Lessons from the Iraq War

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It’s been 10 years since Operation Iraqi Freedom (aka the Iraq War) began on March 20, 2003. What was originally thought to be a “liberating mission,” has drained the global economy of billions of dollars, killed thousands of innocent lives, and left many unanswered questions.

On March 8, 2003, President Bush promised that they were doing everything they could to avoid a war in Iraq, but only 12 days later the war had begun. The purpose of the war was said to be removing a dictator from a poor nation that desired democracy as well as finding and eliminating their weapons of mass destruction. Most Americans initially supported the war. And it was supposed to take little time and be relatively cheap, costing Americans only $60 billion.

This proved to be false.

Not only did the war take longer than initially anticipated, it also cost more (over 13 times more to be exact). According to current CNN statistics, $806 billion was spent on the U.S. operations in Iraq. Since 2003, 2.5 million Americans have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other fronts in the war on terror. More than 4,800 U.S. and other coalition service members were killed; over 30,000 Americans were wounded. Americans’ opinions on the war have also changed.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are over 33.4 million people living in Iraq and 1.3 million of them are classified as internally displaced, having fled their homes and moved to other areas to avoid the violence. Over 134,000 Iraqis have been killed of which more than 66,000 were civilians (according to Wiki Leaks). Over 176,000 Iraqis were wounded as well. There have been vast amounts of damage and destruction in Iraq and no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

With the dust around the war just beginning to settle it is now time for reflection (which is the least we can do to honor the innocent lives that were killed because of this war). We should learn from history and take to heart life’s most invaluable, mindful lesson: peace.

“One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.