On May 1, 2003, United States President George W. Bush announced the end of the war in Iraq. The war sacrificed the lives of 138 American troops. As of November 7, 238 troops have perished in Iraq since Bush’s announcement. Thirty-one U.S. troops have died in Iraq in the first week of Novemeber. Every morning for the past few months, Americans wake up with the news of more soldiers killed in Iraq. The question that Americans can no longer ignore, in memory of all Coalition and civilians that have died in Iraq, is “why are we still in Iraq?”
The reason for the U.S. led invasion of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was that the U.S. Government stated it had reports from intelligence that Saddam Hussein was trying to procure Weapons of Mass Destruction, hiding WMD’s that were already created and contributing financial and other supports for terrorist orginazations, including al-Qaida. For over a month, forces from the most technologically advanced militaries in the world scoured the Iraqi countryside searching for the alleged WMD’s already in Hussein’s possession, marching from the borders into the heart of Baghdad. To this day, the military has found neither the WMD’s nor the sadistic deposed dictator whose regime was toppled in less than two months. It is baffling to think members of the most advanced militaries in the world could not fulfill either one of their objectives.The case was similar in Afghanistan, with America’s invasion.
The reason for the Afghanistan conflict was that its government, the Taliban regime, was allegedly housing Osama bin Laden, training facilities and members of al-Qaida. As was the case with the later Iraq conflict, the radical regime was toppled, and a lot of objectives were completed. Yet bin Laden has yet to be located, and there have been many terrorist attacks since. Currently, there is still a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, with U.S. troops suffering casualties occurring occasionally yet much too frequently as every life lost in these conflicts is valuable. Why are the troops still in Afghanistan? The answer might be quite humbling when compared with the intrepid, albeit unfocused, reasons the War on Terror was started.
The main reason for the beginning of our War on Terror was for National Security. Yet, the reason the war is continuing could be due to securities of a different nature. According to reporter James Cox of USA Today, the non-partisan watchdog Center for Public Integrity has done “the first detailed analysis of $8 billion in contracts awarded to 71 U.S. companies by the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.” Cox states that the contractors that were hired have given $49 million to parties and candidates since 1990, with two-thirds of that sum going to Republican candidates. President Bush has received the most of this money out of any single candidate, with $500,000.
Also, Halliburton, which is “an oil services and logistics company once headed by Vice President Cheney,” as cited by Cox, was the largest recipient of all the contractors. Halliburton received $2.3 billion to help reconstruct Iraq. According to Cox, “Most of it came when the Pentagon secretly awarded Halliburton’s KBR unit a $1.6 billion contract last year, without bids, to repair Iraqi oil infrastructure.” Yet Halliburton maintains they were “selected by merit” and “the only company with the right skills and experience to handle such wartime emergencies.”
The coincidences don’t end there, though. Engineering corporation Bechtel was awarded $1.3 billion in contracts, the second largest recipient. Bechtel has been “close to many Republican administrations,” according to Cox. The engineering corporation also states that they received their contract based on merits, having nothing to do with links to the current Presidential Administration.
Most surprising is the hire of SAIC, a technological service company, to “train Iraqi journalists.” SAIC worked closely with the Pentagon before and after the appointment. Whether or not a tech service has sufficient expertise to train journalists is questionable. The contract could have gone to another organization that specializes in the journalistic field, yet the money goes to a close friend of one of the agencies that was appointing the contracts.
Another startling fact is that Bush signed a bill on November 6 that will give $87.5 billion to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. $51 billion will be used for military operations in Iraq, and $18.6 billion will be used to help Iraq rebuild its oil industry, economy and government. It’s ironic that Bush is spending billions of dollars to rebuild another country’s economy when it is projected that America will have a Gross Federal Debt of over $5.9 million at the end of 2003. It seems that Bush would better serve his country by making America’s financial problems his priority, instead of pouring billions of dollars into a country that doesn’t appear to want American involvement after the deposition of their former dictator.
Another reason our troops are still there might be because the opportune location of the two countries for a military base in the Middle East region. With terrorist activities rising in the region, as well as former Arabic allies cutting ties with the U.S. and discontinuing the use of their land for American bases due to disagreement over the war in Iraq, the U.S. could certainly benefit from a base in the Middle Eastern region. Yet pre-emptive strikes and occupation of sovereign nations, however many human rights violations the governments of those countries had committed, are neither proper ways to establish a base in another country nor good first impressions and relationships with the citizens of those nations. If any other nation had invaded and occupied a country for its own uses, strategic or otherwise, Americans would be outraged, as many citizens of the world are outraged at America now. The Bush Administration has also stated that America shall stay in the Iraq region as long as it takes to re-establish a fair government for the Iraqi people. It is chilling to think that Americans created military bases in Germany and Japan almost 60 years ago to help reconstruct those nations and their governments, and they are still in those countries to this day.
America has one of the most technologically advanced militaries, if not the most advanced, in the world. It seems like if the planning of the conflicts and the War on Terrorism were more focused, America would have Hussein and bin Laden in custody, as well as the alleged WMD’s in Iraq’s possession. Yet, all three have currently eluded the military. The citizens of America cannot ignore the fact that this war is fought on levels that are more complex than the “axis of evil” and “God is on our side” rhetoric the Bush Administration would have us believe in.
Meanwhile, the U.S. troop death toll in Iraq rises everyday as shady political agendas are achieved under the wandering eye of a silent public.