During the Republican debate on February 13, Donald Trump mentioned the Iraq War. It has affected the foreign policy of the United States and will continue to affect its foreign policy into the foreseeable future. How could a war overwhelmingly supported (according to various polls) by the American people conclude so horribly?
The prosecution of the Iraq War involved, at least, 2 significant pieces of incorrect information.
- Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
- 160,000 (or fewer) Western troops are sufficient for the occupation.
The first piece of incorrect information came from Middle Easterners. In their culture, lying is normal behavior.
The second piece of incorrect information came from the Department of Defense, which includes the chain of command up to the president. Whoever proposed the count of 160,000 troops is a liar.
Point #1 lead to the invasion of Iraq by American troops. Point #2 contributed to the eventual military disaster in Iraq.
Of course, the Middle-Eastern liars are responsible for point #1. American intelligence does bear some responsibility. The Americans should have (a) discarded the notion (due to multi-cultural pluralism) that non-Western cultures have the level of honest in Western culture, (b) assumed that their Middle-Eastern contacts are liars, and (c) verified all their information.
Who is responsible for point #2? Some unknown person in the chain of command from the American military officers (who developed the plans for war and occupation), through Donald Rumsfeld (the secretary of defense), and up to the president created this false information. As the commander in chief, the president has ultimate responsibility even if he himself did not create the lie.
Point #2 is not merely an accidental miscalculation. It is an outright, deliberate lie because the necessary number of troops can be readily determined from military history. Furthermore, an ordinary American without any military background could have estimated the correct number of troops if he had simply studied some military history. The correct number is approximately 370,000 soldiers; that force level would have required a military draft.
Most Americans are intellectually ignorant and intellectually lazy. The typical American never bothered to study military history even after the news media reported, for many months, that Washington might initiate a war in Iraq. The typical American never bothered to do his duty as a citizen and to verify the appropriateness of the force level suggested by the administration of George W. Bush. The Iraq War is one of the occasions when such irresponsible behavior leads to horrible consequences.
Since the general public had the ability and the means to determine the veracity of point #2, the American public is fully responsible for failing to object to the American government's deploying too few troops in the war and subsequent occupation. Every American over the age of 20 is fully responsible for the actions of his democratically elected government. In other words, every American over the age of 20 is responsible for wrecking Iraqi society.
During the debate, Donald Trump made several accurate comments about the Iraq War. First, we Americans wasted billions of dollars on it. Second, many people -- both Americans and Iraqis -- died for nothing. Tens of thousands of American soldiers were severely injured in the Iraq War. They underwent this suffering -- for nothing. Their sacrifice was wasted.
What did we achieve in Iraq? For all intents and purposes, we achieved nothing. Just look at the mess in Iraq today. Trump correctly asserted that we Americans should never have initiated the Iraq War
By the way, an alternative to supplying 370,000 American troops is utilizing the existing Iraqi army for security. Unfortunately, George W. Bush had approved a plan concocted by Paul Bremer to disband the Iraqi army. After Bremer implemented the plan, the only way to get the necessary boots on the ground is a military draft that would have supplied the 370,000 American troops. No one in the Bush administration dared to suggest a draft because the same American public that (according to various polls) supported invading Iraq refuses to submit to a military draft.
The bottom line is that if we Americans refuse to submit to a military draft, then we should never have initiated the Iraq War.