Today marks the eve of the fifth anniversary of the United States-led invasion of Iraq, and the beginning of a war that will now enter its sixth year. What began as a fast attack on and capture of Baghdad has turned into a drawn-out rebuilding of a county with an unstable political situation. Launched after the 9/11 terrorist attack-incurred invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. has lost nearly 4,000 troops in Iraq, almost 500 in Afghanistan, with over 25,000 US service members wounded in both conflicts. The impact on the Iraqi populace has been significant, with tens of thousands of civilian deaths.
Congresswoman Lois Capps spoke out against what she said was an unfortunate observance. “Today we observe a sad anniversary for our country and the world as we mark the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq,” Capps said in a statement released today. “Today-over a year after President Bush’s escalation of the war-Iraq remains embroiled in a bitter civil war with our troops caught in the middle, trying to referee this ongoing sectarian conflict. Despite the promises of the Bush Administration that this escalation would finally bring stability to the region, peace and political progress have yet to be realized.” In Santa Barbara and across the U.S., debates continue on the subject of the military’s best option for preventing further bloodshed, both of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens. Some Americans still support the war, some call it a mistake, and some go as far to say that troops should be withdrawn immediately. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has stated that removing foreign troops from Iraq now would be catastrophic.
While the legality of the war was originally based on reports that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear and biological “ weapons of mass destruction,” as well as having ties with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, this information was later found to be incorrect. However, since the existing regime was toppled, political stability in Iraq remains an issue, with partisan insurgents and terrorists existing as a threat to foreign and domestic military and police forces in Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition-dubbed the Coalition of the Willing-originally included military involvement by nearly 40 countries, with the U.S. and the United Kingdom supplying the bulk of the troops. Almost 20 countries have already withdrawn their troops.