Iraq: Why are we still there?

By Esmeralda Aguilar Posted December 17, 2008

Recently, I’ve been wondering why we are in Iraq. It seems that, no matter how hard I search for answers, I come up empty and even more confused. The government remains unwilling to give clear answers to what seems like a simple question.

The primary reason for invading Iraq was that Saddam Hussein’s regime represented a threat to the region and to the US through its alleged development of weapons of mass destruction. Yet Hussein was executed nearly two years ago and no legitimate evidence of recent WMD has ever been found. This was big news and the world waited to see what the US would do next. Surely there was no further need for American forces to stay in Iraq once Hussein was removed from power.

Without Hussein and WMD as a reason, the US used Osama Bin Laden as a reason for staying. But to say that we are still in Iraq because of Osama bin Laden is not defensible either. Bin Laden, according to an analysis released by NBC in mid-June of this year, hasn’t been seen since his 2004 video. Most experts agree that he has most likely established a base somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan. As unsettling as it sounds, neither the military nor anyone else knows where bin Laden is.

If bin Laden is not the reason we are in Iraq, then why are we there? The only two viable reasons are on opposite ends of a spectrum. Either we’re staying for the oil or we’re there to help the people. Which do you think more likely?

The US has a reputation for butting into the affairs of other countries. But, thanks to the Monroe Doctrine, we aren’t supposed to interfere with other countries and they aren’t supposed to interfere with us. Yet, it seems the US has had a loose interpretation of this concept because we’ve frequently been quite a meddlesome little country.

Since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, we’ve surreptitiously organized coups and overthrown the governments of other countries; once we even organized Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro. (Unfortunately, the attempt was a complete failure.) Nevertheless, being meddlesome has usually worked
out to our advantage.

Since we launched a preemptive war with Iraq the reasons for doing so have changed at least four times. Maybe someday we, the American people, will figure out what we’re doing in Iraq. Optimists may believe that we’re helping the Iraqi people, but the realists know we’re there for the oil.

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