Originally Posted by MichaelJoeWilliamson
I think this is a fair debate to undertake. One key accomplishment of the Iraqi war is something that is not widely discussed. Iraq was part of the original Caliphate, and as such is very sacred to Islam. Up until the Iraqi invasion, the Islamic extremists were waging asymmetrical warfare against the west in general and the USA in particular. And by most accounts, fairly successfully. They struck when they wanted and where they wanted. No particular country was responsible for any of these attacks.That made retaliation very problematical.
This meant we were faced with several choices, none good. One was to continue along the same trajectory of defense. This was largely unsatisfying, as we were fighting them on their terms. They were attacking civilians and we had few targets to attack. When they bombed the US Cole, who could we attack? Same with many, many attacks against US targets.
Another option was to try and smoke them out. Make them show themselves and force them to attack our military in a foreign country, rather than continue to suffer attacks against civilians on our own soil and against civilian targets. Make them fight us on our terms rather than on their terms. We knew we could win those conflicts.
I think the Iraq war was waged to accomplish a lot of things, and one of them was to force Islamic terrorists to defend an original member of the Caliphate. Thye were forced to show themselves. They had to wage a ground war against the full might of the US military. And in doing so, they got their collective asses kicked, especially after the Anbar Awakening allowed the USA forces to to team up with various Iraqi tribes to form a coalition against the terrorists.. And I think the Iraq war was largely successful in this regard.
Sorry, but I don't agree with your connection to reduced chance of attacks due to an invasion of Iraq. For every Jihadist we eliminated there is a good chance we created 3 more. I also don't agree with the "flypaper theory" that was espoused at the time and see it as just another justification for an unnecessary invasion. These terrorists were not then nor are they now grouped in any one area. We can see that by the countries the 9/11 hijackers originated from. Heck, 15 of them were from a country we are supposed to be friendly with. Add that to various countries where they are still operating and any claim to having reduced their numbers by an invasion of Iraq does not have a solid enough basis to be provable.
Here's the real bottom line to the invasion. We invaded under certain pretexts such as WMDs and Sadaam being an imminent threat to the region along with his support for terrorism. When the weapons were not found and we found out how fast his military crumbled it was necessary to run damage control. This was accomplished by coming up with any number of viable sounding alternative reasons we invaded. His giving money to those who attacked Israel would never have been enough in itself to sell the war to the American people. The ties to terrorism were lumped into the original reasons but once again this would not have been enough on its own unless there had been a clearly established link that he funded, or helped train, the 9/11 hijackers.
I believe we could make an equally strong claim that the downfall of Gadaffi lent nearly as strong a blow to terrorist since it was well documented there were training camps throughout Libya and he was providing funding for them. However compare the loss of lives and cost of defeating Gadaffi to what we it cost us to depose Sadaam and there is really no comparison.
Politicians by nature do what is necessary to cover their butts and this is not limited to either party.