There was a reason why the Bush administration branded this war “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. The premise was to free the Iraqi people from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, who systematically abused his own people, and if America benefitted from it as well, so be it.
It was no secret that Hussein ruled by ruthlessness, power and fear, and he wasn’t afraid to show it, from his violent rise to power to the day he died. There are countless reports of Saddam’s violence against his people, but he wasn’t the only dangerous element lurking.
At the time, Al Qaeda, arguably the most popular terrorist organization to date, was building momentum and gaining traction in Iraq, especially after the “successes” of the September 11, 2001 attacks on American soil. The main element keeping it at bay was Hussein’s regime, so when he was gone, so were the stops keeping Bin Laden in the shadows.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Another one reason stated by the Bush Administration for the War in Iraq was the looming threat of WMDs waiting to be used against American targets. There are scarce accounts of such weapons existing and still no real hard proof of them. Some accounts state that these weapons were smuggled over the border to Syria before American forces could obtain them, but again, there’s no proof of this either.
Democracy Building and Remaking the Middle East
The “liberation of Iraq” from the tyrannical regime of Hussein was probably the most legitimate political reason for intervention of Iraq. The ideal of removing tyrannies and instead installing democratic regimes around the world is a noble cause. However, whoever planned the invasion left out a very critical stage: the aftermath. After Bush declared the US invasion as “mission accomplished” there was no one in place to step up and take control, which led to chaos, disarray and an outburst of domestic and external violence. To this day, Iraq is considered highly unstable politically and a dangerous place to go physically.
One of the less known reasons the US decided to invade Iraq was a financial one. Iraq is rich in natural resources, namely oil, a resource that the US covets. In February 2003 Iraq offered the US control of its oil and even though Hussein stated that the US didn’t need to invade in order to control the flow of oil to the US, there is no doubt that invading gave the US an advantage when it came to oil prices and the regulation of production.
September 11th, 2001 taught America that waiting too long in the presence of a looming and visible threat is sometimes too late. Saddam Hussein was considered a visible threat, and the United States insisted on deferment when it came to Hussein and his threats. The main element keeping terrorism at bay was Hussein’s regime. The vacuum created opened the door for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and others to operate freely and establish a strong presence in Iraq. It’s safe to say that where Bush stated he was going to fight terrorism, he instead inadvertently created a hotbed for it. Maybe, if the Bush administration would have heeded to the warning signs earlier, then the attacks of 9/11 could have been prevented. Maybe, if the Bush administration would have been better prepared for the aftermath of the invasion instead of being focused only on the invasion itself, then the Iraqi people would have had a better chance at democracy.