cheer on the Iraq War. Even the pundits who made their career riding the "Shock and Awe" orgasm changed their tune when they learned the batteries were just about out of juice.
And what of Iraq itself, aside from the inevitable ethnic/sectarian conflicts that have now popped up without Saddam or any other strongman-type as a definite check? Well, there's this:
Ten years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and smashed Iraq’s military, the country has become a major buyer of military equipment, spending billions to rebuild its armed forces.
In doing so, Iraq has become a customer of some of the same companies that supplied the weapons used to attack Baghdad’s troops in 2003.(...)
(...)With a security and defence budget of about $16.4 billion for 2013 and a commitment to rebuilding its forces, Iraq offers significant opportunities for defence and security firms.
“From a vendor’s perspective, between the US and Iraqi funding, there’s been a lot of money spent on defence goods and equipment in this country,” said Chris King of Britain-based BAE Systems, one of the companies at the expo.
“They’re buying F-16s, they’re buying M1A1 tanks, they’ve bought equipment from other countries. So, there’s a market here,” King said.
“The Iraqi market is increasing, or at least it seems to be a market that’s gonna continue to spend on procurement at some steady level, if not a larger level over time,” he said.
The Iraqis aim “to rebuild their military, air force and everything, so there are many (areas) to cooperate with them as far as defence companies’ point of view,” noted Sang Choi of Korea Aerospace Industries.
Musab Alkateeb of US-based Honeywell International added that Iraq is “purchasing a great deal of equipment,” and its “procurement activity is sufficient to warrant interest from international firms.”
Representatives of aerospace companies were especially interested in advertising their jet training aircraft, given Iraq’s need for advanced trainers to complement the 36 F-16 warplanes it has ordered from the United States.
Though US troops departed Iraq in December 2011, the United States is still the main arms supplier for the country, which has taken delivery of US military equipment ranging from M113 armoured personnel carriers and M1 Abrams tanks to M-16 assault rifles.
The United States has also assisted Iraq in fielding equipment and training.
So, after 8 years, 4,487 deaths and over $1.7 trillion spent, we've managed to turn Iraq into a client state that's a viable customer for U.S.-made military hardware. Well, not just military hardware, but practically anything that's in need of rebuilding.
Maybe that's what Junior meant when he declared, "mission accomplished."