NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 7, 2013

A decade later, Iraq tragedy at the forefront|Our view: reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war

Aeschylus is not exactly a household name, but the words that the Greek playwright penned some 2,500 years ago still ring true today.

“In war, truth is the first casualty,” he wrote. On this 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, we can certainly reflect on, and hopefully learn from, the wisdom of these words.

We all know how the story played out. As America reeled from the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, our leaders set about a war strategy aimed at destroying the Islamic terrorist movement. The initial strategy of attacking Afghanistan — the known base of al-Qaida — was the correct strategy, though its execution was lacking.

Then, in late March 2003 came the invasion of Iraq, based on “evidence” of weapons of mass destruction in that country. The invasion was controversial from the start and based entirely on the false pretense that these weapons existed and that al-Qaida had made inroads into the Iraqi government. Those who questioned the White House’s direction and the flimsy evidence produced found themselves accused of being unpatriotic.

We now know the truth. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Al-Qaida was not using Iraq as a base — in fact, its presence there escalated only after the invasion took place.

The lies and faulty evidence cost us dearly. Nearly 4,500 American servicemen and women died, and another 32,000 were wounded. There are many veterans of the Iraq war who will live out the rest of their lives with severe disabilities, such as lost limbs and other long-term injuries. And for years after the invasion, Iraq became a dangerously destabilized state in a region of the world that didn’t need another powder keg. It evaporated the goodwill and cooperation that many nations had shown toward the United States in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

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