Iraq and U.S. intervention: a catch-22
Americans are jaded when it comes to dealings with Iraq. When the Twin Towers in New York came crashing down, the outrage and demand for justice, even retribution, were palpable. So we did as any angry country might do — we followed our president into war. First, we invaded Afghanistan in 2001, which is ongoing, has officially become the longest war the U.S. has ever engaged in, has been estimated to cost more than $6 trillion and caused an estimated 20,000 war-related deaths. Then in 2003, we invaded Iraq on false pretenses. The devastation of our war with Iraq reveals a bit of a stark contrast.
The cost of the war with Iraq is approximately $2 trillion, with veteran benefits that could exceed more than $6 trillion over the next four decades. The cost of human life, however, is appalling: According to a recent study by university researchers in the United States, Canada and Baghdad in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, the death toll stands at an estimated 500,000. (This estimate covers not only violent deaths but other avoidable deaths linked to the invasion, insurgencies and subsequent social breakdown.)
In the last couple of weeks, though, insurgents with the Sunni jihadist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have ramped up their murderous reign of terror on the Iraqi people and against Iraqi security forces. As they move through Iraq, taking one city at a time, they are leaving hundreds dead in their wake while bolstering their strength and unity — a situation our president is gravely concerned about. Though President Barack Obama declared last year that the war on terror, like all wars, must end, the rapid movement and growth of ISIS apparently poses too much of a terrorist threat to do nothing. So Obama decided this week to send 275 troops to Iraq, which seems to be an unfavorable decision and perhaps even a misguided one.
The reality is that ISIS is not only loaded with up to 10,000 Islamic extremists who apparently have no sense of humanity, but is also loaded with an estimated $2 billion in cash and loot to keep the operation going. This group is so extreme that even al-Qaida announced it has no ties to the organization.
Getting involved in Iraq again comes with a lot of hesitation and fear, especially when considering joining forces with Iran, which may link us to several extreme groups that we don’t want any association with. But doing nothing as hundreds of innocent lives are lost with the ISIS occupation seems incredibly inhumane. In the scheme of things, 275 troops aren’t very many, though we hope it’s not so few that they are vulnerable. There are no easy answers to solving this tragic situation in Iraq, but we should err on the side of humanity; whether it’s the lives of our own troops or hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians, however, is a fine line to walk.