Has the USA achieved anything in Iraq?

Short answer, yes.  With the United States set to withdraw all combat troops by the end of 2011 opponents to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and various hard-line militant factions both within Iraq and the wider global arena are claiming victory; some are even going further by insisting that the United States is leaving hastily with a vastly damaged ego and reputation in the face of dwindling international and public support.

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that the United States won few friends through their bypassing of the United Nations Security Council resolution, extraordinary rendition of suspected terrorists and heavy-handed tactics in dealing with insurgents it would be unfair to say that the eight long years the United States spent in Iraq has been a complete failure.

When the over-hyped ‘they invaded Iraq for its oil’ and the more legitimate legalities of the war arguments are put to one side, the USA can show a number of successes for the amount of blood spilt within Iraq.

So what are these successes?

Removal of a tyrant from power

Well, by invading Iraq, the US and its allies removed from power one of the most dangerous tyrants in living memory from power.  Infamous for his brutal repression of Kurdish populations in northern Iraq and Shia minorities in the south, Saddam Hussein often used nerve gas and chemical weapons on his own population to retain control – a recent report in the New York Times estimated that he murdered more than a million people through repressive tactics alone.

Victims of Saddam Hussein

Also, since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and stabilisation of Iraq, America and other allies have been able to provide healthcare, education and easy access to food for all – something which was previously denied to millions under Saddam’s rule.

Furthermore, although it has since been proven that Saddam Hussein did not have links with Al-Qaeda nor sponsor terrorism, it is proven that he was a reliable friend and supporter of similar rogue states around the globe.

Planted the seed of democracy in the Middle East

Prior to the invasion and liberation of Iraq, Israel was the only true democracy in the Middle East; and even they were at the periphery of the region.  Since the US-led liberation, the Iraqi people have formed a fragile and fledgling democracy – for all the teething problems, corruption and failures to act collectively and decisively Iraq is still a functioning democracy where women and all those of voting age are in theory equal.

At this stage it is also questionable whether the events in Iraq helped to encourage the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011.

Kept a lid on Iran

Owing to Iraq’s strategic central location at the heart of the Middle East and sharing of a large land border with Iran, the United States has been able to counter Iranian influence for the last eight years.  Through the sheer threat of having almost 200 000 well trained combat troops, a permanent American outpost and a strong Air Force within striking distance, Iran has had little choice but to limit their foreign policy to little more than rhetoric and occasional shows of force and defiance.

With the withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, is it a coincidence that Iran is now stepping up their efforts into nuclear technology to possibly create a nuclear bomb?

Shown American commitment to fighting terrorism

Along with President Obama’s decision to authorise a Navy Seal strike force to capture or kill Bin Laden and ‘ramp up’ the war in Afghanistan, the continued US action in Iraq has shown an American commitment to fighting terrorism on a global scale; this being despite the most severe economic crisis in living memory and a spiralling American national debt.

Whilst these achievements may pale somewhat when the number of lives lost, money spent and long-term results of the invasion are taken into account it is clear that it can no longer just be simply said that the US-led actions in Iraq were disastrous.

Please note that these achievements are not intended to show complete support for the actions of the United States and her Allies in Iraq from 2003 onwards.  They merely intend to show that despite a plethora of negative press, some significant achievements have been reached although they are not often or widely reported.

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