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An autocratic government. A ruthless dictator that abused his people with biological warfare. A booming oil industry. These were all characteristics of the Middle Eastern country known as Iraq. The invasion began in early 2003, when the US deployed 130,000 troops to Southern Iraq in an effort to stop the former President, Saddam Hussein, from continuing to build a regime that systematically took part in countless human rights violations, the harboring of weapons of mass destruction, and the supporting of terrorist organizations, according to former US President, George W. Bush. Known for housing the world’s fifth-largest untapped oil reserves (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), the potential that Iraq had from a political and commerce perspective was almost unmatched. In the 8 years that followed, the US fought to increase the quality of life for the people of Iraq and to establish a mutually beneficial trade relationship. President George W. Bush’s decision to get involved in Iraqi affairs was both necessary and overall beneficial to both the people of Iraq, and to America.
Iraq suffered 25 years of tyranny under Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator that was known for committing human rights abuses such as chemical warfare against the Kurdish population (The New York Times, 2006), the suppression of freedoms, and inhumane punishment methods. After the dust settled, US influence paved the way for democracy in Iraq, one of the few countries in the region that now carries that title. Many surrounding countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen are authoritarian countries with ruthless dictatorships that have limited freedoms and impose harsh restrictions on everyday life. After America’s intervention, the Iraqi people have much more freedom and are living under an effective and democratically elected government. Furthermore, according to findings by the World Bank and Harvard University, both inflation rates and violence has dropped significantly since 2007, directly correlating to higher standards of living for Iraqis. While this step forward was possible only with the US invasion of Iraq, it did not come at no cost for the US. According to a 2013 article by Reuters, the war in Iraq cost the US $2.0 trillion. The fact is, the issues facing Iraq were not happening on US soil. The US has had many internal issues of its own. However, instead of delegating this money to fixing situations within the US, an already prosperous and developed country, the government decided to spend it on helping to improve the alarming situation in a less developed country. This is known as the economic theory of “opportunity cost.” Defined as “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen,” the US demonstrated this by choosing to overthrow Saddam Hussein and establish a democracy in Iraq, and missed out on the potential benefits of strengthening their own infrastructure. This selfless act saved countless Iraqi lives and eradicated a growing threat to international security.
It is no secret that oil was one of the driving forces behind the US’ decision to invade Iraq. In fact, numerous US officials have supported this claim, including former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid. During a 2007 round table discussion at Stanford University, Abizaid noted that, in reference to the Iraq campaign, “Of course it’s about oil, we can’t really deny that.” This is because Iraq has an “absolute advantage” over the US in terms of oil. An absolute advantage can be delegated to a country when it is more productive in the creation of a good than another country. In this case, the US’ oil reserves are meager in comparison to those of Iraq. Prior to 2003, Iraq’s oil supply was closed off to privatized, Western companies, and was only accessible by the government-backed Iraq National Oil Company. But, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the rising oil prices of the mid-to-late 2000s led to a “doubling in oil production from a low of 1.3 mbpd during the turbulence of 2003 to a high of 2.6 mbpd in 2011.” After US influence spread in Iraq, it can now be said that a large portion of Iraq’s oil fields are owned by American oil and gas firms. Establishing trade relations with Iraq not only strengthened its economy, but provided the US with a valuable commodity partner.
I believe that the benefits of going to Iraq outweighed the costs. However, in the eyes of many, the war in Iraq was unjust. People may argue that one of Bush’s reasons for entering Iraq was to find the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), that seemingly hadn’t existed. While this is true, Saddam Hussein’s regime did use chemical and biological warfare against the Iraqi population in the past. Additionally, this was not the only reason for entering Iraq. Others may say that the death toll that came from America’s invasion was far too high to be justified. The casualties sustained by US troops and Iraqi civilians were, undoubtedly, a tragedy. However, this was a “necessary evil,” something that must be done because it is necessary to achieve a better outcome. The United States is a global superpower and advocate for democracy. The US could not stand idly by as the Iraqi people were suffering. The government made the decision to neutralize the threat known as Saddam Hussein, a man who had a history of violent extremism and was a legitimate threat to not only the people of Iraq, but to the US, as well.
Before the US stepped in, Iraq was sitting on a pot of gold and being run by an imposing dictator. The current state of living for Iraqis should be enough to show that the invasion was necessary and justified. The economy is steadily growing thanks to oil exports, the Iraqi people have democratically chosen their new leader, and chemical warfare is no longer being used upon the citizens. The United States saved Iraq from a seemingly inevitable catastrophe, and gained a valuable trading partner in the process. In the words of former US President George W. Bush, “As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror; this will be an age of liberty, here and across the world.”
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